BIG CYPRESS — Career Day 2016 at Ahfachkee School encouraged students to “Think and Dream Big” to ensure they achieved fruitful futures.
“Nothing is out of reach, but it’s up to you guys [to put in the work],” Big Cypress Councilman Cicero Osceola said to students during the March 16 event. “You got to put forth the effort.”
The agenda included 28 career-oriented individuals offering advice to students. President Mitchell Cypress, Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr., Big Cypress Board Rep. Joe Frank, Hollywood Board Rep. Steve Osceola and Chief of Police William Latchford were among the presenters.
“This annual event is important because it builds community relations,” said Ahfachkee School assistant principal Gwendolyn Coverson. “We want to make sure these students are productive citizens in society.”
Mauro Avalos said the “coolest” part of career day was when he and his classmates saw a Taser weapon that is used by law enforcement to subdue individuals whose actions physically threaten police and others.
“The Taser looks really cool, but they said that the best thing is to never, ever have to use it,” Mauro said.
Ezekial Billie, who wants to be a professional basketball, football or soccer player when he grows up, said he learned that college is important no matter what career he pursues.
“If I don’t play sports, I might be a teacher. I need go to college and stick to it if I want to be a teacher,” Ezekial said.
Presentations were held in classrooms throughout the school’s campus for grades three through 12. Big Cypress Fire Rescue Department firefighters gave students in pre-kindergarten through second grade tours of fire trucks and showed them how they catch snakes. Students also had a chance to spray cones with the fire truck’s water hose.
“It’s an honor,” firefighter David Harshfield said. “I love it. They ask good questions.”
Presenters in various professions provided students with insights about their occupations.
Dave Scheidecker, a field technician for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, spoke about archaeology. He told students about past adventures he had in countries such as Zimbabwe and Ecuador where he found many relics. On the Seminole reservations, he also finds interesting artifacts.
“You gotta like history and you gotta like dirt,” said Scheidecker when asked how he became an archaeologist. He explained that an interest in science and history are necessary and told students about his degrees.
Careers involving construction, science, history and counseling were also discussed.
Courtenay McClain, director of the Golden Scholars Bridge program at Florida International University, spoke to students about higher education and shared personal testimonies. She advised students to get involved in college activities and programs and to lead.
“You can do it,” McClain said. “There is a gift inside of you that everyone has. Use it and tap into your passion. I want you all to protect your future.”
Tenth-grader Elisah Billie said he wants to study animation in California. But he added that he is now also interested in attending law school after hearing Councilman Bowers, a lawyer, talk about law.
Councilman Osceola, who attended Ahfachkee School as a child, told students about the path he took to be in his position today. He worked as a cattle owner and had other businesses to support himself and his family. He said he learned to be self-sufficient at a young age.
“You guys are going to be running the Tribe one day,” Councilman Osceola said. “Take your road and move forward. Your road is to finish [your goals] and get what you want.”