Organizers for the Fifth Annual Tule River Tribe’s Career and College Fair expected about 300 students from tribes all over the Central Valley, and elsewhere.
Willie Carrillo, Director of the Youth Prevention Program on the Tule River Reservation was the master of ceremonies, and introduced the guest speakers and performers throughout the morning, while presiding over the drawing which participants could enter as signed in for the informational fair. Carrillo said, “The fair is also open to the public, besides the junior and high school students. We are promoting the tribal colleges and universities, and introducing the students to future careers so they can set and pursue their goals and dreams.”
High school students from all different local tribes were transported into the Tule River Reservation by the Owens Valley Career Development Center for the Career and College Fair from all over the Central Valley. Students came from as far as Chukchansi, Bishop, Lake Isabella, Fresno, Visalia, Hanford, Bakersfield, Porterville and Tule River.
Students also came from Big Sandy Rancheria, Tachi, and the Santa Rosa tribe.
There were many colleges, four year universities, besides Porterville Unified School and Burton School Districts, vocational schools, local businesses, and health organizations represented at the fair.
The Oak Pit Restaurant had a booth, as well as Tule River Indian Health Center, which provides health services for the tribal community, as well as employing a staff of 94 employees. Sophia Renteria said they have job openings for 13 health related positions.
“This is a very good event,” said Ramon Muniz, Coordinator of EOP Partnership Programs from California State University Northridge. “This is my third year, and it’s really outstanding. I wish this fair was replicated throughout the state.”
Vanessa Manuel, a graduate of Behavioral Science at Porterville College, is pursuing her bachelor’s in Human Services and her master’s in Social Work at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Wash. Her mentor and counselor at PC, Maria Roman, said, “Vanessa is an example of what PC produces. Students who want to transfer on to a university. She was involved in the Native American club which helped develop her leadership skills.”
Standing beside Roman and Denise Hunter, Manual said, “These are my role models.” Hunter has been teaching the Yowlumne language for 20 years.
A student who had been walking around the fair for a while, Shawn Flynn, from Lake Isabella, remarked there was so much to see and think about. He said, “First, I’d like to thank everyone for coming down here and presenting us with opportunities to see potential colleges, that we can forge our futures with. There are a lot of choices to choose from.”
From Fresno State Amber Esquivel is the Native American Initiative Outreach counselor, and she said they were at the fair to promote higher education at the native and tribal colleges, to the CSU and UC college campuses. She said there were many options for Native American students.
Corey Still, Ph.D., Director of Scholarship Operations, from the American Indian Graduate Center of Albuquerque, N.M., announced on stage, to fair goers, the AIGC, “is the largest and oldest Native Scholarship provider in the U.S., and they give out $15 million in scholarships a year.”
Still said he would be in the Central Valley for about a week, and would be attending an event in Lemoore at Tachi for the Santa Rosa Tribe.
Martha Stuemky, Ph. D., PUSD Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, said she was interested in contacting Still and said, “PUSD is very happy to be here at the fair, supporting native American students by providing information for their future endeavors. And it’s awesome to see so many representatives from colleges and universities from all over the U.S. and local.”
One college representative spoke on stage and said, “This is a fantastic way to help your community and improve your quality of life,” speaking to students and higher education representatives in general.