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Wzhitawen participants visit Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology

Submitted by Joshua Bullock, College Adviser, CPN Department of Education

The Wzhitawen program offers college and career readiness to Native American students in four southern Pottawatomie County schools: Asher, Macomb, Maud and Wanette. Each year, one eighth-grade class is added to our four-year program.

Presently, Channing Seikel and Joshua Bullock with Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Department of Education teach college and career readiness to the eighth and ninth grades at the four schools. One aspect of the college and career readiness preparation is taking students to college campuses.

To date, the Wzhitawen program has visited the University of Oklahoma, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and most recently, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSU-IT). On March 29, we took 46 students to visit the OSU-IT campus. We chose it because, unlike OU and SEOSU, OSU-IT offers both traditional degree and career and technical school options.

The mission of our program is to provide opportunities for Native American students to know and understand what options are available to them post high school.

The majority of our students know about OU and OSU because of sporting events or the sheer volume of OU and OSU memorabilia in our state. These schools, while rigorous academic institutions, might not be the proper fit for every student.

In other words, we strive to encourage and support Wzhitawen students to find the opportunities that best suit them. Some want to be mechanics or cosmetologists, some want to be engineers or teachers, and the most important thing is that each one of the many degree and certificate options contribute to Indian Country and society in their own unique and valuable way.

At OSU-IT, we toured the culinary arts and Ford mechanic programs. There, students spoke with faculty from each program, saw Ford engines, brake systems, full-size trucks and SUVs that students work on. For the culinary art, students saw working kitchen and farm-to-table sections, along with food preparation and dining areas.

As we bring this school year to a close, we look forward to our next adventures with our students. We continually strive to find more campuses to meet the diverse needs of our students, and we are looking at the future campus visit for our students, either this summer or next school year. Typically, we determine the campus to visit by polling our students and finding opportunities
to visit unfamiliar schools and programs.