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GPRC Launches New Supports for Indigenous Students
September 13, 2017
GRANDE PRAIRIE – Indigenous students arriving at GPRC this fall have a new support system to help them succeed at College.
The Indigenous Peer Mentorship Program (IPMP) offers social and academic support to Indigenous students. The grant-funded initiative was developed during the 2016/17 academic year, making this year the program’s pilot.
The IPMP will help Indigenous students succeed academically and make meaningful connections by pairing new students with a mentor who help them make the transition to college, said Kirsten Mikkelsen, Indigenous Studies instructor and a leader of the IPMP initiative.
“We will research the effectiveness of the pilot and how to further incorporate technology that will support the mentorship process,” said Mikkelsen. “This research will also help us do any program redesign needed to support our students in the Aboriginal Administration Diploma program.”
Students can apply to be mentees at the beginning of the new semester. The program also builds on the existing suite of support systems for Indigenous students at GPRC, including the Circle of Indigenous Students and a tutoring program in partnership with the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre. GPRC is also the first college in Canada to have its own Friendship Centre on-campus for students.
It is important to build a network of well-matched support for Indigenous students, who often come from isolated communities and perhaps have a different cultural background from what one might find at the college, said Dennis Whitford, program development consultant and CEO of 2Thunder Consulting.
“Students are better able to relate to others who are in a similar situation to what they’re experiencing,” said Whitford. “These supports from senior students who are on an equal footing are apt to be more credible than hierarchal types of support from college instructors or more formal help services.”
“GPRC is very proud of the work our staff, faculty and students to make the College a safe and welcoming environment for our Indigenous students,” said Vice-President Academics and Research Susan Bansgrove. “Initiatives such as this builds on the College’s wide range of services that help Indigenous students integrate more completely into student life and achieve academic success.”
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GPRC is a comprehensive community institution, publicly supported to provide opportunities in postsecondary education in northwestern Alberta. Established in 1966 in Grande Prairie, GPRC now includes campuses in Fairview and Grande Prairie, and learning centres in Edson, Grande Cache, Hinton and Jasper. GPRC offers a wide variety of career certificates and diplomas, pre-employment and apprenticeship trades, university transfer studies, and several opportunities for on-campus degree completion at baccalaureate and master levels through collaborations with four-year universities. For more information, visit gprc.ab.ca.
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