Three graduates of the American Indian Urban Teacher Program (AIUTP) were honored at a ceremony on June 13, following the GSE Academic Hooding event. Graduates Ashley Friedman, Cara Colclasure, and Gina Rentz were joined by faculty, family, and friends for the evening’s celebration, which featured a traditional Native American meal.
Associate Dean Micki Caskey, who is one of the founders of the AIUTP program, was honored at the event for her ongoing support. Cornel Pewewardy, AIUTP co-founder and director of the Indigenous Nations Studies department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sang an honor song as Dr. Caskey was presented with a Pendleton blanket in the traditional tribal way.
The AIUTP was launched at PSU in 2011 to recruit and train native people for the teaching profession. Portland has the largest American Indian population in Oregon with more than 2.1% of K-12 students, but less than .6 percent of teachers are Native American. The AIUTP is one of only eight universities awarded funding by the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education and provided a stipend for living expenses and full tuition to Native American teacher education students who qualify.