Just over a year has passed since the Citizen Potawatomi Nation struck its historic partnership with St. Gregory’s University. For those of you who may be unaware, through a prepaid tuition fund at SGU, the CPN Tribal Development Scholarship Program invests in the education of CPN tribal members in order to prepare them to contribute to their tribe and community as leaders and professionals. In short, CPN tribal members at SGU are eligible to receive prepaid tuition for any degree program (excluding the online MBA program, for now). Now that a full academic year has passed and another one is just beginning, it’s time for an update.

At the start of this semester, there are 73 CPN students attending or committed at SGU. Ten hail from outside of Oklahoma. Out of the73, 36 are traditional students within the college of arts and sciences, while 26 are adult nontraditional students in the college of continuing studies. Seven students are pursuing their Master’s in Business Administration, and four are working toward a Master’s in Art in Counseling. We are proud of these numbers and anticipate growth as we increase our outreach.

Last month, the CPN Department of Education hosted a student meet and greet at the CPN Eagle Aviary during the SGU orientation weekend. Students had an opportunity to get to know their fellow CPN students, eat some pizza, and meet the eagles that are so special to our culture and way of life as Potawatomi. Over 20 students attended, along with family members, our departmental staff and SGU faculty representatives.

Beyond the obvious benefit that a prepaid education affords, the program also takes care to ensure that CPN students receive a unique opportunity to connect with their tribal community while attending SGU. The CPN Core is a series of educational opportunities that inspire participants to learn more about the past and present of the tribe so that they can positively impact its future. 

Starting this fall, every undergraduate CPN student at SGU must complete nine credits from the CPN Core. This includes the required ‘Introduction to CPN I and II’, which are eight-week courses designed to give a broad overview of the culture, government, and economic development of the CPN. To fulfill the final three credits of the requirement, students may choose from a catalog of courses. Already, an online Potawatomi language course and internships at the CPN are available for students, and we are currently working to add Potawatomi history to this list. Outside of the classroom, CPN students at SGU can stay involved through extracurricular activities.

Jessica Johnson, a sophomore communications major who is also a CPN tribal member, has spearheaded an effort to establish a CPN Club at SGU. She has coordinated several meetings, and the students are currently working on drafting a constitution to propose to student affairs. The CPN Department of Education supports Jessica’s endeavor to create a lively tribal community on the SGU campus.

Our department’s mission is to help CPN tribal members achieve their educational goals, and managing the CPN-SGU partnership has allowed us to do just that. Look for more updates as the program continues to grow and develop!

For more information about the partnership or the CPN Tribal Development Scholarship Program, please contact the CPN Department of Education by email at college@potawatomi.org or phone at 405-275-3121.