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Qualico Bridge to Success participant Chloe Dreilich-Girard in Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge in January 2020.

‘Almost every resource imaginable’

Qualico Bridge to Success program supports first-year Indigenous student success

July 7, 2020 — 

When Chloe Dreilich-Girard was in high school, she was unfamiliar with the types of programs that would be available to her as an Indigenous university student.

After attending an open house at the University of Manitoba (UM), she connected with the Indigenous Student Centre staff about programming offered at the university, including the popular Qualico Bridge to Success (QBTS) program.

Every year, UM welcomes approximately 500 new First Nations, Métis and Inuit students to its campuses. Thanks to a donation from real estate development company Qualico, the Indigenous Student Centre developed the QBTS program to better support Indigenous students as they transition into post-secondary education at UM.

“I knew that QBTS was a program that I wanted to join from the minute I stepped foot on campus,” says Dreilich-Girard, a Métis student who recently completed her first year at UM.

Providing culturally based resources, QBTS nurtures the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional strengths of students so they can be as successful as possible in their first year. Benefits of the free program include pre-orientation programming, academic learning support and advising. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the program will take on a virtual format in the Fall Term due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the main components of QBTS is the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program, where new and experienced Indigenous students are paired together to engage in a reciprocal process of sharing knowledge, skills and expertise. In this peer-mentor relationship, new students are supported through their transition into university life and experienced students can develop their leadership skills.

“[My mentor] has given me tons of advice, which, coming from someone who has been in my position not too long ago, has so much value,” says Dreilich-Girard.

“Every day I see the positive connections and friendships being made because of the program,” adds student advisor and program coordinator Carla Loewen.

Dreilich-Girard describes the support system she received through QBTS as essential to her success in her first year.

“Joining the QBTS program helped enormously with ensuring I had an almost seamless transition from high school to university, and enabled me to make connections [with fellow students and staff] before the school year even started,” she says. “I would recommend this program to other Indigenous students because everyone is so welcoming, and it has a very large sense of community.”

Program participants are also eligible to enrol in a QBTS section of ARTS 1110: Introduction to University, a course focused on developing new students’ writing, research and critical-thinking skills.

“This program has almost every resource imaginable waiting for students,” says Dreilich-Girard. “Being part of the QBTS program showed me how to take care of myself not only as a student, but also simply as a person.”

Registration for QBTS is now open until Sept. 8, 2020. Interested applicants are welcome to contact the Indigenous Student Centre at any stage of the admission process.

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