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UA Public Health Students Named Diversity and Inclusion Champions

Public health students and members of the American Indian and Indigenous Health Alliance (AIIHA) club. L to R: Left to right: Kelsey Yonnie, Elizabeth Hunt, Felina Cordova-Marks, Amanda Urbina, Carmella Kahn and Tiffani Begay.

Public health students and members of the American Indian and Indigenous Health Alliance (AIIHA) club. L to R: Left to right: Kelsey Yonnie, Elizabeth Hunt, Felina Cordova-Marks, Amanda Urbina, Carmella Kahn and Tiffani Begay.

The American Indian and Indigenous Health Alliance (AIIHA), a student club at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, received the Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Award for the 2014-2015 academic year. The Inclusive Excellence Awards recognize faculty, students and staff who work to create a supportive environment, build a more academically robust and diverse student body and recruit and retain diverse employees at the University of Arizona.

The AIIHA club is an undergraduate and graduate student organization that seeks to enrich the educational and professional experience of Indigenous students at the UA by offering diverse avenues of support that are responsive and efficient in meeting the needs of Indigenous students, and by doing so, increase their representation in public health disciplines.

Within the three years that AIIHA was chartered as student club, AIIHA has created programs that highlight the successes and challenges Native Americans face on the UA campus, while educating the UA community on the beauty and diversity of native culture and recruiting Native students to be future Wildcats. AIIHA has helped coordinate outreach events at Hiaki High School, UA Arizona Native High School Student Day, UA Health Professions Week, NASA Walking in Wellness Symposium, NACP Graduate Primer, COPH Native STEM Day and NARTC Winter Institute.

AIIHA initiated a successful annual Indigenous Day of Wellness during Native American Recognition Month. The yearly event includes a keynote presentation by noted Indigenous community leaders, presentations by innovative native community wellness programs and native student presentations. AIIHA has been successful in securing funding and support to have hosted the event the last three years.  AIIHA also coordinates with other student clubs and organizations such as the lunch with an Indigenous-native Professional Seminar Series. 

The club also established a “Get Moving” series to encourage native students to be physically active and prevent students from gaining the “freshmen 15.” The first series was Country Dance 101 where participants learned to two-step and line dance at the UA Student Recreation Center.  AIIHA is hosting a 5k/10k run at the UA Mall on April 25th to raise money for a scholarship fund in honor of AIIHA founding member Dr. Fileberto Lopez.

The University of Arizona