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CSSS in midst of summer programs; college tour on horizon

Graduation ceremonies are in the books and most family celebrations complete. Now, newly graduated Tribal students are spending the summer with friends and family and perhaps working or traveling. Some will spend the summer preparing for the fall semester of college or a technical school.

The staff at the Center for Student Success and Services (CSSS) doesn’t really slow down during the summer months, said assistant director Alvaro Perez. He and his team spend the summer months helping recent graduates and Tribal students in all grades prepare for the next steps of their education, among the department’s many other functions.


Some students will enter SWEP: the Student Work Experience Program. The program runs for up to eight weeks.

SWEP students learn the ropes within the Tribe’s many departments, and earn a paycheck as well.

Students are placed in a variety of Tribal departments, such as culture, recreation, the Boys & Girls Club, preschool, the Seminole Police Department, fire and rescue, housing, cattle and range, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Billie Swamp Safari, Native Learning Center, elders and the library system.

More than 100 teens from every reservation participated last year.

Time to hit the road

The CSSS college tour is back after a five-year hiatus. The tour transports students across the state by bus to visit a variety of schools.

Participating schools this year include Florida A&M University, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida and Full Sail University.

There are 46 seats available on a first come, first served basis. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher for the 2018-2019 school year to qualify, and must be entering grades 10, 11 or 12 for the 2019-2020 school year.

The tour is scheduled for July 28 through Aug. 2.

In the future, Perez said CSSS would look at possible tours outside of the state, including at various Tribal colleges and universities around the country.

Call (954) 989-6840 for more information.

Orlando conference

From July 4-8 many Tribal students will be involved in the 2019 National Unity Conference in Orlando.

Unity’s mission is to foster the “spiritual, mental, physical and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth, and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement.”

It is a national network organization that has been around for more than 40 years.

The 2019 Unity conference in Orlando is one of many options for Seminole youth this summer. (Unity Facebook)

Conference organizers expect more than 2,000 attendees to converge at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Conference Center for the four-day event.

Participants can expect keynote speakers, workshops and many other youth-oriented activities.

There will be a college and career expo, cultural night, talent show, 3-on-3 basketball tournament and a banquet.

Kyle Doney, deputy executive director of the Native Learning Center, and Quenton Cypress, the Tribal Historic Preservation Office community engagement manager, will represent the Tribe at the conference.

Go to for more information.

Mark your calendar

CSSS has launched its summer reading program as well. The program’s theme is tied to commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The program offers reading, crafts and other assorted fun and adventures for kids. The following are the days and times the program is in session at the Tribe’s respective libraries.

• Big Cypress — Each Wednesday in July from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Hollywood — Each Monday and Thursday in July from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. and Thursday Aug. 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
• Immokalee — Each Monday and Thursday in July from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday Aug. 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
• Brighton — Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon.

Odds and ends

Finally, if you have a summer packet or Florida virtual schoolwork to complete, CSSS wants you to know help is available this summer.

Contact Dorothy Scott Osceola on the second floor of the DSO building, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Aug. 30.

For more information on any CSSS programs or services, go to or call (954) 989-6840.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at