TED College Visits Inspire Next Generation GRIC Scholars
Gila River Indian News
Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Education Department’s (TED) K-12 Program has begun an initiative to encourage more students to pursue higher education.
Lance Reyna, Ted’s K-12 Education Manager, said schooling after high school isn’t as common and he’s looking to help change that through the initiative.
“My goal like the rest of our leaders, is to help equip our students with the skills needed to come and work for their community in all positions in the future,” said Reyna, who believes more exposure to postsecondary schools will assist.
Only 24 percent of 18—24-year-old Native American students are enrolled in college compared to 41 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to data from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute in 2021.
Ted’s Student Services Program offers several scholarships for higher education to enrolled GRIC members, providing them with financial assistance toward a certificate, diploma, or degree at any accredited college or university.
Reyna has been collecting promotional items from postsecondary schools such as T-shirts, hats, pennants, posters, and more to expose students to the many opportunities available to them.
“As a goal I wanted to really push out our in-person visits, guest speakers, and college swag items to our students and community. I want to hype up education and make it exciting,” said Reyna, who often distributes the collected items out during events and as motivational prizes for students.
As part of the initiative, over 100 students have been visited by various college representatives who come out to GRIC schools sharing what programs are being offered and to answer any questions students might have.
Additionally, campus tours have been arranged for students to see firsthand what opportunities and services are available, including those specific to Native Americans that offer academic counseling and support services.
Reyna says the student’s response has been positive, “I think it has helped to open student’s eyes to the opportunities that are available to them. It’s one thing to read about a college, or hear a speaker come in and talk about the campus, but to actually experience it, I can see the students get excited as they visualize themselves walking through campus.”
In November and December 2022, 60 high school seniors visited the University of Arizona, Grand Canyon University, and Northern Arizona University.
Antonio Escalante, 17, District 3, a senior at Coolidge High School, visited the U of A and NAU campuses, which helped him determine where he’d like to attend.
“When I went to NAU, they presented what I wanted to go to college for,” said Escalante, who is interested in the field of sports training. At U of A, however, he said, “I didn’t see that much about athletic sports trainers.”
Escalante said he plans on attending NAU both for the weather and the Athletic Training Program.
“When I went to NAU, they talked about their sports trainers and what they do there to get the experience,” he said.
For more information on the Tribal Education Department and Student Services visit gricted.com.