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Native American Student on a State-Wide Quest


For immediate release
Date:    2001

Nursing senior Janelle Sagmiller is used to setting challenging goals and fulfilling them. Since eighth grade, growing up on the Flathead reservation in Montana, she has been focused on pursuing a career in the health sciences. This interest was fostered by the summers she spent in the INMED (Indians into Medicine) program on the University of North Dakota campus, a program similar to the U-Doc program at the UW. But in visits to other reservations, Sagmiller realized that such opportunities did not exist for many other Native Americans - and she vowed to do something about it.

Under the tutelage of Dr. June Strickland, a Native American associate professor of nursing, Sagmiller has been developing culturally-sensitive materials about setting personal goals and meeting them, including the goal of attending college and having a professional career, such as nursing. Over the next year, Sagmiller will take this vision to each of the 36 different tribes in Washington state, either through a booth at powwows or in individual visits.

Sagmiller's research for this personal challenge is a shining example of efficient goal-setting. As a "warm up" for her larger goal, the young nursing student did a "mini recruiting trip" to a large summer powwow on the Flathead Reservation in Arlee, Montana, this July.

"I used to calculate the mileage from Seattle to Arlee and back," she reports, "adding in the cost of a table booth I used as my recruiting post." With these figures in hand, Sagmiller contacted the Office of Minority Affairs, which paid for half of her mileage, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the School of Medicine, which paid for the remaining half. Partnerships for a Seamless Education chipped in the cost of the rental van, and the table fee was donated by her tribe.

"I have seen amazing changes in Native American city kids I have been working with as a volunteer at Pathfinder Elementary in Seattle," Sagmiller says. "I brought one young boy I was tutoring to some of my classes at the UW and it was like an 'awakening.' I'd like to reach many more like him."

With the determination she has exhibited thus far, it seems likely that this will be one of many successful goals in Sagmiller's future.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.