It is with great honor to say I am a member of the xxx nation. I am a senior Global Health major and Anthropology minor at Arizona State University (ASU) and will be graduating in December 2013 with my Bachelor’s degree. The importance of cultural preservation through proper health care services has become a motivator for me to pursue higher education in public health. It is my ultimate goal to work with and for tribal communities, at the community or national level, through the health care system. I want to be a part of the continued advocacy of health care for tribal communities and improve and maintain the health and wellbeing of my community and many tribal communities across the country.
With my graduation approaching, I am currently in the process of applying to Master’s in Public Health programs where I will focus on health promotion and disease prevention specifically in American Indian communities. I am also interested in health policy as it relates to providing health care to American Indians. My goal of a graduate education is met with excitement about my future career in tribal public health because I will gain the proper educational knowledge and real-world experience to best serve my community. My plans are also special as I will be the first member in my family to pursue such a level of education.
After I obtain my Master’s in Public Health, I plan to work as a Commissioned Corps Officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. My interaction with Commissioned Corps Officers and learning about the duties, responsibilities, and impacts a Commissioned Corps Officer has to the public, directly match my goals of improving health care in underserved communities.
I currently serve as the Vice-President of Communications for the Pre-Health Association of Native American Leaders at ASU. Through this position I have been able to exercise my leadership qualities and my passion for health outreach by providing academic support to my peers who are interested in a career in the health field and hosting weekly physical activities and monthly hikes. By being the head of registration for our basketball tournament in spring 2012, I was able to practice management skills and oversee what turned out to be a great and healthy event!
As a first generation college student, I am proof that despite the lack of first hand examples, it is possible to attain the level of education I am pursuing, and more. I am proud to say I am successfully reaching mine and my family’s goal of higher education for myself. The biggest challenge I face in my decision to pursue higher education is the lack of financial resources. Without outside sources of aid and my decision to not work during the school year to focus on my academics, I am dependent on student loans to help cover the cost of tuition and living expenses. With my plans to go to graduate school, the financial burden placed on me by increasing the loans I accumulate is admittedly, stressful. However, with the help of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Wassaja Scholarship aiding me in my academic pursuits, my future goals of giving back to my community and many more through the health field is able to be reached more easily. With the help of this scholarship, my educational dreams are supported; something for which is I am incredibly thankful.
When I was a young girl, the events of my parent’s divorce and the marriage of my mother to my step-father was emotionally challenging. After the divorce, my father and I went fourteen years separated by many miles and even more missed opportunities to bond. There were countless times growing up without my father that I wished he were there for me. Recently, through luck, I was able to locate my father through an extensive internet search. It is with great excitement to say that we are in the building stage of recreating a bond that I have wanted for so many years. It is this perseverance and passions in rebuilding this relationship that guide all of my goals in life. Using this mentality and seeing my persistence pay off I am a believer that applying myself and using my passions from within will help me achieve anything.
Since a young age I have always been intrigued by travel and culture, as mygrandfather would bring me his National Geographic magazines to look through and imagine myself visiting and experiencing the various cultures. These magazines were the foundation from which many of my career and educational goals began. Throughout grade school I found myself drawn to history and ancient culture. I was most intrigued by learning more about my own Native American and Hispanic heritages. This interest grew into a passion which led me to pursue me Bachelor’s degree in anthropology.
Through studying anthropology, I gain a better understanding of the histories, struggles, and similarities found within my cultural communities. My observation of the health and well-being among Native American and Hispanic communities has become a motivator for me to continue towards a graduate education in public health. Many times these groups are regionally grouped together and face similar community issues. My goal is to gain the necessary educational knowledge and real-world experience to effectively mediate health and social disparities among these underrepresented communities across the United States.
The study abroad program I have chosen is exactly the type of real-world experience I need in order for me to be better equipped to achieve my career goal. The Costa Rica Community Health Research Internship for summer 2012 offers a hands-on and fully immersed setting that studies the intersections of human behavior, environment, and health. The six-week program is divided into two phases, with each phase located within a different Costa Rican city. The first phase, located in San Jose, focuses on immersion into Costa Rican culture through the Costa Rican Language Academy. I will be learning research design methods, and analysis. The second phase, located in San Vito, focuses on a specific rural community where we will be researching contemporary health issues with an emphasis on infectious diseases. In this second phase I am given the opportunity to live in the community we are researching. I will be staying with an indigenous host family from the Guaymi Indigenous Territory.
From our time spent at the Organization for Tropical Studies' Las Cruces biological research station we will be able to perform such tasks as data entry, analysis, and presenting our findings to local shareholders. There will also be trips to local health clinics, archaeological sites and environmental sites during the six-week program. Thetrips to local health clinics will provide me insight into community health care at a local and indigenous level by allowing me to see firsthand examples of the issues experienced within these communities and the steps taken to alleviate them. This benefits my future goals of providing services to Native American and Hispanic communities within the United States. The trips taken to archaeological sites and environmental sites will allow me to better understand Costa Rican history which benefits my world view.
This is not only my first time to study abroad, but it is also the first time anyone in my family has studied abroad. Both of my parents and my step-father do not have their four-year degrees. I want to bring my study abroad experience and the help the Gilman Scholarship will give me back to my family and encourage my mother to take part in a study abroad program as she is considering going back to school for her Bachelor’s degree.
The benefits provided to me from my participation in The Costa Rica Community Health Research Internship are life changing. This program is not merely a cultural or language experience. It is an opportunity to learn indigenous health issues and the skills needed for me to progress in my health care career. I will be receiving 6 course credits in SSH 403 Cross-Cultural Studies in Global Health through Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change. This course provides direct investigations of society, ecology, and health through an international setting, greatly aiding my studies at a local level. I will also be exposed to the daily life of an indigenous family living in Costa Rica. As their guest I look forward to improving my knowledge of Spanish and Costa Rican culture through face to face interaction and communication. Because of my cultural heritage, I understand the important role that community and family play in health care, making the community health research study abroad all the more beneficial.
Upon returning from my study abroad program I hope to have gained greater insight into working hands-on within indigenous communities in the health field. I will gain tangible knowledge that a normal classroom setting does not afford me. Under the guidance of Dr. Tammy Watkins, my knowledge of community involvement with regard to community health will be greatly enhanced thus benefiting my future goals of giving back to both Native American and Hispanic communities across the United States.
The field research I will take part in regarding infectious disease will grant me the skills needed to aid me as I progress towards my graduate studies in public health, leading me to improve Native American communities where conditions are comparable to developing countries.
Studying abroad is an important component in my academic studies. The biggest challenge I face in my decision to study abroad is the lack of financial resources. Without outside sources of aid I am dependent on student loans to help cover the cost of the program. However, with the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship aiding me in my journey to Costa Rica to study community health my future goals of giving back to both my Native American and Hispanic communities through the health field is able to be reached more easily.
When I was in the third grade, the race for the 42nd president of the United States was quickly heating up with great debates and strong campaigning. My teacher, Mrs. XX, decided that it would be important that my class get an early start on American politics. We were instructed to research each candidate running and determine for ourselves who we thought would most benefit our country. Needless to say we had no idea what we were doing. Basically everyone in my class felt that Ross Perot was a funny looking old man and that Bill Clinton was younger and therefore more qualified. My first ever ‘vote’ for President: Bill Clinton.
Although we were young and unknowing, the choice that every student made was representative of the popular vote in the United States. We were excited as a class because we had picked the winner. But for me, this simple experience had a much greater impact, a passion for political involvement was planted that would eventually shape my personal and career goals.
When I was a young adult I discovered that I was drawn to science and environmental issues. Yet, my passion for political involvement remained strong. After much thought and reflection I decided to spend my life focusing on fusing the two separate disciplines. By pursuing both academic and professional development opportunities I will be able to address issues that lay between science and policy. Many times these issues are present due to lack of understanding from both valuable standpoints. With participation in programs such as the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) I will have the tools needed to merge these standpoints into workable solutions.
The same gap that exists been science and policy is many times present between science and Native American beliefs. Scientists are often considered the enemy due to differences in ideologies. However, my Native American heritage provides me with the unique opportunity to mediate between these conflicting parties. Native Americans possess lands that hold natural resources that can be both sustainable and renewable. Careful understanding of science, culture, and politics must be used to effectively facilitate the most beneficial use of these natural resources for the benefit of the tribes, this country, and our societal well-being.
My goal is to obtain the necessary educational knowledge and real world experience to effectively lead a government agency. With aspirations of being either Director of the National Science Foundation or Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, I feel it is crucial to gain valuable knowledge through politically orientated experiences. Preparation for handling a wide spectrum of topics ranging from cultural beliefs to political issues is what I hope to achieve from the NAPLP.
By fusing traditional academic knowledge and character enhancing experiences my goals will be reached both professionally and environmentally. Pursuing the passion that I have had since being a small child has been a great journey that I look for to enhancing in Washington D.C.
My background is similar to many Native children; born in an Indian hospital, grew up in poverty, and survived on government commodities. Despite any shortcomings, I grew up happy and with my family. My father transferred the pride and resilience that Native people have historically held and continue to demonstrate to this day. My father is Cherokee and was born and raised in Oklahoma. He comes from a family that had great pride in their native culture. The conflict of conformity and love was an early attribute. My father’s grandmother was a proud, near full blooded Cherokee woman. Through fate, my great-grandmother fell in love with a Caucasian man. During the time of their engagement, it was frowned upon for a white man to marry an Indian woman. Sadly, this mutual choice would be judged negatively by the United States federal government. Through land dispersal by the federal government my single, great grandmother would have been granted lands and privileges through the federal government. But this was all to be stripped from her if she married a Caucasian and meant to hold her land in fee simple. Having closure as an Indian woman for wrongdoings committed by colonists and the opportunity to marry the man she loved were two different worlds that at the time could not coexist. In the end, love prevailed. No amount of government offerings would deny the love she felt for my great grandfather. No changing of social status would alter the strong cultural traditions to be passed down the family tree.
My mother is Aleut from King Salmon, Alaska. Immediately following her birth, she was adopted by a Caucasian woman and displaced to Oklahoma. Forty-two years passed before my mother was reunited with her birth family from a distance. My mother was able to speak to her birth mother, via phone, which resulted in a very emotional moment for both. Unfortunately, my mother’s birth mother was on her deathbed and her time was waning. Soon, thereafter, my brother, father, mother, and I flew to Alaska to meet the remaining family members. From that point, my family was able to immerse in a culture that held an unnoticed void in our lives. The opportunity to embrace lost culture, family, and unity will never leave me. It is not uncommon for Native Americans to walk in two cultures, often referred to as Native (or Red) and White; but, to do that in your own, wide family structure makes it unique. Therefore, to maintain balance, it is important to keep in close contact with all family members, whether they are birth related or adoptive.
Holding on to family and the respect for those bonds have been instilled into my very core. Through personal experiences and family history I have truly seen the benefits of garnering a healthy co-existing relationship. It is a privilege to live on this earth, whether you are impoverished or rich, abandoned or adopted, the support we have for one another helps each other realize not only our dreams, but others, as well.
Currently, I am working on my Ph.D. in Natural Resource Policy with a minor in American Indian Studies. With an interdisciplinary educational background I will be able to address issues that lay between science and policy. Many times these issues are present due to lack of understanding from both valuable standpoints. Curriculum that allows me to obtain strong scientific and political knowledge, along with professional enhancing experiences, will give me the tools needed to merge these standpoints into workable solutions. The same gap that exists been science and policy is many times present between science and Native American beliefs. Scientists are often considered the enemy due to differences in ideologies. Yet, my Native American heritage provides me with the unique opportunity to mediate between these conflicting parties. Native Americans possess lands that hold natural resources that can be both sustainable and renewable. Careful understanding of science, culture, and politics must be used to effectively facilitate the most beneficial use of these natural resources for the benefits of tribes, this country, and our societal well-being. Addressing these issues from a Congressional standpoint I feel will result in the greatest success. Assisting Indian Country in natural resource conservation, sustainability, and ultimately economic growth is my goal. To this point my greatest achievements have been obtaining scholarships, participating in Native programs such as Washington Internships for Native Students and Native American Political Leadership Program, obtaining a Master’s degree, and the privilege of attending the White House Tribal Nations Conference this past fall. Hopefully within ten years I can proudly say I may a change for the better in Indian Country.
My parents have never been able to contribute funding at any point since my being in high school. Therefore, I have had to find various sources of funding, including loans for the last 9 years. Currently, I have over $30,000 of dept in the form of school loans and credit card bills. Although, most of my debt is owed to school loans that are not yet requiring payment until graduation; it remains an unfortunate burden that affects many of my decisions. My parents always remind me that my youth is the time of my life, with debt, much of that joy is robbed from me. Funding from the American Indian Alumni Scholarship will undoubtedly ease the stress I have built up regarding my debt.
This is my first semester at the University of Arizona and it has been a busy one. I am currently enrolled in 12 hours of graduate credit and have enjoyed my time here very much. Three classes are in the American Indian Studies department and one, Environmental Policy, is in the Public Administration department. The Environmental Policy class is my most challenging class and I am the only native student enrolled. The challenge comes in the form of polarized viewpoints regarding Western environmental approaches that are taught in the class and held by the other students and the viewpoints I grew up with and discussed in my American Indian Studies classes. I have taken it upon myself to share as much as possible with the class about some of the Native viewpoints both historical and contemporary regarding environmental policy. This past week I gave a comprehensive presentation to the class about tribal land and resources. I highlighted the allotment and reservation eras, BIA trust, and the Cobell settlement. The issues surrounding the Cobell settlement are such an important area that I feel too few people understand. Also, I am given the opportunity to gain better understanding of the processes and thinking that leads to much of today’s policy that affect tribal nations. This is critical for my future goals.
*All essays are personal essays and are not permitted to be used by anyone. They are meant to provide examples of writing styles and use of content.