OKMULGEE, Okla.- The College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) hosted their annual Raven Ready for incoming students. They learned about the college, campus resources, and listened to each panelists’ experience with CMN. The event also connected students with their prospective instructors and faculty.
This event acts as a new and transfer student orientation. It is held once a year in the fall semester.
CMN’s Dean of Student Affairs Krystal Wind (Mvskoke) is a 2010 CMN alumnus, she received a degree in tribal services. She stated that Raven Ready is designed to help students navigate school, and gain a better knowledge of resources available on campus before the semester begins.
“We want them to know who they can go to for assistance and where the offices are,” Wind said. “Examples would be that CMN provides the health shelf that has free hygiene products for the students, where the parking permits are located, the hot spot or laptop that the library offers and the online tutoring that is 24/7.”
The event’s agenda consisted of welcoming students, and presenting speakers. This included the Dean of Academic Affairs Mekko Tyner, and case manager/Title IX Lisa Bear.
The event featured nine panelists, including current students and alumni. They spoke about their experience and tips that they learned while attending CMN.
After the panel, students broke into four groups and received a tour from their orientation leaders.
Students visited the financial aid lab and the information technology (I.T.) lab. There, students logged on to their student email, set up their Desire to Learn (D2L) assignment submission portal and learned how to apply for financial aid with financial aid coordinator Chebon Smith.
Students did not walk away from the event empty handed. They received a welcome kit that included lanyards, transit routes, and an academic planner.
CMN’s student housing can accommodate up to 84 students. According to Wind, this year’s class is looking at housing 42 students on campus.
Raven Ready started in 2015. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the event was held online. The event has since returned in person. The highest turnout rate the event has seen is 50 students. The college is wanting to increase that number.
“We just hope it keeps growing and we hope it is useful,” Wind said.
Raven Ready is a constant work in progress, staff and faculty are always seeking ways to improve the transition for students.
Incoming CMN student Ethan Hall (Mvskoke) spoke about the college and his experience so far. “I like the people and the staff is really nice, people are friendly, they are all welcoming here and they are all open minded” Hall said.
Hall will be majoring in natural resources and has already signed up for two school clubs: Tribal Leadership Circle (TLC) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).
Hall is excited for the new year and is ready to learn more about his culture, as well as experience dorm life. “I want to learn more about my Native history and my ancestry, I thought this will be a great way to learn about it,” Hall said. “I want to see how living alone feels like, to see if I like it and learning to adapt.”
After attending Raven Ready, it helped Hall get a better perspective from current and former students. “I would say that it helped me get a good idea of what the college was like and how to get out of my shell a bit more,” Hall said. “Hearing all the panelists’ good experience made me feel a bit better about going into college.”
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wapato Irrigation Project for Engineer I, Riley Berry (Mvskoke) is a CMN alumnus. He spoke on how Raven Ready helped prepare him for his transition into college and how his college experience helped him enter his current position.
Berry graduated in 2019 with an associate degree in tribal services. “I got that because I wanted to work with the BIA at one point or the tribe or any tribe. I like the school, it allowed me to learn about how tribes work within their own tribe and how they work with different government agencies,” Berry said. “But really it was how we as a sovereign nation dealt with our laws and how we delegated amongst the state agencies, maybe county agencies and different things like that.”
The friends Berry made during college are still his friends to this day. Berry attributes a lot of his academic success to former CMN Academic Advisor Mackie Moore. “He helped me take all the correct classes that I needed and graduate on time, he really worked with us,” Berry said. “He was also our basketball coach for AIHEC so that was also cool, we got to hoop while we were out there and I liked it a lot.”
Raven Ready helped prepare Berry for success during his collegiate career, through it he became more independent. “It was a really fun time so we got to see everybody, meet all the teachers, and it was a good opportunity to ease into college life. People are nervous about going to college for the first time and living away from home so they kind of made it to where it was your home at CMN, so that’s what I liked about Raven Ready,” Berry said.
Berry’s advice for future students entering college is to pursue their own spirituality. His own spirituality helped him learn how to cope through hard challenges.
“What helped me was you always have to have a relationship with God because you are going to be up here by yourself, you got to have that relationship to get you through things and you may not know the answer to,” Berry said. “You want to keep moving forward everyday. Keep praying so you don’t give up, don’t quit and setting yourself short, that relationship empowers me with a peace of mind, any hardships, the good times and bad times. That’s what helped me get through anything in my life, just have that relationship and pray.”
Berry is also currently CMN’s men’s basketball coach, and is looking for incoming students to play in the men’s basketball team for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
CMN recently started their fall semester on Aug. 28.For more information about CMN you can contact Wind at 918-549-2817 or by email at email@example.com.