Racism, substance abuse, and other major problems have permeated our communities, resulting in a cycle of recidivism, broken families, and despair. As minorities, we have to be extraordinary in order to receive recognition and respect in society. This is because as people of color, we usually have fewer opportunities to thrive because of the limited amount of resources in our communities.
As Tribal citizens, due to foresight from our ancestors and divine assistance, that is fortunately not our reality. We have created favorable circumstances to further strengthen the sustenance of our Tribe, most notably through education and employment. The Advanced Career Development program currently has a total of four employees. Tomasina Gilliam, Anthony Frank, Michael Shaffer and I have been able to bring our experiences and individual passions to help bring a new wave of future leadership within the Tribe. Higher education has allowed us to work within the ACD program to gain even more experience while also giving us the opportunity to reinvest in our Tribe that has blessed us beyond measure.
Center for Student Success and Services
The ACD program has been beneficial because I am able to see the two worlds of being a Tribal member and an employee. Receiving a higher form of education has been helpful throughout this program. The studies I do in class, I am able to implement them into the projects I do for Center for Student Success and Services. I believe it’s great to have more Tribal members working throughout our “family businesses” so to speak, because that input is truly valued. It’s important to communicate the needs of the community directly to the department that “our people” decide to work in while also bringing ideas is a part of the process of bettering the areas we as Tribal members feel are lacking within our family business.
I highly recommend Tribal members of any age to receive experience working within any Tribal avenue from Tribal government, casino, and the departments in between. Whether if it’s in my program ACD, full-time employment or simply the summer work experience/work experience. It is truly needed because we need to take the future of our family business into our own hands and learn from those who are around us who are more knowledgeable.
Well, [higher education] gave me a sense of importance. We are fortunate enough to not have to work, which, many of our people take advantage of. Yet, I still felt like I was being passed up and not going anywhere in life when looking at high school classmates and seen their chosen professions.
While attending school, it gave me some responsibility before having children. I had to wake up at a certain time to get to school on time. I also had to finish homework and other school-related projects in a timely manner and not when I felt like it. The guidelines were a bit hard, especially learning proper grammar. Yes, an essay can be simple enough to do, but when you have to correct comma splices, make sure your subject and verb agreement are precise, and predicates, that was the real game changer. I could not play by my rules.
School is like a boss. I relate a career and education by comparing them in the aforementioned statement about a professor’s expectations with the expectations one would have at work. I have to be on the clock at a certain time. I have to make sure my foods are cooked and stored properly. I have to follow sanitation procedures to the T.
Anthony’s mother Ethel had a major influence in his life and heavily stressed education. Anthony spent some time in New Mexico, where he was able to experience success outside of the Tribe, which was pivotal in his life. His time in New Mexico and other experiences throughout his life molded him into the person he is today. His English professor during his undergraduate studies provided him with advice that he still uses today and helped gave him encouragement. He is interested in being a financial analyst or finance manager.[My mother Ethel] was our main drive because she wanted to see [her children] being better than her. She instilled in me the values of who I am and where I came from. She is still living in me. Her love for me held me together. Even though we go through storms and difficulties in life, it’s all part of the journey. My ideal position is to be a role model for those who are coming up. You got to set your sights high and work to achieve that level. Learn to use your resources as tools and as ways to achieve more in life. An undergraduate English professor said this to me:
“Work to express and not to impress. If you can do that then you will have ease with what you’re doing. You got to follow what you’re being led to do.”
Seminole Media Productions
From as early as I could remember, my mother emphasized the importance of education to my brothers and me. Many interactions with my mother were educational experiences. Plates of food would be seen as pie charts. Sticks of gum were used to teach us fractions. She would constantly uplift and encourage us to be the best version of ourselves as possible. As a result, higher education was an expectation.
While in college, I spent a lot of time focused on my life after college. I had a work study job and was a tutor at an intermediate school. I had a strong desire for true work experience since I was fortunate enough to not have to work unlike most of my college friends. I was always so scared that the new lifestyle I grew accustomed to would end quickly, so that fear became a motivation for me to want to go to school to create a lifestyle based on what I worked for.
College taught me discipline and forced me to be more self-motivated. The aspects of college that have helped me the most as a professional are patience and the importance of staying focused on tasks. My public speaking skills improved due to the many class presentations I had to do. Time management was something I started developing in college although I have yet to master it.
It took me five years to finish college. I spent three years living off campus which helped me become more responsible. I encourage every one of us as Tribal citizens to take advantage of the opportunities and blessings we have been given. We are very blessed and fortunate.
Aaron Tommie is a participant in the Tribe’s Advanced Career Development program. He is currently working for the Business Marketing Department in Seminole Media Productions.