In the beginning …..
The excitement was in overdrive; faculty, students, and partners anticipation of a program that collaboratively co-creates a program was almost unbelievable. Some students thought they were never going to be able to go to school, this program gave them a new opportunity to grasp hold of with their Navigators support. Navigator’s, have witnessed shy first year students who moved from community to Nanaimo to pursue university who had limited eye contact grow into students who have completed a year of university with smiles on their faces The Navigators set out to enhance relationships with current partners, create connections within the University, and get to know the new students. At times it was overwhelming, but always rewarding, the program started to take shape.
We hit the ground running and continued our sprint. Navigators have the great honour of walking beside students who struggle with issues of poverty, addiction and the trauma of their past. Some have shared their stories of joy and pain, some keep the relationship to just help me navigate the system of registering to grades to communicating to their nation. We had the opportunity to help students turn around their academic career. We witnessed one student transform from straight F’s into straight A’s. The program also observed a young mother struggling to get to school because of money constraints to graduating her program and the desire to accomplish more. Next year the young mother will enter her 2nd year in culinary arts program.
Relationships and trust is a central focus, watching both blossom has been a pleasure. Nations are able to pick up the phone and discuss situations with Navigators and so-forth. The working groups took shape, providing essential information concerning strengths and gaps of the program.
It is with great honor that the Vancouver Island University Indigenous Education Navigators announce the first 7 Graduates from the Scholarship program:
- Three graduates from Tla’amin Nation
- Four graduates from the Metis Nation BC.
We wrap up the year with many students forecasted to return in the 2018/19 academic year. It has been a whirl win for the program as VIU ended the year with 78(?) students who were sponsored through the Scholarship. Some major accomplishments of the semester-end include finalizing the definitions, a new application, and of course, seeing the students take a breath of fresh-air – ready for their summer. As summer hits, so does the opportunity to gain meaningful experience in a field relevant to the student’s goals. We offer one-on-one support with resume, cover letter, and job searching. Of course there was some struggles, some students did not make it through, and however, some of those students have a better understanding of post-secondary, and have chosen to take a trade. The program has had some bumps along the way, but the group comes together and faces challenges together.