By MATTHEW ROBECK
Do you feel that you have a lot more to learn””specialized knowledge and skills that are best learned at a college””but don’t have enough time to get another degree? Perhaps continuing education is the right place for you.
In 2008, the Institute of American Indian Arts started to offer a series of workshops and conferences that ranged from teaching valuable work skills, healthy eating, leadership development, artistic development, and more.
Continuing Education is a multifaceted program, dedicated primarily to supporting tribal communities in building skill sets for future careers and finding various local artists of all types around Santa Fe so that they can teach their craft, according to Joannie Romero, who manages the program.
“There’s been a lot of different ideas as to what should be offered in continuing education, such as the alumni track, which is something we support [implementing],” Romero said. “However, the primary focus of continuing ed is supporting the local tribal communities in building skill sets that will help them be successful in their careers.”
The workshops are hosted both on the IAIA campus and nearby pueblos communities, primarily in the Rio Grande Valley area.
These workshops tend to have an attendance level of about ten people, which allows for a more one-on-one experience with the teachers, Romero said.
Continuing Ed is a non-academic program, meaning that it does not provide academic credit. However, these workshops can provide continuing ed units that can provide professionally-recognized credit, Romero said.
“Let’s say the course was twenty hours over a period of eight weeks,” Romero said. “One CEU is worth ten hours of contact time, so they would earn two CEUs.”
At the end of the course, the student will get a certificate that details how many hours, and by extension, how many CEUs, the student received, Romero said.
Why the Workshops Are Helpful
These workshops are designed to allow students to learn about specific topics and skills without having to get an actual degree on the subject, Romero said, allowing for exposer to things like cooking and Native law.
Romero said that this allows for people to explore professional options for an interest that might initially have been a hobby, or perhaps allow for people to obtain subject matter that might not be readily available to an individual who is working a full-time job.
“For example, Indian law,” Romero said. “There are so many facets of Indian law. There’s gaming, water rights, and basics of Indian law. There are so much that people in the area want to know about and there are only so many symposiums that focus on that specific object.”
Romero will be teaching an administrative-focused program for people who work in tribal government who want to learn more about Indian law.
Native Youth Pathways Development
Continuing education also supports a program called Native Youth Pathways Development, which is a college and career readiness program for middle schoolers, said Romero. “It focuses on Native identity empowerment.”
The state only graduates 67 percent of Native students from the public education system. The NYPD is designed to try to help these students integrate with the classroom environment, like talking to the students about peer pressure and bullying, Romero said.
It also helps to teach students about how to prepare for applying to colleges, Romero said. For instance, it teaches students about how to sign up for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the basic information that might be needed to apply for colleges.
Parents and other adults can take another version of these classes known as Life Pathways, which has a similar function.
To learn more, there are two video documentaries available on the IAIA Continuing Education webpage.
(Featured photo courtesy of Joannie Romero)