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2024 Student Success Summit—The Power of Our Stories

Mar 8, 2024

2024 Student Success Summit

On February 14, in keeping with this year’s theme, The Power of Our Stories, the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Student Success Summit, organized by Director of Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility Ryan Young (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) ’19, was rooted in heartfelt alum presentations and empowering creative arts workshops. Registration began at 9:30 am in the Performing Arts and Fitness Center (PAFC), and the event ran until 4:30 pm, with a delicious lunch served by Café Bon Appetit. Students sold Valentine’s Day-themed sweet treats to raise funds for their upcoming AIHEC trip, while local support service organizations also tabled at the event to share information about their resources.

Associated Student Government (ASG) President Laura Ten Fingers (Oglala Sioux Tribe) gave a welcome, followed by a blessing song by IAIA Student Christian Yellow Kidney (Blackfeet). Young gave introductions, then Hendrix Olson (Mvskoke Creek) ’19, the Program Coordinator at the New Mexico Genders & Sexualities Alliance, kicked off the summit with their keynote workshop, Amplify! Storytelling for Social Justice, teaching students how to share their own stories effectively.

Scarlett Cortez (Salvadoran, Mexican-American) ’20 spoke about her and her family’s experiences, read moving poetry, and guided participants in a poetry exercise during her workshop Pensamientos Y Poesía: Using Blackout Poetry to Expand Your Storytelling. In his presentation, Brushstrokes and Boldness: An Odyssey of Art, Identity, and Entrepreneurship, “Ofuskie” George Alexander (Muscogee [Creek] Nation) ’15 discussed his journey from being a student at IAIA to working as a professional artist, with funny stories and insider tips along the way. During their Envision Your Future through Art presentation, Neebinnaukzhik Southall (Chippewas of Rama First Nation) ’19 talked about how they have used art as a way to process ideas, imagine possibilities, and affirm identity, leading into a vision board-making session with the students. Meanwhile, in the Dance Studio, Eliza Combs (Irish, Cornish, and German), the Lead Counselor of the IAIA Counseling Team, led attendees in two workshops, Resourcing with Expressive Art and Make Your Own Essential Oil Rollers.

At the end of the summit, a drawing was held to award prizes to students who attended and participated in the day’s workshops—they received a ticket for every workshop attended. The grand prizes—two laptops donated by ASG—found happy homes, enabling the winners to complete their schoolwork more effectively.

Two Cinematic Arts and Technology students were honored as the IAIA Student of the Year and the Dr. Robert Martin Scholarship recipient. IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation) announced Isabella “Bell” M. Edmo (Pyramid Lake Paiute, Shoshone Bannock, and Blackfeet) as the Student of the Year. IAIA Provost Felipe Colón (Laguna Pueblo) named Laura Ten Fingers (Oglala Sioux Tribe) as the recipient of the Dr. Robert Martin Scholarship for Leadership, established in 2022 and endowed by IAIA Foundation Board Member Michael Pettit in honor of Dr. Martin.