College freshman and Bergeron descendant Joey Otey studies human resource management at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation consolidated scholarship helps finance his educational pursuits. Through his participation in the student-led consulting agency Barton International Group, he quickly found his place on campus.
“We do data analysis, digital marketing, feasibility analysis as well as market research, depending on what our clients need,” Otey told the Hownikan during a phone interview. “We interact with business, mostly in the local area, but sometimes we’ll go to Kansas City.”
Otey admitted he had interests in human resource management before attending WSU, but his involvement with Barton International helped solidify the decision to pursue a degree in the field.
“I don’t want to be Toby from The Office,” Otey said, then laughed. The character Toby Flenderson’s primary job as a human resources representative revolves around addressing inappropriate work behavior. Since joining the organization, Otey has learned the profession has much more to offer.
“I’ll hopefully be able to work within human resources and be able to make sure everyone is working to their full potential because I know that’s something I am good at,” Otey said. “Being able to make sure everyone’s working their absolute best and being able to figure out tough problems is a natural thing for me.”
According to its website, “Barton International Group is a student run consulting business who strives to develop educational enrichment opportunities for our members and provide our clients with exceptional and creative business solutions.”
The organization provides a platform for students to gain valuable, real-world business knowledge.
The collegiate group often makes confidentiality agreements with collaborating companies. However, members recently worked with popular Mexican-style restaurant Qdoba Mexican Eats to expand its restaurant chain into the Wichita metropolitan area.
“We determined what locations would be best for them, when they should open up and things like that,” he explained. “Because of our work with them, Wichita State students get a discount whenever they visit Qdoba.”
Every year, Otey and his family make their way to Oklahoma to visit his Potawatomi grandmother and Tribal employee Alma Bergeron-Bazhaw Otey. Through these visits, he has formed a deep connection with his Tribal heritage.
“What it means to me to be Potawatomi is just having pride in being able to know that you have a greater family,” Otey said. “You can go to the Tribe, and you have something in common with everyone there, which is really awesome.”
Along with a deep respect for others, Otey inherited his Potawatomi family’s musical talents.
“Both my uncles on my dad’s side are very talented with music, so from a really young age, I’ve kind of been pushed towards that,” he said. In the third grade, Otey received his first guitar as a gift from his uncles and began playing the upright bass two years later.
“One of the indirect reasons why I chose (upright bass) is because I was the tallest one in my class,” Otey explained. “I was probably 5-foot-10 in the fifth grade.”
He graduated in 2018 and held the position as first chair bass at Northeast Magnet High School’s orchestra his senior year.
For Otey, learning the upright bass came naturally and inspired him to continue mastering more stringed instruments.
“Along the way, I’ve picked up guitar, bass guitar … I always like picking up new instruments,” he said.
Although his two uncles live in Georgia and Vancouver, Canada, when they all have a chance to get together, it is inevitable that someone from the family will grab a guitar and start playing.
He advises others who want to learn how to play to stay dedicated, even when it becomes difficult to see progress.
“I taught myself guitar, and doing that, it was a lot of late nights,” he said. When learning a new instrument, Otey finds songs that interest him and searches online for the specific chord progressions and finger placements.
“Work at it until you build up skills,” Otey said. “You’ll all of the sudden realize, ‘Oh wow, I am actually playing this song.’”
His goals outside of obtaining a bachelor’s degree include forming connections and applicable experiences that will propel him forward.
“It’s really awesome to be able to interact with the businesses in our area because these are the people that are going to be hiring me once I graduate,” Otey said.
As for his dream position, “I can’t really cherry-pick at the moment,” he said. “I would just really enjoy a job that’s open for growth. I would like to be able to work with other people.”
Luckily, Otey’s campus involvement and CPN tribal scholarship are helping him achieve his dreams. One day, he hopes his time at WSU will open opportunities to assist fellow CPN members and Tribal enterprises.