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Local student participates in national program

Scholarship encourages Native American students into health careers

By Gary Lankford
Association of American Indian Physicians

NNAYI participants in front of the National Library of Medicine. Photo by Rose Knight Photography NNAYI participants in front of the National Library of Medicine. Photo by Rose Knight Photography

POLSON — A Salish and Kootenai high school student was part of 28 teenagers nationwide to participate in the 16th Association of American Indian Physicians’ National Native American Youth Initiative (NNAYI) program. Lauren Dupuis, a student at Polson High School in Polson, MT, attended the nine-day program held in Washington, D.C. this summer. The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) sponsors the program to educate and encourage more Native American students to pursue careers in health professions.

“We expose the students to a variety of health careers,” explains Gary Lankford, Program Director. “The summer program allows them to visit national health organizations and academic institutions.”

The students were taken on field trips that included tours of the National Institutes of Health, George Washington University School of Medicine, Georgetown University and Association of American Medical Colleges.

Students attended a series of lectures and interactive workshops that featured guest speakers who are physicians, researchers, and educators in the field of medicine.

“It’s important for the students to hear from these health care professionals. They’re successful Native Americans who serve as role models and mentors. They inspire our students to continue their education and set high goals,” says Lankford.

NNAYI was created in 1998 to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students entering health professions and biomedical research. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for admission to college and professional schools. Students also receive information regarding financial aid, counseling, and other college-related assistance.

Lauren is the daughter of Steve and Polly Dupuis and is a member of the Salish and Kootenai tribes.

Over the past decade, more than 573 students have received scholarships to attend the NNAYI program. To be selected for the NNAYI summer program, students must be age 16-18 and express interest in healthcare or biomedical research. Applications will be taken in spring of 2015 for the 2015 National Native American Youth Initiative program. For more information, visit or call (405) 946-7072.

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