A Student's Journey Summer Recap

A Student’s Journey (ASJ), a brand new year-long program, is the result of a joint-collaboration between Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) and the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) at the University of Arizona. A three-year project ($600,000 award) funded by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program will support three cohorts of students (60 total) to help develop: a sense of belonging at 4-year universities, knowledge about environmental and social justice, skills and confidence to pursue a bachelor’s degree that is related to environmental impact and work experience in Tribal departments. 20 students were selected into the 2020 program in January and participated in monthly spring workshops leading up to the summer.  

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our traditional ways of summer programming at SWEHSC had to adapt. While it wasn’t ideal, and several difficult decisions had to be made, program cancellation was never an option for our team. Unfortunately, that meant our TOCC students no longer had the opportunity to live on campus for 5 weeks or have a part-time internship with a faculty or staff member this summer due to ongoing health/safety concerns. Since 2020 was the first year of the program, we did not have the opportunity to fulfill our original expectations. However, team members from TOCC and SWEHSC collaborated to create an alternative experience for our students this summer.

ASJ proceeded by shifting all in-person activities to a virtual format via Zoom and created alternative ways to bring the University of Arizona and its resources to our students. All academic and professional capacity building was conducted through a new course, UA PCOL205, made specifically for ASJ.  


Program Highlights: 

Environmental Health & Environmental Justice: 

  • Graduate students from the UA Pharm Tox Program paired up with one another and led 6 lectures about critical environmental health issues impacting Southern Arizona. Activity supply kits were delivered for students to conduct EH experiments in their homes.  Faculty from the Tohono O’odham Nation Water & Natural Resources Departments spoke about critical issues regarding climate change, water rights, and opportunities to get involved w/ Natural Resources.  

University Readiness: 

  • Cultural Relevance activities w/ group discussions from Native American Student Affairs (NASA) and a day of group storytelling w/ the OLEH Program.  
  • Guest Speakers from UA College Departments and UA Campus Resources.  
  • Weekly assignments, reflections, and final projects that students will expect in a university course.   


Career Preparation:  

  • Professional resume workshop led by the UA Student Engagement & Career Services.  
  • 1 on 1 interview opportunity with a faculty/staff member from UA or TON to ask questions about their career field, future advice, and networking for the future.


Student Highlights:

Student Weekly Reflection Examples:

These rising temperatures are causing problems for our water resources like polluting bodies of water that we rely on for drinking. Water is very essential for our way of life and having limited amounts is not going to help with climate change. - Mia R. 

“Going to school in Tucson, I learned to blend in to prevent anyone from asking questions about my heritage so they wouldn’t look or treat me any different. These workshops have helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin and better prepared on how to respond to other people’s questions. I am looking forward to seeing what we all can learn as a group and what we can all contribute to and for each other on this journey.” - Jamie S.  


Student Final Projects