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Summer program prepares students for health and science jobs that may benefit the valley, KIMA-TV, July 11, 2018

Students in SPYS class (KIMA-TV)

Students in SPYS class (KIMA-TV)

YAKIMA Wa. — University leaders are teaching young students about health and science careers to prepare them for jobs in the Yakima Valley.

Heritage University and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences have come together with the Mt. Adams School District and Yakama Nation Tribal School to create a science- focused program for middle and high school students.

Student Jayenell Lee who is attending the five-week program and she says she wants to go into the Neuro Science field and feels like this program is helping her get there.

Read more at KIMATV.com

KIMA-TV covers SPYS

A KIMA-TV reporter capturing video for a story on SPYS

Heritage, CWU say they won’t abandon race considerations, Yakima Herald-Republic, July 7, 2018

Heritage University campus scenes Sept. 30, 2016 at Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

YAKIMA, Wash. — Last week, the Trump administration announced it would not encourage schools to use race as a factor in the admissions process, rescinding Obama-era guidance meant to promote diversity among students.

Officials at local colleges say that decision won’t change the way they admit students.

“The student learning experience is enhanced when all students get to learn and interact with students of all races and ethnicities and socio-economic levels,” said David Wise, vice president of marketing and communications at Heritage University in Toppenish. “The outcome is better for all students because they develop empathy and understanding.”

Read more at YakimaHerald.com

Heritage University, PNWU entice students to science

Toppenish, Wash. –Heritage University and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences have come together with the Mt. Adams School District and the Yakama Nation Tribal School to create a unique science-focused program for young people living on the homelands of the Yakama Nation.

The five-week long Summer Program for Yakama Students (SPYS) encourages and rewards young people in the Valley to enroll and succeed in science classes. Dr. Maxine Janis, president’s liaison for Native American affairs at Heritage University, and Dr. Mirna Ramos-Diaz, assistant professor of family medicine at PNWU, and Dr. Naomi Lee from Northern Arizona University created SPYS. Dr. Janis and Dr. Ramos-Diaz co-wrote a proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and received notice of funding days before the program began in the Yakima Valley.

Summer Program for Yakama Students

First week of classes in the Summer Program for Yakama Students project at Heritage University

“I just want to emphasize that our collaboration is the only way this program is possible,” said Dr. Ramos-Diaz, SPYS co-director. “What makes my heart sing is the work from everybody so we could build this pathway program for our underrepresented youth.”

The intent of the program is simple – build and strengthen the scientific knowledge and motivation of students to enter the health sciences and do well in their science curriculum. Upon successful completion of the program, the high school students may be able to participate in a two-month internship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Janis and Dr. Ramos-Diaz have worked closely for years on both the summer internship program and the Roots To Wings program that involves both schools. “I am thrilled to be working with partners who feel as passionately as I do in developing programs that will benefit the Native peoples of our Valley.”

SPYS is a comprehensive science-based education program which integrates traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as part of the curriculum. The program will also offer instruction on how to apply for college, seek scholarships and financial aid, and learn successful study habits. Local culture is also woven into the curriculum, such as incorporating the knowledge of various foods into the study of chemistry, and integrating Native traditions and values into science. “We know that combining culture with science makes the course of study more accepted by students, who in turn will do better in these types of programs,” said Ramos-Diaz.

The SPYS program is designed to provide opportunities for underrepresented youth to seek health professions pathways. Native Americans and Mexican-Americans under the age of 18 living on the Yakama Nation are participating in SPYS. Once they complete the program, these students will be in the position when they turn 18 to complete a competitive application for a summer internship at the NIH in Bethesda.

Summer Program for Yakama Students

First week of classes in the Summer Program for Yakama Students project at Heritage University

Guest lecturers from across the nation will join Heritage and PNWU faculty for SPYS. Dr. Rita Devine, program coordinator for NINDS and Dr. David Wilson, director of the Tribal Health Research Office at NIH will visit the students and observe their progress. Dr. Wilson’s office coordinates NIH research related to the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) at NIH institutes and centers. “Dr. Wilson’s presence at SPYS will bring a great deal of prestige to the program,” said Ramos-Diaz.

“The NIH always seeks to support pilot programs such as SPYS to demonstrate how underrepresented students in health sciences disciplines can conduct research that will impact health, disease and health care outcomes,” said Dr. Janis. “Support for the SPYS preparatory education program offers opportunities for our Native youth to become active participants as scholars in the health sciences.”

Heritage University in Toppenish will host the first week of SPYS beginning July 9, 2018. PNWU in Yakima, Wash. will host the second and third week, with the program returning to Heritage for the final two weeks.

For more information, contact:

Maxine Janis at (509) 865-0737 or Janis_M@Heritage.edu

Mirna Ramos-Diaz at (509) 249-7796 or MRamosDiaz@pnwu.edu

Yakima Valley schools working to fill at least 65 open teaching positions, Yakima Herald-Republic, June 30, 2018

Michael Guaglianone teaching

Michael Guaglianone teaching math class at A.C. Davis High School in Yakima, Wash.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, there were 36 unfilled teaching positions in the Yakima School District.

On the first day of school that year, the district pulled out all the stops to make sure those classrooms had teachers in them — several substitutes were called in, and administrators from the district office were sent to schools to teach. Even Superintendent Jack Irion prepared to spend the day teaching a math class, but a substitute for him was found at the last second.

Read more at YakimaHerald.com

Middle school students host Market Day at Heritage University, KAPP-TV, June 28, 2018

YAKIMA, Wash. – Over a hundred middle school students from the Yakima Valley took part in a 2-week camp at Heritage University.

Social Environmental Economic Development Camp better known as Camp SEED, started over five years ago with the purpose of teaching students the importance of money.

Read more at YakTriNews.com.

Students putting entrepreneur skills to the test, KIMA-TV, June 28, 2018

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Over 100 middle school students throughout the valley were in the classroom this week, learning business skills from Heritage University students.

The program is called Camp S.E.E.D. which stands for social, economic and environmental development. Camp Director Melissa Gomez said these kids are learning things like how to handle money.

Read more at KIMAtv.com.

Students putting entrepreneur skills to the test (KIMA-TV)

Heritage University event raises over $600,000 in scholarships, KIMA-TV, June 8, 2018

TOPPENISH Wa. — An annual Heritage University event is raising over $600,000 in scholarships for students.

According to the University, The Bounty of the Valley Scholarship dinner brought in $678,250 this past weekend.

Read more at kimatv.com.

Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner raises $678,250 for Heritage University students, Yakima Herald Republic, June 8, 2018

TOPPENISH, Wash. — The recent Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner raised $678,250 for student scholarships at Heritage University in Toppenish.

The 32nd annual event on June 2 brought in $678,250, university officials announced. It’s the main annual event in the Yakima Valley dedicated to raising scholarship funds for Heritage students.

Read more at YakimaHerald.com.

Yakama Nation commemorates 163rd anniversary of treaty with weekend of events, Yakima Herald Republic, June 6, 2018

TOPPENISH, Wash. — The Yakama Nation will commemorate the 163rd anniversary of the treaty that set its foundation as a sovereign nation with events Friday through Sunday, including a parade, a powwow, rodeo contests, stick games, basketball and softball tournaments, a Native artists market and more.

Read more at YakimaHerald.com.