Nontraditional student honored as Student of the Year
November 18, 2020
Robert Gibson is not a typical student. At 55 years of age, he decided to better his life and go back to school. Choosing long-term financial independence over a short-term check, Gibson has attained this goal with the help of the Chickasaw Nation.
"I have worked for the local chicken plant. It's near my hometown of Westville. I decided going back to school would be better," Gibson said.
Gibson's previous careers included being an ironworker and welder. While these careers pay well, they take a physical toll on the body. Gibson decided he needed to do something else.
Two years ago, Gibson became the oldest student at the time to graduate from the Indian Capital Technology Center, Stillwell, Oklahoma, where he studied automotive technology. Committed to his education, he attained all the certifications offered through their automotive program.
Financially, deciding to go back to school was difficult. To help pay for his tuition, Gibson turned to raising a garden in his backyard and selling the produce.
"I made nearly $1,500 that first summer to help pay for school," Gibson said. "But I realized my funds were still going to fall short to complete the program. My adviser (at school) suggested I get in contact with the Chickasaw Nation for help."
After completing the automotive program at Indian Capital Technology, Gibson decided to spend another year learning the ins-and-outs of diesel mechanics at Kiamichi Technology Center, Hugo, Oklahoma. As a self-proclaimed overachiever, he again completed all the certifications the school had to offer. Once again, he was the oldest student in the program at the time.
"The Chickasaw Nation stepped in and helped pay for my schooling at Indian Capital vo-tech," Gibson said. "They once again stepped in when I completed the program and I decided to go through Kiamichi vo-tech's diesel technicians program. They helped me pay for both schools."
Gibson's hard work has been recognized by both institutions he attended.
"I received student of the month at both schools, as well as student of the year at Kiamichi. I graduated with a 100 average. I was recognized as never being late or missing any classes at both schools," he said.
Gibson believes his future looks bright. Automotive and diesel mechanic technicians are predicted to continue to be in demand for years to come.
"I have found a job in Kansas City," Gibson said. "I will be working for Delta Innovations in Kansas City. I am really grateful for the Chickasaw Nation and their support."