With a passion for numbers and an ambition to work in a finance field, Joel, a Colorado native, decided he needed to go to college to obtain the tools to succeed in the business world.
After completing his finance degree at the University of Oklahoma in 2005, Joel began working for Native American Bank as a full-time credit analyst in order to use his skills to help the Native community. Now after his 2011 graduation with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Joel is continuing his banking career with the goal of helping to develop the infrastructures of tribal communities as a banker specializing in financing businesses and projects in Indian Country. He hopes to bring needed credit to reservations and tribal projects. Joel also hopes that his role in the financial industry will inspire other young Caddos and Natives to consider pursuing a similar path.
“Earning my MBA was the best way to help me get a leg up in pursuing a business career. Higher education, especially at the grad level, opens doors not available otherwise,” Joel says. “It gets you into management and an MBA makes you stand out and gives you the knowledge to know that you can do it well.”
Joel’s advice to other Native students is to get involved in student organizations, not only because it will get you noticed by scholarship organizations, but because “the support you get can really help you stay motivated in the classroom so that you know how important it is to stay with your studies.”
“Being involved in student organizations has the added benefit of demonstrating your commitment to your community and being part of something beyond being focused on yourself,” Joel says. “You get a lot of growth by talking to people from different tribes and backgrounds that really help you grow.”
Since moving back to Colorado, Joel has been involved in the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce and volunteers for the American Indian College Fund’s annual Elder’s Holiday Dinner.
As a former Morgan Stanley Career Development Program scholar, Vine Deloria, Jr. Memorial Graduate Scholarship recipient, and Seven Stars Graduate Degree Scholarship Program recipient through the American Indian College Fund, Joel says he is now in a position where he can give back to the Native community. “It is very important to me to continue to be an active member in the Indian community. I plan to continue my involvement in several worthwhile community groups through volunteer work and through whatever other ways I can.”
In addition to getting a solid education, Joel believes that being involved in your community is a necessity for living a fulfilling life. He attributes his participation with various causes and groups during his childhood and undergraduate years that have helped him grow as a member of the Indian community. At the University of Oklahoma he was a member of the American Indian Scholars Program and the American Indian Student Association (AISA). In 2005 he was honored with the Outstanding Mentor award. He is involved in Caddo tribal affairs and was part of the effort to rewrite their constitution and develop a dispute hearing board.