The Community Center was filled with Native American and Hispanic students from Dowagiac High School November 21, there to learn from and collaborate with Michigan State University business students representing those two groups. The event featured professional development workshops led by the college students that focused on leadership and presentation skills and building a resume.
“A lot of community building went on among the students,” said Polly Mitchell, educational associate with the Pokagon Education Department and one of the workshop organizers. “The students built community within their schools and with the college students. Everybody interacted with the college students.”
The 24 MSU students in attendance are part of the Native American Hispanic Business Student organization. They facilitated the workshop, helping their younger peers think about options for higher education and the importance of taking advantage of professional and career development through groups like theirs. The 40 students from Dowagiac High School had a fun atmosphere in which to interact with college students, and gained familiarity with a group advocating for native students at MSU.
“It was nice to see the high schoolers participate,” said Mitchell. “They were working on leadership skills, so students had to give presentations. They were tentative at first, but by the end they were volunteering. So they built up their confidence enough to act.”
Michael Kasper of Mno-Bmadsen, the tribe’s economic development entity, and Sean Winters of Chi Ishobak, the Pokagon Community Development Financial Institution, both spoke about business and financial opportunities with the Band. Kevin Leonard, MSU’s coordinator for the NAHBS, commented that this workshop was the largest and the most successful he’s seen yet.