On Thursday, May 16, 2013, Heritage University (HU) hosted 85 attendees for Native American College Day, sponsored by the Admissions and Financial Aid Department. The event was specifically geared to encourage Native American students at local high schools to consider higher educational opportunities and to expand their horizons. Attendees were from Toppenish High School, EAGLE High School, White Swan High School, Wapato High School, PACE High School, and Yakama Tribal School.
At the College Day, Dean Miguel Puente welcomed everyone after check in and continental breakfast. HU students Loren Selam and Haver Jim provided the Invocation and works of encouragement for the youth. Loren reminded the youth of the importance of our way of life and that the youth will be called upon to speak for our people. He told them they should be a proud representative of our people and that the elders and community are proud of the youth. Haver reminded the youth to be proud of who they are. He spoke about the importance of our language and our songs. He reminded them that our songs and words are from the past and are important to carry into the future.
Presenters for seven workshops introduced themselves and then workshops ran concurrently. Workshops included: a Medical Simulation Lab Facility Tour by the HU Nursing Program; Health Career Opportunities: A Journey from a Native American Perspective by Jessica Sutterlict, Community Health Coordinator at Memorial Hospital; Answer Your Questions about College by Loren Selam and Haver Jim; Controlling Your Destiny by Mel Hill, Associate VP at HU; Environmental Science Exploratory Discussion by Dr. Jessica Black, HU Science Professor; Leadership 101 by Pamela Alvarado and Harli Moran; Transitioning to College with High Self-Esteem by Judy Mansfield, HU Math Professor.
At Jessica Sutterlict’s workshop, she explained the importance of public health and did an intervention exercise about barriers to college and solutions. Elizabeth Mendoza, a sophomore at Toppenish High School said the workshop was, “pretty interesting because I got to learn about global health and how to help people around the world.”
At Jessica Black’s workshop, she discussed lava, Columbia River Basalt, and that we are standing on two miles thick of basalt. She explained how ridges formed and that the “dirt is alive!” She encouraged students to go into science and environmental science, and that environmental science is one of the fastest growing job markets today. Heritage University will offer a degree in Environmental Science starting this fall 2013. Damion Hooper, a 9th grader from White Swan High School, attended the session and said, “I liked hearing how lava got here.”
At Judy Mansfield’s workshop she reminded students to be proud of who you are, because our past has great things in it. Our people have done many great things and so can you. You can do anything, you just need a strong work ethic. Be that person that will bring a good change.
Crystal Lamebull-Bass, the HU Chief of Staff, attended the College Day and said she enjoyed the invocation and the younger generation stepping up and providing that. She said both workshops she attended were full of students who were very engaged. She mentioned Jessica Sutterlict’s workshop was a good start for young students to get excited about health careers. Judy ‘s workshop provided a look at the importance of culture and education and growing up Native. Both workshops had about 20 students in each room.
Pizza lunch was served, then the HU ENACTUS club gave a presentation that they will share at the national competition in Kansas City next week. Shawn John (Wapato School District) shared inspirational words with the students, encouraging them to continue their studies. Closing comments were provided by Henry Strom, Superintendent at Mt. Adams School District. Mr. Strom asked students to work together and support each other.
To see more photos from the event, please find us on Facebook, by searching “Center for Native Health and Culture.”