“We want to create a stronger sense of belonging among Oneida faculty, staff and students and make sure that we’re an environment that really affirms their identities and culture and that really supports their well-being and is where they can thrive.” – Dr. Sara Lam, NWTC
By Melanie Rossi
GREEN BAY – On June 19, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) and Oneida Nation held a signing agreement ceremony to renew their charter partnership for the future.
For over a decade, the partnership has worked to support the economic and workforce development needs of the Oneida Nation, specifically through academic collaboration and higher education.
“Our collaboration with the Oneida Nation is very important to us,” Dr. Sara Lam, NWTC’s vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, said. “One reason why our partnership is so important is because NWTC exists on Oneida land, so we really do feel like we are Oneida Nation’s college too. We want Oneida students, faculty and staff to feel that way—that they’re at their college when they’re at NWTC.
“We want to create a stronger sense of belonging among Oneida faculty, staff and students and make sure that we’re an environment that really affirms their identities and culture and that really supports their well-being and is where they can thrive.”
Throughout their partnership so far, NWTC and Oneida Nation have been able to collaborate on a variety of projects, all designed to address priority areas of the Nation’s students, workforce and community.
“We had an Adopt A School program, where our employees would go volunteer at K-12 schools that have a large number of Oneida students attending so the students can start building a connection with the college earlier on in their education and so that the employees of our college can have more of an understanding and more of a connection with Oneida students as well,” Lam said. “We have a career coach who works very closely and spends a lot of time at the Oneida high school to help students verify what their goals are for the future, in terms of their career and academic plans and then support them in finding a college and getting into a college program that will help them meet those goals.”
The collaboration has also included a service learning project in one of NWTC’s trade courses, the possibility for dual enrollment to receive early college credit by Oneida high school students and a NWTC staff person who can “serve as a point of connection for Oneida students,” Lam added.
After a decade of collaboration, the renewal ceremony allowed both NWTC and Oneida Nation to reaffirm their commitment to work together by updating their goals and priorities.
“With this renewed partnership we will be working together to identify the upcoming workforce development goals for Oneida as they look into their future so that we can be more targeted in where we focus our efforts,” Lam said.
While the pandemic halted the partnership’s ability to host in-person meetings, both parties felt that, by being able to personally connect again, now was the time to look into renewal and re-assessing the collaboration’s main priorities.
The renewed charter will focus on areas such as the Oneida Nation’s workforce development in the areas of health sciences, the trades and engineering; student accessibility; the expansion of dual-credit opportunities for younger students interested in higher education; and academic preparation for work in the construction trades for Oneida’s new housing development project.