Niijii Success Stories
Benefits NIIJII students gain from being in the program
A major hurdle for many Indigenous students in obtaining their high school diploma is the successful completion of mandatory science course requirements. The goal of NIIJII is not to make every student a scientist, but to increase the students’ interest in science and school by connecting them with student mentors from Lakehead University. By creating a one-on-one connection with a real working scientist, the Niijii program strives to provide each student with the encouragement, confidence, and resources needed to succeed in an academic environment. The addition of a career counselling and healthy lifestyles component allows Indigenous youth to not only see their educational and career pathways more clearly, but also promotes healthy fundamental life skills they can carry with them throughout their lives.
The Aboriginal Mentorship Program gives high school students the opportunity to gain valuable university experience by hosting many events on campus, which lets the students become familiar with the campus and the faculty, and ultimately feel more comfortable once they begin their schooling at Lakehead. AMP students get the opportunity to visit working science labs and conduct experiments on campus, and then produce their own Research Project for the annual Research Project Fair held on campus. The AMP students gain valuable presenting experience about a topic they are passionate about.
Student Success Testimonals
Did you feel the AMP program supported you as a high school student? If yes, in what ways did you feel supported?
Laila: "As a high school student, the AMP program supported me in various ways. AMP always encouraged me to get involved in events and make new friends and learn new skills. While doing this, AMP provided a culturally, mentally safe space for me to share my ideas and experiences without judgement. In high school I always struggled with having adequate lunches to get through the day, AMP always provided nutritional and cultural foods to us, even when they weren't in the school itself. The AMP program played a large role in my picking for my Undergraduate degree and gave me guidance every step of the way, especially when I needed it most. AMP answered all my unanswered questions I had about my schooling that my guidance counsellor never took into consideration. AMP always took consideration of my personal life goals and provided me many opportunities for me to grow into the woman I am today."
What part of the AMP program did you enjoy the most? (I.e., classroom/school visits, project fair, activities, social aspect, a particular volunteer or staff member.)
Laila: "AMP was basically the highlight of my high school experience; I loved everything about it, I got involved with all the classroom visits, activities, fairs etc. The part I enjoyed most were the staff, Lisa in particular! Lisa always listens without judgement, and shows passion and care to the indigenous and non-indigenous students she meets."
What role did the AMP program play in your current educational pathway?
Laila: "I knew from a young age what I wanted to pursue for my career, but AMP played a huge role in helping me figure out how to get there and where I wanted to go university wise. AMP gave me various ideas/tips to help me succeed, while also showing me and other students first hand some different career opportunities."
Do you feel supported as a university student? Do you feel you would benefit from more support on campus?
Laila: "As a University student, I feel supported by my family and friends outside of school but also inside of school. AMP always felt like a family, and they maintained that relationship with me even after I graduated from high school. I know that If I ever have any questions or problems I can go to them or any of the AMP staff I met along my journey."
If you are currently, or would like to become an AMP volunteer, can you describe why its important to you?
Laila: "I would love to volunteer in my free time. I know that when I was in high school I benefited from listening to the students AMP brought in to tell us about their schooling and how they got to where they are. I would love to be able to share my journey with our youth in the community so that they know anything they want in life is achievable no matter your background. But also, if they're stuck, be able to give them guidance for their future, where to look for courses, how to apply for university, anything they might have questions about."
Do you feel the AMP program supported you as a high school student?
Mya: "I feel AMP really provided a space where I could learn about post-secondary education, regardless of where I wanted to go (Confederation College, Oski or another university). The staff and volunteers made me feel like it was capable and worthy of pursuing an education. I was in a place where I wasn’t expected to succeed or it was assumed that I wouldn’t go further than high school… or maybe even drop out."
What part of AMP did you enjoy the most?
Mya: "Meeting the AMP and AI staff was the best part of AMP for me. They made me realize that these were safe people and there was a safe space at Lakehead for students like me. I knew I would be supported at Lakehead. The mentors made me feel like I was capable of what they were doing. They gave their time to come and speak to me when they didn’t have to. They cared enough to show me that Lakehead is a place you can be successful and be happy."
What role did AMP play in your post-secondary pathway?
Mya: "If I hadn’t known AMP and the AI office, I wouldn’t be a student at Lakehead. I would’ve stayed up north in my community. They made me feel worthy and confident enough to come to Lakehead as a student. I now know I don’t have to give up who I am and I don’t have to be ashamed of my brown-ness. AMP and AI represent ‘mino bimaadiziwin’ (the good life) to me."
Do you feel you are supported as a university student at LU?
Mya: "Through the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives and AMP staff, yes. They laid the ground work to get me here. It made me feel like I would get more support here than other places. AMP made me feel capable and Anna and Jerri-Lynn made the process easy for me."
Why is becoming an AMP volunteer important to you?
Mya: "As a volunteer I get the chance to work with Lisa and Chelsey. I can see how the program works and I can contribute my time and experience, giving back to AMP. I want to do whatever I can to help. maybe I can let someone know that if they come to LU I am a safe person for them to connect with."