MTCC VISTAs Kaitlyn McCoy and Kaitlin Willbanks travelled with 11 high school students: 2 from Frazer, 1 from Wolf Point, 1 from Brockton, 7 from Poplar to the Twin Cities with American Indian College Funding (AICF) through the Bridge grant. AICF states the “The program aims to improve reading comprehension, research and essay-writing, understanding of math and science concepts, knowledge of college admissions processes, and awareness of the first-year college experience amongst program participants”.
From a Fort Peck Reservation context the grant is structured to support students who have a college going attitude. Bridge programming works to familiarize these students to the college application and admission process, learn about applicable resources such as FAFSA and private scholarships, and practice coursework they could expect at the college level.
During this most recent trip to the University of Minnesota (UM) students were exposed to the feeling of an out of state college experience in a university community 2x the size of any Montana campus population. Native American students from UM led the Bridge campus visit. They talked about the importance of time management, financial literacy, while emphasizing the many resources available to Native Americans in the Minneapolis metro area. With total honesty they made college seem both challenging and approachable.
In addition to this campus visit Fort Peck high school students: learned how to navigate public transportation in a city, the Minnesota history of Dakota peoples’, explored museums, and tried new ethnic foods. They sipped lattes at Pow Wow Grounds Coffee which doubles as a Native Art Gallery, rode roller coasters at the Mall of America, and checked out St. Anthony Falls and the view of the Mississippi river.
A 14 hour Amtrak ride can feel extremely long but totally worth one completed college application and many personal growth experiences. Frazer student Taylor Reese noted two main take aways from this MN Bridge trip:
“1. I can transfer to a really nice college, with many other programs I never before considered. 2. I'm slowly becoming an extrovert again. Wow that second one really shocked me, but also is intentional.”Huge thanks to American Indian College Fund for funding these highly valuable learning opportunities for Montana students!