Shaping Futures

Symphoni Shomo is starting her sophomore year at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma, but the 19-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen is wasting no time gaining experience to shape her future career.

The Tahlequah, Oklahoma, native is one of more than 700 students to participate in this year’s Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program. The program allows students to earn a paycheck by working 40 hours a week at minimum wage, but the experience they receive is invaluable.

“I’ve gotten a taste of different areas in the medical field during my time at the hospital and gained a lot of specific experience that will help my career in the future,” she said.

This summer was her fourth in the program. She previously worked as an assistant in the surgical unit and in the urgent care and radiology departments at Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital. This year, she worked in the postpartum clinic of the labor and delivery unit.

Shomo, a daughter of a nurse, says she may become a nurse herself or a physician’s assistant. She’ll decide as she finishes an undergraduate degree in psychology.

“I’m really thankful Cherokee Nation offers this program because it not only helps with my career goals, but I’ve been able to learn more about my tribe and my culture,” she said. “I’m proud to have worked in the program.”

Cherokee Nation Entertainment reinvests 35 percent of its gaming profits annually into services and programs for Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2016, that investment was $50 million plus an additional $14.7 million for construction of medical facilities for Cherokees.