North Island College celebrates expansion of Aboriginal Scholars program

North Island College is marking a successful first term of a newly expanded program to provide support to Indigenous learners at all four college campuses.

The Aboriginal Scholars program is a culturally relevant, holistic program that began as a pilot project at the Comox Valley campus. Based on the concept of the medicine wheel, the Aboriginal Scholars program aims to help students find balance in all aspects of their lives.

The program was expanded to all campuses this fall, thanks to a $50,000 donation from RBC and the RBC Foundation. The expanded program saw a huge response from students.

“It was incredible to see the number of students wanting to be part of the program,” said Sarah Lawrence, NIC Aboriginal education advisor and program coordinator. “It’s been an inspiring first term and we’re hoping to continue that into the winter semester.”

Students work with an Aboriginal educational advisor to create an achievement plan, based on their individual needs. The goals can be academic, spiritual, emotional and physical.

The students work with their advisor throughout the term to keep on track and also access services and supports that will help them achieve their goals.

“It’s about helping students gain the skills they need to be successful,” said Lawrence.

NIC business administration student Chris Scarlatti is one of the students taking part in the Aboriginal Scholars program this year.

“NIC’s Aboriginal Scholar program has provided me connections to a wide variety of supports and services that I would not have known existed,” said Scarlatti. “Sarah has pushed me to take on new challenges, both on campus and off. Having made these new connections, I am now a student leader and honing my business skills on the Education Council, Planning and Standards Committee and Curriculum Committee. Without NIC’s Aboriginal Scholar program, none of this would have been possible.”

The program will run again through the winter term at NIC campuses in Campbell River, Comox Valley, Port Alberni and Port Hardy. Students can apply for one term or the entire year. At the end of each term, successful students will earn a $250 scholarship.

“Success is defined very broadly, since the goals are specific to each student,” said Lawrence. “It’s really about helping students succeed now and setting them up for success in the future, both academically and throughout their lives.”

Interested students can contact Sarah at sarah.lawrence@nic.bc.ca.

For more information on NIC’s Aboriginal Education programs and courses, visit www.nic.bc.ca/aboriginal-education.

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