The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has announced Lisa Begay as its inaugural Native Graduate Health Fellowship recipient. Ms. Begay, a former commissioned US public health service officer, is a Navajo second-year dental student at ATSU-ASDOH. She is also the current president of the ATSU Society for American Indian Dentists (SAID), the charter chapter in the US started by George Blue Spruce, DDS, MPH, assistant dean, ATSU-ASDOH. A review committee comprised of NCAI staff and key leaders in Native health selected the inaugural health Fellow, as well as two finalists, on the basis of demonstrated commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native health, academic achievement, and community engagement.

Said Dr. Blue Spruce, “I am very proud to be a mentor of Lisa Begay.” “I applaud her achievements thus far and commend her for this important national honor.  She represents the generation of American Indians that has recognized the challenges that lay ahead in helping to address the needs of her fellow native people.  She will be a ‘first-generation’ health professional that will attain a doctorate health degree, enabling her to assume a meaningful leadership role in the American Indian healthcare delivery system. It is individuals like Ms. Begay that will make Indian self-determination a reality!”

The Fellowship will include both a financial award of $5,000 and professional development in tribal health policy.