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  • Popplestone, Ann
    May 28, 2007 With Tuition Waiver, Maine Invests in Its First People By KATIE ZEZIMA
    Message 1 of 2 , May 29, 2007
      May 28, 2007

      With Tuition Waiver, Maine Invests in Its 'First People'


      ORONO, Me. - By the time she was 32, Karen Carrion was living in Fort
      Lauderdale, Fla., working for a concert promoter and looking for a
      change. She had never attended college and considered it out of the
      question because of the cost.

      That changed when Ms. Carrion's mother, a Maine native and a member of
      the Penobscot Indian Nation, urged her to apply to the University of
      versity_of_maine/index.html?inline=nyt-org> and its North American
      Indian Waiver and Scholarship Program.

      "I probably wouldn't have gone to college at all if not for this," Ms.
      Carrion, a sophomore majoring in women's studies, said between classes
      at the university's flagship campus in Orono, about eight miles north of

      The scholarship pays for tuition, fees, room and board for any
      undergraduate or graduate student who can prove membership in a state or
      federally recognized tribe or can prove direct descent from a member.

      Members of recognized Canadian tribes are also eligible, though students
      from outside Maine must first live in the state for one year to
      establish residency.

      About 500 students throughout the University of Maine system are
      enrolled in the program. About 160 of them, 40 of whom are from out of
      state, are enrolled at Orono, said John Bear Mitchell, coordinator of
      the waiver program.

      The program dates to 1934, when university trustees voted to grant full
      scholarships to five students who were members of the Penobscot or
      Passamaquoddy tribes. In 1971, the criteria were broadened to include
      all North American Indians, but few took advantage. In 2001, the
      university appointed Mr. Mitchell to streamline the program, and
      enrollment has increased.

      "I think it's our responsibility as a land grant university to work
      together with the state's first people and ensure they not only have
      access, but succeed in higher education," said Edna Mora Szymanski, the
      senior vice president and provost.

      Mr. Mitchell said the program cost the state about $2 million last year.

      Other colleges and universities around the country offer similar
      programs. Among them are the University of Minnesota
      versity_of_minnesota/index.html?inline=nyt-org> -Morris and Fort Lewis
      College in Durango, Colo., which give qualified American Indians free
      tuition, and the University of Massachusetts
      versity_of_massachusetts/index.html?inline=nyt-org> system, which
      offers tuition waivers to Indians who are state residents. Michigan
      waives tuition at all public colleges and universities for students who
      prove their tribal lineage or membership and reside in the state for a
      year or more.

      Syracuse University
      acuse_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org> offers free tuition, fees,
      room and board to first-year and transfer students from local tribes.

      According to a 2005 report by the American Council on Education, the
      number of American Indian students attending college doubled from 1977
      to 2002. Mr. Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot Nation, said the Maine
      program helped empower its students and gave them a chance to return to
      their communities and give back.

      Mr. Mitchell is also a co-director of the Wabanaki Center at the
      university, which studies the four largest tribes in Maine: the
      Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot. According to the 2000
      census, six-tenths of 1 percent of Maine residents, or about 7,000
      people, are American Indian.

      The center is a gathering place for Indian students, many of whom lived
      on small reservations before coming to college. "It's a safe place. It
      provides students with a set of relations within the university
      community," said Shaerri Mitchell, 36, a graduate student whose
      grandfather founded the center. "It models the communal structure of a
      reservation." She and Mr. Mitchell are cousins.

      Sonya Lacoute, who attended the university as an undergraduate and will
      receive her master's in social work next May, came to Orono from
      Pleasant Point Indian Reservation, which is home to about 2,000 people
      in far eastern Maine.

      Ms. Lacoute, who works now in the tribal court for the Penobscot Nation
      on Indian Island, about four miles from campus, said the scholarship
      allowed her to attend college and the center helped her adjust to life
      in a more urban setting than she was used to.

      "To me, this was the big city," she said. "In that very different
      environment, it was nice to know that there were other natives here in a
      very welcoming environment."

      Mr. Mitchell said he hoped to bring more out-of-state students to the
      program. He does not have much of a recruiting budget, he said, and news
      of the scholarship travels mainly by word of mouth. Students are going
      to high school classrooms around Maine to publicize the program.

      "We're still underrepresented in the University of Maine system," Mr.
      Mitchell said. "For a long time the public thought we were needy, and we
      want to show them that we're not. We want to educate students, graduate
      them, and give the state more tax money and a return on their

      Ann Popplestone AAB, BA, MA

      CCC Metro TLC



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • anthropmor@AOL.COM
      Hey- Ron posted this a couple of days ago! Mike Pavlik ************************************** See what s free at http://www.aol.com. [Non-text portions of this
      Message 2 of 2 , May 29, 2007
        Hey- Ron posted this a couple of days ago!
        Mike Pavlik

        ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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