Chickasaw security professional receives inaugural industry scholarship
November 20, 2020
TULSA, Okla. - Chickasaw citizen Rachel Wyatt-Swanson was recently awarded the 2020 Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum Scholarship.
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson was one of 12 security professionals and students to receive the inaugural scholarship. The SIA Women in Security Forum furthers education, empowering its members and promoting diversity in the security industry.
"I am very excited to have won the WISF scholarship," Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson said. "I am honored to be among such a select and diverse group of awardees. It is an honor to represent the Security Industry Association and the Women in Security Forum."
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson's professional experience is in anti-terrorism and force protection services.
As a recipient of the scholarship, Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson will receive $6,650 which can be applied to continuing education or repayment of student loan debt. She plans to use the scholarship funds toward paying the student loans she accrued while obtaining her master's of business administration degree.
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson currently works for Cherokee Federal, an entity owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses. Her title is director of business development for Cherokee Nation Security and Defense (CNSD). The entity specializes in anti-terrorism and force protection, delivering comprehensive services that secure facility perimeters against all threats.
"I work alongside management and leadership teams, throughout Cherokee Federal, to develop sales plans, goals, strategies, budgets, and more," she said. "I also help project monthly and annual sales contracts, and produce new contract opportunities with corresponding capture plans that ultimately lead to the successful generation of new and profitable business for our company."
Her journey in the security sector began when she moved to Washington, D.C. She spent time working for the U.S. House of Representatives. Within a year, she was recruited to join Northrop Grumman. She ran the company's Anti-Terrorism Force Protection business development unit. Her time with Northrop Grumman helped solidify her choice to pursue a career in security.
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson hopes to continue her work in the security field for Cherokee Federal.
"My first goal is to continue providing our government clients with industry-leading service to help them meet their significant missions," she said. "Additionally, I look forward to growing Cherokee Federal's business opportunities, while also fostering opportunities and advancement throughout the security industry. I would like to one day move into an executive role and help lead business development within Cherokee Federal."
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson grew up in Norman, Okla. She graduated valedictorian of her class at Norman North High School. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in government and business. The Chickasaw Nation helped support Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson's education.
"I have been truly blessed to be a Chickasaw Nation citizen," she said. "I was very fortunate, when growing up, to be awarded educational grants and scholarships through the tribe."
She also received several educational scholarships from the Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) program that helped allow her to both work and study in Washington, D.C.
The WINS program provides Native American and Alaskan Native students the opportunity to live in Washington, D.C., gain professional work experience through an internship and earn academic credits.
Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson and her husband, Richard Swanson, are the parents of a five-year-old. Her parents, Richard and Suzanne Wyatt, live at Norman. Her mother is a NICU nurse at Norman Regional Hospital and her father is a construction manager with the Chickasaw Nation.
"I am very proud to be a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation," Mrs. Wyatt-Swanson said. "I love the Chickasaw fighting spirit, 'the unconquered and unconquerable.' I think being a Chickasaw citizen has made me more tenacious in pursuing my academic and career goals, and helped me specifically in attaining my degrees. I am proud to represent my tribe while working to support the Cherokee Nation."