Diné College Launches CONVOY Project to Blend Traditional and Western Medicines

Diné College Launches CONVOY Project to Blend Traditional and Western Medicines

19th June 2024

Tsaile, AZ – Diné College has launched its first cohort of Mentor Avatars and Mentees under the CONVOY project, a program integrating Diné Traditional Medicine with Western Medicine. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) for 2023-2028, this initiative aims to motivate youth towards careers in biomedical sciences through hands-on experiments in life chemistry, infectious diseases, biomedical engineering, traditional medicine, and more. High school participants can also earn dual credit through a specially designed Navajo traditions and culture class.

Two significant events are scheduled for July. On July 11, the CONVOY team and Diné College Tuba City Center staff will host a Health Café in collaboration with local hospitals, healthcare facilities, colleges, and universities. Participants will shadow health teams in mobile health units and booths, offering community members insights into healthcare facilities and career opportunities in biomedical sciences. Prospective students can meet with recruiting teams to get guidance on enrolling in fall 2024 classes for biomedical science, public health, nursing, physician assistant, and medical degree programs.

Later in July, CONVOY participants will launch a solar balloon experimentally under the guidance of facilitators and scientists from Sandia National Laboratories. This experiment aims to study the effects of radiation on DNA in seeds, fruits, or vegetables, helping participants understand mutations and their role in tumor development.

“We’re excited to partner with scientists from ASU, UA, UNM, the University of Utah, Sandia Lab, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to enhance students’ interest in biomedical and health careers while fostering a sense of care for the Navajo community,” said Dr. Shazia Hakim, Project Team Lead and Principal Investigator. James Tutt, Dean of the School of STEM at Diné College, added, “We look forward to seeing our CONVOY participants learn from these activities and develop projects that turn their ideas into reality. This program will help them choose their career paths early.”

The CONVOY project team includes Dr. Shazia Hakim, Clinical Microbiologist and Program Lead, Dr. Babatunde Ojo, Medicinal Chemist and Co-PI, Ms. Benita Litson, Land Grant Office Director and Co-Investigator, and Ms. Francetta Begaye, Dual Credit Program Director and Co-Investigator. The team is committed to making systemic changes in higher education for healthcare-related careers through the CONVOY project.


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