The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education invites the public to a Native American college and career fair Nov. 5 at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The Wzhitawen (wish-eh-taw-when) College and Career Fair hosts colleges from across the United States during the inaugural event. Admission is free and open to tribal and nontribal youth who are interested in preparing for their college career.
“This college and career fair is going to focus primarily on the opportunities available to Native American youth,” said CPN Director of Education Tesia Zientek. “We’ve asked colleges to send a representative who is familiar with the college’s Native programming and opportunities.”
In Potawatomi, wzhitawen means he or she prepares, and the college fair is aimed to help Native youth further their educations. Staff will help participants understand what the college process is like, from attending a college fair to applying for colleges, choosing a college and ultimately funding their education.
Earning a college degree provides more future job opportunities. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, according to the 2013 Georgetown University report “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020.”
College advisors are available throughout the event and students can ask questions about how to apply and what scholarships are available, and discuss potential degree programs and career opportunities. Cultural presentations and breakout sessions on financial aid will also take place.
“Students who are in their junior or senior year of high school should plan to attend this event and learn about what colleges can offer them,” Zientek said. “The event is open to everyone, regardless of age or race, so if you’re thinking about college, then it’s a good idea to come and check it out.”
There are many disparities in the academic success of native youth and their nontribal counterparts. According to the “State of Native Youth 2016” survey by the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, Native students graduate high school at a rate of 71 percent, the lowest of any racial or ethnic group, and have significantly lower standardized test scores. The same report notes that more than 70 percent of surveyed Native youth want help finding and applying for scholarships, internships and fellowships.
“We know from research that Native youth are more likely to finish high school and attain a college degree if there are services to help them achieve those goals,” Zientek said. “Other tribes have found success through various programs, and we believe that we can help the Native youth in our communities find similar success.”
Learn more about CPN educational opportunities at potawatomi.org/services/education.