Submitted by Audrey Adkins, CPN tribal member

My journey into medicine began 15 years ago as an EMT. After years of education and training, I was able to climb the clinical ladder to become a critical care flight paramedic, working for Native Air in Mesa, Arizona. This opportunity allowed me to serve many Native populations throughout the state including San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation, Gila River Indian Community and Ak-Chin Indian Community.

Working closely with their people and seeing their struggles substantially influenced my passions and career goals. As a Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member, I was intent on seeing health care improvements for these and all underserved communities. Through volunteering and building strong relationships with my local tribes, I discovered the drive to further my contributions and become a physician.

To advance my medical career, I needed to return to academic life as an adult learner. After enrolling at Arizona State University full-time, I began studying biochemistry. However, my financial stability at that time was dependent on my continued employment. Through all four years of my undergraduate education, I remained employed full-time, 48 hours per week, as a flight paramedic while I followed my dreams.

While demanding, the rigorous schedule I maintained allowed me to prepare myself for the challenges of medical school while continuing to gain invaluable medical experience as I pursued my degree.

Concurrently testing my academic and clinical strength gave me insight into the determination it would take to become a physician.

After graduating summa cum laude, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in biological sciences, it was time to begin the process of applying to medical school. Before diving in, I felt that to know where I wanted my future to go, I needed to honestly explore where I came from.

With this in mind, I contacted Czarina Thompson, a family history specialist from the archive and research division of the CPN Cultural Heritage Center. With the help of Mrs. Thompson, I was able to learn more about my family lineage and use my history to connect the past to my future journey.

With the clarity of knowing my history, I focused on pursuing my future. I knew I wanted to become a physician but was unfamiliar with the logistics of making that dream a reality. To ensure that I was on the right path to achieve my academic goals, I contacted the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education. After speaking with my Tribal academic adviser, Joshua Bullock, I was confident that he and the department would be there to guide me every step of the way.

As I devoted the next six months to applying to medical school, Mr. Bullock worked diligently to support me. From researching programs that aligned with my strengths to proofreading dozens of application essays, Mr. Bullock provided perspective and guidance during that overwhelming time. Thanks to the dedication and tireless work of Mr. Bullock, I was able to submit my medical school applications and receive multiple acceptance offers.

After careful consideration and consultation with Mr. Bullock, I chose to attend The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, Arizona.

I owe my medical school acceptance to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education and Mr. Bullock, without whose guiding light and enduring patience none of this would have been possible.