Central Wyoming College (CWC) has been designated as a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution. That means the college will be better equipped to support their Native American students.
This federal program works at assisting college institutions with the retention of their Native American students, by funding staff and faculty training that cultivates a better, more inclusive environment.
CWC has already been increasing retention and graduation rates among their Native students for the last few years, and Rory Tendore intends to keep that work up. She's the Native American student coordinator, who was hired last year right before the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she is excited to build a support system that includes a student's whole family.
"We're translating some information to be able to relay that back to our families. Not only to our students but to be able to have those productive conversations with the community with aunts and uncles and grandparents. To develop that support team for each individual student," Tendore said.
About half of each of the two tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation are under the age of 18, so CWC is preparing a better place for potential students to enter higher education.
Tendore's position is partly funded through the grant program. Before accepting the job, she held a position with the Department of Family Services, and says she is eager to bring her interest in research to the role.
"For me to be able to have the opportunity to do a little bit of research to look at higher education opportunities that I didn't know were available has really given me the opportunity to advocate for students in a way that I didn't think I could," Tendore said.
Central Wyoming College is the only institution in the state that offers an associates degree in American Indian Studies.