MSUToday
Published: Aug. 8, 2018

Annual workshop teaches Native American high schoolers skills for success

Contact(s): Madeline Kelly Media Communications Madeline.Kelly@cabs.msu.edu, Omar Sofradzija Broad College of Business office: 517-884-8866 omars@msu.edu

Michigan State University’s  Eli Broad College of Business hosted the annual Native American Business Institute, or NABI, a pre-college summer program for Native American high school students.

NABI, a week-long workshop consisting of corporate presentations and Native American speakers, focuses on team-building and cultivating leadership skills for its young attendees. Students learn resume writing, interviewing, public speaking and personal branding.

Through NABI, students learn about contemporary issues facing Native Americans and ways they can contribute to these communities, while also getting the chance to hear from Native American professionals and entrepreneurs in diverse fields.

“We talk about diversity and inclusion in so many ways and so many contexts. This really translates talk into action,” Broad College Dean Sanjay Gupta said. “The NABI is all about empowering a special group of people with the kind of skills, knowledge and awareness that they don’t typically get. We’re tackling a very significant issue around diversity and inclusion head-on.”

The NABI pilot program began in 2011 and is funded through a $23,000 grant from the MSU Office for Inclusion and intercultural Initiatives, a group focused on creating inclusive excellence at MSU.

Since 2012, Kevin Leonard, senior program coordinator of Broad College Multicultural Business Programs and Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa tribal member, has led NABI. 

“We want students to develop a vision for their future, set goals to achieve this vision and develop the relationships and skills necessary to accomplish their goals,” Leonard said. “We hope students will choose to pursue higher education, a degree in business and a career in business and contribute to the growth and development of Native American communities.”

Leonard set a goal to continue developing relationships with Native American tribes in Michigan and beyond to develop a pipeline of Native youth for the Eli Broad College of Business, as well as increasing MSU scholarships for the community.

“I have learned the importance of building relationships based on trust and a commitment to developing the full potential of our youth,” Leonard said.

Each participant in the program was assigned to a team that researched, wrote and delivered a presentation about one of the participating companies. 

“This program has taken my good skills and qualities and made them better. The skills and qualities in which I thought I was good at, I now feel that I am the best I’ve ever been in these departments,” said Jacob Locklear, a 2017 and 2018 participant.

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