TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Northeastern State University was named one of the top institutions in the nation supporting Native American students.

NSU was ranked No. 2 on College Value Online’s top 30 American Colleges that support Indigenous students and communities list last month.

NSU Center for Tribal Studies Director Sara Barnett said while academics are at the center of the support services the institution provides to Native students, the college experience is more than coursework.

“In order to prepare students for that next step, we need to expose them to a variety of co-curricular experiences to help them refine their academic and career goals and connect their coursework with those goals,” Barnett said. “It is important for Native students to connect with Native professionals, role models in their fields of study as well as other peers. These connections, combined with our cultural activities, help bridge the gap between students' Native identity and their college experience, which can often seem contradictory or at odds with one another.”

The Center for Tribal Studies provides support for Native students such as assistance with admissions and financial aid applications, personal, academic and career advisement, career and graduate school preparation, leadership development and assistance in locating scholarships and internships.

Over the past couple years, the institution has secured grant funding to further expand its support of Native American students.

Barnett said this includes a five-year, $2.2 million federal grant to expand services and offer a more comprehensive set of services to improve Native American students’ academic performance. This consists of services such as assisting freshmen and transfer students with the transition to campus life, academic support, career exploration activities, faculty and peer mentoring, Indigenous research methodology workshops, community speaker series and professional development for faculty and staff.

The federal funds were awarded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions Program. This program provides funding to Native American-serving, nontribal institutions to expand its capacity to serve American Indian students.

In addition, Northeastern State University received a $100,000 grant that will allow it to expand mental healthcare services for Native American students.

The Center for Tribal Studies is working collaboratively with HawkReach, which provides free counseling services to NSU students, to make sure these additional services are part of the broader approach to mental health services on campus. The grant has allowed the university to hire two additional counselors in place to service students and those interested in working with counselors hired specifically to work with American Indian students. The university received funding through the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board (SPTHB).

For more information about the Center for Tribal Studies visit https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/default.aspx, email tribalstudies@nsuok.edu or call 918-444-4350.