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Multicultural Scholars into Dietetics Program (MSDP)
Professionals working with Indian Health Services and reservation nutrition programs have expressed a strong need for American Indian dietitians and nutritionists who can work within traditional cultures to assist American Indians make effective changes in their diets. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and obesity are more frequent on many Indian reservations than the national average. Diet plays an essential role in the development, management, and prevention of these diseases. Nutrition professionals who understand the cultural context in which people choose, prepare, and eat food are more effective in improving their health. Yet, such individuals are few. Less than one percent of members of the American Dietetic Association (http://www.eatright.org) and dietetic students nationwide were American Indian, Alaskan Native, or Hawaiian Native in 2005.
The Multicultural Scholars into Dietetics Program
The purposes of the Multicultural Scholars into Dietetics Program (MSDP) are to:
recruit highly qualified American Indians who are interested in becoming dietitians and nutritionists;
assist American Indian students in reaching their professional goals in nutrition and dietetics;
increase the number of American Indian nutrition professionals.
The MSDP scholars receive up to four years of financial assistance and participate in a comprehensive academic support system. Duration of the assistance depends on the continued eligibility of the scholar and the duration of the funding source. The MSDP is funded through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. Scholars must major in either dietetics or community nutrition at the University of North Dakota.
All MSDP Scholars receive a tuition waiver for the University of North Dakota. In addition, an annual stipend of $4500 is awarded in monthly increments. The scholarship may be used to purchase books and other educational materials, and to pay for housing, food, transportation, utilities, and other expenses necessary to support the Scholar while attending UND.
Selection of MSDP Scholars
One MSDP Scholar is selected each year. Criteria for selection is based on academic ability and history, articulation of professional goals, leadership experiences, maturity, communication skills, and insight into the need for American Indian dietitians and nutritionists. A completed application, transcripts, letters of reference, and interviews with the selection committee are necessary. Deadline for application is in the early spring each year. Contact the MSDP Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org for the exact date.
Retention of MSDP Scholars
The MSDP provides extensive advising and support to assist Scholars in meeting their professional goals.
All Scholars provide written permission for intensive mentoring which allows for the free exchange of information about the student among faculty of the MSDP. Mentoring begins as soon as the Scholar is selected and does not end until graduation. The program faculty will assist the Scholar in arranging for tutoring or other needed academic assistance through the University's American Indian Student Services and its Science, Engineering and Math Technical Center, as well as other support programs on the campus.
The MSDP matches each Scholar with an American Indian dietitian or nutritionist who is interested in talking regularly with the Scholar. It is hoped that these professionals will be important role models for the Scholars.
Scholars have the opportunity to follow or "shadow" dietitians and nutritionists as they work in a variety of settings. This gives students a personal opportunity to see what nutrition professionals actually do.
The MSDP provides membership in nutrition/dietetics professional associations to all scholars.
Scholars must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.7 (4.0 basis), have grades of "C" or better in all food, nutrition and science courses and maintain the scholarship.
The faculty strongly urge that every prospective student apply for all available financial aid including: federal grants, BIA, IHS and tribal scholarships. Students should begin applying in the late fall the year before planning to come to UND. Most grants and scholarships have application deadlines in March and April. MSDP faculty work closely with Scholars to apply for financial assistance beyond the MSDP scholarship. Finally, through the generous support of alumni, the department offers several thousand dollars of scholarships annually.
UND has tuition waivers for freshmen and transfer American Indian students. See the UND Financial Aid web site at http://www.und.edu/dept/finaid/ for more information about UND’s Cultural Diversity Tuition Waiver. The application deadline is in March. This is a competitive process so students are urged to begin the application early.
The mission of the MSDP is to increase the number of American Indian dietitians and nutritionists. Thus, mentoring services, advising, and shadowing experiences are available to all American Indian students majoring in dietetics or community nutrition regardless of their funding sources.
Brittany Crawford, Aberdeen, SD, is a junior. She is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa. Brittany is majoring in dietetics and wants to become a diabetes educator. She is an accomplished fancy shawl dancer so look for her at pow-wows. Brittany was a candidate for the Morris K. Udall Foundation scholarship this spring. She completed two Indian Health Service summer externships, one at Sisseton/Wahpeton and most recently at Cass Lake, MN.
Jason Champagne, transferred to UND in Fall 2008, from Kansas. He is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Jason comes to Community Nutrition with an associate degree in culinary arts from Le Courdon Bleu in Minneapolis and a work history that includes being an assistant sous-chef in Disney World. He received honorable mention in the Morris K. Udall Foundation Scholarship competition. Jason is also completing a research project investigating the relationship between food insecurity and diabetes among Native Americans as a part of an Honors student at UND.
Allison Albers is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, a wife and mother of four children. She transferred to UND after completing associate degrees in both Community Health and Early Childhood Education from United Tribes Technical College. She is majoring in dietetics.
Derek Whitman is a freshman/sophomore also majoring in dietetics. An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge (SD) Reservation. His goal, and passion, is to become a dietitian who can help his people live stronger, healthier lives.
Roxanne Johnson, RD and enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain (ND) Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation, is a 2003 graduate from UND. She worked for two years with Leech Lake Special Diabetes Program and then three years overseeing several nutrition program on the reservation including food stamp nutrition education program, USDA commodity food program and elderly nutrition program. She established a diabetes prevention camp for kids and implemented several mini nutrition program grants. She is also an adjunct instructor at the Leech Lake Tribal College. Roxanne recently assumed a position as Public Health Nutritionist in the diabetes resource center with Cass Lake (MN) Indian Health Service. A mom of 2 year old Xander and soon to be step-mother of Drew, 6, and Darnell, 12, Roxanne is planning an August 2009 wedding.
Nadine Trottier, RD is a health coach, a weight management and disease management dietitian at a complementary health system in San Diego, CA. Nadine is a member of Turtle Mountain (ND) Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation and 2008 graduate from UND
Kim Rhoades, Ft. Yates, ND, is from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. She graduated with her B.S. in Dietetics in May, 2009. A mom of two children, Kim transferred to UND from United Tribes Technical College. Kim completed summer IHS externships at Standing Rock IHS and her senior dietetic practica with Burleigh Co. (ND) Public Health Department and Baptist Home, Bismarck. Kim generously gave the department a beautiful star quilt which we will hang this fall 2009. Kim is the Extension Nutrition Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College. Recently she spoke at the Breastfeeding Partnership meeting in Bismarck on the Lakota Culture and breastfeeding.
Cynthia Allery (BS in Community Nutrition 2002) is currently the Director of the Turtle Mountain Tribal Diabetes Prevention Program in Belcourt, ND. After leaving UND, Cynthia was the Nutritionist for Turtle Mountain Community College and then attended Minot State University (ND) graduating with a BS in Addiction Studies. Cynthia works with the local tribal high school summer camp teaching nutrition and wellness. She also coordinates the annual wellness conference. She is the proud mother of Amber. Cynthia is an enrolled member of Turtle Mountain (ND) Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation.
Support for this student training project is provided by USDA Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program Competitive Grant No. 2008-38413-18727 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.