Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If your question was not answered, feel free to contact Carol Seanez at firstname.lastname@example.org about your inquiry.
NASEP applications are open, with:
- Priority Deadline: March 31, 2023
NASEP serves upcoming Native American, Alaskan Native, and Hawaiian Native junior and senior high school students in Arizona; but, since some tribes extend to other states, some of our students have come from Illinois, South Dakota, Oregon. NASEP has had the privilege of interacting with participants from over twenty-nine different tribes from across the nation, which include: Acoma Pueblo, Chemehuevi, Cochiti, Gila River, Gres Ventre, Hopi, Jicarrila Apache, Kiowa, Laguna Pueblo, Lakota, Makah, Muscogee Creek, Navajo, Nez Perce, Northern Arapaho, Ogalala Sioux, Paiute, Pascua Yaqui, Pojoaque Pueblo, Salt River Pima, San Carlos Apache, Santa Clara Pueblo, Shoshone, Tewa, Tohono O’odham, White Mountain Apache, Winnebago, Yurok, and Zuni.
The program is a year-long commitment, with the one week residential stay at the university being the start of the program. When signing on, students agree to stay on track to complete chemistry, physics, and pre-calculus by the time they graduate high school. Mastery of these classes will be key to their science careers in college. Their incentive is an electronic device, which in the past has been an iPad, which is also issued to communicate with the student throughout the year to provide academic coaching, tutoring, and dissemination of opportunities available to the student. Participants also agree to be involved in the fall research program; students conduct research and create a poster, which is then presented at the Arizona regional and state science fairs. For more information about the research program, please visit nasep.arizona.edu/aises-geosciences-outreach-program.
Some of the key services NASEP provides are: the one-week residential summer program; a Geoscience research opportunity; and year-round academic support as students explore and apply for colleges, universities, and scholarships.
This year, the 2022 cohort comprised 25 high-achieving Native American high school students. Originally the program started with 12 participants, but the programming grew to provide services to more Native youth. Since its start in 2009, NASEP has served 303 students.
NASEP’s long-term goal is to create a systematic change in the hiring patterns of Indigenous Americans in STEM fields by increasing the number of individuals on the path to leadership in those areas. This is to be achieved through the short-term goals of: 1) increasing the number of Native high school students who become interested in pursuing STEM degrees; 2) strengthening participant’s self-efficacy to pursue careers in STEM through the support and networking NASEP provides; 3) enhancing the understanding of the college-going process; and 4) creating a network of indigenous scholars that are able to support one another through their academic and career goals. Meeting these goals means increasing the number of Native American students who will attend college, and have the resilience to succeed in their STEM programs, and later become professionals in their chosen careers.
Westernized academia usually does not recognize traditional ways of knowing as significant to society. This erases any important cultural knowledge that Native students have when entering the realm of education. The notion that students are empty vessels that will be filled with knowledge perpetuates the imposter syndrome within Native students, impacting their self-efficacy negatively. To combat this way of thinking, NASEP utilizes Dr. Shawn Secatero’s American Indian Well-Being Model in Higher Education. The eight pillars of the model are: spiritual, cultural, mental, emotional, professional, social, physical, and environmental. A session is held on teaching students the well-being model, and from it, they are able to identify their strengths and develop practices to support themselves. Using this as a guiding model, the program incorporates events and activities that support indigenous students in a holistic manner to support their academic and career goals in STEM. The most important being the prayer that Lois Liston, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, provides at the start of NASEP to provide blessings, clarity, and strength; while also recognizing that the university is on the homeland of the Tohono O’odham people, and that despite some being far from home, that they are welcome and in a space where they can be themselves.
Through this, NASEP also recognizes the “funds of knowledge” as important tools these indigenous youths bring. The tenant, “Tradition Meets New Knowledge,” recognizes that the ancestral knowledge that participants have accumulated through their experiences are vital in their STEM journeys; that these students have important information, and are not just empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. This increases the student’s self-efficacy, and helps them realize that they can achieve in higher education and beyond.
NASEP increases the number of high school students who become interested in STEM fields by introducing students to hands on STEM projects, such as the computer build, geoscience research, and robotics programming. NASEP further combats the imposter syndrome by allowing NASEP participants to network with Native American professionals who work at places like Raytheon, IBM, and the College of Medicine. Sessions on college admission routes, scholarships and financial aid, resources for Native students, and college success are facilitated by UA Native American Student Affairs (NASA), Arizona Assurance, Office of Admission, and Early Academic Outreach to help students develop a college plan. The digital story telling project gives students the opportunity to orate and capture their personal growth as part of NASEP for themselves, peers, families, and friends. The relationships they build with one another while in this program will set the stage for a network of native scholars that are able to rely on one another through their STEM journeys. In addition, what we have seen is NASEP alumni who have continued to be involved with NASEP as mentors to current participants, either through serving as a resident assistant for the program, participating in a college student panel providing advice, or returning to be hired as a coordinator for the program.
To successfully implement NASEP, partnerships have been forged with various university, community, and tribal entities. Native American Student Affairs (NASA), UA American Indian Alumni, Office of Admission, Student Affairs Systems Group (SASG), and the Colleges of Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Optical Sciences have all been consistent university affiliates that have provided support by facilitating sessions with students. Excursions to Tohono O’odham Community College and the Pascua Yaqui Education Center deliver understanding of tribes in the area. To provide professional development, partnerships with IBM and Raytheon have been key to this process. A coordinator is responsible for outreach, and execution of NASEP. The coordinator communicates with school districts and school counselors for recruitment of applicants. Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to creating recruitment materials, establishing a committee to select participants, scheduling of NASEP sessions, and searching for grant funding for the program. The UA American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) chapter is usually invited to help review applications for NASEP, and informed of an opportunity to serve as a resident assistant/mentor for the program. Two resident assistants are hired for the duration of the residential stay. Staff from Early Academic Outreach also assist the coordinator by helping drive high occupancy vehicles, picking up and delivering food, and with other logistical needs.
2016 National Student Clearinghouse Data
NASEP began to serve students in 2009 with cohorts of approximately 24 students annually with each student starting as either a sophomore or junior in high school. We pulled National Student Clearinghouse data in 2016 in order to get a better look at student enrollment and degree attainment for our cohorts. From this data set, we identified 35 NASEP participants who would have been eligible to graduate from a University in 4 years. Based on the information found, 29% of these students had received a bachelor's degree and 14% of those bachelor's degrees were in a STEM field. Furthermore, 6% of students had earned an associate's degree and 6% were pursuing a graduate degree in STEM. Based on this data, NASEP alumni seem to enroll in college at a higher rate and produce 2-3 times the number of bachelor's degrees, as compared to the national average for Native American students. In conjunction with our involvement with the STEM Push Network, we plan to retrieve a newer data set of the National Student Clearinghouse data to further explore the impact that NASEP is having on the student we serve.
Enrollment and Retention
NASEP has worked to increase readiness among Native American youth and their families. For example, since 2009 NASEP has brought a total of 278 Native American high school students to campus to learn about STEM career fields, conduct research, and receive guidance for pursuing college. One-out-of-four NASEP participants has gone on to enroll at UA. The results from the culturally affirming academic and student support programs offered by Early Academic Outreach, such as NASEP, shows an increase in the enrollment of Native American undergraduates at the university. In 2015, UA enrolled a total of 390 Native American undergraduates, a 16% increase from 2013.
In addition, NASEP alumni who enroll at UA become involved with AISES, and even hold leadership roles. NASEP alumni are members of the chapter, and regularly serve on the chapter executive board. In addition, NASEP alumni have also served at the AISES National level as the Region 3 representative.
The desire to give back is inherent to NASEP students, which is evident in their involvement in the Native Student Outreach, Access, and Resiliency (SOAR) program, a multi-tiered mentoring service-learning class that brings awareness to the issues of access to higher education for indigenous peoples. Those enrolled in the class are mentored by a professional and are provided advice about graduate school and resources for careers following graduation. Not only are the college students mentored, but also serve as mentors for native high school students, and provide guidance for college admission. About one-in-five UA NASEP alumni have gone through Native SOAR since being offered in spring 2015. This culturally-relevant peer mentoring relationship has been shown to contribute towards the retention of Native American freshman participants, resulting in a 100% freshman to sophomore retention rate among participants.
Aside from the University of Arizona, NASEP alumni have gone on to attend Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Washington, Yale University, Georgetown University, Dartmouth College, Brigham Young University, Colombia University, and more. This past year, NASEP celebrated that six of our alumni are 2017 Chief Manuelito Scholars, and one was a 2017 Flinn Scholar. In 2018, we welcomed 3 Chief Manuelito Scholars and one Flinn Scholar.
The outcomes on recruitment and retention were analyzed and reported through the Office of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at the University of Arizona. Information on student involvement in AISES and Native SOAR is tracked through the Office of Early Academic Outreach.