First Cohort of Native Students to Graduate From UW Madison College Pipeline Program

Tacked to the wall of his bedroom on the Oneida Indian Reservation is evidence of how hard Michael Williams worked as a high school student — an acceptance letter to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

But the real prize, the acceptance letter to UW–Madison, his dream school, travels with him in his backpack, always within reach.

Growing up, Williams, 18, says he watched too many young people flounder in their attempts to leave the reservation and find opportunities elsewhere. He was determined not to be one of them.

“I’ve always wanted to further my education,” he says. “The more I know, the better I feel personally. And I think college is the step to a successful job and a secure future.”

Williams participated in an extensive college pipeline program sponsored by UW–Madison for students from tribal communities. It is a new component of a long-running UW diversity initiative called the Information Technology Academy. The first cohort of 10 Native students, including Williams, is graduating from the program this spring and will be in Madison June 3 for a ceremony marking the occasion.

“The program changed my life,” says Williams, who plans to begin classes at UW–Madison this fall.

He had always hoped to attend college, he says, but UW had not been on his radar prior to the program. During a trip to Madison, he was captivated by the urban environment and found everything on the campus “new and exotic.” He could picture himself among the student body.

“I especially like the idea of walking to class every day and running into friends and new strangers,” says Williams, who has always traveled to school by bus or car. “It’ll be an experience I’ve never had before.”

The initiative is one of the most direct ways university administrators are trying to increase enrollment of American Indian students, currently estimated at just under 1 percent of 43,336 students.

A little background: The Academic Technology Department of the UW’s Division of Information Technology created the Information Technology Academy (ITA) 17 years ago. There are now three programs under its umbrella. All work to increase the number of students of color at UW–Madison and in the field of information technology — two areas where historically they’ve been underrepresented.

ITA Madison, the original program, began in 2000 and works with students from Madison public schools. Three years ago, the tribal component was added to more explicitly recruit American Indian students. It is called ITA’s Tribal Technology Institute and serves two communities: the Oneida Nation near Green Bay and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northern Wisconsin.

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Save the Date! National Food Sovereignty Summit

October 2-5, 2017 | Green Bay, WI

First Nations Development Institute and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will host the National Food Sovereignty Summit October 2-5, 2017, at the Radisson hotel in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This event is for Native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, businesses, policymakers, tribal agriculture staff, Native nonprofits working in agriculture, small producers, tribal producers and tribal leaders. Optional experiential learning sessions are scheduled, and the main Summit offers three main training tracks:

  • Track 1: Applied Agriculture
  • Track 2: Community Outreach
  • Track 3: Products to Market

If you are interested in presenting at the conference, donating traditional foods, or becoming a sponsor, please contact Autumn Romero at aromero@firstnations.org

Go to www.firstnations.org/summit for info or to register now

Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin – 2/1/13

Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

Custom Training and Consulting Upon Request

Bowman Performance Consulting  271 River Pine Drive, Shawano, WI  54166  ♦  Phone:  715-526-9240  ♦  Fax:  715-526-6028