Public health graduate looks to impact Native American health care and policy

ASU graduate Christina Haswood poses outside Normal School

Christina Haswood is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in public health.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement.

Christina Haswood (Tódich'ii'nii, Dibéłzhíní, Naasht'ézhi Tábąąhá, Kinyaa'áanii) has been a Sun Devil at heart since 2010, when she first visited campus while in high school. This May, she’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Science in public health.

“Being in Phoenix — 1,000 miles away from [her hometown in] Lawrence, Kansas — these past three years has taught me more than just academics. I did a lot of growing up and could not be any more thankful for the friends, mentors and everyone who has crossed my path,” Haswood said.

Though her academic focus is in public health, Haswood worked at the American Indian Policy Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a student office assistant where she gained valuable experience.

“My experience at [the policy institute] is one of the highlights of ASU. Working under this great team, I have learned valuable skills that I carry throughout my life. The support from the staff helped pushed me through hard times academically and helped with the homesickness as everyone felt like an aunt and uncle to me. They taught me professionalism, Native leadership, and I knew I could come to anyone for advice. As a future Native American professional, I am excited for the day my path will cross with the institute where I can contribute my skills on a professional level. Ahéhee' [Thank you]!”

Haswood answered a few questions about her experience at ASU and her plans for the future.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I fell in love with ASU when I helped my cousin move into his summer dorm for a math program at Barrett in 2010 and knew I had to come here once I graduated high school. ASU was also closest to my family who live on the Navajo reservation and those in the Phoenix area. This location allowed me to pursue my passion of learning about public health in Native American communities.

Q: Why did you choose your major/area of study?

A: I originally started on a nursing path at Haskell Indian Nations University with the intent to transfer into the nursing program at ASU, but the memorization required by the curriculum did not work for me. I wanted to stay in the health field and eventually found a more fitting path in public health when, in the summer of 2014, I completed internships in the community health sector in the Washington, D.C., area and in the summer of 2015, public health internships specific to Navajo tribes in Arizona.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?

A: My degree in public health will serve as a strong foundation for me to be successful in graduate school. Ultimately, I hope to become a leader in federal Native American health care and policy. My goal is to work in Washington, D.C., alongside legislators or to become one myself and be a representative for my people, to have a seat at the table, where decisions made affect the lives of my Native people. I also hope to conduct more research and contribute to the Native American research field and eventually become a professor at an academic institution and teach the future health leaders about Native American public health.

Q: How has your experience at ASU prepared you for the future?

A: Because ASU is closely linked to many Arizona tribes, being here has enabled me to develop tribal knowledge and gain an understanding of the struggles that the 22 Arizona tribes face. My three years at ASU has opened many doors for me with internships and connections that range from Arizona Health Department, Maricopa Health Department, Urban IHS [Indian Health Service] facilities, Intertribal Council of Arizona, American Indian Policy Institute and more! ASU has set me up for success in my field, and I am very thankful for all the opportunities and knowledge I have learned from the faculty and staff.

Q: What’s next after graduation?

A: I will be pursuing my master's in public health with a concentration in public health management at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

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