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On a Mission to Reduce Chronic Disease Among the Navajo


Congratulations to Ariel Shirley, the 2019 recipient of the Arizona Indians Into Medicine Award for Excellence and Service.

Ariel grew up near the Diné (Navajo) Nation in Gallup, New Mexico. She graduates this week from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a mission to eliminate chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which runs in her family.

"Since I was a little girl, my Diné culture was always the forefront of my principles. As a public health student, I have the unique perspective of incorporating Diné philosophies with holistic wellness to address chronic health issues. One example is using my culture to connect with running," Ariel writes in an article published in The Healthy Dose.

Ariel completed an internship focused on community education at the UA Sarver Heart Center as part of her degree program. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a Master of Public Health degree through the UA Online program while working as a program assistant for the Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) Food Access Program in New Mexico. COPE works in partnership with the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative Outreach Program to improve the lives of those living with chronic diseases in Navajo. 

"As my time here at the University of Arizona wraps up, I am excited to see where I can utilize my skills in combination with my culture to address chronic health issues on the Navajo Nation. Change will not be easy, but the goal of a healthier generation is worth it," said Ariel.

Read Ariel's blog post, "Running at Dawn: A Diné Cultural and Health Teaching," in the current issue of The Healthy Dose.

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