You are here
Home > Community > Seminole youth attend summer program at FSU

Seminole youth attend summer program at FSU

The Florida Indian Youth Program took place in July. From left to right are Ezekiel Hill, Nikko Burgess, Lavin Billie, Iziah Billie, Carlise Bermudez, Kajir “Kai” Harriott, Tahnia Billie, Billie Cypress, Luxie Billie and Brianne Oglin. (Courtesy photo)

A group of nine tribal youth attended the Florida Indian Youth Program (FIYP) at Florida State University in Tallahassee July 10 to July 22.

Kajir “Kai” Harriott, the Education Department’s student and professional development success coach, accompanied the group.

FIYP is a free, two-week, college preparation and exploration program available each summer to members and descendants of the Seminole Tribe who live in Florida or Georgia and are 14 to 19 years old. This year marked the program’s return after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Those who participated this year were Carlise Bermudez, Iziah Billie, Lavin Billie, Luxie Billie, Tahnia Billie, Nikko Burgess, Billie Cypress, Ezekiel Hill and Brianne Oglin.

FIYP is designed to expose students to a range of educational and employment opportunities. Participants typically live in a residence hall on campus or nearby, and classes and activities usually take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Some students take college site tours and explore academic programs they are interested in.

The Tallahassee-based Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs Inc. is the nonprofit that sponsors the program.

“It was extremely fun – I recommend tribal members go and open up and get out of their shells,” Burgess said. “The ones that broke out of their shells enjoyed themselves and became brand new people.”

Burgess, 17, is from the Hollywood Reservation and is a senior at the American Heritage School. This was the fourth time he’d attended FIYP. He said people describe him as outgoing and one that helps the more shy students enjoy the experience.

“Especially the younger ones, because they are away from home. I spend time making them feel welcome,” he said.  

Burgess, who lives with his mother and three younger siblings, plans to attend Nova Southeastern University and major in political science. He’d like to run for tribal council or the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. board someday.

For more information about FIYP, contact the Education Department at

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