by Tony Brave, Native American Outreach Coordinator


Once again Exploring College Emerging Leaders (EXCEL) Camp will soon be underway! EXCEL is a weekend-long camp on WSU’s Pullman campus, designed for Native High School students, in junior and senior standing, to get connected with the opportunities and services available to them at WSU. Students will explore various fields of study, get to meet current Native students and staff (as well as other like-minded youth), join in on college-wide activities, and get all the hot tips on scholarship writing and the college application process.  It’s totally FREE for all students. All they have to do is apply online!

The EXCEL students from 2018 take a fun group photo.
Native American high school juniors and seniors are invited to attend the 2019 EXCEL Conference at WSU.

Overall, the camp is packed with engaging opportunities that are designed to be relevant to Native youth. We have a welcoming, warm and active Native community here at WSU. With EXCEL we set aside special time to visit our Native American Student Center, to familiarized participants with our community, staff and services. Although there are many benefits to having such a large campus as we do, it can be a bit overwhelming at times and we want to make sure prospective students know there is always a safe and supportive space in our center to be themselves, and to get any help they might need in their educational journey.

Speaking of support, all of the counselors for the camp are current Native student ambassadors who remember exactly what it’s like to be wondering what their next steps in education are going to be, and are excited to help youth achieve their dreams. Participants will have the chance to ask them about their all of their experiences as Native students at WSU in our student panel time too.

There are, of course, more opportunities to engage with our community this year as participants will join in on the annual community Round Dance in the Gladish Community and Cultural Center, as well as more chances to spend time with our staff. For example, our wonderful Director Faith Price will lead a scholarship writing workshop to that ensures participants have the inside scoop on what scholarship review committees are looking for.

EXCEL 2019 students film a broadcast of the WSU Nightly News during a workshop with the College of Communication.

Participants want to know what it is like to be a college student at WSU, what it’s like to be in the classrooms and what it’s like to work closely with faculty. For this we have workshops lead by several faculty members and practitioners in a variety of fields, from engineering to the health sciences. One of the highlights every year for EXCEL is on Saturday morning, the participants don a lab coat and goggles and get swept up in a whirlwind of different exciting hands-on labs to explore the STEM fields. The faculty here are extremely passionate about what they do, and when students experience this first-hand, it can truly make the difference in whether or not they want to continue in those fields.

The best advice for students choosing where they want to go is to actually visit, to experience what it is actually like to be on a particular campus. EXCEL is a free opportunity to be able to do just that. The participants (and the staff) have a great time every year, and we all are looking forward to having another incredible group join us again this year!