First University of Arizona micro campus to serve Pascua Yaqui Tribe

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s a major milestone for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the University of Arizona.

This week, the first-ever micro campus opened to serve members of the tribe.

The goal is to create better access to higher education and workforce training.

“I hope there are more graduates, more doctors, lawyers, everything,” said Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio.

It’s a historic step to bring the University of Arizona to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. With the new campus, valuable resources are in their backyard.

“With the infusion of the University of Arizona and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, it’s got life again. It’s going to become bigger and stronger and more wonderful,” Yucupicio said.

The 5,000-square facility includes a classroom that can accommodate up to 50 students, two quiet study areas, and a computer lab for students and tribal members to use. It will create easier access to the university and help with retention rates among Pascua Yaqui students.

“A lot of our students that have gone through the university’s system, unfortunately, they haven’t succeeded. Part of the reason has been cultural shock, trying to manage their life at home, and their traditional way of life,” explained Councilwoman Herminia Frias.

The campus was designed in part by a Yaqui architect, who incorporated tribal branding like \flowers, representing the beginning of life and the result of hard work.

“To see something that represents Pascua Yaqui, this is important to us,” said Frias. “When they walk in and see the flowers representing ‘Sea Ania,’ when you walk in and this is the first thing you see, it’s comforting.”

To start, the campus will offer bachelor’s and master’s courses in native nation-building. But that is only the beginning.

“We’re also looking at developing cohorts around areas of need that we have within the tribe, so, cybersecurity, hospitality, and gaming, health sciences,” said Education Department Head Serina Preciado. “In those areas, we have a lot of issues to tackle as a community and we need to have the most educated workforce that we can.”

Classes at the campus are set to begin in November. Tribal leaders said it will begin with about 40 students.