University of Vermont

Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

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UVM/Abenaki Summer Happening Program 2017


The UVM/Abenaki Summer Happening Program's mission is to promote a diverse and respectful environment that embraces social justice, equity, and opportunity for high school Native American students to realize their potential.


To promote an ethos of community both at Missisquoi Valley Union High School and the University of Vermont that provides Abenaki students with the critical thinking skills and pride in their culture so that they can become leaders in a democratic society.

What We Do

  • Collaborate with parents, students and faculty in the development of increased communication whereby the Abenaki voice is afforded equity of educational opportunity.
  • Offer post-secondary guidance at UVM, and other institutions, through individual and group meetings.
  • Foster students' leadership and growth through curriculum development that nurtures pride and promotes self-confidence to become a strong voice on campus and within the community.
  • Network with UVM and MVU personnel to form and maintain partnerships between educational facilities and the Abenaki community.
  • Build up a networking process for current and new Native American students so that they can help each other to develop the community.
  • Address academic, social and cultural approaches to assist Native American students in the transition to college life.

Program Introduction

The University of Vermont and the Abenaki community have had a long-standing partnership since 1985 through the design of an event known as the “Summer Happening Program.” Each summer, this program brings high school students to the University for two days to experience on campus life and promote the possibility of a college education as a realistic option for these students. Focused on empowering Abenaki students to take pride in their native heritage, while exposing them to the academic rigor of college with scholarly lectures and activities, the Summer Happening Program offers students opportunities to establish relationships, and provides support to seek post-secondary education.

Program Features

Academic Exploration

The University faculty teach workshops in which students have an opportunity to experience academics at the college level. Guest speakers from off campus might be invited to connect with students and facilitate cultural conversations and activities.

College Life Experience

During the two-day program the students will experience college life by attending academic workshops, spending one night in the college dorms, eating in the dining halls, utilizing the gym facilities, and taking a tour of the campus. All of this offers a solid foundation of what daily life in college is like.

Cultural Communication

Each year, the program incorporates a cultural activity that will enhance each student’s understanding of their heritage. These activities may include a cultural writing assignment to enhance students’ critical thinking and academic achievement, or a hands-on activity like basket making with traditional materials to create cultural awareness.

Social Gathering

Summer Happening offers students new opportunities for experiential and social learning. Possible opportunities may include an academic exploration of the downtown area and an evening movie. Both experiences encourage student involvement in the social context of college life while helping them become better acquainted with the environment around campus.

Physical Activity

Students have the opportunity to check out our gym facilities and are given the choice of swimming or another physical activity. Students will have opportunities to learn more about the gym, intramural sports, and other athletic activities on campus.

How to Apply

In the Spring, families of incoming ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders at Missisquoi Valley Union High School (MVU) will receive a letter from Jeff Benay, Director Indian Education Program, who invites their respective children to apply for the UVM Summer Happening Program initiative. An essay must be included that asks the students why they are interested in partaking of this experience. The sign-up is on a first come, first served basis as this UVM program can only accept 16 students for this exciting college experience. Students meet with UVM Professors and staff and tour campus in an effort to familiarize Abenaki high school students with the University and the greater Burlington landscape.

If this sounds like something you or your child may be interested in learning more about, please contact Jeff Benay at (802) 868-4033 so that you may talk about this wonderful college preparation offering.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, concerns, and suggestions, feel free to contact us.

Abenaki Outreach Coordinator
461 Main Street,
Allen House
Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-9727

Last modified February 13 2017 10:14 AM