Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

June 2010

Southeastern Hosts Native American Graduation Reception


Students gather at the Native American graduation reception.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University hosted the fourth annual Native American Graduation Reception May 12 in the Glen D. Johnson Student Union.

The 2009-10 SE graduating class consists of 201 Native American students from the following tribes: Caddo, Cherokee, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Delaware and Citizen Band of Potawatomie.

Tribal representatives from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, along with SE faculty and staff, were present for the event.

Joy Culbreath, executive director of education for the Choctaw Nation and alumna of Southeastern, congratulated the students and encouraged them to continue with their education and careers. She also expressed appreciation to the University and Chris Wesberry (coordinator of the Native American Center for Student Success at Southeastern) for efforts in assisting Native American students.

Deborah Hook, higher rducation program manager for the Chickasaw Nation and alumna of Southeastern, presented graduation stoles to Chickasaw students who completed their degree program with a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

“It is such an honor to be able to celebrate such a major accomplishment with our college graduates,” Hook said.

“Our students work so hard to get to this point and although we may not interact every day with them, it still gives us a sense of pride knowing they are Chickasaw citizens who will go out and make a great contribution to our society.”

Southeastern has a long and successful history of providing higher education opportunities for Native American students. The University service area covers significant parts of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations and partners with the tribes to provide specialized services for all Native American students.

Both tribes have professional staff working in the Native American Center for Student Success on campus at SE to assist students with scholarships, grants and tribal resources. This partnership contributes to SE being among the national leaders in the percentage of Native American graduates, the overall number of Native American graduates and Native American in the fields of communication/journalism, biological and medical sciences, education, psychology, computer science and English, language and culture.

“The reception is a great way for us to personally congratulate the students for their academic achievement and to extend further support to them, ” Wesberry said. “This year, we had a very diverse group ranging from students earning their MBA degrees to non-traditional students earning their first degrees. We are proud of them all.”

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