a group of five students enjoying each other's company and laughing while sitting together on the Quad

Increasing Equitable Family Support for Native American Students Through Onsite Visits

This pilot projects allows students from Native American/Indigenous tribal communities to grow their ecosystem of support by bringing up to 2 family members (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings) per visit during their academic career so the students’ families will be able see and interact with the student’s living environment, attend classes, meet professors and other support staff to gain a better understanding of the student's university experience, needs, struggles, and triumphs.


Students from marginalized communities often experience homesickness, loneliness, isolation, and emotions of sadness and guilt being away from home and not receiving adequate family support while attending UC Davis. Many underrepresented students from marginalized communities can find the university environment an uncomfortable and foreign experience from their home community leading to a yearning to return home (Witrup & Hurb, 2021). Some students struggle intensely with the university residential life, inducing more severe symptoms of loneliness (Thurber & Walton, 2012). Experiencing severe homesickness can potentially cause students to isolate and the lack of social and community support can lead to increased risk of depressive symptoms (Lewinsohn & Graf, 1973; Lewinsohn & Libet, 1972). The level of homesickness and related depressive symptoms can at times be so severe that it leads to our underrepresented students dropping out of school to return home (Burt, 1993; Shaw & Mattern, 2013; Witrup & Hurb, 2021).

The goals of the program are to provide indigenous students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds access to funding to invite a family member to campus to better understand their student’s living, academic, and social life.  This visit will allow students to feel connected to family members and bring their culture to campus.  Family members will be able to learn how to better support their student’s needs over the course of their academic journey through the experiential visit.


This grant aims to close the gap of understanding from family members and increase psychosocial support from family members throughout the students’ academic careers.

Opportunities for Involvement: 

No opportunities available at this time.

Recent Milestones:


Project Lead(s):

Michelle Villegas Frazier
Executive Director, Academic Retention Initiatives
Native American Retention Initiative

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