Summer Youth jobs often lead to satisfying tribal careers

Release Date: June 11, 2014

by Bethany Gill

  • Aliscon Scott, Director of Graphic Design and Photography

  • Sonya Tiger, Department of Interior Services

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.

Sonya Tiger

Ms. 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 (OK) 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 (CDIB) office in 2005.

“To me, working for CDIB, it’s history,” Ms. Tiger said.

The CDIB office is where she continues to work today.

“I love being here,” she said. “I get to help people navigate their native ancestry.”

Ms. Tiger graduated from Byng (OK) High School in 1992.

Alicson Scott

Ms. Scott began the Summer Youth Program in 1997 with the Roff (OK) 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,” Ms. Scott said.

She graduated 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.

She stayed at Nutrition Services for 11 years. She began as a demonstration specialist and taught cooking classes. She taught participants of the program how to make nutritious meals from the food they received each month.

Later, she taught nutrition education for the WIC program. She transferred to the Get Fresh! Program in 2005, where she started to hone her leadership skills. She rose to the coordinator of the Get Fresh! Program.

She entered the career development program in 2006. In 2010 she accepted a position with Self-Governance for Strategic Planning. At Self-Governance, she contributed to a plan to reinstate the Planning Department, to which she was appointed director.

Ms. Scott spearheaded the volunteer bank where she showcased her knack for leadership after the May 20, 2013 tornado hit Moore, Okla. In 2013, she was appointed Director of Graphic Design and Photography.

“The Chickasaw Nation has given me every opportunity to better myself,” she said.

Ms. Scott received her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science from East Central University. She earned her master’s degree in human resources in 2008.

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. It encourages productive work patterns and behaviors for a variety of careers. The goal of the program is for participants to acquire new skills in a workplace environment and learn more about specific career fields.

The Chickasaw Nation partners with different businesses and a variety of departments across the nation for the Summer Youth Program. 

Experiences may include job shadowing, mentoring or similar activities designed to provide youth with leadership and work experience related to tribal operations, health systems, business operations and Chickasaw Nation programs and services.

Students gain real world work experience all while learning the skills that are required to be a successful adult in the workforce.

Last Updated: 10/20/2014