A home for Native American students at CCC

Date: Thursday, 1st December 2022

CCC student and Summer Bridge participant Mistyrose Jensen prepares to cut the ribbon to signal the opening of the new Native American Success Center at the Lone Tree Campus.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - “A home away from home.”


That was the phrase mentioned by multiple students when asked about what the Native American Success Center (NASC) means to them. With the smell of good food in the air, the sound of laughter, and being surrounded by friends and family, it was hard not to feel at home.


On the evening of Nov. 15, 2022, Coconino Community College hosted the Grand Opening of the Native American Student Success Center at the Lone Tree Campus. The event was attended by over 100 people including; students and their families, tribal leadership and education representatives, and College faculty, staff, and leadership.  The NASC serves as an academic and cultural resources center for Native American and Alaskan Native students attending Coconino Community College. The NASC is a part of the Strengthening Indigenous Student Success Program (SISS), a new program at CCC that enhances the services and opportunities provided to Native American students.


The welcoming atmosphere of Native American Success Center itself is apparent. Brian Francis, SISS Program Coordinator, or an NASC Tutor or Peer Mentor, is on hand to greet students when they arrive, and the space is filled with comfortable furniture and tables for students to lounge on and relax, get school work done, or socialize with one another. The Center is also adorned with photos that celebrate Native American culture and representation at CCC. It truly is a home away from home. 


Mistyrose Jensen, a CCC student and Native American Summer Bridge Program participant, spoke at the Grand Opening about her experience in the program. As the first person in her family to attend college, Jensen did not know where to turn to for questions and advice about going to college when she was graduating from high school last spring. However, this past summer Jensen enrolled in the inaugural Native American Summer Bridge Program where she acquired the tools and knowledge to be successful in her college journey. Jensen expressed her gratitude to the program for always making her feel welcomed and for giving her an unforgettable experience that has better prepared her for her first year of college.


Following Jensen, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gave an inspiring speech about moving forward in the face of defeat and adversity. Nez thanked the NASC for serving as a home for Native American students who leave their homes to pursue an education and for giving students a space to feel connected to their culture. Referencing the Navajo phrase “T’áá hwó’ ajít’éego,” which can be translated as “it is up to you,” Nez encouraged students to never give up and to keep moving forward in their educational journeys.


Nez ended his speech by telling students, “What you learn at home is wisdom, what you learn in the classroom is knowledge. You put those two together, that’s power. Power to change yourself, your family, your community, and your Nation.”


The Strengthening Indigenous Student Success Program is funded by a five-year, $2.1 million dollar Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. NASNTI grant funds are awarded to institutions of higher education to provide opportunities for Native American and Alaskan Natives toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education.


NASC staff are excited to continue working towards improving the success of Native American students in higher education through new and improved programming.


Native American Success Center Tutor Melissa Jacquez said it best, “It’s so great to have a space to welcome Native students, support them, and give them the tools and resources they need.”


To learn more about the Native American Success Center please visit: https://www.coconino.edu/nasc 


- Cheyenne Grabiec,

Community Outreach Coordinator




All Dates

  • Thursday, 1st December 2022