Since 1995, Native American high school students representing various tribes from the Northwest have been given the chance to participate in Na-ha-shnee, a two-week summer camp at Washington State University Spokane. The program encourages youth to try out a career in the health sciences by providing hands-on learning experiences taught by healthcare providers, faculty at WSU Spokane, and health sciences college students.
Students engage with life on campus at WSU Spokane, stay in a dormitory at Gonzaga University, gain exposure to healthcare professions, and participate in healthcare courses and training. The courses cover a range of subjects from basic science, and leadership, to Native American education.
Topics/skills training include:
- First aid and CPR training
- Basic nursing skills
- Traditional medicine
- Native American elder teachings
- Substance abuse and education
- Diabetes education
- Leadership skill building
Examples of past activities include experimenting with DNA extraction, microscopy, culturing, and growing bacteria, and gel electrophoresis. Students have also learned about social scientific methods through an elder storytelling project in which they interviewed an elder from their family or community about their life events and cultural backgrounds.
All of these experiences are intended to connect the students to fields adjacent to the health sciences and to introduce them to the possibility of seeing themselves in these professions as viable career paths.
This year, Native American Health Sciences will be hosting the Na-ha-shnee STEAM Health Institute in July. This Institute will focus on health sciences and STEAM Health careers available, as well as research and learning opportunities within these fields.
All expenses are paid for, and first-year participants who complete the program will be able to keep their Chromebook and will receive a $200 stipend in the form of a pre-paid debit card.
Who Can Participate
The program is designed for students interested in the health sciences and/or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) fields and have completed grades 9-12 at the end of this school year.
Each year the summer institute is made possible by the generous contributions of its sponsors. This year’s sponsors include Eastern Washington University, Lummi Nation, Muckleshoot Casino, David and Dorothy Pierce Trust, Port Gamble S’Klammam Tribe, Snoqualmie Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, STCU, Wells Fargo, as well as the Trude E. Smith funds.