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Pathways to success for Native students

NASAI event gathers tribal leaders, education professionals to collaborate.
Conference held at ASU aims to help Native students find pathways to success.
June 8, 2016

Native American Student Advocacy Institute conference held at ASU addresses important issues facing indigenous students

Two heads are better than one. Gather a whole roomful of bright minds and there’s no telling what can be accomplished.

Arizona State University and the College Board hosted the annual Native American Student Advocacy Institute (NASAI) National Conference on ASU’s Tempe campus this week. The two-day conference brought together tribal leaders, community representatives and educational professionals from throughout the nation to collaborate and share strategies and best practices to close the educational gap in the American Indian community.

NASAI is sponsored by the College Board, a national non-profit organization devoted to connecting students to college success and opportunity. Each year, the College Board helps more than 7 million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success.

The NASAI conference covered such topics such as financial aid, teaching strategies and facilitating the transition to a four-year university. ASU President Michael Crow addressed attendees and discussed ASU’s commitment to support, retain and graduate American Indian students.

Attendees at the conference also viewed an early screening of the video below — ASU students and alumni offer a greeting in their Native language and share their purpose and goals for the future.

 

Conference speakers included the Honorable Diane Humetewa, U.S. District Judge of Arizona; Shana Brown, teacher, author, curriculum designer; and Amanda R. Tachine with the ASU Center for Indian Education.

“ASU is honored to host this important convening of thought leaders from across Indian Country to address the important issues facing Indigenous students,” said Bryan Brayboy, special adviser to the president on American Indian initiatives at ASU.

There are 22 American Indian tribal nations in the state of Arizona. Through workshops such as the RECHARGE Conference, ASU provides Native American middle and high school students the tools and resources for a bright educational future, helping them to envision themselves at the university.

In the past decade, ASU has increased American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment by more than 30 percent, enrolling more than 2,000 students during the 2015-2016 school year. The university continues to evolve — and collaborate at events such as these — to increase the number of Native students enrolled in institutions of higher learning.

Once at ASU, there are a variety of resources to help students achieve their full potential and succeed through graduation. In May, 354 degrees were conferred to American Indian students, a number that ASU aims to increase as the university forges forward in providing an accessible, affordable, quality education and increase the social mobility of all the residents of Arizona.

Top photo: ASU President Michael Crow speaks at the NASAI conference Tuesday on the Tempe campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

 
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June 9, 2016

Dance artist Marcus White to cultivate connections, diversity in the classroom as new ASU dance professor

Dance artist, creative producer and teacher Marcus White, who will join the faculty of ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts this fall, says he cultivates community and diversity in his classroom, and he plans to bring those values to ASU.

“I’m super excited to join ASU this fall,” said White. “Arizona State certainly has positioned itself as a leader in the nation. In particular, as someone who works in an interdisciplinary way, I was drawn to the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute.”

White is the founder and creative director of Marcus White/White Werx, a performance production company that spans various genres and dance styles. As director, he has created work for both stage and screen. His teaching practice draws on postmodern contemporary dance and urban styles, specifically waackingWaacking consists of moving the arms — typically over and behind the shoulder — to the music beat. It also involves posing and footwork., vogue and house. Additionally, White is a dance film creator and curator. In these roles, he has worked closely with presenters such as the Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers and the newly developed “Dance: American Art 1865–1960” exhibition, which celebrates dance in visual art developed at the Detroit Institute of Arts and is expected to tour throughout the United States.

“He brings deep connections into professional practice, is a master of both urban and modern forms and has a deep interest in working in communities,” said Stephani Etheridge Woodson, interim director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “He has a vibrant professional practice and copious curiosity. We are lucky to have lured him to Arizona.”

White says he considers his classrooms “communities of thinkers and movers” and the studio as a laboratory for ideas and practices, both for the students and himself. He also has a history of expanding that community to reach lower socio-economic communities. In North Carolina, he founded Paradigm Dance, where he developed relationships with Greensboro City Arts to implement an afterschool dance program in the city’s cultural centers within those communities. Later, he developed a program called Moving Voices in Michigan. The Moving Voices project uses dance as a tool to encourage youth to engage in social impact and as a way to empower participants to use movement to tell their own stories.

“Working specifically at the intersection of cultural theory, movement practice and digital media, I come with a unique lens to craft stories and narrative using dance and film,” White said.

White has an MFA from the University of Michigan. He has taught at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan and has also served as a guest artist at various prestigious pre-professional dance programs such as the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, Penn State University, University of Montana, Oakland University and the American College Dance Association.

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator , School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute

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