Native American graduation event held at Southeastern

Native  American graduates were honored at a ceremony recently.

Native American graduates were honored at a ceremony recently.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University hosted the 10th annual Native American Graduation recently in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. The 2014-2015 Southeastern graduating class consists of 227 Native American students from Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Comanche, Citizen Band of the Potawatomie, Creek Nation, Kiowa, Osage, Ponca, Seminole, and Miami tribes.

Tribal representatives from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, along with University faculty and staff, were present for the event. Dr. Bryon Clark, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graduate Dean, welcomed the guest speaker, James Parrish.

Parrish, Executive Director of Education for the Choctaw Nation and a graduate of Southeastern, reminded graduating students of their unique purpose with three important words — “you are special.” Parrish acknowledged the important role of the supporting staff from tribal programs and the Native American Center for Student Success at Southeastern for their assistance in helping the students achieve their academic goals.

Amy Gantt, Higher Education Program Manager for the Chickasaw Nation and graduate of Southeastern, presented graduation stoles to Chickasaw students who completed their degree program with a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

The Choctaw Nation Higher Education Program attended the ceremony and gifted Choctaw students with their own book of Choctaw Hymns. Debbie Vietta, Scholarship Officer with CNHEP, said “as part of the Choctaw Nation Higher Education Program, we were happy to support tribal members at the Native American Graduation Ceremony.”

The Native American Center for Student Success on campus at Southeastern supports students with scholarships, grants and tribal resources. The retention services contribute to Southeastern being ranked 6th nationally for graduating Native American students with bachelor degrees.

“The ceremony and reception is most important for the graduates to feel celebrated for their academic success, ” said Chris Wesberry, director of the Native American Center for Student Success. “We are proud of their accomplishments and enjoy recognizing each student’s achievement.”