08/08/2020 02:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Madison Whitekiller is majoring in biochemistry and will start her senior year at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah this fall. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Madison Whitekiller has been awarded an Indian Health Service scholarship, which she hopes will help her reach her goal of being a doctor.

The Cherokee Nation citizen from Verdigris wants to be a pediatrician in an IHS facility when she finishes her studies and training. She is majoring in biochemistry and will start her senior year at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah this fall. 

“My higher education journey has been very rewarding and eye-opening,” she said. “I have learned a lot about myself along with what I have learned for my degree. I have tried my best to use this time in college to be open to any new opportunities that come my way. I’ve taken classes, joined organizations and attended events that I didn’t always have an interest in, but each experience has been rewarding in one way or another. Overall, I have tried to keep in mind that this is a very unique time in my life, and each experience can bring new lessons and opportunities.”

One of those experiences has been working at the Native American Support Center, which is a five-year fully funded federal grant program aimed at increasing Native American student retention rates.

Being awarded the IHS scholarship has been a long-term goal for Whitekiller, who plans to use it to reach career goals that will help Native American communities.

“The IHS scholarship is an award that I have set as a goal of mine since I was a child. Since my discovery of the IHS scholarship, I have understood that the individuals who receive this aid are genuinely concerned for the health of Indian country,” she said. “As I continue through my educational journey, I wish to surround myself with people who care about the health and wellness of Native American peoples. Above all else, I wish to serve American Indians while working with like-minded individuals through the IHS scholarship.”

She said she believes by working in an IHS facility, she can make “a small difference in the unfair treatment” that Native people so often receive. “I know from experience that a small impact on a group as a whole can be life-changing for an individual and their family. That is why I want to work to make our people healthier, stronger and overall happier through the use of this scholarship.” 

Having a job, attending classes and other activities on campus has taught Whitekiller to balance everything.

“My advice for other NSU students is to learn how to balance work, classes and other activities,” she said. “Being involved in extracurricular activities and making friends is important in college, but don’t forget that you are there to eventually meet your career goals, so always put your classes first. It’s important to know your own personal learning style, so you can make the most out of your time in class and while studying. Get to know the people in your classes and in your degree program in order to study with and talk to people that can relate to your experience as far as classes and career goals are concerned. Remember that nobody is going through this alone and there are always people to talk to and that are willing to help.”

The Native American Support Center at NSU is available to help Native students feel at home and create a sense of community. Students may call 918-444-3042 or email
for information. 


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