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MSU students receive national recognition

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - Mariam Stewart, a junior in nursing at Montana State
University examines differences in attitudes toward obesity among Native
American and non-Native adolescents. The research has taken her from an MSU
psychology lab into the national spotlight.

Stewart is one of three MSU students who won national research awards
recently at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native
Americans in Science conference in San Antonio, Texas. They were recognized
from among 3,000 students and 500 entries for excellence of their
scientific posters and presentations.

Denean Standing, Assiniboine Sioux from Ft. Peck, Mont.; Khena Bullshields,
Blood Indian from both Bigfork, Mont. and Canada; and Stewart, Crow from
Crow Agency, Mont. each received a $250 award.

They competed as part of a team from the American Indian Research
Opportunities (AIRO), a consortium of Montana's seven tribal colleges and
MSU. AIRO provides opportunities for American Indian students in career
fields where minorities are underrepresented.

"The success of these three young women demonstrates the value of support
programs such as AIRO and the National Institutes of Health," said John
Watts, AIRO's interim director.

"More importantly, they earned success through hard work. They competed
against students from Ivy League schools, large research institutions and
small colleges and came out on top."

All three attribute their successes on the national level to their mentors
on the local level.

"I am really thankful that I had such good teachers at Wolf Point High
School," said Standing, a junior in cell biology and neuroscience. She said
that a solid grounding in calculus, chemistry and advanced-placement
English helped prepare her for challenging college-level work.

"We are Native American women. Statistically, we should not be here," said
Bullshields, a junior psychology major.

At the convention, Bullshields explained, they made connections with other
Native students immersed in similar research. Recruiters from graduate
programs, federal agencies and research facilities approached them about
masters-level and Ph.D. programs.

The conference, now in its 31st year, weaves Native cultures with
scientific learning. Last year, three other MSU AIRO students received
similar accolades: Woodrow Star, Hunkpapa Lakota/Arikara from North Dakota;
Scott Zander, Gros Ventre (White Clay) from Hays, Mont. and Lisa Sun
Rhodes, Northern Arapaho/Sioux from Fort Peck, Mont.