Oklahoma Business Week Inspires Next Generation of Native American Business Leaders

Chickasaw Nation Release

ADA, Okla. – Stacey Bolin is preparing for an influx of extremely focused high school students wishing to advance careers in the field of business.

Bolin, director of the Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship & Oklahoma Business Week at East Central University, said registration of students is underway and will continue through April 17. The fourth annual educational opportunity begins May 31 through June 5 at ECU in Ada.

Many of the finest, most innovative and brightest high school students from across several states will learn business, entrepreneurial, marketing and other skill sets to succeed in the highly rewarding, and very competitive business world.

Sponsored in large part by the Chickasaw Nation, OBW welcomed more than 80 students in 2014. This included more than 29 Chickasaw students selected to participate. That overall number of students will climb as high as 120 this year as the weeklong program is expanded, Bolin said.

Students accepted into the program will select teams, plan a business, promote the business and product, and “pitch” it to community business leaders and ECU professors. “It is hands-on and full throttle,” Bolin said with a laugh.

Oklahoma Business Week is enjoying a stellar reputation that fuels student interest to attend and learn, Bolin said. Winning teams are rewarded with prizes, scholarships and computers. The awards are aimed at assisting the students to transition into a higher education environment. While business is the theme, there is an equally important objective, Bolin explained.

“The students live on the ECU campus for the week,” she said. “It gives them a chance to make friends and experience what it is like to attend college. Studies have shown when students are given such an opportunity they are more likely to pursue higher education and attend college.”

To complement this opportunity, ECU is bringing in some heavy hitters – many are ECU graduates who have climbed the ladder to phenomenal success.

“It is a way of communicating to students you can get there from here,” Bolin said.

One of the signature features of Oklahoma Business Week is powerful speakers highly successful in their fields of endeavor.

Again this year, Michael Prince will address students. He was chief operating officer for Nike until becoming president and chief operating officer for Cole Haan.  Alan Marcum, executive vice president of Devon Energy, will lend his expertise, too. Marcum and ECU President John Hargrave will host a panel discussion this year for students.

Becky Payton, regional vice president of human relations for Mercy is also slated to speak, as are Jeff Bell, chief executive officer of LegalShield , formerly known as Pre-Paid Legal, a multimillion dollar company founded in Ada by the late Harland Stonecipher. Bolin confirmed that Vision Bank CEO Jim Hamby will address students as well.

One of the greatest supporters of Oklahoma Business Week is Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. 

While the program is about teaching students business and all that encompasses, it is also about making friends, growing a solid foundation of contacts and having fun, Bolin said.

To be a part of Oklahoma Business Week, students apply  online at OKBusweek.com. There is information about the week, a video and applications. Bolin said interested students may also telephone her at (580) 559-5596 or email her at[email protected].

April 17 is the deadline for application submissions.


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