When you’ve got the opportunity, it’s always best to run to second.
That’s what Jeremy Shipp is doing by heading straight into a Master of Science in Sports Administration – Native American Leadership online program after completing his Master of Science in Native American Leadership (MS NAL) online in December of 2018.
“I’ve always been passionate about sports and athletics, and Southeastern began offering the MS in Sports Administration degree program,” he said.
Having already completed part of the coursework in his MS NAL program, Shipp decided to make the go-ahead run at something he was passionate about.
“I currently help coach my son’s baseball team, and I’ve played sports my entire life,” he said. “Toward the end of my career, I would enjoy serving as an athletic director or volunteer my time helping a sports program. I can always use that degree to boost my credibility and give me the credentials that would qualify me for a good position.”
As a husband, father of two, coach, youth teacher at his church, city council member and full-time associate, Shipp had a full plate. He was still able to graduate with honors without missing time with his family by spending two to three hours a night on his studies.
And he is seeing his efforts rewarded.
“Since I began the Native American Leadership program in 2017, I’ve received two promotions at work,” he said of his rise from talent development specialist to talent development senior manager and on to senior project manager for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “One of the things that I have received recognition for is my commitment to learning. I worked hard to get my master’s degree, and now, I am excited to use the skills I learned to help my organization.”
Today, Shipp is happy to be bringing the knowledge he gained in the MS NAL program into his new job, and it all started with a simple flyer.
Stepping up to the Plate
While finding balance and getting through the master’s program was a challenge for Shipp, the alliance between Southeastern and the Choctaw Nation made for a smooth journey.
“I saw flyers hanging up in our headquarters building describing the Native American Leadership program and the classes that were offered, and it seemed to be a good fit for me,” he said.
From the time he saw the flyer through initial enrollment, Shipp found the Choctaw Nation by his side, helping him cover tuition and rewarding his dedication.
“One of the greatest things about working for the Choctaw Nation is their support of higher education. They have an employee education assistance program, and offer up to $10,000 in reimbursement if you’re pursuing a degree,” he said. “Since leadership training and development was my primary focus for the tribe, I reached out to the Native American Institute at Southeastern and began speaking to them about the program, and I enrolled.”
Getting through the program, however, was all about dedication and having a sound support system. With the right attitude and the right people backing him, Shipp felt the time fly by, and before he knew it, he was crossing the stage to receive his diploma.
“‘The days are long, but the years are short’ — was something that was told to me by a mentor early in my career,” he said. “All the hours of studying, writing papers, lack of sleep, being tired and burned out, — it’s all temporary.”
Augmenting Shipp’s goal-oriented mindset was the reinforcement he got from his family, especially his wife, Shyanne.
“I’m very blessed that I have full support from my wife,” he said. “I supported her when she went to nursing school, and she fully supported me going back to pursue my master’s degree. I also wanted to show my children that they can accomplish anything if they are willing to work hard and not give up.”
Shipp’s sons Clayton (8) and Lawson (3) can now see their father putting his education to work toward a better future and a deeper connection to their family’s heritage.
Taking the Lead
Learning leadership skills is, of course, an essential part of completing a program in Native American Leadership, but for Shipp, it was also about gaining a greater sense of personal history.
“NAL 5153: Developing the Native American Leader was one of my favorite classes,” he said. “I learned many new leadership perspectives and concepts in that course that I could effectively translate back into the workplace.”
Understanding the path forward is necessary for building up a career with the Choctaw Nation; however, enriching that understanding is a well-rounded knowledge of how Shipp and his family got to where they are.
“NAL 5243: Ethnohistory of Native Peoples helped me dive back into my culture, into my heritage,” he said. “I’m Chickasaw and Ponca, and my grandmother attended Chilocco Indian School, an Indian boarding school that a lot of Native American people attended. I was able to study more about that history, about her path, and dig deeper into my heritage.”
Shipp believes it was necessary to combine the knowledge of traditional and modern leadership techniques with the heritage of the Native American and Choctaw people to become the best leader he could be for his family and the Choctaw Nation.
“Working for a tribal organization, especially the Choctaw Nation, it is essential to honor the culture,” he said. “Our primary goal is to serve the tribal members of the Choctaw Nation.”
Shipp credits his graduate education with enhancing not only his career but also his life outside of it.
“It has helped me in every phase of my life, and I am thankful that I walked into the enrollment office two years ago.”
Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online degree programs.