What is the Native Youth to College Program?

Pitzer College and Western University of Health Sciences are proud to sponsor a program that supports Native American students’ transition from high school to college. Founded in 2009, the Native Youth to College Program is a college preparatory experience for Native American high school students in 9th-12th grades, designed to motivate them to complete high school,  strengthen their self-esteem, their academic preparation for college, and their connection to traditional knowledge and culture. This program focuses on the Humanities, STEM and Health Sciences while building necessary  skills for college entrance. Native American Scholars and Elders contribute cultural knowledge and traditional ways of learning within the academic environment.


The goal of this program is to prepare Native American students for academic achievement and leadership roles. In the Native Youth to College Program, students will be introduced to cultural studies, media studies, academic writing, and learn how to navigate college application process. Our partnership with Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) will expose students to the fields of medicine, including career tracks in dentistry, veterinary practice, nursing, pharmaceutical, osteopathy, and health administration. Time spent at Wishtoyo Foundation’s Chumash Cultural Village will introduce students to marine science from both a Western and Chumash perspective, as well as surfing, local plant knowledge, Chumash Elders, & Chumash language and history.

The Program will emphasize both academic and traditional tribal ways of learning and provide an interdisciplinary perspective of Native Americans through academic learning.  Students will emerge with an understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities available for Native people in higher education. They will also develop and apply communication, time management, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Furthermore, students will learn about social responsibility through community engagement projects, and experience a variety of avenues of self-expression.  During the Program, students will meet speakers, Elders, mentors, and staff members who will serve as supportive contacts throughout their future college application process, university, and post-university journeys

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