s t u d e n t highlights
Through science, Villegas FINDS HER SHOT AT A BRIGHT FUTURE Last December, Corrie Villegas became the first Native American student accepted into the Montana Medical Laboratory Science Training Program, a competitive program that produces certified medical laboratory scientists. The program is offered through the Department of Microbiology. Medical lab scientists are in short supply in Montana and elsewhere in the country, so admission virtually guarantees a good job to those who complete the year-long internship.
Jena Burke, recipient of a 2011 James Madison Fellowship. Photo by Tyler Busby.
Aspiring Teacher Receives National Fellowship
Villegas said she worked tremendously hard to qualify for the rigorous program that only accepts 15 applicants from MSU, UM and MSU-Billings. Villegas was a college basketball standout as an undergraduate student, and continues to play on a traveling Native American women’s basketball team composed of players from throughout Montana. She has also worked at MSU’s American Indian Research Opportunities office as a student researcher.
Jena Burke, an aspiring teacher and spring 2011 graduate with a degree in history, was Montana’s only recipient of a James Madison Fellowship this year. She will receive up to $24,000 over two years to support her while she earns a master’s degree in education at The University of Montana, attends a summer institute next year in Washington, D.C. and meets 56 other recipients of the same fellowship.
Villegas’ class spent the summer on the MSU campus and she is currently interning for two semesters at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls. If she passes a national test (the Montana program’s pass rate has been 100 percent), she will be certified to go anywhere and work in a clinical laboratory. A member of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe, Villegas said one day she hopes to return to her reservation.
The fellowship, named for the fourth president of the United States and known as the Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, goes to one person a year in each state, as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the nation’s island and trust territories. Senior fellowships go to current teachers of American government, American history and social studies. Junior fellowships go to future teachers like Burke.
“When we go to hospitals, we don’t see Native American people there,” Villegas said. “I’d like to help change that. If anything, when I leave this world, I want to know that I helped better the opportunities for younger generations of Native Americans.” Excerpted from Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service
“Jena earned this fellowship through the force of her ability to think through the importance of ‘civics’ for the future of the American republic,” said history professor Robert Rydell. “I am so pleased for Jena, and I am grateful to the Madison Foundation for its ongoing efforts to educate Americans about our history and government.” Burke said she will be thrilled if her fellowship helps her make the Constitution come alive for her future students. The Madison Fellowship requires her to teach two years and she said that won’t be a problem. “I wanted to teach even before I ever knew what I wanted to teach,” Burke said. Excerpted from Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service 14
Once primarily known for her ability to play basketball, Corrie Villegas has now earned distinction as the first Native American accepted to the Montana Medical Laboratory Science Training Program. The competitive program based at MSU produces certified medical laboratory scientists.
Confluence College of Letters and Science 2011-2012
The College of Letters and Science annual magazine. This issue is titled "Learning in the Last Best Place."