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Alumna named NC Schweitzer Fellow

Alumna named NC Schweitzer Fellow

Shelly Strickland (2003) works to improve the health of North Carolina’s Native Americans.

Shelly Strickland (2003) believes in making a difference. As a second-year medical student at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, she’s well on her way. Yet, Shelly’s history of service began long before her medical career.

The Pembroke, NC, native has served as an ambassador for the Lumbee tribe and the seven other Native American tribes of North Carolina for more than eight years. A former Miss Lumbee and the 2003 Miss Indian North Carolina, Shelly has been a tireless champion for tribal issues and a dedicated volunteer.

Her latest effort, a four-week summer day camp for Native American elementary school students in Robeson County, combines her community work and medical studies. This spring, Shelly was awarded an NC Schweitzer Fellowship for her program, ”Improving our Future by Moving through our Past,” a project that promotes healthy eating habits and physical activity.

Camp participants were introduced to nutritional studies, educational sessions about diseases associated with obesity and discussions about Native American culture and history. The program also involved parents, stressing the importance of leading by example in terms of eating habits and physical activity.

Shelly’s goal was to ”show [students] that by using the teachings of our elders as our foundation, we too are able to achieve the same type of healthy, well-balanced lifestyles.”

”As a Native American and member of the Lumbee tribe, I was excited to be given this opportunity,” Strickland said. ”My long-term goals include the possibility of having this program adopted by the tribe to emphasize the preservation of Native American culture for future generations by teaching the traditional practices of Lumbee culture, which historically helped promote healthy, well-balanced lives among Lumbee people.”

Schweitzer fellows are chosen on a competitive basis from student applicants in a variety of health-related fields. Each fellow works with a local community agency to carry out a project that contributes at least 200 hours of direct service.

While at NC State, Shelly double-majored in biomedical and biological engineering and received both the Udall and E.J. Tyson Memorial scholarships. The first Native American Park Scholar, she was highlighted by the NC State ACHIEVE! campaign for her work with Native American Student Association, and for ”Striving for Excellent Leaders for the Future,” a program she developed to help Native American youth in the Triangle develop cultural awareness and leadership skills.

For more information about the Schweitzer Fellowship, visit www.schweitzerfellowship.org.

~posted 2005.07.11