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Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) was recently named the national leader for producing Native American associate degree nurses by “Diverse Issues in Higher Education.” The combined effort of the NEO Nursing Program and American Indian Center for Excellence (AICE) has been critical to the success of Native American nursing and health sciences students. Along with being recognized for graduating registered nursing students, NEO was recognized in the top ten institutions for graduating Native American health professions, psychology, and social sciences students, and ranked number eleven in the nation for Native students graduated in all disciplines.

“Receiving this national recognition demonstrates the tribal support our students often receive,” said Debbie Morgan, winner of the Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Award and Nursing Program Director. “Many of our Native American nursing students receive financial support to attend school through tribal scholarships that help cover their program expenses. Having this support is critical for our students’ success and allows them to focus on their studies. We also have excellent working partnerships with many area tribes to provide clinical rotations throughout the program, which enhances Native American cultural experiences for all of our students.”

While the nursing faculty prepare students to fill vacancies in one of the fastest growing professions in Oklahoma, AICE staff provide support to Native American Students. Along with study space, technology, and printing, AICE provides culturally aligned guest speakers, activities, and assistance with tribal scholarships, among many other services. AICE also works with faculty to incorporate culturally focused projects into curriculum. This includes digital storytelling, which NEO has developed under a Title III grant. “These Digital stories are ‘micro-documentary’ videos that teach cultural competency and other twenty-first century literacy skills through the ancient art of storytelling,” said AICE Director and Grant Manager Rachel Lloyd.

AICE also works closely with the Native American Student Association (NASA) to promote student accomplishment. Lindsey Haas, a Cherokee Native, is a nursing alumna and served as the NASA president while on campus. “The Nursing Department kept me in my books and AICE provided a great place to study,” said Haas. “I practically lived in the AICE building through my first year of nursing school and I became like family with my NASA and AICE groups as well as my nursing class. It was a great group to be a part of.”

The NEO Nursing Program accepts a maximum of 64 students each fall in the traditional program option, and a maximum of 20 students in the Fast Track LPN/Paramedic option with an average of 70 nursing graduates each year. For more information on NEO Nursing, contact Amy Haile at Amy.Haile10@neo.edu, or for more information on AICE, contact Rachel Lloyd at RLloyd@neo.edu.

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