Things That Matter

The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

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In this unprecedented year that has pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry past its breaking point, a new kind of medical school is making history. A medical school that caters to Indigenous American medical students.

The school is called Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN), and it will be the first tribally-associated medical school in the U.S.

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Largely the brainchild of former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, the project aims to combine the practices of traditional healing practice of the Cherokee people with Western medical teachings.

Bill John Baker’s original goal was to invest money into the Cherokee Nation medical system. His fundraising efforts drew the attention of Oklahoma State University, who approached the then-principal Chief with the idea of opening up a medical school on reservation lands. To him, the decision was a no-brainer.

“After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers. This is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors,” Bill John Baker told Medscape.

As recent reports have detailed, Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC, Indigenous Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 at 3.5 times the rate of white Americans. This is largely due to lingering historical inequities and structural failings that negatively impact the overall health of Indigenous Americans.

One of the solutions to this institutional failing is to recruit and train more doctors of color–in this case, more Indigenous American doctors. As of now, 0.4% of doctors in the U.S. identify themselves as being American Indian or Alaska Native.

Since COMCN is a state school, non-Indigenous students are welcome to study at the school as well. According to the university’s states, 22% of its students identify as Native American, while they make up less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The devastation that COVID-19 has wrought globally has spurred an uptick in medical school applications.

In what has been dubbed the “Fauci Effect”, the number of potential students applying to medical school is up 18% this year from last year. It seems that this global health crisis has sparked a desire in certain people dedicate their lives to medicine.

So COMCN couldn’t come at a better time. America needs more Indigenous doctors and COMCN is here to teach them.

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Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

Things That Matter

Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

In just a few months, college freshmen will be descending on their campuses across the country. One of these students is Elizabeth Esteban who is the first person from her indigenous tribe in Mexico to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Elizabeth Esteban is going to Harvard and it is a major deal.

Esteban is a member of the Purépecha tribe, an indigenous community from Michoacán, Mexico. Esteban is the first member of her tribe to be accepted into an Ivy League university, where indigenous representation remains small. Esteban’s parents work as farm laborers in the eastern Coachella Valley in California.

“Well I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News.

Not only was Esteban accepted into Harvard, a prestigious university, she also received a full-ride scholarship. Esteban’s family is part of a community of hundreds of Purépecha people who relocated to the easter Coachella Valley in search of work and a better life.

Esteban plans to study political science.

Dr. Ruiz Speaks with State of the Union Guest, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School.

Join me for a live conversation with my guest for tonight's State of the Union, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School!

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esteban wants to make a difference in her community. As an indigenous woman, Esteban wants to break barriers that are set on women in her community. She told NBC News that her community expects for women to stay home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The incoming Harvard freshmen was discouraged from applying to Harvard at one point because of her community’s unreliable internet connection. Esteban lives in a mobile home with her family in Mecca and struggled to complete course work. The internet went down in the middle of her Harvard interview and it almost prevented her from applying to the university.

“Well, I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News about being accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship.

READ: California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

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Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez Are Partnering With Global Citizen For ‘Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World’

Entertainment

Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez Are Partnering With Global Citizen For ‘Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World’

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While the United States is as of publication, has vaccinated over 75 million people against COVID-19 since mid-December, the rest of the world is still catching up. Poorer countries, for example, are struggling to procure enough vaccines for essential workers–let alone their entire population.

Luckily, certain charitable business are making it their mission to get vaccines to the most needy. For example, anti-poverty organization Global Citizen has organized a charity concert with the aim of getting COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

Selena Gomez will be hosting the concert, called “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World”. And none other than Jennifer Lopez will be headlining.

Selena Gomez took to Twitter to announce her involvement in the exciting project. “I’m honored to be hosting ‘VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World,’ ” she wrote.

“This is a historic moment to encourage people around the world to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, call on world leaders to share vaccine doses equitably and to bring people together for a night of music in a way that hasn’t felt possible in the past year. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Jennifer Lopez also took to Twitter to announce her involvement with VAX Live, saying that she is “calling for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution for all”. That’s a statement we can get behind!

Jennifer Lopez isn’t the only superstar performing. Other acts will include J Balvin, H.E.R., and the Foo Fighters.

Global Citizen has one goal: to raise $22 billion for global vaccinations via corporate and philanthropic donors. They’re hoping VAX Live will bring awareness to their efforts.

“There are 27 million healthcare workers globally who don’t have access to the vaccine,” said Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans to the Associated Press. “I’m 38 years old, and it’s not ethical for me to have access to the vaccine before these heroic first responders and community health workers. So we need governments to start urgently donating those doses.”

Tom Hart, the executive director for another anti-poverty organization, The ONE Campaign, also reiterated the importance of getting vaccine doses into the hands of developing countries.

“Low-income countries not only need this welcome fundraising effort; they need access to COVID-19 vaccine doses,” Tom Hart said.

“The United States has secured over 550 million excess doses that could be used to help end the global pandemic faster.”

You can catch VAX LIVE on ABC, CBS, and iHeartMedia stations on 8:00 p.m. ET on May 8th. It will also be airing on Fox starting at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT the same day. You’ll also be able to catch an extended version on Global Citizen’s YouTube channel on May 8th as well.

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