TUCSON, Ariz. — Thomasina Blackwater received her bachelor’s, master’s, and now medical degree from the University of Arizona.
“Having been there for such a long time, I knew where all of my support was and all the resources and that helped me get through the whole journey, which was pretty tough. Having good friends and my family there to support me, that helped a lot,” said Blackwater.
Blackwater grew up near the Navajo Nation, which has hit very hard in the start of the pandemic.
“As a medical student, you feel pretty helpless, because I couldn’t be there to support my community,” said Blackwater.
So in being a part of the Association of Native American Medical Students and the Real Health Profession Program, she and others helped provide PPE and food to Navajo members, during a time when COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing on the reservation.
“We got a lot of PPE out there and a lot of different basic necessities. And I felt really good about that. I felt more positive on that note,” said Balckwater.
Blackwater was highly involved during her time at the U of A, being a part of several diversity and medically centered groups. One initiative she is very passionate about is improving the pipeline for Native American medical students.
“We’re very limited in medical school, and even as physicians, we’re very low in numbers. Getting medical students in, I know all those challenges because I experienced those challenges personally,” said Blackwater.
Blackwater is headed to her top-pick, UCLA-harbor for a residency in family medicine. But she will be keeping her strong ties with Southern Arizona and the Navajo Nation.
“I’m actually a part of another program with a scholarship where I come back to my community on the Navajo Nation and do a five-year pay back. So that’s what I’m looking forward to I going to UCLA to do my training as a family medicine doc and bring what I learn back to my community,” said Blackwater.