Udall Foundation scholarships recognize 3 Arizona State University students

Samantha Aguirre dreams of becoming a dentist and serving patients at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. Krissy Jo Bergen aims to develop a nonprofit organization on the Ft. Apache Reservation to improve the mental and physical well-being of children and young adults. Trudie Jackson is focused on advocating for health care and educating Native Americans about HIV/AIDS prevention.

Aguirre, Bergen and Jackson – all students at Arizona State University – have been recognized by the Tucson, Ariz.-based Udall Foundation for their commitment to careers in health care. Aguirre and Bergen are recipients of the Udall Foundation‘s 2012 Udall Scholarship and will receive awards valued at up to $5,000. Jackson is an honorable mention recipient and will receive $350.

The Udall Scholars program annually awards scholarships to university students based on their commitment to careers in the environment, health care or tribal public policy; leadership potential and academic achievement.

Aguirre, a junior biomedical engineering pre-health major, intends to graduate with her bachelor’s degree next year and continue on to dental school. “After receiving my DDS degree, my goal is to make an impact on the lives of many Native Americans by working for the Phoenix Indian Medical Center as a general dentist. I also will continue to stress the importance of oral health care, as well as inspire and mentor Native American youth to assist them with attaining higher education,” said Aguirre, who is a member of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona.

Bergen is a junior majoring in psychology and hopes to develop a nonprofit organization on the Ft. Apache Reservation that will improve the mental health and physical well-being of children and young adults through early childcare facilities and youth development programs. “The mission of the nonprofit, and my great goal, is to end child abuse and suicide ideology among young adults. The impact I would like to make is to help create healthy children who grow up to be healthy productive leaders,” Bergen said.

Jackson, a junior majoring in public service and public policy, feels very strongly about the effect of education on health care. In addition to pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, “my career goal is to help improve the quality of life and health for Native Americans by advocating and educating community members on the importance of maintaining proper health with the right education and prevention. I would like ultimately to return to the reservation to set up a nonprofit organization that would provide HIV/AIDS education, prevention and outreach to community members,” she said.

In August Aguirre, Bergen and Jackson will receive their awards at the Udall Foundation headquarters in Tucson. While there, they also will meet with policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.