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School of Engineering hosts summer camp for 11th-graders
STANFORD--Thirty American Indian 11th-graders have moved into the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a Stanford undergraduate residence, for a four-week experience of university life and learning.
Their visit is sponsored by the Stanford chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), which is holding its second annual summer camp on the Stanford campus, July 8-Aug. 6.
The 15 young men and 15 young women attending the comprehensives enrichment program come from 12 states and represent 16 tribes, with the highest representation being Navajo from Arizona and New Mexico, and Lumbee from North Carolina.
The program is funded in part by Intel Corp. and administered through the School of Engineering by Cheryll Hawthorne-Searight, assistant dean for precollege and minority programs. Stanford's School of Engineering, she said, has a strong interest in helping young American Indian students develop a broader sense of career possibilities and college options through participation in AISES programs.
The students' curriculum at Stanford is academically rigorous and includes lectures and labs in computer science, physics, mathematics, and technical and creative writing. Their field trips include visits to NASA-Ames, Travis Air Force Base and the University of California-Santa Cruz, as well as excursions to the Hupa Reservation, San Francisco, Great America and the beach. Time also has been reserved for native and traditional activities like the talking circle.
Stanford undergraduates serve as both residence assistants and teaching assistants. They include Phil Gover, whose tribal affiliation is Pawnee, from Oklahoma; Sheila McCabe, Navajo and Sioux, from Arizona; Ryan Perry, Xachlip, from Washington; and Nicole Wellman, Blackfeet, from Montana. The program coordinator is Paula Dybdahl, Tlingit, from Alaska, who was a Spring 1994 recipient of a James W. Lyons Award for her exceptional service to Stanford as vice president of the AISES chapter. Victoria Tom, a Northern Cheyenne and Alaskan Native high-school senior, is an intern with the program.
The teaching staff includes Stanford alumnus Danny Ammon, Hupa, who has returned for a second summer to teach computer science. Robert Barbosa, graduate student in Stanford's physics department, also has returned to the program to teach physics for a second summer. Nicky Michael, Delaware, who received her Stanford bachelor's degree in June, is teaching writing skills. Ira Deering, a volunteer instructor from IBM, is teaching math.
AISES, which is headquartered in Boulder, Colo., is a professional/preprofessional organization with more than 2,500 members. Founded in 1977, its purpose is to reconcile modern technology with traditional Indian values through its education programs and in partnership with both the federal government and the private sector.
AISES administers scholarship grants for both undergraduate and graduate programs. It awarded scholarships to 280 American Indian students for the 1993-94 academic year and expects total awards to exceed that number in 1994-95.
Norbert Hill, executive director of the national organization, said that AISES college and precollege programs have had a major impact. "When an American Indian student enters college," he said, "the campus environment is often very different from the reservation or rural high school. It is likely to be a new culture with very few familiar objects and none of the support systems of home."
Hill said that this abrupt change of environment - in addition to lack of adequate finances and lack of appropriate preparation, especially in mathematics and science - is a major cause of college dropout among Indian students.
Addressing the problems "is a top priority of each AISES college chapter," he said. "Our statistics show that more than 80 percent of AISES students stay on to graduate."
There are AISES college chapters on 108 campuses across the United States, plus three in Canada. The goals of the Stanford chapter are to encourage and assist American Indian students in pursuing careers in the sciences and engineering; to foster educational programs that will further the competence and professionalism of Indian leaders; and to explore and utilize appropriate technology that will serve Indian peoples.
Jim Larimore, assistant dean of students and director of the American Indian Program Office for the past nine years, said that the last two Stanford undergraduate entering classes have included "graduates" of AISES precollege programs. "They are," he said, "academically and socially very well prepared."
The AISES precollege programs are designed to motivate Indian students to undertake postsecondary education, particularly in the sciences, and to introduce them to the skills necessary to succeed in technical fields. The summer academic programs - which include the computer sciences/engineering and mathematics program, a health sciences program funded by the National Cancer Institute, and an Upward Bound program - were begun seven years ago and are held at college and university campuses throughout the country.
The comprehensive enrichment program was established five years ago, with original funding provided by the MacArthur Foundation. In 1993, the Lilly Endowment enabled AISES to expand the program. The comprehensive enrichment program provides five residential summers of intensive study in mathematics and science for American Indian junior-high and high-school students who have strong interests and abilities in those fields. Students can attend during consecutive summers but must reapply to the program each year, since one summer's participation does not guarantee future participation. During the fifth or last summer, a student can continue with the science and mathematics programs or opt for an internship.
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