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Major: Community Nutrition & Indian Studies
Mentor: Dr. Jacqueline Gray
Expected Graduation Date: May 2011
Hello, my name is Jason Champagne, originally from the small town of Baldwin, Kansas. I am a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and a senior at the University of North Dakota (UND) double majoring in community nutrition and Indian studies. As a McNair scholar, I am conducting research pertaining to American Indian diet in relation to diabetes complications, under the supervision of my mentor Jacque Gray, Ph.D. My senior thesis involves possible connections between food insecurity and diabetes among Northern Plains Indians. I am also a participant in the Multicultural Scholarship into Dietetics Program (MSDP) which is administered by Jan Goodwin, Ph.D., RD/LRD, FADA.
My professional education began with my training as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu at Brown College in Mendota Heights, MN. From 2006 to 2008, I worked as a chef for Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando, Florida; first as a college intern for 4 months and then as a sous chef intern at the Caribbean Beach Resort. This experience helped me realize that I can become a leader and promote necessary changes that directly improve people’s lives.
I have worked extremely hard to acquire educational funding and realize success throughout my higher education experience. I have pursued and been awarded numerous scholarships. In October 2010, I was recognized as an Alan Allery American Indian Undergraduate Health Researcher of Promise, at the 8th Annual American Indian Health Research Conference held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
In September, 2011, I will begin a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program in Public Health Nutrition in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health within the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. I will also complete the Coordinated Masters Program (CMP) track, which will make me eligible to take the national registration examination for dietitians as well as complete the MPH degree. My professional aspirations include spending my career with the Indian Health Service (IHS). My short term goal is to gain an entry level position in counseling and education with IHS. My long-term goal is to provide outreach, education, and services that will markedly impact the critical rates of obesity and diabetes among American Indians and throughout reservation communities of the region and nationwide. I would like to serve current nutrition and diabetic programs in existence, helping to identify additional funding through federal grant sources aimed at developing and implementing diabetes and obesity prevention programs that are tailored specifically for the unique needs and cultures of American Indian populations. I would like to set realistic goals for American Indian communities regarding these health issues; for example, significantly reducing the number of obesity and diabetic cases treated by IHS offices.
Current issues that are major concerns on American Indian reservations these days are problems regarding obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. These health problems have led to increased medical and prescription costs throughout these reservations. A literature review of American Indian diet research will identify certain nutritional habits that may have contributed to current medical problems. It will also show gaps in the research that may need to be addressed. Literature searches using Pubmed, and Scopus will be conducted for research addressing the diets of American Indians to identify a traditional diet and the modern American Indian diets. Searches will include foods that are indigenous to certain tribes, the current health concerns on reservations, and details of foods supplied by commodities to reservations.