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NAU student credits White Memorial Medical Center with interest in nursing


Sean Begay, who is half-Navajo, enrolled in Northern Arizona University’s American Indian nursing program in August 2013 after he was inspired to become a nurse while volunteering at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles. Begay volunteered as a transporter while he was in high school and in a work-development program after graduation from the University of California, San Diego, where he earned a bachelor’s degrees in ethnic studies and in sociology: science-medicine.


Q: How did you come to work at White Memorial?

A: After graduation from college, I contacted the volunteer director who told me about the Bank of America and White Memorial Medical Center’s Workforce Development Program. I was interested in diabetes and placed in a hospital diabetes clinic. It gave me perspective about the demographics of Type 2 diabetes and the issues patients deal with. It made me want to be a diabetes educator.

Q: What sparked your interest in nursing?

A: Working at White Memorial prompted my interest in helping my people and serving them from a direct standpoint. I can give back while educating them.

Q: What are your goals?

A: I want to work on the reservation for a few years. I also want to return to White Memorial as a nurse. They set the foundation for me educationally and professionally. I also want to pursue a PhD and go into teaching while doing research. At UC San Diego, I participated in a research project that focused on Navajo uranium mining and [I] enjoyed that.

Q: If you didn’t find nursing, what might you be doing?

A: Teaching at a university. Sociology was interesting, and it would be great to be a professor.

For more on NAU’s American Indian nursing program

For more on NAU’s American Indian nursing program, visit

For more on Bank of America grant

For more information on the Bank of America grant, visit,


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Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer. Post a comment below or email

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