Native American students preparing for the real world through summer youth program

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ADA, OK -- 18-year-old D'Angelo Dunn works at the Chickasaw Nation graphics department. He's been working there since he was 14, and says it has helped him prepare for the real world.

"I've learned how to act as an adult here," said Dunn. "I've learned how to be punctual and one time, and I've learned how the real world really is about being responsible for what you do and the actions that you make."

Dunn participates in the Chickasaw Nation's Summer Youth program, geared to help students ages 14 to 21 gain experience in the workforce.

Chickasaw Nation Social Services Executive Officer, Leta Burwell, says the program aims to help students explore different careers and become valuable workers.

"We want to influence them by having a positive work ethic, and that way they can become good employees. and just instill that confidence that no matter what they want to achieve that they can," said Burwell.

Burwell said over 600 students provide free labor to over 400 businesses, and students are paid minimum wage by the program. She says the program benefits both the students and the businesses.

"They maybe develop some full time employees that they would look for," said Burwell. "We've had some success stories where we have placed some youth, and they have been picked up by that business because of their strong work ethic."

Dunn says he would recommend the program to anyone considering applying

"It teaches kids hard work, and gets them into jobs at a young age, and gets you ready for the real world," Dunn said.

Students applying must be Native American and reside within the Chickasaw Nation boundaries.

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