According to the Pell Institute, only 11% of first-generation students earn a degree within six years. There are many reasons for this. First-generation students are less prepared than their counterparts, they did not get help choosing a college that is a good fit for them, their families often discourage them from getting a higher education, and being unfamiliar with college culture, rather than immersing themselves in it, they withdraw.
This week the team at the American Indian College Fund embarks on a one-day retreat to recharge and regenerate, learning about leadership principles and applying them in our mission to provide scholarships and access to higher education for all of our students. We will be out of the office all day Wednesday.
After Independence Day, one thing strikes me: if American Indians are ever going to be free of poverty and being treated as second-class citizens, education is vital. Education does not just mean the basics: the math, the science, the language and reading skills: education also means being educated in the Indian way. Learning our native languages. Learning our traditions and ways as Indian people, and preserving them.