WWS Blog

Wilson School Hosts Summer Policy Academy for Students from Pueblo Nations

Jun 15, 2015
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Public Affairs

Fourteen high school students from the Pueblo, Navajo and Jicarilla Apache nations of New Mexico are visiting the Woodrow Wilson School from June 13-21, as part of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute’s Summer Policy Academy (SPA).

Nominated by teachers, community leaders, professionals and tribal leaders, these students spend the week examining Native American policymaking on the federal and state levels.

The program, co-founded and co-directed by Regis Pecos ’77, chief of staff to the New Mexico House of Representatives Majority Floor Leader and director of legislative affairs for the House Majority Office, brings American Indian rising seniors and recent high school graduates to the Wilson School for a weeklong program to explore issues facing American Indian communities.

This year's program will explore education policies impacting language and culture. Together, the students will define their vision of education that strikes a balance with their traditions and rigorous academic preparation. They will also research how tribes and their schools can secure waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. This exploration will give the students the tools they need to develop recommendations for investing in the development of youth programs to build capacity in their trial communities.

The week will culminate in Washington, D.C., where students will present their findings and policy recommendations to the National Congress of American Indians, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Advisors, the New Mexico congressional delegation and the World Bank.

Hosted annually at the Wilson School since 2008, SPA is an important symbol of WWS’ commitment to cultural diversity, said Melissa Lyles, graduate admissions officer and social media strategist at the School.

“It’s exciting when we can connect with a Princeton alum who shares our vision of encouraging young people to pursue careers in public service, particularly students who bring a different voice to the policy table,” Lyles said.

Pecos, a retired Princeton trustee and a member of the Cochiti Pueblo, said the program is designed to give young Native American students the opportunity to appreciate where they come from and what it takes to be successful without compromising essential core values.

“We are grateful to Princeton that it supports this rare educational opportunity and recognizes how this experience can become a life changing experience for these young Native students, as it did for me nearly 30 years ago,” Pecos said. “It is by far one of the most unique opportunities for these students, and the impact of the program has been profound.”

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