Tommie Goes Back to School

Begins classes for MBA in the fall.

By Susan Etxebarria

No matter your age, whether you have already raised a family or not, Danny Tommie proves anyone can go back to school and get their college degree. Tommie received his bachelor of art’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in the field of marketing and management in December 2005. On Aug. 28 he will begin studies at Barry University for his master’s in business administration.

Tommie said he went to college when he was younger but eventually had to drop out as family burdens and responsibilities put a squeeze on the finances and his time. He said the tribe was still poor then. He worked in various positions for the Seminole Tribe of Florida as it grew. He said he enjoyed working with administration during the pioneering days of gaming and then again from 1999 to 2002.

In between gaming, he was involved in the building and construction of the Big Cypress Rodeo Grounds, then the Billie Swamp Safari and more recently the Trading Post Convenience Store projects.

Tommie said he forgot about going to college but then one day he had a talk with his son, 17-year-old Cody “Bear” Wilcox, who was heading off for college on a football scholarship. Cody made him promise to go back to college.

“My son said ‘Dad, why don’t you go back to college? You’re smart,’ ” Tommie recalled.

Tommie said he promised Cody he would get his college degree. Just a few weeks later Cody died in an auto accident. Tommie kept his promise.

Tommie said anyone who wants an education, or ever dreamed of going to college, has no excuse. The Seminole Tribe makes it all possible, he said.

“At first it was a little tough but I did four years in three,” he said. “It wasn’t a walk in the park. My biggest struggle was the math. You do get rusty over time and business calculus is tough.”

Tommie said he would like to use his business credentials to help the Tribe but he also will look at job opportunities offered him from the outside. He said his degree will assure him of ongoing income so he will not be solely dependent on the success of casinos. He hopes others will realize that they can profit by getting their education. He said the Tribe needs to develop its own talent and promote from within.

“It heartens me to know that we have the advantages now to help people in the Tribe attain higher education,” Tommie said. “But those seeking leadership need to set the example. It is easy to preach but you have to get out there and walk the talk.”