Foundation News | Event News

2023 FIRE Summit Honors Native Student Voices

By Ann Rogers-Williams

March 3, 2023

On March 14, 2023, approximately 275 Native youth from local tribes will participate in this year’s FIRE Summit. Statistics show indigenous students are the least enrolled in higher education nationwide. The Summit gives Native youth from across Washington state a chance to change that.

This daylong event is designed to give high school students opportunities to experience college campus life, connect with staff and faculty, and meet other Native students. The event offers hands-on ways to explore possible career pathways, space to dream about their academic futures, and opportunities to learn about college resources to help them get there.

Thanks to a long-standing collaboration between SPSCC and the Nisqually, Squaxin Island, Skokomish tribes, and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, as well as North Thurston Public Schools the annual event has blossomed and continues to grow. Director of Student Life Electra Gupton shared that approximately 100 students participated in FIRE Summit activities of previous years. Now that number has more than doubled.

SPSCC’s Director of Tribal Programming Shanon Millman has worked as a liaison with tribal representatives in the FIRE Summit Committee for 8 years to build relationships that help ensure the event is relevant and meaningful for the Native youth who attend. Her connection to tribal Education Directors and others involved in past FIRE Summit Committees has provided invaluable insights during the planning stages of the Summit.

Newer SPSCC FIRE Summit collaborators include Director of Student Life Electra Gupton, Executive Diversity Officer of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Center Amanda Ybarra, and the Director of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Center Jasmin Faulk-Dickerson. This team aspires to support an immersive, campus life experience that is welcoming, fun, inspiring, and helps them connect with the college. Jasmin Faulk-Dickerson shared, “We want to support an experience that lets students know they are seen and heard, and supports finding their own voices in an authentic way that respects their cultural backgrounds.”

Dynamic speakers such as Competitive Runner and Activist Rosalie Fish and Peer Mentor Jennifer Tuimaseve also support the Finding Your Voice theme of the event and bring added relevance to the experience. Rosalie Fish drew national attention for her work to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by painting a red handprint on her face and the letters MMIW.  As an SPSCC Peer Mentor and Former FIRE Summit Attendee, Jennifer Tuimaseve will discuss her FIRE Summit experience and experiences at SPSCC.

The programming for the Summit will reflect this year’s theme “Finding Your Voice” by giving students opportunities to shine in hands-on sessions and activities where they can see themselves represented throughout the overall experience. Their daylong experience includes:

  • Welcoming reception and land acknowledgement presentation lead by tribal representatives of the FIRE Summit Committee.
  • Keynote Speaker Rosalie Fish will present “Finding Your Voice”.
  • Peer Mentor Jennifer Tuimaseve will share her FIRE Summit and SPSCC experiences.
  • Hands-on sessions, lead by faculty from different SPSCC Pathways, will reflect the Finding Your Voice theme in Culinary Arts, Healthcare, Creative Writing, and Leadership activities.
  • Campus tours will help students become familiar with SPSCC spaces and resources.
  • Resource Representatives from SPSCC’s Financial, Athletics, and other resource departments as well as The Evergreen State College’s Native Pathways Program will be on hand to assist students.
  • Information about how to apply for the FIRE Summit Scholarship will also be available.

Amanda Ybarra explained, “Representation is important. We want to support an experience that is empowering to students and builds community. The Summit offers them a space to dream and see themselves in the higher education environment.”

The SPSCC Foundation is proud to support the FIRE Summit Scholarship, which will help Native students who participate in the Summit and have decided to apply for enrollment in Fall 2023.  If you would like to contribute to the FIRE Summit Scholarship and help students take that next step, please contact the Foundation office at or call the Foundation Team at 360-596-5430.