WARNER AND WILBURTON, Okla. (October 11, 2023) – Connors State College (CSC) and Eastern Oklahoma State College (EOSC) have been awarded a nearly $4 million federal grant to provide increased support for academic success, career preparation and mental health counseling for students at both campuses. The five-year grant is funded by the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) program.
Dr. Ron Ramming, president of CSC, said the collaborative project will significantly increase the capacity of both institutions to assist students with innovative advising techniques, structured educational and career planning, and a wide array of support services.
“This NASNTI grant represents a remarkable opportunity to enhance the educational experiences of our students,” Ramming said. “We are excited to work in collaboration with Eastern Oklahoma State College to create an environment where every student has the tools and support needed to be successful. We believe this project will make a profound impact on the academic journey and overall well-being of our students.”
Key components of the NASNTI project include the development of a Guided Pathways Center and a Career Services Center at each institution. These centers will serve as hubs for student engagement and provide resources to help students navigate their educational and career journeys effectively.
Dr. Janet Wansick, president of EOSC, said Guided Pathways coaches will help students explore, choose, plan and complete degree programs aligned with their interests and career goals.
“The Guided Pathways model will ensure our students are given the support to explore careers, choose a program of study and develop an academic plan based on structured program maps to simplify the decision-making process and make it more efficient,” Wansick said. “We believe that students are more likely to complete their degree in a timely manner if they choose a program early, have a clear plan of the courses needed, and the support to help them stay on track. This NASNTI grant will allow us to make significant strides in furthering our commitment to student access and success.”
The institutions will also partner with industry professionals to engage students in career exploration within the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), agricultural sciences, health and social sciences, and business and technical programs. Students will also have opportunities to seek internship and job openings and build connections with regional employers.
In addition to academic and career support, the grant will also enable CSC and EOSC to develop and implement comprehensive mental health services for students, addressing the growing need for mental health resources in today’s educational environment. Professional development for faculty and staff will be a key component of the project, with a strong focus on creating a culturally competent, trauma-informed teaching and learning environment. CSC and EOSC will be able to hire a shared licensed mental health counselor to ensure students receive the support they need in a timely manner.
The total NASNTI grant award is $3,999,678 to be spent over a five-year period. The federal program provides grant funding to Native American-serving, nontribal institutions to plan, develop, undertake and carry out activities to improve and expand their capacity to serve Native Americans and low-income individuals.