Tribe: Assonet Band of Wampanoag
Hometown: Dixon, MT
Degree received: Master’s in Prevention Science
Why did you choose WSU? As an employee of WSU, I could use the employee tuition waiver to pay for most of my graduate education. Then when I looked at the Prevention Science program, I was convinced I should go after my PhD! As an inter-disciplinary degree, it combined my interests in human development and communication.
What did you enjoy most about being a WSU student? This has been the most rewarding learning I’ve done so far in my educational journey. Once you get to the graduate school level, you really get to dive in to the specific thing you want to learn about – in my case, Native youth substance use prevention. Many of the papers I wrote for my classes, and readings I did, I could connect to that topic. The professors expected you to relate what you’re learning to your personal research.
What activities/programs were you involved with while at WSU? I was a full-time employee, so didn’t have a lot of time for anything besides work and school, but I was a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and part of the Prevention Science Graduation Student Organization. This last year I was the PSGSO Membership and Outreach Chair. I was also the advisor for the Native American Women’s Association, Alpha Pi Omega sorority, and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, so got to participate in many of their events.
Did any particular WSU program make an impact in your success as a student? Being the director of Native American Student Services helped keep me grounded during my studies. I was able to remain connected with the Native community on campus, and had support from my co-workers. The Native students at WSU are my inspiration, along with all the young people in our communities who haven’t had the opportunity to go to college.
What was your biggest challenge to achieving your education and how did you overcome it? My biggest challenge was having been out of school for so long before going back to get my (second) master’s degree. I had been out of school for over 15 years. My first day of graduate school, I showed up with a notepad and paper, and everyone else had a laptop. I hadn’t taken math since freshman year of my undergrad (1994), and had never taken statistics. I had to study my butt off just to pass the math portion of the GRE to get in to grad school. And my statistics classes were HARD, but I never missed class, watched YouTube tutorials, and I ended up with As!
What are your future plans? I am moving home to Montana to start my career in the prevention field. I will be working as a community prevention coordinator at the All Nations Health Clinic in Missoula, MT. I will be doing substance use and suicide prevention work there with the Native community and students at the University of Montana (where I went to school for my bachelor’s and first master’s!). My master’s in Prevention Science was one leg of my PhD program, so I will still continue working on my PhD – I still have preliminary exams, and my dissertation to do, but coursework is done!
What advice would you give a freshman? My advice would be go to class, every day, and do your homework. That’s all there is to it. J But also go to the Native Center when you need help. The staff’s job is to help you, so use that resource! Most of all – actively pursue your dreams! Take steps toward them, every day!