Like with most things about this program is constantly evolving. We don’t set out to “start a new initiative” but instead find ourselves answering to the need of a Ute Indian student or two, and from there, the work grows. I just got back from St. George where I visited with all the Ute Indian Student that we have enrolled at Dixie State University. Pictured below is the crew! Following up with students during their first year or so there is a new idea, and one that so far feels like a very good idea.
Supporting the students during their 13th year seems kind of imperative and a good investment in time and treasure. As the Dixie State folks said to a packed auditorium at orientation in August: “We are going to really focus on the first 3 weeks. Because if we can keep you for the first three weeks, we think we have a good chance of keeping you here. And we want you to be here.”
Of the students picture above all but one worked with me while in high school to fill out their FAFSA’s and applications to Dixie. They are all living within a block of one another and we even have some veterans within the group that can help mentor some of the first year kids. Part of the theory of how to retain first generation college kids is to support them early and, we at the Office of Engagement at the “U” are adding, have them go with each other instead of dispersing them far and wide across the state. So, we are encouraging Ute Indian students who can to apply to the “U”. And we encourage them to apply to Weber State, Dixie State and UVU because they have off campus housing that is close and student oriented, loads of support for first generation students in the form of small classes, instruction in time management and study skills, and easily accessible academic advising.
We all had dinner together. They showed each other job apps like “Handshake” and shared times when open basketball is a thing. When I dropped each back at their respective apartments (after I made them take the group pictures) I got a warm: “Thank You” from each and everyone.
I motioned to each of them with my hands stretched out in front of me and my thumbs wiggling in the air, that I am only a text away. In a few weeks I will go back down and hopefully find them even more settled and happy in their new college gig.