A new outreach and recruitment initiative at Fresno State will strengthen partnerships with rancherias, school districts and tribal agencies serving American Indian students. The goal is to double the number of American Indian students enrolling at Fresno State by fall 2016.
University Outreach Services hired Katie Garcia in September to lead the American Indian Recruitment and Resource Initiative. Garcia, a member of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, was raised in Ahwahnee and is familiar with the local tribes based near Fresno.
“Fresno State is a university that’s big on the rich history of the surrounding Valley, and part of that history is celebrating the American Indian tribes that have been here thousands of years,” Garcia said. “Having those tribal members as part of our student body and alumni base enriches our campus culture and serves our region’s needs.”
The California State University Chancellor’s Office compiled information from its 23 campuses this year on services, programs and grants available to federally recognized tribes in California. A resource guide was developed to assist American Indian families in identifying educational resources.
The CSU Native American Initiative began in March 2006, when the CSU held a summit with leaders representing 40 California tribes to discuss strategies to build a college-going culture among families. Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro was appointed to lead the initiative.
Of Fresno State’s 23,060 students enrolled in fall 2013, 0.4 percent identified as American Indian. System-wide in the CSU, 0.3 percent of 446,530 students were American Indian.
Fresno State’s outreach and recruitment initiative calls for identifying current American Indian students, increasing graduation rates, coordinating resources, mentoring and providing academic advising. College ambassadors will visit designated schools to assist and encourage students with the enrollment process. The University also plans to host the annual American Indian Education Leadership Conference.
“One of the greatest assets of the Valley is its diverse population, and Fresno State provides opportunities for students of all backgrounds to earn a college degree and become part of the next generation of leaders in our region and beyond,” Castro said. “Through this new initiative, Fresno State seeks to further strengthen its relationship with the American Indian community and to increase the number of American Indian students who attend and graduate from our campus.”