UTA ranked among best for Native American students

The premier publication for prospective Native American college students has again ranked The University of Texas at Arlington among the nation’s best universities for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students to study science, technology, engineering and math. The Winds of Change magazine’s annual “Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans” list includes UTA for the third consecutive year.

A publication of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the list considers steady increases in enrollment, graduation rates and degrees awarded in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math; strong academic support available on campus and substantial community support for the Native population in the surrounding region.

“Recognition by Winds of Change validates our work in recruiting Native American students to our campus and then delivering excellent academic pathways for success in these important professional fields of science and engineering,” said Ken Roemer, Distinguished Teaching and Scholar Professor in UTA’s College of Liberal Arts and an expert in American Indian literature.  “As a nation, and particularly as a public university, we owe our Native American youth the best possible education, and clearly, Winds of Change agrees it can be achieved at UTA.”

Roemer is a longtime faculty advisor to UTA’s Native American Student Association, which is the longest, continuously running Native student college group in Texas.

Now in its 23rdyear, NASA has awarded 32 scholarships and hosts an annual Powwow that attracts Native American tribes from across Texas and the Southwest to campus to celebrate culture and heritage.  By hosting lectures, films and workshops, and advocating for Native American issues, NASA frequently engages with the surrounding community and draws them to campus.

NASA has helped sponsor the annual Native Re-Vision All-Star Football Classic, a summer football game for rising high school junior and senior student athletes from tribes across the United States and Canada.  The event hosted at UTA is often the first time student athletes set foot on a college campus.  Through engaging academic, financial, and social programing, UTA helps inspire them to go to college. 

“Knowledge is power, particularly when you talk about Native communities. That’s why it’s critical for Native American students to go to college – so their tribes can have the knowledge to design their own futures,” said Les Riding-In, assistant dean and director of graduate programs in UTA’s College of Liberal Arts and an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation. “I’m proud that we don’t have one dominant tribe at UTA but many cultures present and represented.  From professors and staff to alumni and students, we offer a large network of support that is welcoming to all.”

Kristy Willis, a senior speech communication major, says NASA is one of the reasons she came to UTA.  Willis is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and was a student at Tarrant County College when she learned of the UTA student group.  She transferred to UTA and is now NASA’s president.

“NASA has played a huge role in my entire UTA experience,” she said.  “It has helped me grow and helped me think bigger.  It has given me more passion for my community and culture and I’ve learned so much about myself and my life.”

Willis said inclusion in the Winds of Change list for three consecutive years means more widespread recognition of UTA’s dynamic Native American student population and the high-quality curriculum offered.

“We are doing so many good things with and for our community. It’s exciting to be recognized,” she said.