New Beginnings for Northeastern Tribal Students

Supporting Native students through integrated financial, cultural, and academic programs

Tribal students from the Northeastern US are eligible to apply for free tuition and room and board in the Ratcliffe Hicks Associate’s Degree Program at the University of Connecticut. Students will learn skills that prepare them for fulfilling careers in the agricultural and environmental industry through Native perspectives. With a tight-knit community of students and faculty mentors, Tribal students will learn about topics important to the Native experience for a sustainable future.


Three Majors

Animal Science, Plant Science & Urban Forestry/Arboriculture

Tuition & Room/Board

At no cost

Transformational Education

Research, internships, more


Program Details


This two-year program offers Tribal students three areas of focus: Plant Science, Urban Forestry and Arboriculture, or Animal Science. The curriculum delivered through this program will include an Indigenous framework to teach students the skills necessary for high potential jobs through an Indigenous framework. This approach to food and sustainability education emphasizes the connections between people, plants, animals, and the land on which they reside.

This New Beginnings program is developing a new general education course for the RHSA students that examines Indigenous governance and worldview of food and sustainability through the lens of the interconnected health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Tribal educators will be involved in the design and delivery of this course. Following best practices for curriculum design, course materials and discussions will encompass multiple modalities and Indigenous knowledge will be expressed and presented by scholars, Elders, community people, and activists.

RHSA Plans of Study


The cohort mentorship design of this program will emphasize the development of leadership competencies and communication skills valued by employers. As a cohort, students will participate in the Native and Indigenous Scholars Community (NISC) non-residential learning community and First-Year Experience course, which helps acclimate first- and second-year students to the University. This learning community focuses on attending to Native and Indigenous students’ community, emotional, social, and cultural needs. We will build on this experience by providing an academic-focused mentorship group, led by Native graduate students and undergraduate peer mentors working with Academic Advisors. While all students in our College have a faculty academic advisor in their major, these additional resources will focus on supporting Native students as they adjust to UConn. Program participants who transfer to the baccalaureate program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) could then become peer mentors themselves for future scholarship recipients.

Participants can also join the UConn Indigenous Nations Cultural and Educational Exchange (UCINCEE) program, which connects UConn undergraduate student mentors with Native high school students around Connecticut. An advising team will design the mentorship activities, including a faculty member from Ratcliffe Hicks, a faculty member from the CAHNR BS program, the graduate student director of the UConn Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), and Tribal representatives.

In addition to the weekly mentorship meetings, students will attend a monthly seminar series devoted to Tribal history and culture. Tribal educators will be invited to present traditional and cultural teachings to the group. The NACP and CAHNR will co-host one event each semester to facilitate the academic and professional development of all Native CAHNR students. Working with faculty advisors, students in this program will participate in a summer internship chosen to assist them in their career path, an undergraduate research project, or both.


Students may apply through the common application by selecting an RHSA major as their first choice, completing the personal demographic information section of the common application, and stating their intention to apply through the contact form below.




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