Students from all walks of life excel at tribal school
OKMULGEE, Okla. — A non-traditional student and one who had taken concurrent courses were the two who made the College of the Muscogee Nation President’s Honor Roll among the 51 who graduated this year.
“I like how there are students of all ages here,” 28-year-old honoree Taryn Morgan said. “Like we have older people here still wanting to learn their language and just learn more even at their age.”
CMN President Robert Bible said Morgan and Danielle Fixico received this recognition for having a GPA above 3.75.
He said this achievement reflects something about the recently accredited college as a whole.
“I think the success they’ve had shows that we do offer a quality education and it’s comparable to the other institutions when they leave here because our students do well,” Bible said.
Fixico graduated high school last year and said CMN helped her get better acclimated to the college environment compared to her first enrollment at a four-year school.
“Actually one of the classes had four to five hundred people in it and it was just really hard to learn in that environment,” she said. “So I didn’t do so well in a couple of my classes. I passed. It was just not what I thought I needed for a pre-med student.”
Fixico had attended the University of Oklahoma and plans to return again after her time at CMN to eventually go on and work for the Indian Health Service.
“I actually want to come back to help the Native people because we need doctors,” she said. “Like we need people who are Native that kind of understand the culture.”
Fixico was inspired to pursue this after being helped by a pediatrician with her allergies at a tribal health facility.
“He recommended some stuff that he took and he was like, ‘if you don’t feel better in three days, come back and we’ll try something else,’ ” she said. “I was really young and I was like in elementary school. I remember being really little and being like, ‘hey Mom, it’s been three days and I’m all better.’ ”
Morgan was motivated to return to school after she lost her daughter to SIDS.
“It was just to keep busy at first,” she said.
She went into the workforce for a year after high school and her time afterwards in college was cut short by student debt.
“So you can’t go another semester unless you’ve paid that all off,” Morgan said. “But here, they get so many grants and everything that if you have a balance at the end, they have grants and everything that takes care of that.”
She wants to pursue tribal law at Northeastern State University next.
“If I don’t go to NSU, I would like to come back and learn like the core specialization classes,” Morgan said. “Because I took like the specialization part but there’s also the medical administration.”
Morgan said her family has been supportive of her ambition through difficulty.
“It’s just been rough,” she said. “I lost my sister and then I lost my baby and they’ve just been there.”
She said even the logistical staff at CMN have helped her at the college.
“I’m taking accounting so I work with Lynette, she’s an accountant here and she’s helped me a lot,” Morgan said. “They want you to succeed.”
Fixico said smaller class sizes and attitude of the teachers also help.
“Because you might not have done very well on a test, I know I’ve done that with some of the harder classes but you can just go and talk to the teacher and she’ll say, ‘yeah, you can do this to bring your grade up a little bit,’ ” she said.
Both participated in the CMN work-study program, which helps students work part-time while attending.
“Work-study has been great because it allows us to go to school and they also give us time off,” Fixico said. “They’re very lenient about that.”
She encouraged other students to get a head start by taking concurrent courses in high school.
“Because it can cut down on your time,” Fixico said. “You can come here for example and it’s not near as expensive like if you take the gen ed classes at a different university.”
Morgan said opportunity exists for students who do not attend college after graduating high school.
“You still have time,” she said.
Bible said both students are off to a good start with CMN.
“Based on their history here, I think they’re going to be successful on the next level,” he said.