Oklahoma City University Brother Gains Leadership Skills Through Distinguished Internship Opportunity

Bobby “Trae” Trousdale takes deep pride in his Native American heritage and as a change agent at Oklahoma City University as a leader for the Native American community.

But for the summer, when the sophomore was researching internship opportunities, it was his hope that he could experience something outside of the Potawatomi Nation and expand his horizons. So, when he received a letter from the Potawatomi Leadership Program imploring him to apply for a summer internship opportunity, he took a second look at the great experience three miles from his front door.

“After receiving that letter, thinking more about it, and reading up on the program, I sort of discovered my lack of knowledge in some of the areas that our Tribe serves,” said Trousdale. “I decided that I actually needed to do it, so I applied and was accepted.”

Trousdale joined only nine other college students from across the United States in Shawnee, Oklahoma for the start of what would be an eye-opening summer. The goal of the program is to help young tribal members explore and understand on a deeper level how the Tribe operates and prepare them for leadership roles.

For Trousdale, the most surprising part of the experience was just how many departments and offices are woven together to make the Tribe successful. Trousdale says that one thing that many individuals may not realize is the fact that even though Native American Tribes reside in the United States, they operate outside of the U.S. government, working as independent sovereign nations with their own form of government and legislative processes.

Because of this, Trousdale had a very basic understanding of what the Tribe offered, but the Potawatomi Leadership Program offered a fresh look on all of the services and hard work that makes the Tribe.

So, each morning, the group would travel to different departments (anything from healthcare to the water department that provides fresh water to over 1000 residents) to learn operations. The afternoon consisted of traveling across the county, followed each evening by cultural training.

Though the six-week program has concluded, Trousdale is eager to bring back his leadership training to both his campus and Lambda Chi. More so than anything, however, Trousdale looks forward to continuing the chapter’s mission of teaching acceptance and respect for the perspectives of others.

“One of the things on our campus that I pride ourselves on is being a very diverse chapter,” said Trousdale. “This [Potawatomi Leadership Program] has truly given me the opportunity to add to that diversity and given me a platform to talk about things in an educational way…

“When I come back to Lambda Chi, I think I have not only learned more about myself and leadership skills, but my background and why I think through things how I do. It has also give me the skills to work with different types of leaders to see things differently.”

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