Mentoring Native American students beyond academic skills is about being a trusted source of uplifting strength and encouragement.


Some Native American students come from kinship-centered communities. A mentoring relationship with faculty built on trust and rapport over time, might prove to be powerful in ensuring students are well supported and feel comfortable expressing their needs and pursuing their post-secondary education goals.

Mentorship includes advocacy and support as they progress through both their professional and personal journeys, by way of formal and informal education. Mentorship also encompasses directing and supporting students in accessing relevant community and campus resources.

Scenario 1

A Native American undergraduate student is a non-traditional student and is the primary caretaker within their multi-generational family.

The student remarks that they have a lot of family responsibilities, but are interested in exploring internship opportunities to prepare for their career after graduation. They are not sure how to make an internship work (because they barely have enough time to dedicate to their studies). They are feeling a little overwhelmed and discouraged because they are not at the same life stage as other college students.

Reflection Activity

What are some options you could creatively develop to provide an internship opportunity for this student (e.g., existing programs within your college, university or broader community)?

Scenario 2

A Native American student just moved from an urban area. They come from a close-knit urban Native American community, and their family was highly involved in the local Native American center. It is their first time living away from home.

At a campus event, they make small talk with you and ask some general questions about resources on campus and in the local community. You are unsure of what types of resources they are seeking. You tell the student you will get back to them with some information about campus and the local community.

Reflection Activity 1

Please take some time to digitally explore campus and local community resources available to your students in the areas of:

  • Campus Native American centers, affinity groups and student organizations;
  • Local and urban Native American centers or other community affinity groups;
  • Nonprofits serving Native American people and communities;
  • Campus and National fellowship, scholarship, internship and professional development opportunities;
  • Campus and local credit unions with benefits offered to students;
  • Free and low-cost legal and tax clinics;
  • Food pantry and food banks;
  • Housing resources (e.g., information about renter’s rights, housing shortages or instability, home loan down payment assistance programs; property tax assistance programs; shelters);
  • Community women’s resource centers;
  • Campus office for persons with disabilities;
  • Campus and county mental health and counseling resources;
  • Low-cost healthcare services (e.g., campus, free and walk-in clinics);
  • Affordable childcare services;
  • Support groups for persons with addictions;
  • Campus emergency loan funds;
  • American Indian College Fund;
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES);
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Reflection Activity 2

In researching these campus and community resources, what did you learn?

What are some different ways you could share this information with Native American students who do not want to self-identify as Native American or their needs?

Some examples are:

  • Developing a paragraph to cut and paste into your syllabus;
  • Creating a PowerPoint of services that can be used during lecture at the beginning of the semester;
  • Developing a digital welcome handout and include a link to the handout in your email signature;
  • Sharing information through an online course platform.