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Nov. 22, 2023

Exploring Indigenous student success with speaker event

Michigan State University’s Neighborhood Student Success Center, or NSSC, hosted the event “Building Indigenous Futures for Student Success by Closing Opportunity Gaps” at the end of October at the MSU Federal Credit Union headquarters. For nearly a decade, NSSC has partnered with communities to center identity work and help elevate, celebrate and acknowledge Indigenous people locally. Through events like this one, members and leaders learn and gain insight into what student success looks like for North American Indigenous and Native students at MSU. 

Headshot of Colleen Green
Colleen Green. Photography by Blake Matthews.

East Neighborhood Director for Student Success Ariel Arnold and Associate Director in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Emily Sorroche made this event possible with help from the entire NSSC team, which exists to support those in MSU’s residence hall neighborhoods who have been engaged with identity-conscious student success work. 

“This event establishes a coalition-building effort with leading practitioners to center how MSU can better serve our Indigenous students,” said Sorroche.

The event opened with a reading of MSU’s land acknowledgment and an explanation of how NSSC is working to support that acknowledgement. The event also featured guest speaker Colleen Green, Central Michigan University’s director of the Office of Indigenous Affairs and Student Transition Enrichment Program. The gathering served as an opportunity to connect and engage in conversations about strengthening student success strategies and finding new ways of reducing and closing opportunity gaps to build a deeper sense of community in collaboration with Indigenous communities. 

Green provided an overview of what education means to indigenous communities sharing her experiences during her time in school and the challenges she faced growing up. With her current position and connections she has provided and directed her students to trustworthy people that will help them have access to all the necessary resources and support they need to succeed. She also highlighted the importance of community-based religious, public, institutionalized, tribal and mainstream education and tribal colleges and universities and how they all play a role in student success in Indigenous communities. 

As a mentor and leader, Green serves students by providing tribal support and services for a variety of Indigenous communities. Her work prioritizes creating a sense of belonging on CMU’s campus by building spaces that bring students together to celebrate special Indigenous events such as Native American Heritage Month, powwow and Orange Shirt Day, a day created as an opportunity to discuss the effects of residential schools and their legacy.

Similarly at MSU, these events help support success by bringing the campus community together to welcome, acknowledge, and celebrate Indigenous people — helping them feel more connected to campus, the community and one another.

MSU recognizes Native American Heritage Month in November. Learn more and support American Indian and Indigenous Studies programming at MSU and within the local community.

By: Luz Vazquez

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