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Press Release

Release Date: June 27, 2018

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Back row from left to right: Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, Mateo Gutierrez, Jarrett Ellis, Brandon Landrum, Tvli Birdshead, Darren Pennington, Zachary Pennington Front row from left to right: Mikaila Vaughn, Aubrey Duncan, Hailey Ellis, Isabel Hammond, Justice Fleitman, Rebecca Cowden

ADA, Okla. – High school students spent a week immersed in the world of business at East Central University (ECU), June 3-7. Selected freshmen through seniors gained skills in communication, marketing, entrepreneurship and leadership while experiencing life on a college campus during Oklahoma Business Week.

Chickasaw students were among the young business scholars. Zachary Pennington, a ninth-grade student at Shawnee High School in Shawnee, Oklahoma, was on the winning team, Green Corp., walking away with a $1,000 scholarship and a new laptop.

His brother, senior Darren Pennington, was chosen for the ECU Freshmen Business Scholar Program.

Students arrive at camp and are immediately split into groups, forming faux companies. During the week, they create products, commercials, trade show displays, attend presentations from Oklahoma business leaders and have many opportunities to hone leadership and teamwork skills.

Jarrett Ellis, Chickasaw citizen and senior at Ada High School said, “You have to use a lot of teamwork skills, it’s not one person doing one job. Everybody chips in and you get as much done as you can in a short amount of time.”

He said the camp opened his eyes to many new career options. “I’ve never thought about being an accountant or anything like that. This experience has opened a lot of doors for me,” he said, explaining that he was inspired by the words of Jim Hamby, CEO of Vision Bank, who spoke to the students.

“He said starting off, things can be rough, but once you get everything down it gets easy and it makes you want to come to work more,” Ellis explained.

Students crunched numbers in a business simulation competition, built products out of garage sale leftovers for their “Hunk of Junk” challenge and prepared to sell their company to ‘investors’ at the trade show.

Teams competed in a regatta, an amazing race and the trade show. The campers went on the road, touring the Walmart Distribution Center in Pauls Valley and the Artesian Hotel and Spa in Sulphur.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby spoke at the closing award ceremony, saying that it was important for the Chickasaw Nation to be supportive of Oklahoma Business Week.

“Oklahoma Business Week creates an atmosphere that nurtures passion and teamwork, and will help set you up to succeed in business,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “Here ideas are formed and valuable lessons are learned.”

Members of the winning team received $1,000 scholarships and laptop computers.

Members of the second place team received $500 scholarships.

Oklahoma Business Week is facilitated by ECU and by investments made by community businesses and business leaders, including the Chickasaw Nation. Applications are accepted each February.

For more information about Oklahoma Business Week, visit OKBusWeek.com. Chickasaw citizens can contact the Chickasaw Nation Education Division at 580-421-7711 to learn more about attending.

Last Updated: 09/16/2016