UI Seeks to Expand Native American Outreach

group of native american students by LNACC sign


The University of Iowa has seen increased efforts to connect local Native American students to higher education. Staff and faculty are reaching students at the high school level by bringing resources to them, as well as bringing students to campus.

One of the most prominent outreach efforts is the Iowa First Nations (IFN) Summer Program, which provides Native American high school students from around the nation with the opportunity to experience college life. During this week-long excursion, students live on campus, attend classes, and meet Native American student leaders from the campus community. It’s an opportunity for participating students to explore majors while gaining an appreciation for the vast variety of opportunities that the UI can offer.

The program is led by Corey Sutter, a multicultural specialist within the Center for Diversity and Enrichment (CDE), who works closely with many campus partners to create a unique experience for the students every year. During their time on campus, students visit several departments and enjoy hands-on classroom experiences, such as creating chapstick in the pharmacy labs. Additionally, students have the opportunity to get involved in social and recreational activities both on campus and in the surrounding Iowa City community. “The students also always enjoy our partnership with TRIO Upward Bound’s Summer Program that takes place the same time as IFN,” says Sutter.  “We do several socials with Upward Bound so that they can meet other students of color their age who will also potentially attend UI.”

In January 2017, the CDE also hosted 35 Meskwaki students in grades 7–12. They met with current IFN alumni students, connected with members of both Native American Student Association (NASA) and the Native American Council (NAC), and ended the day by attending a UI basketball game.

Strategic outreach is also being conducted at the K–12 level. Tracy Peterson, director of diversity programs and K–12 outreach in the College of Engineering, brings pre-engineering camps to the Meskwaki Settlement School. For one week, UI students travel to the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama to conduct hands-on, project-based programs designed to engage and inspire youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

In addition, CDE, NASA, and NAC travel to the Meskwaki Settlement School to provide tutoring assistance and overall college planning information. Two trips will take place in the spring 2017 semester, with more trips planned for the fall 2017 semester. UI students, faculty, and staff representatives help students with the college application and FAFSA process, as well as provide beneficial tutoring.

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1971 The Latino Native American Cultural Center (LNACC) was founded in the summer of 1971 and provides a supportive, inclusive environment as well as programs that empower students to excel and stretch themselves in diversity while offering opportunities to serve their community.

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1990 The University of Iowa Powwow was founded in 1990. Organized by the Native American Students Association (NASA) and held in the spring to symbolize rejuvenation, the powwow conveys the rich traditions and diverse cultures of the Native American community in North America.