Sunny at the University of Minnesota on her first college visit. Sunny is a student at Leech Lake Tribal College in Red Lake, Minnesota. Through the help of the American Indian College Fund’s Native Pathways to College Transfer Program, she was able to travel to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a campus visit.

“I had insecurities about transferring from a smaller tribal college to a large university, but was put at ease by the faculty and students at the University of Minnesota,” Sunny says.

Sunny’s first stop on campus to plan the campus visit was with the Circle of Indigenous Nations. The Circle of Indigenous Nations (COIN) is an organization on the University of Minnesota- Minneapolis campus that “recruits, retains, and graduates American Indian/First Nations/Alaskan Native students by promoting cultural values that help indigenous students become self-directed, excel academically, and succeed in all areas of individual matriculation, academic pursuits, and career aspirations.” She says COIN helped set up the necessary appointments and contacts with the admissions department and the particular schools I wanted to earn my degrees from.

“I was in awe when I arrived at the University of Minnesota. The beautiful architecture on campus was breathtaking. I noticed the diversity of the students on campus and felt welcome. My first appointment on campus was with a transfer counselor. I was afraid my meeting would lack the interpersonal connection that I normally felt at my tribal college, but I was wrong. The counselor I met with took the time and effort to learn about my personality, lifestyle, and educational goals. She found scholarships and student organizations that fit me perfectly. The counselor helped me map out the classes I would need to transfer to the University of Minnesota. I felt like a part of the University of Minnesota family already.”

Sunny says she also attended a transfer information session where she learned more about the different schools the college offered and additional scholarships. “The presenter of this session sat with me after the presentation and offered advice on the application process based on my unique education circumstances.”

After this, Sunny was ready for a tour of the campus given by a student, “which I thought was insightful. I toured the various buildings and learned there are 68 majors at the University of Minnesota. All of the students I saw on campus seemed so passionate about their education, just as I am. I learned that there are campus-wide WiFi and computer labs throughout the campus with the latest technology so students never have to worry. I learned that the University of Minnesota is passionate about its architecture and strives to keep original buildings intact,” she says.

During the tour Sunny was able to visit the Circle of Indigenous Nations. “There I learned that COIN offers many opportunities for indigenous students to thrive. I was even invited to a round dance hosted by COIN on the evening of my visit. The student who gave my tour told me about leadership opportunities on campus which caught my interest.”

Sunny says thanks to the help of the Native Pathways to College Transfer Program, the University of Minnesota, and the Circle of Indigenous Nations, she has been able to set her educational course, and feels “even more inspired to continue my education. I have a solid idea about how I will achieve my educational goals through my interactions with the students and staff and the University of Minnesota.”