LabTV: Curious About Improving American Indian Health

Deana Around HimNovember is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, and so I can’t think of a better time to introduce you to Deana Around Him, a social and behavioral health researcher active in efforts to improve the health of infants and children in native communities. Deana is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, where she grew up with her mother and sisters after losing her father to a car accident when she was only 3 years old.

Deana’s father was a pharmacist, and, as a child, Deana thought that she would follow in his footsteps. But after participating in the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine one summer in high school, she set her sights instead on a career in medicine and made her way to Brown University, Providence, RI. Attending an Ivy League school was something she “never in her wildest dreams imagined” as a kid.

After college, Deana worked as a high school science teacher on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Many of her students lived in extreme poverty, and Deana said it became clear to her that the ones who succeeded in class had the strongest connections to their families, cultural values, and tribal traditions.

Deana started thinking about early life experiences and wanted to learn more about their impact on public health. So with a focus on this formative period of life, she went back to earn a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University, and later a doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore.

Last year, Deana came to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, as a postdoctoral fellow, where she worked with Teresa Brockie on a community-based, participatory research project that aims to address violence and abuse, particularly that affecting infants and children, on a Northern Plains American Indian reservation. Just recently, she’s joined the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C. as a fellow, where, among other things, she is developing culturally appropriate interventions to promote safe sleep environments for infants living in tribal communities.

Deana says it’s important to encourage more native people to pursue advanced science degrees, as well as to help shape the research agenda for their communities. One challenge to realizing that vision is that many children and teachers in tribal communities are unaware of the many educational and training opportunities available to them at NIH and many other institutions. I hope Deana’s story will raise awareness and serve as an inspiration to encourage these young people to set out to accomplish things that they could have never imagined in their wildest dreams.

 Links:

LabTV

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month (Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of The Interior)

National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center (Washington, D. C.)

Science Careers (National Institute of General Medical Sciences/NIH)

Careers Blog (Office of Intramural Training/NIH)

Scientific Careers at NIH

 

 

2 thoughts on “LabTV: Curious About Improving American Indian Health

  1. Ms. Deana, of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is an inspiration to other young people with the vision to broaden the scope of excellence on the Reservation/the Circle of Hope to the hurting and broken lives on many of the indigenous people of America. It is such a blessing to hear of her motivation after the tragic death of her father. I, too am follow the blood lines of the Cherokee Nation and the Choctaw Nation with a desire to pass on the motivation for the young people to excel in education to encourage others on the Native American Trail to pass on the knowledge and wisdom from the Elders to the Youth by the sure blessings of our Creator in whom all blessings flow.

    Respected,

    Bishop B B

  2. MS DEANA MY NAME IS JORGE ALBERT SCOLARI, SOCIAL WORK PROMOICION AND PREVENTION PUBLIC HEALTH. WORKING IN 1988 FIRST CASE TO INDIAN HIV. EXPOSICION CONGRESS INTERNATIONAL FOR SOCIAL WORK JUSTICE FOR HEALTH IN PORTTO RICO OCTOBER 2015. AND SORREID MY ENGLISH. NOT WRITTEN ESCRIBO VERY GOOD IN ENGLISH NOW.VERY GOOD YOU VIDEO. I LIKE…IS VERY IMPORTANT! HAVE EXPECTATION TO GET MASTERS IN SOCIAL WORK CLINIC WITH NATIVE PEOPLE BASED IN EXPERIENCE TO MACH 30 YEARS IN BRASIL.
    COME ON TOGETHER!
    JORGE (GEORGE) SCOLARI ZITO
    CURITIBA – BRASIL

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