This summer, many young Chickasaws will pass up time they could have spent by the pool or playing video games to take part in the Chickasaw Nation Summer Youth Program. This program, which allows young people to gain work experience while earning a paycheck, often leads to long-term benefits.
Sonya Tiger and Alicson Scott are among the many tribal employees who trace their journeys with the Chickasaw Nation back to their days in the tribe’s popular program.
Tiger began the Summer Youth Program working with Head Start as a clerk. The job turned into a part-time position while she attended East Central University.
Her two oldest children attended Head Start while she worked there.
From there, she transferred to the Ada area office, where she assisted citizens with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. After that, she worked in Employment Opportunities before transferring to the Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood office in 2005.
“I love being here,” she said. “I get to help people navigate their native ancestry.”
Scott began the Summer Youth Program in 1997 with the Roff school district. She worked closely with the custodian and superintendent’s secretary, where she helped with cleaning, mowing, counting money and clerical work.
“The Summer Youth Program helped build the foundation of showing up on time, being dependable and being accountable,” Scott said.
She graduated from high school in 1999 and began working for the dietary department at Carl Albert Hospital that summer. She later transferred to Nutrition Services, where she worked through her college years.
After many years with the Chickasaw Nation, in 2013, she was appointed director of graphic design and photography.
“The Chickasaw Nation has given me every opportunity to better myself,” she said.
Summer Youth Program facts
The Chickasaw Nation helps bridge the gap of summer employment for Chickasaw youth. The Summer Youth Program provides employment for youth ages 14 to 21.
The program provides workforce training and experience to eligible youth. The Chickasaw Nation partners with different businesses and a variety of departments across the Nation for the Summer Youth Program.