Historic Agreement Will Allow More Navajos To Earn UA MD

President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez stand beside Navajo medical Student In Residency, Shannon Zullo.

On Thursday, Mar. 10, President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed a historic agreement that will allow more scholarships for Navajos to earn a Medical Degree at the University of Arizona (UA). In total, the agreement will provide for seven scholarships for Navajo students.

President Begaye said this agreement is historic for the Navajo Nation. He thanked UA for their support in educating more Navajo tribal members in this profession.

“We know many students face the challenges of financial aid,” President Begaye said.

The president said he hopes to see more Navajo physicians and have them return to the Navajo Nation. “I hope to see Navajo Medical students return to the Navajo Nation to complete their clinical studies, residencies and, ultimately, for them to provide medical services to our people,” he said.

Before the signing ceremony President Begaye and Vice President Nez met with Dr. Francisco Moreno, Assistant Vice President, UA Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion, and Dr. Charles Cairns, Interim Dean, UA College of Medicine.

President Begaye said there needs to be a school of medicine on the Navajo Nation and increased recruitment of medical doctors for many of our hospitals on the Navajo Nation.

Interim Dean Dr. Cairns and Assistant Vice President of Tribal Relations Karen Francis-Begay told the president and vice president that UA is in preliminary stages of working with Navajo Technical Institute to expand health care professional programs.

During his speech, President Begaye said he hopes to someday have a college of medicine on the Navajo Nation, where Freshman Detroit James said he hopes to pursue medical studies.

Navajo and Native American students can come provide medical services within the many Navajo hospitals and clinics.

Vice President Nez thanked the UA College of Medicine for creating this opportunity and building a pathway to create successful Navajo Medical Doctors.

“We have unique medical needs coupled with our traditional medical practices, we have much to learn from each other,” said Vice President Nez.

President Begaye said the administration will continue to strive for the very best for the Navajo people and he looks forward to attending the graduation ceremony for the first of the seven recipients.

“This is for you and we wish you the best of success,” he said.

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