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NORTH BEND — The Coquille Tribe partnered with The Mill Casino-Hotel to host its second annual College and Career Fair on Wednesday.

Students from nine area high schools and alternative schooling programs attended the fair. Representatives from 14 different statewide colleges, businesses, and agency’s showed up to make high school aware of their many options after graduation.

“I think it’s a unique opportunity because they don’t get all this stuff at one time, they have to go out and visit different colleges usually. With this event it’s all here for them and it’s free,” education and employment success counselor for the Coquille Tribe Molly Hockema said.

Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins gave a motivational speech to students at the event.

“Don’t be afraid to do something. Action is better than inaction. So many of us can sit around forever trying to figure out the perfect thing to do. If you stand there and try to figure out what to do your likely to get run over,” Cribbins told students.

It’s important to note that this event was organized by the Coquille Tribe, but it’s to the benefit of all students in the area, not just kids who are part of the tribe.

“We really care about our community, and we really care about education. We want people to come back to our community and work for their community,” Hockema said.

Hockema explained that the tribe giving back to its community is relative to a tradition called potlatch.

“It basically means you’re giving back. We always make sure everyone leaves with a gift. You leave with something to either remember us by or just to know that you’re cared for and wanted. Giving back to the community is basically the tradition of potlatch,” Hockema said.  

The Coos County Sheriff’s Office, which is in need of personnel, had a booth at the event. While applicants must be 21 years-old to be a deputy, there are many jobs at the Sheriff’s Office that 18 year-old high school graduates can do.

“We go to a lot events to recruit, and we have seen an uptick of good qualified applicants. This is definitely been a positive thing for our office,” Deputy Sean Sanborn said.

Jobs with the Sheriff’s Office that don’t require you to be 21 include things like dispatch and records and administrative positions.

“We have one dispatcher that just graduated two years ago, and is a great asset to our office … pretty much any position that doesn’t require you to be sworn can be applied for at 18,” Sanborn said.

College rivals Oregon State University and University of Oregon were both at the event recruiting students. Both schools' primary goal was not upstaging the other, but promoting education and helping students find a university that fits them well.

University of Oregon representative Brian Stanley said “What we really believe that we should provide as much information as we can about our school so the students can figure out whether their good fit for us. We’re trying to tell the story of who we are and what we do, and if a student responds to that they’re going to come to your school.”

The area community colleges, Southwestern Oregon Community College and Umpqua Community College, were also at the event. UCC talked with many students about its new sports programs.

“I’ve been talking a lot with students today about our new obstacle course racing program,” UCC representative Kira Oerman said.

At the event, the tribe also raffled of several items including headphones, portable chargers, gift cards, and USB drives. The big ticket items raffled off to students were two tablets, and a laptop computer. 

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