Hopi students confident in future medical careers after visit to Harvard

Six students from Hopi High School attended classes taught by Harved medical instructors. Photo/Amber Labahe

Six students from Hopi High School attended classes taught by Harved medical instructors. Photo/Amber Labahe

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Photo/Amber Labahe

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Hopi High School students who attended the Harvard-Hopi summer medical program June 10 — July 1 at Harvard returned confident in attending colleges and majoring in medical careers.

The six students on the trip attended classes taught by Harvard medical instructors.

Amber Labahe, a junior at Hopi High, said the Hopi High students attended tutorials about neuroscience, anatomy and biology.

“We attended lectures about drugs and its impact on the human body,” she said.

Labahe said she attended the program because she wanted to learn more about psychology and experience something off the reservation.

“I also wanted to bring something back to my community and set a good example for my siblings,” she said.

Labahe, who comes from the Navajo community of Low Mountain, said she can talk to community members about drugs and alcohol, and how those substances impact the body.

Labahe said the students learned from case studies.

“There was one case where we learned why the patient was reacting the way she was, and it was because she was on meth,” she said.

Labahe said this summer medical program motivates her to consider a career as a psychologist.

“The research we did here was cool. We would look at problems and figure out the diseases,” she said.

Labahe said Harvard is a tough school to get into, but she plans to apply.

“I plan to apply to see if I have a chance,” she said. “Most Native Americans don’t apply because they don’t think they can do it.”

Labahe is also considering applying to Ft. Lewis College in Colorado.

Labahe said attending a summer program at a college far away from home was a learning experience.

“I like home, but it was good to get away. When I stayed in the college dorms it made me feel more responsible,” she said. “I was really happy that I came here because I didn’t think I would ever apply for this type of program.”

Labahe said she thought the Harvard Hopi medical program would be overwhelming and too much for her.

“But I was able to do it, so I felt empowered,” she said.

Labahe said she appreciated that some of the speakers were Native Americans, such as Jordan Todd, who spoke about human anatomy.

Labahe said she learned that medical communication is complex.

“So I learned how to discuss complex topics,” she said.

Labahe said the students also learned about buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid addiction.

The other Hopi High students learning at the Harvard-Hopi medical summer program were Jeremiah Garcia, Ronald Lopez, Brandi Namoki, Kaila Nez and Alessandro Bolus. The advisors from Hopi High were science teachers Lavonne Adams and Eva Bahnimptewa.

Labahe said each day the students learned from different Harvard medical school staff.

Raelynda Bennett, Labahe’s mom, said she was proud of her daughter because she wants her kids to strive to do better. She was nervous about her daughter going to the other side of the country, but was glad she came back better prepared for college.

“She told us what they did and showed us pictures of the brain,” Bennett said about her daughter.

Labahe was also happy that she was able to go whale watching.

The only other school attending this program was from Fort Peck, Montana.

The Harvard Hopi medical summer program was funded through Harvard, Hopi High School and the Hopi Tribe.

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