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Native American students learn about medical field at summer camp

Chemistry professor, Ken Traxler supervises, from left, Mariah Briseno, Vanessa Bedreau and Alexis Needham during a lab session for students in the Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program, which concluded this week. The one-week program was free for ninth- through 12th-grade Native American students interested in the medicine field. JOhn Swartz | Bemidji state university

BEMIDJI - Thirty-three Minnesota Native American students have spent the last two weeks learning about the medical field at Bemidji State University.

INMED, a camp for Native American high school students interested in medical careers, gave the students a college-like experience on BSU's campus.

The students spent their days taking biology, chemistry, math, English, medical terms and health savers classes from BSU professors. They also sat through presentations by health care professionals.

"I hope the presentations get them to think about giving back to their communities," Coordinator Ann Bowman said. "I hope they can be role models to their entire communities. I want them to be able to improve their own quality of life."

Symone Ware, 16, of Moorhead, said she enjoyed the presentations.

"I learned there are a lot of different medical careers out there," Ware said. "It's not just about the blood and the guts."

Zoe Little Owl, 16, of Moorhead, applied because she was interested in pharmaceutical or elderly care careers, she said.

"I realized there were more career opportunities than just the ones you learn about in school," Little Owl said. "I think working in public health would be really cool."

The program is in its second year, after receiving a four year grant from the University of Minnesota Center of American Indian and Minority Health. Two one-week long sessions were offered this year.

"I love watching the kids grow confident in their decision of pursuing a college career hopefully in the medical field," Bowman said.

Alecia Lussier, 16, of Red Lake, said she applied for INMED because she had an interest in the medical field.

"I thought it would help me explore my options," Lussier said. "I liked all the classes. I learned I'm good at science and that I like the science part of the medical field."

Ware applied after encouragement from her high school counselor, she said.

"I thought it looked cool, and I knew I wanted to go into medicine," Ware said. "I brushed up on my math skills, which was a big thing for me."

The students participated in the Character Challenge Course in Park Rapids at the beginning of each session. Bowman said she included a visit to Character Challenge Course to help the students get to know one another right away.

Little Owl said the challenge course was her favorite part of the week.

"It was fun to get to go zip lining," Little Owl said. "It was a good way to bond with everyone."

Bowman's goal with INMED is to show the students they can have careers in this area, she said.

"I hope they have a sense of confidence that they can succeed in a college atmosphere and they can pursue their goals of obtaining a degree in the medical field," Bowman said.