Last week, the NMU Center for Native American studies (CNAS) presented the College Prep Medicine Wheel Academy to Native American high school students in order to prepare them for their future college careers.
“These Native American kids don’t necessarily think about college as the next step after high school; we wanted them to know that this option is available to them and that health sciences are accessible,” said April Lindala, coordinator and director of the CNAS.
The College Prep Medicine Wheel Academy was a three-day program that exposed Native American youth in grades 10-12 to the range of health science professions that exist. Nineteen high school students from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin attended the event.
Adriana Greci Green, assistant professor in the CNAS, received a grant from the Wildcat Innovation Fund, an internal two-year long grant, in order to fund the academy. The funds received financed lodging, transportation costs and materials needed for workshops for the students who attended.
According to Lindala, the grant was designed to target the disparity of Native Americans in health professions because due to various reasons, including accessibility to programming, Native Americans tend to be low in numbers as professionals in the health sciences field. The academy is an attempt to make health sciences an accessible reality for Native American students.
During their visit, Native American high school students were able to participate in a variety of events that included leadership activities, financial success seminars, a tour through the DeVos Art Gallery, a presentation from a Certified Diabetes Educator, as well as various workshops in the areas of nursing, speech pathology, respiratory therapy and radiography.
“It was great to see that these workshops were run by students that attend NMU as well as the professors that teach in those professions. The kids that attended would probably much rather listen to them than to us because they will be in their shoes in a just a couple of years,” Greci Green said.
Additionally, as part of the three day event, the participants were able to shadow doctors and nurses at Marquette General Hospital to experience a first-hand view of health sciences professions.
“They looked incredible all dressed up in scrubs. Some students even got to see open heart surgery while they were shadowing surgeons, so they were really excited about that,” Lindala said.
This project was a collaboration between the NMU School of Nursing, the NMU Clinical Sciences department, Marquette General Hospital (MGH) and the Center for Native American Studies.
The next offering of the College Prep Medicine Wheel Academy will occur May 2010. The event will be offered to students from anywhere, but with an emphasis on Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. For more information, contact the CNAS at 227-1397.