TSAILE-Eleven Navajo college students are participating in the "Summer Research Enhancement Program" (SREP) in public health research this year at Diné College. Developed to provide hands-on practical training in the design and implementation of public health research projects, the SREP program has been conducted each year beginning in 2000 with Mark C. Bauer, PhD of the Diné College Faculty as the director.
The original focus of the program was to provide training for students in diabetes research and practicum placements with existing diabetes programs that were already in the community from which each student came.
Diné College is now in the second year of a four year collaborative project with Mayo Clinic, funded by the National Cancer Institute, and as part of that collaboration Diné College and Mayo Clinic worked to develop a new cancer focus option for students who participate in the SREP program. This summer, there are seven students focusing on diabetes public health research and four students focusing on cancer public health research. Edward R. Garrison, PhD, MPH, also of the Diné College Faculty, is directing the cancer focus option.
In previous years, the program has involved Native American students from tribes and tribal colleges across the country. This year, all of the student participants are Navajo, and most were already enrolled at Diné College. However, one of this year's student participants is from the University of Arizona, one is from Northern Arizona University, one is from Pima Community College and one is from San Juan College.
In addition to Bauer and Garrison, who hold faculty appointments at Diné College's Shiprock Campus, staff from Diné College's Shiprock Campus (Clarissa Bowman) and Tsaile Campus (Vangie Martinez) are also involved in the program, as well as Brenda Hosley of Eastern Kentucky University, who works with the project staff to coordinate and oversee the student practicum placements.
All project participants began this summer's program on June 4 with a Hooghan Ceremony at Tsaile Campus conducted by Ferlin Clark, President of Diné College, and Jack C. Jackson Sr., Diné College's director of legislative and cultural affairs. This was followed by three full weeks of intensive classroom and computer lab activities at Tsaile, which included daytime lectures on diabetes, cancer and research methods, and then evening computer labs on organization and analysis of data.
In addition to lectures by Bauer and Garrison, guest lectures and presentations were provided by Spero Manson (University of Colorado), Nicky Teufel-Shone and Carol Goldtooth-Begay (University of Arizona), Shirley Srouji, MS (nutrition research consultant), and Christi Patten, Mary Alice Trapp and Christine Hughes (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota).
Additional guest lectures and presentations were provided by Bernadine Toya, MSN (Diabetes Program at Gallup Indian Medical Center), Janice Jumbo (Navajo Nation Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program), Linda Cothron (Kayenta Public Health Nursing Program), Dennis Whiterock (cancer survivor), Johnson Dennison and Gerald King (Indian Health Service, Chinle) and Frank Morgan (cultural consultant).
Diné College has been successful in assembling a variety of funding mechanisms to support its SREP program. This year's program is being supported by two sources in the National Institutes of Health (MBRS-RISE program and the National Cancer Institute) and by equity funding from the Department of Agriculture.
Beginning on June 25, each of the 11 student participants has been placed into a practicum setting in either a diabetes program or a cancer program in his or her own home community. These students contribute their time and energy to the ongoing activities of the program, but also are expected to work with the program staff to identify and analyze some set of anonymous public health data as part of their training experience as well as to contribute to the effectiveness of the program.
After six weeks in the practicum placement setting, all eleven students will return to the Tsaile Campus for one final week at the beginning of August, during which the Diné College program directors and staff will work intensively with the students to help them organize and analyze the data that they have been working with during the summer.
The program will end on Aug. 10 with an individual formal presentation by each student about his or her entire practicum experience with a focus on the analysis and findings of the data that they have worked with at the practicum site. Family members as well as mentors at the practicum placement sites and Diné College faculty, staff and administration are all invited to be present for these student presentations in the Ned Hatathlie Center at Tsaile Campus on Aug. 10.