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Edward Aguilar graduates from TCD program

Tribal Career Development Director Ervina Capricien presents Edward Aguilar his certificate of graduation Dec. 17 at the program’s Christmas party at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
Tribal Career Development Director Ervina Capricien presents Edward Aguilar his certificate of graduation Dec. 17 at the program’s Christmas party at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD — Surrounded by about 70 friends, family members and colleagues, Edward Aguilar celebrated his graduation from Seminole Gaming’s Tribal Career Development (TCD) program in style Dec. 17 during the annual Christmas party at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

Sharply dressed in a suit and tie, Aguilar proudly accepted his certificate from Ervina Capricien, director of the program. After three years in TCD, Aguilar has worked in every department. Currently, he is the assistant director of slots operations at Seminole Casino Immokalee.

“I’m from Immokalee and I love that place,” he said. “It’s small, but it’s my home and I’m proud of what we offer to the community.”

Aguilar paid tribute to two men who greatly influenced his career in gaming. In 2000, he met Alan Jumper who wanted him to become a gaming inspector.

“I was so impressed by him that I wanted to be like him when I grew up: a smooth, well-dressed, older Indian man,” said Aguilar, 37. “I also can’t say Immokalee without saying Tony Sanchez; he left a big footprint.”

The TCD program is designed to train the next generation of Tribal members to manage the Tribe’s gaming business. Paid interns work their way through each department while receiving mentoring and on-the-job training. As they complete their training, the interns work with more senior members of Seminole Gaming. There are 14 interns in the program now, but Capricien said she would welcome more.

“I’m happy with the quality of the interns we have now. They are a great group,” she said. “Edward is one of our superstars; he went above and beyond in every department.”

A 2013 culinary graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Aguilar recently earned his associate degree from Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers and is working toward his bachelor’s. He aims to enroll in Florida Gulf Coast University to study hospitality management.

He accomplished it all while working as a TCD intern.

“I want to go and conquer the world, but I have to pace myself and not overdo it,” he said. “I have to be patient with myself.”

The highlight of his TCD experience was working with team members, from the janitor to the general manager, he said.

“It’s rewarding to have team members respect you; they know you worked for it and didn’t just get it on a platter,” Aguilar said. “I got bit hard by the Hard Rock bug; I love the brand.”

Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola congratulated Aguilar on a “job well done.”

“TCD members are presented with a tremendous opportunity to work in Seminole Gaming, which is second to none,” Councilman Osceola said. “Gaming is our livelihood, and we have the best team in the world.”

Hollywood Board Rep. Steve Osceola and Big Cypress Board Rep. Joe Frank echoed his sentiments.

“It’s easy to start things, but tough to finish,” Rep. Frank said. “Anyone who completes the program is in a good position to lead the Tribe. With the expertise you learn here, you will be able to help on Council and the Board.”

TCD was the brain child of Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming CEO, who started the program in 2003.

“Tribal members said it would never work and in the early days it wasn’t easy,” he said. “It has grown through the years and it is now creating opportunities for Tribal members. As they go through the program they are truly qualified to work in the hospitality and casino industry.”

Allen said Immokalee pulls in more business than any casino in Atlantic City other than the Borgata. Aguilar and his colleagues call the Immokalee casino “ImmokaVegas.”

The TCD program is open to all Tribal members ages 18 and older who have at least a high school diploma or GED. Interns work in every gaming department including Table Games, Slots, Cash Operations, Poker, Marketing, Food and Beverage, Hard Rock Live, Hotel Operations and Hard Rock Cafe. They work every shift so they experience the casino at all hours.

Aguilar believes TCD is a great opportunity for Tribal members.

“They should give it a shot, stay open minded and bring their ‘A’ game every day,” he said. “The program is what you make of it. All you have to do is open the door and start the program.”


Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at