Putting the Community in 'Community College'
Ah-Nung Matrious was looking for a fresh start when she came to MCTC after a less-than-stellar experience at a previous school. In her short time at the College, she’s already made an impact in the student community by means of collaboration and conversation.
When she started at the College, Ah-Nung was encouraged to join the United Nations of Indian Tribes Education (UNITE) student club.
“They were beat when I joined,” she said. “We all took on responsibilities to make improvements happen.”
Ah-Nung and the other members worked together to turn the club around. They mended broken ties with other student groups and increased accountability.
“We all revamped UNITE’s outlook as a student organization,” she said. “There may have been some struggles, but we overcame them and now we are stronger and more involved than ever.”
A key component to the club’s turnaround included collaboration. Ah-Nung and UNITE began working together to host events with another MCTC student club, Xicanos Latinos Unidos (XLU). The collaboration started with a potluck that brought members of the two clubs together to share their cultural foods and get to know each other. Members of the clubs also played a Jeopardy-style game and answered questions about Native American and Latino culture. Both clubs learned about each other’s cultures in ways they never thought they would.
“We went out of our way to forget about cliques and interact with each other,” Ah-Nung said.
The collaboration spanned other student groups as well. UNITE, in collaboration with the Student Veteran Association (SVA), reached out to other clubs to collect funds for an all-College barbeque. Ah-Nung saw it as an opportunity to create the atmosphere that she felt at the potluck, except on a larger scale. Hundreds turned out for the barbeque and she has even bigger plans for the next one.
“I think our collaboration started a trend,” Ah-Nung said. “It created a bigger sense of community.”
Ah-Nung’s Native American values are tied into her aspirations for the campus. Included in those values are community, unity and contribution. She knows that she won’t accomplish her goals alone, but will be successful with the help of her peers.
“We are always working together to look out for the future of our loved ones,” she said. “If those other student organizations and individual students didn't help me or contribute, nothing great would have been accomplished.”
Before she came to MCTC, Ah-Nung lived on a secluded reservation in Hinckley, Minn. Coming to the Twin Cities was a shock for her.
“People who live in outstate areas often don’t have much, if any, experience interacting with people of other cultures,” she said.
Ah-Nung went on to assume the role of Student Senate president, and hoped she could create a sense of campus community for current and future students.
“One of the best things I like about MCTC is regardless of race or background, I have a lot of support,” she said. “I’m very thankful that they have given me the opportunities to let me do what I’ve done.”
Originally published September 2014.
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