Noli Indian School, on the Soboba Indian Reservation, serves grades 6-12. Administrators and staff feel it’s never too early to educate young students about their options for colleges and/or career opportunities. It may help them define a clear path of study to pursue based on requirements for employment or enrollment.
Also invited to the career and college day on Nov. 28 were students from Sherman Indian High School in Riverside. About 10 colleges were represented and a dozen or so businesses that ran the gamut from healthcare careers to entrepreneurship opportunities.
Each student was given a list of participants and was able to choose six that fit their interests and spend 12 minutes with each one. Groups of five students rotated through the tables that were set up at the Soboba Sports Complex to listen to presentations and ask questions they had about the career or college.
Delta Airlines offered information on aviation careers and Old Traditions Tattoo Parlor artists explained how they do what they do. Robert Young with Inland Memorial Harford Chapel shared insight on the funeral home business and fielded a lot of questions.
A variety of careers could be learned about through several Soboba entities. Michael West and Jacob Briones from the Soboba Fire Department explained how their jobs are about much more than fighting fires. Medical aid calls constitute a majority of the department’s duties, and each member has to be fully trained. It is recommended that potential fire department personnel go to EMT school to learn what they will need to know.
When asked how often they are called out, Briones said a busy day is usually about 15 calls, but the norm is about 5 to 6 per day. He told the students about the recently formed Explorers program that gives young people a firsthand look at what the different jobs entail and teaches them the proper use of the various equipment that needs to be used.
“Fire service is para-military, meaning there is a lot of structure behind it,” Briones said.
There were also recruiters from the Army and Navy at the fair to answer questions from those that are already thinking about enlisting right out of high school.
Craig Young has worked at Soboba’s IT Department as the Tribe’s Senior Graphic Designer for more than 12 years. He creates all print work that is put out on behalf of the Tribe as well as helping Tribal members with side work they may want.
“I’m not an artist, I’m a graphic designer,” he tells students who ask about his job. “I can’t put a pen to paper, but I can create anything with a computer.”
He recalled working with a young man during the Soboba Tribal TANF summer program who was a great sketch artist. Young said he taught Christian Ramirez how to create digital art and ended up using one of his creations on a program for Soboba’s annual Intertribal Powwow back in 2013 and giving him artist credit on it. Young said he always likes to encourage students to find jobs in fields they already have a passion for.
The Soboba Casino Resort had three of its marketing department employees on hand to discuss what they do on a daily basis. Wade Abbas is a graphic designer who helps with the promotional materials put out by the casino. He said most students are curious as to what type of education is needed for this position. He always tells them that a career in marketing takes people from all over that have completed different journeys. There is no one clear-cut way to get to the end.
Corryn Salgado-Flores is a content creator specialist and enjoys working with a team of about 20 employees who are involved with player development, rewards and more programs to keep the excitement alive at the casino. Nathan Miranda started out as a Tribal member intern learning about many different positions at SCR. He settled on marketing because he has a passion for art, graphic design and photography.
“Seeing my designs being displayed around the casino gives me a good feeling,” Miranda said.
Soboba Tribal Family Services talked to students about all the different job opportunities within the field of social work. Team members from the nearby Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. Soboba Indian Health Clinic spoke about potential careers in the dental field.
Rynda Drennan is an RN Recruiter from San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning. She offered details on various nursing careers and provided students with a career plan of study to help them begin to achieve the necessary skills to enter the healthcare field.
Realtor Martin Cueva served double duty, educating students on a career in real estate as well as letting them know what they should look for when purchasing property. He said that being a realtor takes a combination of many different skills.
Jorge Esqueda brought a hands-on display that helped explain the types of things an electrician might be tasked with. He shared the fact there are many apprenticeship training centers throughout Southern California to help prepare them for electrical workforce jobs.
Lisa Castilone, Community Development & Tribal Program Manager with GRID Alternatives Inland Empire, shared some highlights from GRID’s Solar Futures program, past programming at Noli, women in solar and all the fantastic job opportunities in renewable energy.
“I explained to them that the skills they learn in this profession are something they can take anywhere; it’s not just a local job, it can be global,” she said.
Robert J. Levi II is a Tribal Elder/Culture Bearer in Residence at California State University, San Bernardino. He was hired in February of 2021 and was able to share how his job enables him to assist American Indian students with their transition to college.
“CSUSB realized the need for an elder to help retain American Indian students,” Levi said. “I showed an interest in the opportunity, and CSUSB Administration saw me as a person who can help them better serve the AI student body. So, to a degree my work does involve maintaining AI students to finish their degrees.”
As a San Diego State University graduate and citizen of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, Levi is in an ideal position to address issues and concerns AI students may have about their education at this level.
“My involvement with our AI students is one of being their ‘strict’ uncle; making sure they are studying, asking about their grades and just being there for them,” he said. “I am part of a support team to make them less anxious and/or alienated at CSUSB. I am also the Staff Advisor for our CSUSB American Indian Student Organization.”
Levi works alongside First People’s Center Director Carlos Gonzales, VP of Student Affairs Dr. Molly Springer and the Office of Student Engagement to assist, in any way, the American Indian students.
He said during the career and college fair, most students who visited his table wanted to know about financial aid, campus life, living in the dorms, classes and what CSUSB has to offer American Indian students. He was able to share with them that most of the current AI students at the university are majoring in U.S. History, anthropology, nursing, psychology and political science.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians