April 30, 2022

Indigenous School in the U.S. Works to Map the Future of Its Graduates

Career shadowing opportunity showcases how to open up options for student advancement.

Chevon Petgrave, Holbrook Indian School, and Adventist Review

Holbrook Indian School students Thalia Davis and Josiah Espinal recently had an opportunity to shadow several college students in the Dental Hygiene program at Carrington College in Mesa, Arizona, United States. 

Both Davis and Espinal had thought they were interested in learning this profession. Jodi Opitz, Holbrook registrar and administrative assistant, had an aunt, Shirley Scott, who is a coordinator at Carrington College. Scott provided Davis and Espinal with the opportunity to have a thorough review of the dental process, to ask clarifying questions, examine a patient and use the suction hose, and do some data entry for the patient’s restoration. 

“I wasn’t really sure what area in dentistry I wanted to go into,” Davis said, “and I’m still deciding, but this experience helped to narrow it down for me. It was interesting how detailed they are in checking the teeth. It was my first time looking inside someone's mouth.” With her interest in further pursuing this career, Davis plans to attend the University of Utah in the fall of 2022. 

After having this shadowing opportunity, Espinal, on the other hand, said, “I think I am more interested in data software.” The benefit of this shadowing experience allowed each student to see if the profession would be a good fit. It allowed them to learn in advance instead of taking several years to find out that they may want to switch career pursuits. 

“The majority of our students have a unique challenge in what they choose to do after leaving Holbrook,” school leaders said. “Many decide to return to the reservation, or some return to Holbrook to work. In either case, it’s because they are not sure what they want to do and lack the knowledge of their options.”

The school reported that, thanks to private donors’ support, they are blessed to see the many stories of independence that several graduates have lived out. “This is a welcome note of encouragement for those invested in what we do at Holbrook,” leaders said. They explained, “When you give to Holbrook Indian School, you are not just helping our students to learn. You are helping them gain confidence and discover their potential by providing something many of our students don’t otherwise have: a safe haven to live, learn, and grow. You are giving them the opportunity to overcome the trauma and a mistrust of people that may be holding them back.”

About Holbrook Indian School

Holbrook Indian School is a grades 1-12 boarding academy that has been providing Native American children and youth a safe place to live, learn, and grow for more than 75 years. Located in Holbrook, Arizona, United States, the school is operated by the Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Holbrook also manages a grades 1-8 day school on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, Arizona. Eighty percent of funding comes from individuals who have a desire to make a positive change in Native American communities.

Holbrook uses a multidisciplinary approach that nurtures the creative spirit of each student by teaching them how to express themselves through art, graphic design, and photography. Along with math, English, science, and history, the school offers vocational classes with practical applications such as welding, auto mechanics, woodworking, and horsemanship. Holbrook also seeks to preserve Native American culture by teaching the traditions of pottery making, Navajo language, history, and government. 

The original version of this story was posted by Holbrook Indian School.