M.P.H. Alumnus Working at California Rural Indian Health Board in Sacramento
I am from the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation in North Dakota. My family also comes from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribe as well as the Three Affiliated Tribes, also in North Dakota. I grew up on Spirit Lake and after high school I decided I wanted to attend a university closer to home. Fortunately, I received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which allowed me attend the University of North Dakota, less than 100 miles from Spirit Lake. As an undergraduate, I got involved with organizations such as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Society of Indian Psychologists (SIP), and other student organizations that allowed me to develop better leadership skills and understand broader opportunities available to me. Additionally, I sought research opportunities that allowed me to better understand the health-related issues that American Indians face. During the summers, I would participate in a research cohort with other researchers and mentors, and during the academic years, I would be involved with research and data analysis part-time with the National Resource Center on Native American Aging (NRCNAA). These experiences allowed me to travel to research conferences and be involved in presentations, formal discussions, and research papers on American Indian mental and behavioral health to a greater extent. Furthermore, these experiences complemented my Psychology degree I obtained and led me to pursue and later obtain a master’s degree in Public Health. My reasoning for pursuing a graduate degree was I wanted to be a resource for Native people and be useful beyond the mental/behavioral aspect. For this reason, I finished an M.P.H. degree concentrating on Health Management and Policy. I knew with this education I could purse opportunities that have a broader impact on the community and population.
I currently work as an epidemiologist for the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB) in Sacramento, Calif. My work with CRIHB is also with the California Tribal Epidemiology Center, which assists in collecting and interpreting health information for American Indian/Alaska Natives in California. My role is largely to provide leadership and coordination of research and epidemiologic activities for the "EpiCenter," in addition to producing analysis of health statistics and to prepare and disseminate health reports. This position allows me to use my M.P.H. degree and my research background – as well as my passion to work for Native people – to do some great public health work for a great organization. The work with CRIHB impacts many of the surrounding Native communities in the state and offers many hands-on opportunities within the communities themselves. I hope to complete a doctorate degree in a health-related field after gaining some valuable professional work experience and further extend my leadership capacity to lifting the health status of Native people.
- Submitted by Michael Mudgett, program graduate, ’15