Student Opportunities: The National Native American Youth Initiative

by Jun 20, 2013COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments

Student Opportunities by Constance OwlFor many students, summer is a time to relax with friends, enjoy time away from early school mornings, studying, and tests, but don’t forget that summer also gives you a great opportunity to explore possible future careers options and special interests. Summer academic camps and workshops can set you apart from other students while also demonstrating to college admission representatives that you are committed and dedicated to your future goals. With competition tough among high achieving students for the top colleges in the country, summer academic opportunities make you a more competitive and attractive candidate to your “first choice” school. The summers of your high school years are the best times to spread your wings and jump into one of the many enriching summer ventures available specifically to Native students. 

This week’s spotlight will be the National Native American Youth Initiative (NNAYI) held at Washington University, in Washington, D.C., during the week of June 22-30. If you are interested in biomedical research, or in a medical profession, this prestigious camp may be the perfect fit for you. Sponsored by the Association of American Indian Physicians, NNAYI is designed to better prepare American Indian/Alaska Native high school students to remain in the “academic pipeline” and to pursue education and careers in health and biomedical research. NNAYI’s curriculum is presented in a series of interactive workshops, lectures, and fieldtrips wherein students get an up close look at a variety of career paths, learn about health care issues facing Native communities, and are enlightened about scholarships and mentoring/shadowing opportunities with Native physicians and other professionals. Students are also taught about the medical school and university admissions process, financial aid, and enjoy networking and mentoring opportunities with Native professionals working in health care professions and specialties.

Eligible students age 16-18 may apply and participants are selected based on scholastic achievement, demonstrated interest in health science or biomedical research, leadership skills, and personal attributes. NNAYI scholarships are offered on a one-time basis and students are reminded that this is an intense program consisting of a rigorous daily schedule of classes and activities. The NNAYI scholarship covers airfare, lodging, and most meals. Scholarships are funded by the Office of Minority Health, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

With science being one of my favorite subjects, I applied and was accepted to attend this year’s program which marks the 15th annual year of the NNAYI program. I hope to follow up in a future article regarding my personal experience at NNAYI. I am excited to meet other Native students from around the country as we learn as much about ourselves as we do the exciting and evolving field of medicine and biomedical research. For more information, visit the website, or contact program director Gary Lankford at 405-946-7072, or via email at

Now off to Washington!