Full-circle approach

The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) utilizes a full-circle approach to education. We believe in the recruitment, retention and reintroduction of our students into their respective communities. Our full-time student support specialist and administrative staff are available year-round to help our students accomplish their goals.

When you come to Cornell, you can rely on us and our established connections throughout the university to help you with your transition. We take the time to guide you through Cornell's rigorous academic programs. Additionally, we provide you and your peers with the tools necessary to balance your academic and extracurricular activities. AIISP prides itself on having one of the highest North American Indigenous student graduation rates in the nation. From hiring quality tutors to sourcing important scholarships, we are here to support you.

Through the full-circle approach, we enable you to fully experience what a Cornell education has to offer. We encourage our students to join student organizations for networking and professional development opportunities. We also encourage our students to participate in AIISP’s academic and cultural events, such as taking American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) courses or living in Akwe:kon, the first residential program house in the nation founded to celebrate North American Indigenous cultures.

Programs & events

We have organized, hosted, or co-sponsored an array of events such as presentations, conferences and symposia that have proven to be precedent-setting in the field of American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS). Our events have uniquely positioned us as leaders in the field by promoting Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies through the voices of Indigenous activists, artists, scientists and other invited scholars.

We acknowledge the importance of having a strong sense of community on campus in order for our students to be successful at Cornell. Thus every year we host a variety of extracurricular activities that enrich your college experience.

Contact Us

Wayva Waterman Lyons
(Onoñda’gegá’/Onondaga)

Student Support Specialist
wl685 [at] cornell.edu

AIISP leadership development spotlight

The leadership development spotlight series is focused on building student academic, professional and community leadership skills. We focus on four themes:

Male presenter stands in front of a projector screen.

Student spotlight

This spotlight focuses on students' current research projects, internships and other enriching experiences. Students share how they have used AIISP's enrichment and experiential funding. Presentations are done by students, for students.

Professional development spotlight

Cornell boasts a diverse array of services, skills, and opportunities for academic success, career development and self-development. Tune in for engaging talks on the resources available to you as a Cornell student.

Wellness spotlight

We encourage students to learn about the resources available at Cornell for mental health, physical well-being and other important self-care practices you can try out during the school year.

Indigenous spotlight

AIISP invites presentations and discussions about Indigenous and community-related topics and concerns, research and current events.

In Fall 2020, AIISP initiated the spotlight series under the leadership of student services specialist Wayva Waterman Lyons.

The series continues the long tradition of the Weekly Soup Lunch started in 2004. These events are being held virtually in 2020-21. In more normal times, students, faculty and staff come together every week for a tasty and nutritious lunch of soup and bread.

Annual events

Welcome Back Picnic

The Welcome Back Picnic and orientation has become the event that AIISP faculty, staff and students (first-years to alumni) most look forward to every year. Taking place within the first couple of weeks in the fall semester, this special event is designed to welcome incoming and continuing students with introductions from AIISP faculty and staff and useful information about the resources that AIISP can offer. It is a great opportunity to enjoy our community over a healthy meal, many laughs and games. Here, you can also join a student organization or sign up for an out-of-house membership at Akwe:kon.

Annual awards ceremony

We are proud to say that since AIISP has one of the highest retention rates of Indigenous students in the nation, we also have an annual awards ceremony where we celebrate that accomplishment as a community. We gift our graduating students in recognition of the hard work they have put forth to graduate. Additionally, we hand out awards to deserving continuing students to celebrate their academic, community building and notable professional accomplishments as they continue working towards their goals.

Late Nigh Breakfast

Every semester during finals week, the AIISP staff prepares a meal for AIISP students. This special program is hosted at Akwe:kon and is designed to promote your health and well-being. It's the ultimate stress buster during one of the most academically demanding times of the year!

Students at the welcome back picnic
Students and staff at the annual awards ceremony.
Students enjoy a late night breakfast during finals week.

Frequently asked questions

AIISP provides tools for student academic success such as sponsoring tutors to improve students' understanding of course material and providing financial support for note-taking software so students can focus their attention on lectures.

We help students find and apply for internal and external internships, fellowships and other career-related opportunities that give students a competitive advantage for a future in today's economy.

AIISP organizes events to give students access to the world’s cutting-edge Indigenous scholars, community-based experts and cultural knowledge holders. We have organized, hosted or co-sponsored an array of events such as presentations, conferences and symposia that have proven to be precedent-setting in the field of American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

We help current students apply for prestigious academic opportunities, such as the McNair Scholars Program to prepare under-represented students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Watch Cornell's McNair Program video featuring recipient Fred Blaisdell '16 (Oneida Nation of the Thames) at minute 1:25.

AIISP assists students with time-management strategies that support academic studies, leisure time and student participation in one or more of the 1,200 student organizations and sports activities on campus. We encourage students to engage with the four Indigenous-related student-led organizations advised by AIISP: the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Native American and Indigenous Students At Cornell (NAISAC), the Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) and the Indigenous Graduate Student Association (IGSA).

Learn more about student organizations.

True! AIISP staff have an open door policy that welcomes students to come in and share their good news or to seek academic and personal guidance related to:

  • College transition
  • Coursework
  • Family
  • Health
  • Other