College senior trains in research to benefit Navajo community
"My passion lies in helping women to understand their health and, by helping them, to help their children too."Chantanielle (Tan) Clyde
I am a senior at Dine College in Arizona, a school started by the Navajo Nation to invest in our youth so they can become “contributing members of the Nation and the world.” My major is in biomedical sciences. For the last two years, I have participated in a Mayo Clinic research training program offered through my school. I can clearly see how research training and medical knowledge can help my community.
I would love to become a gynecologist or do medical research in a similar field. My passion lies in helping women to understand their health and, by helping them, to help their children too. I personally know young mothers who have complex needs for health care, childcare, and housing. All these needs are interrelated, and we need to create social programs to give them the right kind of care, comfort, and support.
Training for a future in research
For me, this research training program was the first step in finding my path.
During my first year in the program, the training focused on learning how to design and conduct a clinical research project. I also designed and taught a mindfulness education program for Navajo children. During the second and final year in the program, the training focused on biomedical informatics, which is a field of science that studies what can be learned by analyzing patient data. I found this training useful in many areas of my studies, even outside the research training program.
Completing this training program has given me a good idea of what will be expected of me in the future. After graduation, I hope to go on to medical school or graduate school. It will be both rewarding and exhausting. I hope to be able to continue my studies at a school within an easy traveling distance from my family and community.
Overcoming challenges, pushing forward
I have learned unexpected things about myself, not only through the internship program but also through overcoming hardships in my personal life along the way.
Challenges in my life outside of school have often made it difficult to keep going. My living situation has been unstable, and I often struggle to access the resources I need to study. I do a lot of my schoolwork at a local laundromat because they have free Wi-Fi, which is not available at home. I sometimes think it has taken me twice the effort to meet my fellow classmates’ level of learning.
Every day is a struggle and a blessing. Overcoming these hardships has helped me find my strength. My advice to anyone in my community in a situation like mine is that anything can happen. Setbacks may occur, but they’re temporary. If you keep pushing forward, good things will come. I will always be there to support other people from my community who want to follow this path in medicine and research.
—Chantanielle (Tan) Clyde
"Tan has been an inspiration in our work with Dine College. She challenges herself deeply and has already published a peer-reviewed paper. In addition, she demonstrates determination by showing up when others might not. The last time we met in person at Dine, I was floored to find out the trip had taken her an extra two hours due to a washed-out road between her home and campus."
—Chris Pierret, Ph.D.
Chris Pierret, Ph.D., is a biochemistry and molecular biology researcher at Mayo Clinic and a faculty advisor for a Mayo Clinic research training program at Dine College, a tribal college serving the Navajo Nation. Mayo Clinic has collaborated with Dine College for 18 years to provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on science experience and encourage them to consider careers in medicine and research. Chantanielle (Tan) Clyde is a Dine College student involved in this program.