Skyler Bordeaux, student in the Northern Arizona University’s Master of Public Health-Health Promotion Program, was recently awarded the Distinguished Graduate Student for both the Department of Health Sciences and the MPH–Indigenous Health program.
“The news of the awards literally took my breath away as I read the award email,” he said. “I was honored and humbled to be chosen as a Distinguished Graduate among an amazing group of hardworking students.”
Bordeaux is a member of the Sicangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux) and is from White River South Dakota. He earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a minor in psychology from Fort Lewis College. He was a varsity golf member for three years.
Bordeaux is also a graduate assistant at the Center for Health Equity Research (CHER).
“Skyler quickly jumped in to help with two of our projects at CHER,” said Carolyn Camplain, JD, CHER senior research coordinator. “He has already contributed a considerable amount and we are excited to have him on board.”
After he found out about his award, he said he immediately called his parents and siblings who are in South Dakota and Colorado.
“I thanked my parents for instilling in me our Lakota culture and showing me by their actions how to be an educated Lakota individual,” Bordeaux said, “and how to use cultural teachings to get through hard times which there were plenty of during the pandemic.”
Bordeaux said he was part of one of the “most hardworking and resilient MPH Indigenous Health cohorts.”
“Some of us have been online for the entirety of our MPH tracks,” he said. “While being online and disconnected from so much during the continuing pandemic, we still have gained a unique connection via Zoom classes among our cohort and instructors.”
Bordeaux said that he felt that he was part of a great example of a collaborative and diverse workplace at CHER.
“This is an important accomplishment with my Native background. I feel, with a great team, I will have a better chance to impact the health of Native communities around the U.S., not just in the Southwest,” Bordeaux said. “I was told by my mentor of many years here at NAU, Dr. Naomi Lee [assistant professor in NAU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry], that Dr Baldwin was an amazing leader and I couldn’t learn from anyone better as I’m entering the public health field very shortly.
“I feel attaining my MPH here at NAU with mentorship from NAU MPH faculty, many [of whom] are a part of CHER, that there is nothing I can’t accomplish as a Native MPH researcher.”
Bordeaux also said he also credits his girlfriend, Jasmine, who has supported him through his master’s program.