Tribal member thanks Soboba for helping him bring his talents back home

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Wade Abbas is a graphics specialist at Soboba Casino Resort’s marketing department. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special to Valley News

Wade Abbas is a graphics specialist at Soboba Casino Resort’s marketing department, and he said he is exactly where he always wanted to be. Although graphic design was something he was always doing to some extent, it wasn’t until he was in college that he found out he could make money and get recognition for his artistic talent and in the process help businesses through advertising. That moment is when he chose graphic arts as a career path.

Being a member of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians helped him reach his current position as he took advantage of the opportunities available through the tribe’s internship and mentorship program. The program encouraged tribal members to get involved and gain working knowledge of the many aspects in different departments at Soboba Casino Resort. Tribal members can learn more about the paid internship programs at an information event Thursday, Nov. 18, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

“I cannot thank my tribal council enough for creating such an amazing program that allowed me to learn hands-on in various positions in the gaming industry,” Abbas, 32, said. “Never has it been easier for tribal members to apply for the internship and mentorship program and become a part of our tribe’s future.”

Jason Cozart, assistant general manager of Soboba Casino Resort, said the program offers experience to anyone who participates.

“The skills you learn here, you can use anywhere; you learn soft skills that statistics say are being depleted,” he said. “We want to see more tribal members here to keep our tribe moving in the right direction and building a legacy. Having our own members in leadership roles makes us stronger.”

Abbas, who lives in Temecula, said being an active tribal member has always been important to him.

“My great-grandfather Raymond Salazar belonged to the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and when he met my great-grandmother, Sophie Silvas from Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, they made their permanent home and residence for all my family on Castile Canyon Road on the Soboba Reservation,” he said. “Although most of my family have all lived on the Soboba Reservation at some point for periods of time in their lives, I spent little time myself being raised on the reservation.”

He said when he was very young, his family decided to rent the house to the sisters who did their mission work at the reservation’s St. Joseph Mission, providing them a nearby home for $1 a month in rent. His family was extremely religious in the Catholic faith, he said.

“Between that and the fact that I spent half of my time with my father who was in the military and based in Tucson, I was not given the full experience of exploring our wonderful country on the reservation the way most kids my age would have been granted who lived there their whole lives,” Abbas said. “Always frequenting the reservation for family visits to my great-grandmother who lived a block away from the reservation and tagging along to attend meetings when I could as a teen, I knew the goal was always to come back in some capacity to give back to my band in any way I could. Watching dedicated individuals like Geneva Mojado and families like the Salgados and Cozarts, who pushed for economic advancements for a better life and more opportunities for us all as a nation, was very impactful even at that time in my teenage years and still gives me much of the inspiration I carry with me today.”

Before he began working at SCR, Abbas worked with other companies and advertising agencies, and he said he felt it was a great way to get his feet wet and start his journey.

“But I always felt working for my tribe was the most important,” Abbas said. “Not just important for myself, but for my kids and the many others that will come after me. In the advertising and marketing field I’ve earned a few accolades including a few gold American Advertising Awards, both regional and state gold medals, but the work I create now is far more rewarding than any of those material things.”

November marks his anniversary with the casino’s marketing team, and he said the one thing he most enjoys about his job is working under the leadership of fellow tribal member and assistant general manager, Jason Cozart and director of marketing, Catie Stanley.

“They both continually offer support for my growth in the gaming industry and have always made me feel like SCR is the place I belong,” Abbas said. “Today I can give back and do so regularly by helping to maintain our key business’ image through the work of advertising.”

His day-to-day duties include creating the casino’s graphics for advertising, construction and illustration of monthly promotions, as well as assisting occasionally with social media graphical campaigns. He said he loves working with the marketing team because the benefits of having a clear goal of success with like-minded individuals is priceless when it comes to executing a charge in the gaming industry.

“In my spare time, I love to spend time with my family as much as possible,” Abbas said. “I feel that the family foundation is extremely important no matter how busy you get.”

For more information, visit http://www.soboba.com.