Young college bound Native Americans are being encouraed to attend the “Boot Camp” opportunities at UC Riverside. These exercises are an outstanding model of Riverside growing as a unified city. Riversiders care for one another and ensure that everyone has access to a great education and the resources necessary to succeed. We are a caring community that engages with one another for a better life for all.
Throughout their week at UCR, students got a taste of the college experience by attending classroom lectures, eating in the cafeteria and sleeping in the dorms. The 30 students also participated in cultural activities like prayer circles and beading workshops. Upon completion of UCR’s program, students are given access to the university’s resources and staff to assist with the application process.
Elijah Watson knows he wants to go to college. He also knows it will be difficult to leave home on the Navajo reservation if he does. The 17-year-old was reminded of the tough decision he’ll face next year when he participated in a week long celebration in March of his cousin’s Kinaalda, a hallowed Navajo ceremony marking a girl’s transition into womanhood.
To reach students like Watson with higher education aspirations, a growing number of universities are offering programs to recruit and prepare Native American students for a transition to college life that can bring on a wrenching emotional conflict as they straddle two worlds.
Many young Native Americans find themselves divided by their desire for a higher education and the drive to stay close to home to hold onto a critical part of their identity. Sometimes, families discourage children from pursuing college, fearing once they leave the reservation, they won’t come back.
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