In support of the United States Department of Transportation’s mission to recruit, educate, and train workers from underrepresented groups, the Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC), located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been working to close the gap for underrepresented groups since the center’s inception. MATC addresses the specific needs of Native American students through the implementation of three educational outreach activities: the Scholars Program, the Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy, and the Roads, Rails, and Race Cars After-School Program.
MATC Scholars Program
The MATC Scholars Program was developed in 2010 and designed to equip students from groups who are historically underrepresented in transportation with the tools to confidently pursue graduate school in transportation-related fields. The inaugural program focused on students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions from across the United States. To date, 124 students have participated in the program.
After discussions with Native American leaders, it was decided that a Scholars Program for helping students transition from two-year tribal colleges to four-year degree-granting
institutions was essential. The inaugural Native American Scholars Program was held in 2016. Sessions were led by Native professionals from Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC), Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA), and Sandia National Laboratories. Members of the University of Nebraska Inter Tribal Exchange comprised the student panel and answered questions about their experiences in successfully transitioning to, and succeeding at, a large, fouryear institution.
“Just hearing how everyone here had their own experience, their own way to actually get to their goal…just hearing ‘everything’s going to be O.K.’” was helpful said one student participant.