Moving Online: MATC Educational Outreach During COVID-19

scholars program
University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Associate Director for Acess, Inclusion, and Diversity, Mr. Radell Nared Jr. (right), describes scholarship opportunities for Native American sudents as well as the process to apply to a 4-year institution for the MATC Scholar's Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many plans as group events are cancelled, courses are taught online, and individuals practice social distancing. MATC hosts a series of educational outreach programs throughout the year that invite youth from grade schools, high schools, and two-year colleges to get acquainted with science, technology, engineering, and math. As a result of the pandemic, MATC transitioned all four of its signature outreach programs to an online format in 2020. This ensured the safety of our partners while still allowing us to fulfill our education mission. The four programs were the Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy, intern program, scholars program, and the Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after school program.

The Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy was transferred online late June. This was the first program to be completely moved online and required a lot of help from the teachers at the schools the high schoolers attended, as well as the Native American faculty, students, and leaders across the country that usually came to mentor the students. Beginning June 29th, content was posted every week with advice about higher education from Native American college students, professors, and field professionals in the STEM fields. There were also activities for the students to do each week at home that exemplified what they could learn in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

The 2020 MATC Scholars program began early October and lasted throughout the month. Every week new videos were posted where University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and personnel from Career Services gave advice to students registered for the program.

Anyone could register for free to view the content, but the program is geared specifically towards Native American Undergraduate Students. It was designed to prepare them to transfer from a two-year tribal college to a four-year institution, such as UNL. There were sessions on college applications, scholarships, time management, and life in general at a four-year college, made available to the particpants on the MATC YouTube channel.

The Roads, Rails, and Race Car (RRRC) program ended early during the Spring 2020 school session, but MATC was able to bring it back in the fall while still following social distancing and other safety rules. This too required a lot of coordination and communication between the teachers at the middle schools the RRRC program takes place and MATC’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Gabriel Bruguier. Lessons on various STEM subjects are created by MATC and given to teachers each week for the students to learn, as well as an activity they can do using what they learned.

Technology has enabled MATC to stay connected and continue its educational outreach during this time, making it even more important to find new ways to reach youth considering higher education and careers in STEM fields.

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