James Oxendine’s Native American heritage influences every aspect of his life
November is Native American History Month. We’re highlighting one of our Southern Nuclear employees who identifies as Native American.
Employee: James Oxendine, engineer, Engineering Plant Support, Hatch
What is your Native American background?
I am a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
How has your background influenced you?
My Native American background has influenced how I look at all aspects of life. I have been raised to understand that my decisions do not just reflect solely upon myself, but my family’s name and the tribe to which I belong. I grew up learning about traditions that were of importance to the Lumbee Indians. I also was taught the struggles and mistakes my family and tribe endured, so I may aspire not to repeat similar mistakes of the past, but look to the promise of each new day.
What does your Native American heritage mean to you?
My Native American heritage means being proud that I come from a people who are strong but able to adapt, are proud but humble, and always willing to help their family and communities move toward a brighter tomorrow.
How do you recognize or celebrate your heritage?
I recognize and celebrate my Native American heritage all year and not just in November. I celebrate it when I visit or speak with my family’s elders and elders from my community. I celebrate each year when I participate with family and friends at my tribe’s home coming pow-wow every fourth of July. I also embrace my heritage when I help to mentor young American Indians interested in STEM careers and network to build extended communities with other American Indian professionals in STEM careers through my participation with AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society).
How did you end up at Southern Nuclear?
I had recently finished my masters of materials science and engineering degree and learned of the possible opportunities at Southern Nuclear through my contacts at AISES. One of my mentors told me about a Southern Nuclear recruiter he had met that year at the AISES national conference. I did my research and contacted that recruiter and four and a half years later, I am an engineer at Plant Hatch.