By Steve Nakata, Administrative Services
NASAI (Native American Student Advocacy Institute) is an annual conference sponsored by the College Board, a national nonprofit organization devoted to connecting students to college success and opportunity.
According to local organizers, WSU was selected largely because of its demonstrated commitment to building and supporting the success of diverse student populations, specifically through Native American programming.
Registration and more information can be found at http://nasai.collegeboard.org/.
Call for proposals
Conference organizers are seeking workshop presenters. Proposals must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 12, at http://nasai.collegeboard.org/proposal. Proposals are welcome on many topics including:
• Innovative strategies and programs that promote academic achievement for students K-higher education
• Making the transition from community colleges to four-year institutions easier
• Assisting first-generation students with college readiness
• Demystifying financial aid and other funding opportunities.
National spotlight on WSU
“NASAI provides WSU with a rare opportunity to host K-12, higher education and community-based professionals from across the nation – including those in our own backyard,” said Chio Flores, WSU assistant dean of students and a member of the College Board trustees.
She said the institute will bring national exposure to WSU’s work with tribes, including its memorandum of understanding with tribes in the Plateau region. She expects about 300 people to attend.
Speakers have Palouse ties
Two keynote speakers are familiar with WSU and the Palouse area. Justin Guillory, president of Northwest Indian College, received both his M.Ed. (2000) and Ph.D. (2008) from WSU. He was raised on the Lapwai Indian Reservation and served as a graduate assistant in WSU’s Office of Multicultural Student Services.
Hattie Kauffman is also a member of the Nez Perce Tribe. She became the nation’s first Native American network news broadcaster. In March she was the keynote speaker for WSU’s annual Women’s Recognition Symposium Luncheon.
WSU is a destination place
The 2015 institute will mark the first time it has been held in the state of Washington. The closest it has been to the Palouse was in 2013 when it was hosted by the University of Montana.
Flores said Pullman’s often-perceived isolation from metropolitan areas was not a game-stopper in considering WSU’s proposal to host the national conference.
“NASAI has typically been hosted where there is a high density of Native American communities,” she said. “WSU is a destination place in that regard as we are located on former Nez Perce land and situated close to many other tribal communities.” She said WSU’s facilities, institutional support and on-site leadership played in its favor.
Collaboration a key goal
NASAI seeks to galvanize and build networks to enhance the academic performance of Native American students and close the educational achievement gap. Its goals include:
• Making sure American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian issues are at the forefront of diversity agendas in schools and on college campuses
• Showcasing successful strategies that improve educational outcomes
• Discussing the state of college readiness for Native American students
• Encouraging collaborations across professions to foster actionable ideas and solve problems
While some of the conference planning is occurring at the national level, Flores and Barbara Aston, special assistant to the provost and tribal liaison, are taking the lead locally.
They have established a planning committee drawing upon representatives from each of the WSU campuses and an inter-institutional memorandum of understanding with Lewis Clark State College, North Idaho College, Northwest Indian College and the University of Idaho to collaborate in their American Indian outreach and services.
“We are excited to host NASAI and welcome this opportunity to bring national expertise, best practices and dialogue to our region,” said Aston. “This is an excellent opportunity for administrators, faculty and staff of WSU, as well as regional K-12 and higher education institutions serving Native American students, to bring their voices and successes to a national forum.”
Chio Flores, WSU assistant dean of students, 509-335-9422, email@example.com
Barbara Aston, WSU tribal liaison, 509-335-8618, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Nakata, WSU Administrative Services communications, 509-335-1774, email@example.com