In the spring of 2021, several members of the American Indian and Indigenous Alliance pursued a grant offered by the USDA which supports tribal students.

The project, which is entitled “Community, Agency, & Engagement for Native Students” was awarded $200,000 and requires a $200,000 in matching funds from faculty salaries to scaffold and expand those supports already provided by the campus. Working closely with the American Indian & Indigenous Community Center, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the College of Natural Resources and Environment, this project will offer peer mentoring, experiential learning opportunities, and an elder in residence.

Leading this initiative as principal investigator was Donna Westfall-Rudd. The proposal had multiple contributors across campus including:

  • AIICC Director Melissa Faircloth
  • Sam Cook (History)
  • Jessica Taylor (History)
  • John Galbraith (School of Plant & Environmental Sciences)
  • Rick Rudd (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education),
  • Tracy Rutherford (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education)
  • Kristin Lamoureux (Hospitality and Tourism Management)
  •  Lana Petrie (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education)

“Faculty communities of practice and the Near-Peer Program will help to create a more inclusive climate for Native and Indigenous students while actively centering their learning styles and needs. Our goal is that Native and Indigenous students at Virginia Tech will not only obtain a degree, but will thrive here by maintaining connection with community while exploring educational interests and gaining realworld experience in the process.”

Learn more about the project at


    Share this story