POLACCA, Ariz. - Pearlyn Tomosie began school this week at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine.
Tomosie, Hopi, was accepted last year, but since she was married last year and her grandmother was ill, she received a deferment to start this year.
Tomosie, a 2000 graduate of Hopi High School, attended her White Coat Ceremony earlier this month. The ceremony is where medical students receive their white doctor's coat because they will start to see patient's this year.
Tomosie said the ceremony made her start of medical school "official." She also recited the doctor's hippocratic oath during the ceremony. Her husband Larson "Stu" Harris Jr. and relatives Ivan and Yvonne Sidney also attended the ceremony.
Ivan Sidney, an assistant to Hopi Vice Chairman Todd Honyaoma Sr., praised Tomosie saying she makes both her family and tribe proud.
Tomosie is one of 66 students to enter the prestigious program. She said that for each entry there were five applicants.
"The first day of medical school showed me that it is not impossible, just overwhelming. I understand the material, but it's a lot," she said.
Tomosie is one of eight Native Americans in the program entering in the Indians into Medicine program, but she is the only one from Arizona or the Southwest. She is glad other Native Americans are in her class because it makes her feel more at home.
"I know I'm not the only minority there," she said. "I'll interact and get along with all the students, but I'll relate better to the Native students."
According to the Indians into Medicine Program, Tomosie has to come back to her reservation to help her tribe and for that commitment she receives a discount in her tuition.
It isn't much of a sacrifice for Tomosie because she planned to come to Hopi Health Care Center to work anyway. The tuition for the medical school is $42,000 per year, but the Indians into Medicine program reduced her tuition to $24,000 per year. She hopes to get scholarships from the Hopi Tribe and Indian Health Services. If those don't come through, she'll rely on loans.
"It will be worth the investment," she said.
Tomosie hopes to be a family physician with an emphasis on cancer.
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