Changing lives of Choctaws nationwide!

Success Stories

Are you a Career Development Client that has graduated and obtained a new career? 

We want to hear from you!  Let us know about your success story! 

Seth Paxton

“I began my undergraduate education at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2013. It was a time of great change, and it was also a time for dreaming big. I had goals of graduating from OSU, attending law school, and launching a successful career.

The Choctaw Nation Career Development Program helped turn those dreams into reality. Today, I am a graduate of Oklahoma State with a degree in Economics, Pre-Law. Currently, I am working as an intern in the Tribal Policy Office of the Choctaw Nation. This fall, I will begin law school at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

My career counselor guided me along the way and was always there to answer my questions and address my concerns. I am very appreciative of all those at the Choctaw Nation who have believed in me and given me the tools to achieve my dreams.”




Ron Jones

 In spite of numerous obstacles; bills to pay (required full-time job and then some…), raising a family of six daughters with my beautiful, supportive wife, how to pay for it (kids are  expensive, no money left for dad…), finding time to study, balancing family time…I chose a Health career because love the field of Radiology. 

I am the first person in my family to have a Masters degree which sets the bar for my six daughters. I want to earn a PhD and this is a necessary step.

My advice  to others that wish to further their education: You have to PLAN for success. Saying it in your head to yourself or simply telling other people you are going to do it is not enough. You need to write out a plan; how to pay for it, how to study for it, how to balance with family and other time obligations. Most people don’t plan to fail…they fail to plan.

I would like to thank my wife Lisa and mother Carolyn for the encouragement. My kids for putting up with Grumpy Dad when I was stressed. And the Choctaw Tribe for the encouragement and kind words. 

 It took me almost ten years to get my four-year Bachelor’s degree. Took me about 16 to get my two-year Masters degree. How do you eat an elephant? One…bite…at…a…time. 



Jayne Johnson

“Welding may not be an everyday career choice for a woman, but I believe women can do anything. I chose welding because I grew tired of feeling trapped in dead end jobs, because I grew tired of being told what a woman is “supposed to do.”

I chose welding because I want to see the world and be a part of changing it. I chose welding… but welding also chose me.

…”the very first day of school I didn’t want to stop welding. I loved it. I am so thankful to have been fully funded through Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to attend Force Welding School, LLC in Valliant, OK, and be the first female welder to graduate.”




Bobby “Doc” Suarez

An undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, gave me the fuel to expand my education. After graduating in December 2017, I work in a Fisheries Ecology Lab at the “Marine-focused”, TAMU campus where we work with mostly ichthyoplankton (larval) game fish and a few others; Tuna, Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin), Mahi Mahi (Dolphinfish), Flying fish and Lanternfish.

I am also working with NOAA and Texas Parks and Wildlife on tagging and tracking studies for Red Snapper, Southern Flounder and Red Drum. Summer 2017, I will work with both state and federal agencies to monitor the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean using the Closed Circuit Rebreather (using helium gas to extend bottom times) and open circuit.

I plan to look at different institutions around the country before pursuing graduate studies.





Jessica Simes

With financial assistance from both Career Development and Higher Education, Jessica received a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Occupational Safety and Health in 2009. Her dream was to continue to work for her tribe in the safety capacity and she was willing to relocate in order to do so.

She opted to expand her skill base and pursue her Specialist in Safety and Health Certification which required four OSHA classes.  She received her OSHA 511 and CPR certificates. Additionally, Jessica took the initiative to schedule job shadowing with a Safety Coordinator at the Durant Casino for enhanced insight into the position.  Furthermore, she worked countless hours undertaking lessons in the Career Ready 101 system and went on to achieve a Silver Career Readiness Certification.

Toward the end of 2016, when Safety positions across the Choctaw Nation opened, Jessica applied and acheived success!  Jessica was selected to fill the position of Safety Coordinator for the Pocola Casino.  She never relented but continued to strive to achieve her goals. She is extremely excited to fulfill her dream of working for her tribe while making Tribal businesses safe places to enjoy for all.



Melissa Skinner

“Attending Real Estate School has been an exciting and I am grateful to the Choctaw Nation for providing tuition assistance for me.

Knowing the Choctaw Nation put their belief in my abilities to succeed put extra drive in me to do well in my courses and on the exam and I knew in my heart I did not want to let them down.

It is so exciting to have the opportunity to start a new career, and help individuals and families find their homes!”





Blake Jackson

A graduate of Hartshorne high school and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Garrett “Blake” Jackson received his Bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University.

In May 2016, Blake obtained his Juris Doctorate with Distinction and Certification in American Indian Law from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. And in September 2016, he passed the Oklahoma Bar Exam and was administered the Oath of Attorney at the Oklahoma House of Representatives.





Jene Rae Kellum

Jena Rae Kellum graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oklahoma State University Class of 2016, won Senior of Distinction from College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Senior Leadership and Scholastic awards from the Animal Science Department.

Upon graduation, she accepted a job with Purina Animal Nutrition as a Lifestyle Feed Sales Specialist where she works with farmers and ranchers to assist with their livestock’s nutrition program and to find ways to promote Purina products. She has the opportunity to participate in farm calls every day, conducts educational meetings for the public, and works with local agricultural agents, 4-H and FFA students, vets, etc.





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