TAMIAMI TRAIL — About 30 Ahfachkee School students joined Miccosukee School students to explore their futures at the second Miccosukee College Fair Jan. 15.
Nearly 100 fair-goers navigated though an array of 30 schools, from large universities to vocational and technical schools, to learn about post-secondary educational opportunities.
“It was really important to me that there was a wide variety,” said Melissa Garcia, director of Social Services for the Miccosukee Tribe, who coordinated the event.
The fair was also open to the community and Tribal employees looking to expand their educational endeavors. Garcia said that according to feedback from last year’s event, many employees showed interest in learning about master’s programs.
“The more educated the employees are, the more it helps the Tribe and the community,” she said.
The MIS student government acted as hosts to the Ahfachkee students, providing a tour of the school after the fair, and the MIS fundraising committee supplied students with lunch, raffle tickets and backpacks full of supplies.
It was the first time Ahfachkee attended the fair.
“I think it’s pretty cool what they’re trying to do for us,” said Ahfachkee ninth-grader Uriah Waggerby. “They’re trying to open doors for us.”
Garcia said the fair aims to give students the opportunity to give back to their people.
“That is the main objective – to educate the youth so that they can be nurses, doctors, lawyers and future leaders for the Tribe,” she said.
Layla Billie, mother of Miccosukee student government president Angel Bowers and recent graduate of Florida College of Natural Health, provided a personal touch for students not only by doling out soothing massages but also by showing Tribal students “there’s more than rez life out there.”
Billie completed an eight-month basic massage program at Florida College of Natural Health and began the advanced program in August. She also plans to pursue skin care in the future.
Although her daughter is still undecided about her career path, Billie supports her 100 percent.
“I want her to know there’s a whole big world out there,” Billie said. “I want her to travel and see everything I didn’t get to.”
Five more schools than last year attended the fair, and many students found schools that sparked their interests: Tatiana Herrera liked New York University for their psychology program, and Kaydin Osceola liked Ringling
College of Art and Design and Digital Media Arts College.
Following the fair, teachers and counselors will work with students to review schools and arrange campus tours.