Scholarship Program Encourages North Dakota Native American College Students to Seek Careers in the Mental Health Field

  • American Indian College Fund and United Health Foundation program creates education solutions to address substance use disorders and the opioid crisis

  • Eleven North Dakota Native American students chosen as scholarship recipients

FARGO, N.D. — 

The American Indian College Fund, in partnership with the United Health Foundation, awarded 11 Native American North Dakota college students with scholarships through the United Health Foundation Tribal Wellness Scholarship Program.

The program encourages Native American college students to seek careers as mental health professionals so they can help their communities recover from substance use disorder in a way that honors their tribal heritage and traditions.

The United Health Foundation Tribal Wellness Scholarship Program was funded through a $360,000 grant from the United Health Foundation in May. It includes scholarships, mentoring, academic support, job training and research opportunities.

The following 11 Native American students from North Dakota pursuing degrees in recovery-related fields will receive educational support. Five awards were designated for associate degree candidates and six for students seeking a bachelor's or master's degree.

  • Danelle Belgrade (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking an associate degree in nursing at Turtle Mountain Community College;

  • Latoya Delorme (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking a bachelor's degree in nursing at the University of North Dakota;

  • Briana Delorme-Jeanotte (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking a bachelor's degree in nursing at the University of Mary;

  • Raeanne Henry (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking an associate degree in nursing from Turtle Mountain Community College;

  • Trista Jetty (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking a bachelor's degree in nursing from North Dakota State University;

  • Christine LaRock (Spirit Lake Dakota Tribe), seeking an associate degree in applied science-pre-nursing from Cankdeska Cikana Community College;

  • Desarae Martin (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota;

  • Krista Miller (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe), seeking a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota;

  • Alisha Parisien, (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of North Dakota;

  • Pelchee Slater (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking an associate degree in pre-nursing from Turtle Mountain Community College; and

  • Maria Vormestrand (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), seeking an associate degree in social work from Cankdeska Cikana Community College.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said: "Communities across the country are being devastated by substance abuse. Educating culturally competent health professionals in tribal and rural communities is part of an effective response to this crisis. We need to bring our own knowledge and resources to healing our family members, and providing scholarships for health education does that for us."

North Dakota, with a lower rate of drug deaths than other states overall, has experienced a sharply rising death rate due to drug overdose. Drug deaths in North Dakota have increased 90 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to the America's Health Rankings Annual Report. Finding suitable drug treatment within a reasonable travel distance is a challenge in this primarily rural state. By working to educate citizens of rural communities affected by drug misuse, the goal is to get patients on the path of full recovery.

"Thousands of Americans are dying from opioid overdoses, and people living in rural areas often suffer more due to the lack of easily accessible health care," said Tracy Malone, president of the United Health Foundation. "The United Health Foundation is honored to support these bright and motivated students who will serve an important and needed role fighting the disease of addiction, provide culturally competent care to their Native communities and give back to the people of North Dakota."

To view a video profile of Maria Vormestrand of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, please visit https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/newsroom.html.

About the American Indian College Fund

Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation's largest charity supporting Native higher education for more than 28 years. The College Fund believes "Education is the answer" and provided 6,548 scholarships last year totaling $7.6 million to American Indian students, with more than 125,000 scholarships totaling over $100 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation's 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation's top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

About the United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed $430 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/SocialResponsibility

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Scholarship Program Encourages North Dakota Native American College Students to Seek Careers in the Mental Health Field