Chickasaw Nation’s Chokka’ Kilimpi’ (Strong Home) Recruitment and Retention Program began placing Apela (to assist) peer mentors to support students on represented college campuses in 2022. University of Oklahoma sophomore Kyrtleigh Snow was one of the first students to be selected as an Apela peer mentor – a part-time gig providing social, cultural and academic support. “Our goal is to help Chickasaw students,” Snow said. “That can be through tutoring, scheduling advising appointments with the university, or just being a friend and friendly face to new students.” 

“Apela mentors help to connect students with others their own age who can help guide them,” Snow told the Chickasaw Times. “Apela mentors also plan events and give advice with the perspective of college students in mind.”

Peer mentors’ most important responsibilities, according to the paper, include developing relationships with Chickasaw students. “Apela mentors must also be familiar with the educational institution’s departments and campus surroundings, as well as assisting Chickasaw Nation’s Chokka’ Kilimpi’ staff with identifying campus, tribal and community resources available to Chickasaw students,” the Times reported.

Read more about this collaborative program here.