Spokane Tribal College creates community for students | News
Spokane Tribal College might be one of Spokane’s best kept educational secrets. Located at Indiana and Monroe it’s easy to miss, but the school is helping students who might otherwise fall through the cracks find their way to a degree.
“We really fill a niche that other colleges and universities in this area don’t,” said Shelly Wynecoop, Director of Spokane Tribal College. “We really treat our students not just as an individual, but as members of a community.”
Spokane Tribal College has been operating for 17 years at the Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, and in 2007 opened a campus in Spokane. The school is accredited through Salish Kootenai College in Montana and offers Associates Degrees as well as certifications. Some of the current areas of study include business management, liberal arts, Native American students and media design. But for the students who attend it’s less about the course work and more about the sense of community that helps them thrive.
“We don’t expect students to leave everything at the door when they come to study with us,” explains Wynecoop, adding that the staff will do anything they can to make sure traditional barriers like cost, lack of childcare, or lack of transportation.
“We do everything to keep those barriers from keeping people from pursuing higher education,” said Wynecoop. If a student finds themselves without childcare they can bring their kid to class, and if someone needs a ride to school someone from the school will make sure they get there. Spokane Tribal College is also one of the cheapest options in the state, and students of any and all background are accepted.
For Randy Ramos, that flexibility was the key to his success at STC. Ramos graduated last spring and is now working as a recruiter for the school, but before that he spent 16 years in the casino business.
“I didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities,” explained Ramos, but when he heard about STC everything changed for the single father of four. “From then on I just kind of hit the ground running.”
Romas is working to get the word out about STC, and is visiting schools, shelters and community court to make sure that those who wouldn’t otherwise consider higher education know there’s an option.
“We’re trying to change the community as a whole,” explained Ramos. “We’re reaching out to the all these people that kind of fall through the cracks.”
“The university experience can be intimidating to a lot of people, especially those coming from small, rural communities,” said Wynecoop, liking it to being dropped in the deep end of a pool. Having more individual attention is a smaller school setting allows STC students to ultimately find more progress and success at higher education levels.
“We want to make sure every student graduates because we know that these next people who make it through, that’s just going to help out the community even more,” said Ramos.
For more information on Spokane Tribal College visit spokanetribalcollege.org