Vol. LII No. 5
May 2017

Chokka' Kilimpi' Recruitment and Retention and School-to-Work Programs

CONTRIBUTED BY Jennifer Jones, Media Relations.

NORMAN, Okla. – As he completes his degree, Rance Gilliam, Chickasaw citizen and University of Oklahoma student, has found career direction through the Chickasaw Nation Chokka' Kilimpi' Recruitment and Retention and School-to-Work Programs.

Mr. Gilliam is a senior majoring in Native American studies and has received on-the-job training through the school-to-work program. The program provides full-time pay and benefits to college students who are able to attend classes as part of their workday. School-to-work employees receive on-the-job training and experience at the same time as they are completing their degrees.

Mr. Gilliam’s school-to-work placement is assisting the recruitment and retention program. He has helped to plan and facilitate social, cultural and educational events and served as a mentor to students at OU, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Community College.

“Working with the Chokka' Kilimpi' program has helped me decide on a career,” Mr. Gilliam said. “I plan to pursue a career in the educational field because of the experience I have gained at my worksite. I’ve gotten to explore educational programs designed to lead Chickasaw students to success, and I’ve gotten to work with other Chickasaw employees that are very experienced in their program area and are willing to share their knowledge.”

Mr. Gilliam credits the school-to-work program for giving him the opportunity to relieve some of the financial burden of attending college and the recruitment and retention program for helping him stay on track.

“I have participated in the recruitment and retention program throughout my senior year at OU,” he said. “The services provided help undergrads meet other Chickasaw students who attend OU and find a sense of community on campus. The program is unique in that is caters to the specific needs of college students by aiding in their academic success and including a component of Chickasaw culture.”

The recruitment and retention program hosts events including coffee breaks, lunch breaks and study hall sessions. Cultural classes such as basket weaving and drum-making are also program components. Mr. Gilliam says he especially appreciates the cultural and social events because it gives students the opportunity to get out of study-mode for a few hours and relax.

Students in the program have attended Native American film festivals, OKC Thunder games, Women’s History month movies and discussion panels. The program partners with the Native American Student Association on campuses to provide event and networking opportunities for students.

Mr. Gilliam worked at Riverwind Casino before being selected for the school-to-work program. He says the program has been instrumental in his academic and career success.

“Being an employee in the school-to-work program has given me more time to focus on my studies,” he said. “The tuition assistance that the program offers has allowed me to cover my costs without taking out student loans. The stresses of my day-to-day life as a student and full-time employee have decreased thanks to the program. I’d say that the most important skill I have learned in my work experience is the skill to serve.”

He plans to return the investment in his education to the Chickasaw Nation by pursuing an education-related career within the tribe.

“The Chickasaw Nation has invested so much in me personally and in my education that it would be a privilege to be able to return that investment and contribute my knowledge to the growth of the tribe and its citizens,” Mr. Gilliam said. “Since Native American Studies is interdisciplinary, it covers a wide range of Native American topics and issues. Education and tribal operations are two topics that really caught my attention. I think they are very important.”

Chickasaw Nation higher education grants and scholarships have also been a source of support for Mr. Gilliam during his studies.

“I am blessed to be part of a tribe that invests so much in the education of its citizens,” he said. “Everything they offer is a huge contribution to the success of Chickasaw scholars.”

Chokka' Kilimpi' Recruitment and Retention Program’s on campus coordinators serve as academic and cultural mentors and provide a connection to Chickasaw Nation programs and services.

Their presence on campus provides an extra avenue of support for students during their studies, making sure they stay on track in their classes and graduate on time. Coordinators also assist students by guiding them through scholarship and grant processes and letting them know when new funding opportunities are available.

To learn more about the Chokka' Kilimpi' Recruitment and Retention program, visit www.Chickasaw.net/CK or call (405) 769-8940.

The school-to-work program fills vacancies as they arise. Search for positions at www.Chickasaw.net/Careers. To learn more about the program, visit www.Chickasaw.net/schooltowork.