PEMBROKE — Ashley McMillan, American Indian liaison to the chancellor at UNC Pembroke, was recently recognized for her dissertation research in higher education.
Dr. McMillan is the 2021 recipient of the Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community Outstanding Research Award. She was presented the award during the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ virtual conference March 17-26.
Her research focused on how predominantly white institutions could create culturally engaging campus environments for American Indian students to increase their sense of belonging and persistence to graduation.
“I’m honored to be recognized for this award. The Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community has played a vital role in increasing the visibility of Indigenous students in higher education and to think my research has aided their work as a collective is extremely rewarding,” said McMillan, who also serves as director of UNCP’s American Indian Heritage Center.
“I’m grateful for the students who were gracious enough to share their stories with me. This award is for them. I hope to continue sharing the stories of Native students in my role at UNC Pembroke and use what I learned in my research to address the invisibility and margination of Indigenous students in higher education.”
The purpose of the award is to support the creation of new knowledge focusing on Indigenous higher education and is intended to support professional, doctoral and masters-level scholarly research.
During the conference, McMillan attended workshops and facilitated a community dialogue circle focused on supporting the professional life cycle of student affairs professionals. NASPA is a national organization for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.