Ten tribal members have moved into the Sharp House near the CPN powwow grounds to begin the Potawatomi Leadership Program. PLP is a six-week leadership and education opportunity for a group of promising college students. PLP learn about CPN government, culture, economic development and more. This year, more than 30 students applied for the program and the selected participants are all beginning their sophomore year of college in the fall. Each of the students explained why they wanted to take part in the summer internship.

Randy Bazhaw
Hometown: Pleasant Garden, North Carolina
School: North Carolina State University
Family: Bergeron
“At NC State, I am currently pursuing a degree in civil engineering, and I believe that the PLP would not only give me the experience of real world problems, but it would also help me determine how I could use my degree that I am earning to give back to CPN. I believe that the PLP would be the perfect experience for me to help me find my place in our tribe, as well as in my life as a whole.”








Thomas Brunt
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
School: University of Pittsburgh
Family: Tescier
“I want to follow in my brother’s footsteps and be a part of the PLP, something that he considered a life changing experience. I hope to gain a better insight into my tribe, leadership skills, better communication skills and gain professional skills to prepare me for the future. I want CPN to play a bigger role in my life and I hope to do that by being a part of the PLP.”









Matthew Clift
Hometown: Cushing, Oklahoma
School: East Central University
Family: Kennedy
“I hope to get more in tune with my Potawatomi heritage and the culture of the Potawatomi Nation itself. Along the way, I would love to learn how I can help myself and maybe others become better leaders. A true Potawatomi to me means to be noble and honest with people for the sake of self-sacrifice. Those are both pillars of my personality traits that I can nurture and make me the man I hope to be. The PLP is the first step to a long and enduring journey.”








Aden Eilers
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon
School: Oregon State University
Family: Anderson
“I intend to make the most of the PLP. I am going to absorb as much information as I can while I am in Oklahoma. There are a few specific things that I am hoping to learn more about. The first is the tribe itself. I am going to learn all about the tribe’s history; in addition, I want to finally get my Potawatomi name. My dad went through the ceremony a year ago and it will be great to finally get my name too.”








Alyssa Frey
Hometown: Manhattan, Kansas
School: Kansas State University
Family: Denton
“Through the PLP I hope to gain friends who share my Indian background. This would give me, and them, the opportunity to grow and learn with each other. I also hope to attain a greater knowledge and appreciation of our background. Since the students that attend the PLP come from all over, I would have a chance to learn and study leadership techniques from different perspectives.”








Zoe Gustason
Hometown: Tombstone, Arizona
School: Sierra Vista Cochise Community College
Family: Rhodd
“Being Native American is, in all honesty, an honor to me. I feel like I am a part of a bigger part of history when I tell someone that I am Native American. This program would give me that opportunity to not only learn and discover a part of myself that I feel that is missing, but also be able to become a leader for others by providing answers and sharing with other people my culture when they ask me what it means to be Potawatomi.”








Sage Hanson
Hometown: Tempe, Arizona
School: Arizona State University
Family: Zeigler
“The PLP interested me for several reasons; it’s a chance to understand my tribe’s culture, step outside of my comfort zone and improve myself as a person. My time at the leadership program will also put me in closer contact with the tribe and help me to better understand how it works in my community to help people. Ultimately what I hope to learn is how to better connect with people and to better connect people to each other.”








Susannah Howard
Hometown: North Thetford, Vermont
School: Smith College
Family: Frigon
“I have found it difficult to live outside of Shawnee and be a Potawatomi because very few people in the northeast share this heritage with me. It is a unique situation, though, because I am in a position to educate others about the tribe and be a voice outside of Oklahoma. I think bringing more of the Potawatomi traditions into family celebrations would encourage my family to be more active and interested in the way the tribe operates and might prompt them to follow in my footsteps and reach out to people and get to know more people who share our heritage.”







Katherine Smith
Hometown: Simi Valley, California
School: Moorpark College
Family: Anderson
“Ever since my older brother, Nick Smith, attended the PLP in 2014, I have been wanting to experience the program myself. He came home with such a different outlook on life, the tribe, and our Potawatomi culture; my brother’s experience is certainly part of why I have decided to apply for the program.”









Aaron Stevenson
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico / Tahlequah, Oklahoma
School: Oklahoma State University
Family: Bumbaugh and Yott
“I have high hopes for my experience with the leadership program. I feel this program would aid my leadership capabilities immensely. Additionally, I would like to learn more about the culture and history of the Potawatomi people and tribe. I really enjoy studying history, and I feel this would be a great opportunity to learn more about the past and how the tribe operates. This program is clearly a fantastic opportunity to achieve this.”








Please welcome these students to the area when you come into contact with them this summer. Find out more about PLP at http://plp.potawatomi.org.