Native Youth Take the Stage at NIEA in Reno

As winners of the first-ever Gen-I Native Education Ideas Contest, Jordan Jimmie and Lillian Alvernaz received an all-expense paid trip to Reno, Nevada, to present their perspectives on improving Native education systems at the National Indian Education Association‘s annual convention.

On October 6, Lillian and Jordan joined CNAY’s Erik Stegman and Amber Richardson in leading a session on innovative Native youth programs in Indian Country. The two youth presenters shared their own educational journeys and gave insight on effective strategies for recruiting and retaining Native students. CNAY provided context by sharing preliminary data from the first-ever Gen-I Online Roundtable, a survey to understand the resources Native youth need to address critical issues in their communities.

The session was standing room only, with participants generously sharing their knowledge of programs, services, tools and other resources that support Native youth throughout Indian Country.

The next day, Jordan and Lillian took the stage during general assembly to deliver lightning talks to over 1,000 audience members. Jordan’s session described his journey to become a hydrologist, and focused on his ideas for improving mentorship for Native students, especially in STEM fields.

Lillian’s lightning talk centered on a community-based approach to recruiting and retaining Native law students. Lillian believes that “you can’t be what you can’t see”, and that exposing Native students to law at an earlier age can help increase interest in law as a career field later in life.

CNAY’s final NIEA workshop introduced a new partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association to create an online career readiness curriculum specifically for Native students. Workshop participants shared information about existing career readiness resources in Indian Country that could benefit from this new curriculum. The feedback we gathered will be used to improve the curriculum before its launch.