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Everything listed under: College Horizons

  • Our Inaugural Scholars Program was a Success!

    This year, we celebrate our brand new Scholars Program, under the leadership of Director Mikaela Crank Thinn. After years of fundraising and planning, the hard work paid off as our newest College Horizons program became reality and took place on Lawrence University's campus in Appleton, Wisconsin. Lawrence most recently hosted College Horizons for the third time in 2016. We are grateful to everybody's hard work on the planning committee and to Lawrence University for hosting us in our first year of this new and exciting initiative.

    The inaugural Scholars Program took place this past summer from July 15 to August 5, 2017. There were 19 Scholars representing 9 tribal nations who have since started attending 16 different colleges and universities. 53% were coming from rural communities on or nearby their tribal reservations. 74% were first generation college students. The goal of the Scholars Program is to help College Horizons alumni acclimate to their first year of college. The Scholars Program aims to prepare students by addressing their holistic needs and making college relevant by connecting their culture and community to their college experience.

    As part of the program, students took one writing seminar by Julie Haurykiewicz and Brigetta Miller, one lecture course by Dr. Adrienne Keene, one success strategies class by Kate Zoromski, and one cultural transition course led by the Director of the Scholars Program and our interns. The lecture course served as an introduction to critical race theory and the cultural transition class helped students learn how to navigate college structures. On the weekends, students took trips to the nearby Oneida and Menominee Nations.

    Each week the Scholars Program also incorporated a different wellness theme. The first week, Dr. Virgil Moorehead came to discuss mental health, digital storytelling and the importance of balance, healing, and play. The second week, Well for Culture visited with the Scholars to teach the group about fitness, nutrition, stress relief and looking to tribal values to indigenize health. The third week, the group applied what they learned from the first part of the program and they took two yoga classes, one meditation class and completed their digital stories.

    Similar to other summer bridge programs, the Scholars Program is focused on academic and success strategies. The students are learning about mindset, resilience, interdependence, traditional academic skills including note taking, test prep, study strategies, and time management. However, in addition, the Scholars are learning skills around resiliency, understanding the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, and tribal citizenship in higher education. The Scholars Program is directly discussing potential socio-cultural challenges that Native students may encounter at predominantly white institutions and strategies to help in overcoming those challenges.

    A committee of seven members helped ensure that the Scholars Program was tailored to meet the needs of our students. The members included all four Scholars teaching faculty and three professors with expertise in psychology, education and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. In addition, College Horizons is working closely with a Native evaluator who is helping to indigenize our research process.

    Currently, the Scholars Program is about to kick off our year-round advising for all Scholars who participated in the inaugural program as well as any other interested CH alums who are in their first year of college. The next Scholars Program will take place from July 7 to 28, 2018 and the application will be released in March 2018. If you are interested in the 2018 Scholars Program or if you are a CH alum and first year college student interested in the advising program, please contact or 505-414-1010.

  • CH Alum featured in Indian Country Today News Article

    This article is a beautiful story of the strength and determination of a first-year college student adjusting to college life, struggling, reaching out for support and finding her way. Transitioning to college is hard for everyone and we admire and respect Pachynne Suzanne Ignacio from the Tohono O'odham Nation for sharing her story. College Horizons gets a shout-out in this story and we are grateful to have played a role in Pachynne's path to higher ed. Go Pachynne!  #CollegePrideNativePride

  • CH Director on Native America Calling

    Executive Director Carmen Lopez, was recently featured on a Native America Calling show focused on scholarships. On the show, she and other speakers detail steps that students can take to secure funding to make college more affordable. Take a listen to the show that was recorded on October 4, 2016 at the following link:

  • College Horizons featured on NPR national news show!

    Listen to our segment on All Things Considered from NPR News using the following link!

    Claudio Sanchez, a news correspondent from NPR, spent the better part of a week with us at our 2016 program at Lawrence University. This is what he saw. Tip: Be sure to listen to the audio from the show since it contains the voices of our students and more content than the written article! 

    College Horizons is a program of heart - take a listen to our students share their stories on their fluid identities, preparing for college, being teenagers and strengthening their families, communities and Nations through education. Thank you Claudio Sanchez and NPR for listening. We are thrilled for the coverage as we prepare to launch our CH Annual Fund Campaign in just a few short weeks - stay tuned!
  • CH Hires Amelia Caté Former VISTA Volunteer

    Nothing makes our team more happy than welcoming an invaluable staff member to our ranks! Today we celebrate the hiring of Amelia Caté, who has served as our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer during the previous two years. Today, she occupies her new position as Program Associate and in this role Amelia will oversee many important aspects of our annual programming and organizational data processes. 

    (Photo: Three women pose for photo in front of clocktower on Amherst College campus. Amelia Caté is pictured on left, Sara Cohen of Amherst Admissions center, CH staff member Christine Suina on right at our Amherst 2016 program.)

    Amelia shares some thoughts on her recent transition, "Serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA for College Horizons for the past two years has provided me tremendous knowledge, growth and experience. I chose to work with College Horizons because I want to continue making impact to students and families in our native communities. I know what it’s like to be the first in my family to attend college and not know anything about the college admissions process. It was scary to even consider going to college because I felt that I could not do it, until I found College Horizons. I would not be where I am today if I had not attended College Horizons 8 years ago. Now that I’ve made it through, I want to help students that are going through the same doubts and struggles as I once did in high school. By paying it forward, I hope that my service to our students can help them achieve their goals in higher education so that they too can graduate from college, return to their communities and improve their nations. I am extremely proud to be a part of this amazing program. College Pride, Native Pride!” 

    Caté's contributions have been noticed by fellow staff members too. "Amelia has really proven her worth to our organization. In two years, her contributions have allowed us to expand and solidify various components of our programming. Her attention to detail, solid work ethic and history with our organization, among other standout qualities, make us extremely lucky to have her," offered co-worker, Hilary Abe. 

    The Staff and Board of College Horizons would like to extend a very warm welcome to Amelia and express our deep thanks and appreciation for her previous contributions as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer.

    You can learn more about Amelia by visiting our CH Staff page.

  • College Horizons' Executive Director Interviewed by NPR

    A short piece on College Horizons was recently published by NPR, featuring an interview with our Executive Director, Carmen Lopez. We anticipate a longer piece to be published in the near future.  Stay tuned for more info and see the full NPR article here!

  • College Horizons Joins Giving Tuesday




    College Horizons has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners - charities, families, tribes, businesses and individuals - to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and tribal nations, to give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world. Beginning tomorrow, College Horizons invites you to participate by making a contribution to our organization as part of your holiday giving plans.

    To make a gift this holiday season, please visit the Give page of our website. 

    To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit:


  • 2014 Summer Recap: #CHDartmouth & #GHCornell

    With fall in full swing we take a moment to reflect on some highlights from this summer's admission workshops! 




    (Students hold up their small group numbers)

    A few highlights from College Horizons at Dartmouth College:
    • 100 Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students attended our program
    • Over 40 partner college reps, high school counselors and organizations served as expert faculty at the program
    • Staff and interns arrived early to prepare for the program; Dartmouth's admission office accommodated the crew for setup
    • Faculty arrived a day early in preparation for students
    • Some students traveling from Hawaii, Alaska and some west coast communities arrived a day early to adjust for the time zone changes
    • Students were present for a total for six days to Dartmouth's campus in Hanover, New Hampshire
    • For many of our students, this was the first time riding on a plane and for an even larger number their first visit to New England
    • Dartmouth College was a terrific host - we had great dorms, awesome food and beautiful surroundings
    • The diversity of the students was at an all-time high (state, regional, tribal, gender) 
    • Students connected with one another and with faculty both within small groups and as a larger community
    • Paul Iona (Native Hawaiian), a 3rd year student of Chapman University's MFA Program in Film and CH Alumnus, was at the program volunteering his time to film promotional content for us - a new video will soon be released!
    • Kevin Patterson (Navajo) and Maggie Seawright (Lakota), both current Dartmouth undergraduates and CH Alumni, served as interns at the program and worked tirelessly to ensure the program's success
    • A CH alumna and long serving faculty of the program, Dr. Adrienne Keene, was honored for completing her Ed.D program at Harvard University.  Adrienne's doctoral research highlights the higher ed experiences of Native students of the College Horizons program!  She first attended CH at Dartmouth back in 2002 so it was a full circle experience for our program.
    • Traditional night was a meaningful and fun event with many students sharing everything from regalia to dances and protocol from their traditions and homelands
    • Students were exhausted by the end of the program having fulfilled all of our program requirements (college essay revisions, Common Application drafts, researching a list of 10 schools to apply to, trivial pursuit questions from our partner institutions, FAFSA forms, scholarship searches, etc.)
    • HUGE storms coincided with the end of the program and about 15 students were stranded overnight with many more delays at both Manchester and Boston Airports.  After an adventurous evening, staff and faculty successfully saw that all students got out on flights the following day.




    A few highlights from Graduate Horizons at Cornell University (make sure to watch the video above!):
    • 45 participants representing a diversity of Native nations attended GH at Cornell
    • 5 cohorts oversaw the mentorship of participants whose intended career paths span fields within the fields of Arts & Humanities, STEM, Health Sciences, Education, Law, Business and Public Policy
    • 30+ faculty representing a variety of graduate and professional programs enthusiastically provided expert feedback and counseling to program participants
    • Workshop participants absorbed loads of information over the 4 days of intensive graduate and professional preparation 
    • Cornell University, the Office of Academic Diversity Inititiatives (OADI), the American Indian Program (AIP) and Conference Services served as amazing hosts and every detail was covered!
    • Dr. Jolene Rickard, Professor and Director of the American Indian Program at Cornell University grounded us at the beginning of our program with concepts of Haudenosaunee sovereignty
    • Haudenosaunee dancers and cultural group welcomed faculty and participants with a social dance demonstration and white pine exhibition 
    • Videographers hired by Cornell created the great video above, featuring Graduate Horizons!


    (Participants pose for a group photo before the Professional Networking Reception)


  • College Horizons on Common App Essay Prompts

    From yesterday's Common Application announcement:

    "Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of College Horizons, a non-profit dedicated to college success of Native American and Native Hawaiian students, believes this is especially true for students served by her program. "As a community-based organization that services underrepresented students, College Horizons has found the Common App's new essay prompts to be highly effective. Students are presenting themselves as multi-dimensional, writing with an authentic voice, and writing meaningfully as both students and Native students."'

    The quote comes from yesterday's Common Application press release regarding a decision to retain the current essay prompts found on the 2013-2014 version of the college application form for 2014-2015.  The Common Application is a non-profit organization that provides a consolidated application for students and educators to use when applying to any of the organization's 500+ member colleges. The vast majority of institutions that College Horizons currently partners with use the Common Application in their undergraduate admissions.  College Horizons also utilizes the Common App as a curriculum tool when preparing high school students for the college admissions process.  

    The essay prompts are provided below:

    • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
    • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
    • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
    • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
    • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
  • A Brief Summer Recap

    College Horizons was successfully held at two different campuses this past June and July: Hawaii Prep Academy in Kamuela, Hawaii and at New York University in Manhattan, New York.  We are happy to report that every single one of the 197 students we admitted to the program made it to the programs safely, worked hard to complete our curriculum expectations throughout the week and then made it back home in one piece.  A combination of amazing students, dedicated faculty and accommodating host institutions made both programs some of the best we have ever put on.  And even though we strive to deliver the same rigorous curriculum at all of our programs, no two programs are ever the same.  This year, it was particularly exciting for us to see just how similar and different both of our programs on completely opposite sides of the country and in different communities would play out. Read on for a few key highlights from each of our programs:

    Hawaii Prep Academy (June 16-21)

    As we stepped off the plane in Kona, the CH Staff were greeted by our gracious host and site coordinator, Joanie Brotman. The humid air, the open air design of the airport and the leis we received upon arrival all signaled to us that this was going to be a very different program than ones we usually host on the mainland.

    The Big Island - this is the first thing we saw!

    Joanie Brotman greets us at the airport with leis

    It was exciting for us since this is only the second program College Horizons has been able to host in Hawaii so far - our first program was held in 2010 at University of Hawaii at Hilo.  Below are some highlights from the program:

    • Approximately 90% of students who attended were Native Hawaiian; 10% of students were Native American or Alaska Native from the mainland
    • 47 students local to the area attended the program from the Big Island - a record for College Horizons!
    • The local college fair was a huge success - over 300 families joined us to meet with our college partners at the public portion of our college fair
    • On the last day of the program, students and faculty climbed to the top of a nearby Pu'u (a small mountain/butte) to reflect.  It was a powerful way to culminate our program, guided by Aunty Pua Case
    • The CH Staff used the Hawaii Prep Academy college counseling office throughout the week as our base of operations - a huge thank you to all the HPA staff who helped us make this program possible!

    Students and faculty circle up on the soccer field to participate in ice breakers

    New York University (July 7-12)

    The view from our dorm rooms at NYU

    Like the Big Island, New York City was also a new and fun experience for College Horizons.  As Frank Sinatra said, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere!" After hosting a program in the Big Apple, we are confident that we would be capable of hosting a successful program anywhere in the country.  Some key highlights from the program include:

    • This was the largest gathering of Native students held at NYU in recent memory, if not ever!
    • This was the first time in New York City for 79 of students attending the program
    • Students at the program represented 49 tribal nations from 22 states 
    • All 100 of our students hopped on the subway with faculty chaperones to attend a Broadway show and then walked over to Times Square to experience quintessential New York.  (No one got lost!)
    • This was the first time flying for 24 of our students and 53 students had never stayed overnight on a college campus before
    • NYU and the admissions office were terrific hosts - the dorms and meeting spaces we occupied during the week really made us feel at home while being in the heart of America's largest city

    Students take to the subway before our broadway show!

    By the end of our program our students seemed at home on the streets of NY

    For more pictures, highlights and a play-by-play rundown from our programs check out our facebook page and twitter feed!

  • We're Hosting Two College Fairs This Summer!

    For the second consecutive year, we are proud to announce that we will be holding free college fairs open to the public at both of our College Horizons host sites - first at Hawaii Prep Academy (HPA) in Kamuela, HI on June 20, 2013 and at New York University (NYU) in New York, NY on July 11, 2013.  Each fair features our partner institutions as well as schools coming exclusively for the fair.  See below for copies of the flyers.  Please help spread the word to families, educators and students who will be present in the area.

    Students, families and educators who attend the fair will have the opportunity to speak directly with college admission representatives from each of the schools on the flyer.  To download the flyers as PDFs, click on the following links: HPA College Fair Flyer & NYU College Fair Flyer.

    A huge thanks and shout out to our generous sponsors and hosts for helping provide this unique opportunity: Hawaii Prep Academy, New York University, University of Southern California, University of Rochester and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  For a brief description of each school represented at the college fairs, please visit our Colleges page.

    College Fair in Kamuela, Hawaii

    College Fair in New York City

  • CH Recognized at 2013 Forging Hope Event!

    Big news!  Yesterday, members of the CH staff and board were present in San Bernadino, California to receive the 2013 Yawa Award from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.  It is a tremendous honor for us to have our work recognized and supported by a tribal nation.  A big thank you to all of our supporters and especially to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for this recognition.  Yawa' is a Serrano word and is described by the following concept: "To the Yuhaviatam, the People of the Pines, Yawa', is a simple word that describes a complex concept.  A smile, a hearty handshake, a kind word, these are but the building blocks from which Yawa' springs forth.  Yawa' also comes from the heart, from actions and intentions... Yawa' is a call to manifest one's beliefs through action."  Watch a short video of the occasion below as Peter Aranda, President of the Board of Directors and Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of College Horizons are shown accepting the award.  

  • Alaska Adventures

    This Fall, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Alaska for College Horizons.  Again.  This was the second year that we visited the biggest state in the U.S. and like other 'Lower 48' Natives (as we're called up north), I am still realizing just how big the state is.  

    If you haven't heard, Alaska is big.  Reaaaaally big.

    Yes, I may be one of the luckiest recruitment coordinators in Indian Country but it’s less due to the fact that Alaska is an amazing place to visit, and more due to the fact that there are lots and lots of awesome Native folks who call it home.  While many Native people live in the major hubs (Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, etc), there are hundreds of communities in small villages or towns peppered throughout the entirety of the state.  

    Hmm... where to begin...

    While traveling to Alaska over the past two years, I learned many things.  First, Alaska Native folks inside or outside of the city usually identify with a village their family comes from (not a reservation!).  Second, summers in Alaska are a valued time - fish camps and subsistence practices plays an integral role in the culture of communities up north.  And I learned that the most common forms of transportation when it comes to navigating around the state to some of remote village communities do not include cars.  Planes (puddle-jumpers), snowmobiles, boats and even dog sleds become essential to travel when you leave the few road systems that Alaska has.  Even the regional hubs in Alaska (Nome, Bethel, Sitka, etc.) are only accessible by air or water.  

    Just look at those mountains!

    So while I used to think that my rez in North Dakota was kind of remote, I must now concede that most villages and towns in Alaska take the meaning of rural to a whole new level.  It is therefore understandable that even urban high school students and especially rural Alaskans can be anxious or nervous to attend an out of state program like College Horizons.  But for as much as it can be a scary to take the jump into a new experience, it really is worth it (I am authorized to say that since I am also an alumnus of the program)!  

    Although we haven't had a lot of students from Alaska attend our program from the recent past (and we are working hard to change that), we HAVE had a number not only come through our programs but succeed and return to Alaska to do amazing things.  I was astounded because as I ran into our alumni and program faculty throughout the state, I was thrilled by the presence we have already cultivated.  We are now in a place to build upon the small community of individuals throughout the state to increase the amount of Alaska Native students taking advantage of our programs.  

    Below, I highlight a number of individuals who I got to meet or see again on the road who have attended our programs in the past and where they are now.  It was so great to meet and catch up with some of our alumni and faculty who are doing great things for their communities.

    Joy Huntington ‘01 (Athabascan) on left, Senator Mark Begich on right

    The first person that I'd like to talk about is actually the person who is responsible for my own discovery of College Horizons and probably the reason I made it to the college I attended too (true story). Joy Huntington CH '01 was a classmate of mine at Dartmouth College.  Joy is a leader who is taking the state of Alaska by storm. This year I arrived just in time to catch the tail end of the Alaska Federation of Natives (the biggest annual Alaska Native gathering there is) and had the tremendous pleasure of watching Joy give a speech to thousands of people in attendance and televised across the state to every community. She introduced Alaska Senator, Mark Begich to the stage and gave a tremendously honest and heartfelt speech to the assembly that you can watch here. Joy is a 2001 alumna of College Horizons who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2006. She is currently a lobbyist, writer and politician in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Joy recently ran a close campaign for president of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, an Interior Alaska tribal consortium and is making a big impact for her community. 

    Candace Branson ’05 (Alutiiq) and I outside of a restaurant in Kodiak

    Candace Branson CH '05 is an alumna from Kodiak, Alaska. While attending College Horizons, Candace told me that she discovered her future college.  It was during the College Horizons program that she met the admissions counselor from the University of Denver who stayed in touch with her after the program and convinced her to apply - something that she may not have been open to if she didn't attend the program.  After graduating from college in Colorado, she returned to her home on Kodiak Island and is currently teaching the Alutiiq language to students throughout the community and at the high school using a new method of language instruction.  Her goal is become fluent in the language and to produce other fluent speakers of the language.  Candace is another great example of College Horizons alumni using their skills and knowledge to give back to her community.

    Shanelle Afcan ‘12 (Yup'ik) at the Penn program

    As one of our most recent Alumni from Alaska, Shanelle Afcan CH '12 attended our workshop last year in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.  I met Shanelle during my first trip to Alaska when I visited her school.   It's the best feeling in the world when you see a student that you met on the road attend the program and this fall I was even more happy to have her help when I was presenting at Mt. Edgecumbe High School for a second time. Shanelle told me that she was really glad that she attended the program and this year has offered help to her classmates fill out the application  As a junior in high school, Shanelle will be applying to colleges next fall, but in the meantime is doing her utmost to investigate and apply to scholarships ahead of time.  Go Shanelle!

    Victoria Canul Dunne (Tlingit) and I stop for a photo op in her office

    Last but certainly not least, I want to introduce Victoria Canul Dunne. Victoria has been a counselor at three of our four recent years of CH programs - once in 2009 (Yale), 2010 and 2011. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the program and works for the Sitka Tribe in Sitka, Alaska.   Every year, we bring Native educators from all over Indian Country to our programs so that can experience our workshops first-hand.  Victoria has been incredibly enthusiastic about our programs and is currently working with students in the Sitka area to help them apply to our programs for the upcoming year.  She also took the time to show me around town and help me present at Mt. Edgecumbe with Shanelle.  Thank you Victoria!

  • Webinar Time!

    Last week we had a chance to hold an informational webinar for prospective students, parents and educators who are looking to apply to our programs next summer.  We're still relatively new to this way of broadcasting information about our programs, but we think it went well.  We had about 85 people register to attend the webinar - woohoo!  If you wanted to attend the webinar but didn't have a chance to, here is a recording that we've posted to youtube.  It contains everything that a regular presentation contains and then some!  Carmen Lopez, our Executive Director describes our programs, gives advice on students applying to our programs and answers many questions from participants.  If you are seeking information about next year's programs, this is definitely the video to watch!

  • Join us in the Big Island or in the Big City!

    On October 16, we released the application for our 2013 summer workshops.  We are beyond excited to get started with the application season for our programs.  Check out our apply page for the basic steps to apply -  the application deadline is February 4, 2013.  Be sure to start the application early because it can take some time to complete and make sure to read an overview of the Application Process to get a clear idea of what's expected when you apply.

    Every year, it's exciting for us to announce where we will be headed and this year is certainly no exception. Somehow we think these might be popular places for students to check out... since every year at our programs students list New York and Hawaii as places they would consider going to college.  Well, this year's admitted students will have the chance to experience first-hand one or the other when they attend one of our programs.


    Can you say, New York City or the Big Island??

    In June, Hawai'i Preparatory Academy, an independent school located in Kamuela, Hawaii (on the Big Island) will be our gracious host for six days and in July students will fly to New York City for another six-day program hosted by the inimitable (SAT word!) New York University.  As always, we are grateful to partner with these host institutions and to be able to provide these experience for our students. Look for the program dates on the Apply page and descriptions of our host institutions on our 2013 Hosts page. The Hawaii program is prioritized for Native Hawaiian students while the NYU program is prioritized for students from the mainland and Alaska.

    Of course, not every student automagically knows what College Horizons is all about!  If you are looking for a good description of our program, look no further! The College Horizons description page details what we cover during the program and the basics of what to expect.  Next month, we will also be hosting webinars on the application process and students will get to hear from past participants of the program.  These will be posted to our calendar as well as to our Webinars page.

    We hope to see some of you there!  Please email us if you have any questions using the info on our Connect page.