Cherokee Durant 2.jpgCherokee Durant, Ada, Okla., was awarded a bachelor’s degree from Mayville State University in the spring of 2017. She earned majors in biology and general science. In addition to pursuing her curriculum at Mayville State, Cherokee was able to work as a researcher in the MSU science labs. She also studied abroad in Japan and later Belize, which opened a world of opportunity for her.

Durant was one of six Mayville State students who studied and conducted research in Japan as part of an AsiaNetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Grant in the summer of 2017. Her project was “Comparing Traditions in Rural healthcare for the elderly in Japan and Native American Cultures.” As a member of the Chickasaw tribe, Cherokee knew that both the Japanese and Native American cultures show great respect for the elderly and the belief systems that involve traditional healing and caring for the elderly. Her goal through the research was to find the similarities between the factors of culture that affect the healthcare for the elderly population.

Durant is now a graduate student at North Dakota State University. She’s working toward earning a master’s degree in public health with a specialization in management of infectious diseases. She works as a research assistant for NDSU, as well as a teaching assistant.

“The faculty helped me through my years at Mayville State University,” said Cherokee. “I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for their support.” Durant said the entire division of Science and Mathematics is dedicated to guiding students to in-depth content that will help them achieve their goals in science and mathematics.

Durant’s mentor, Dr. Khwaja Hossain, MSU Professor of Biology and INBRE Researcher, helped her get on the path of research. “He is a great professor who believed that I will succeed. Other members of the science division faculty, Dr. Joseph Mehus, Assistant Professor of Biology and INBRE Researcher, and Dr. Robert Miess, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Science, and Mathematics and chair of the division, also played major roles in my work as an undergraduate. I’m thankful for their help.”

Lonamalia Smith, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and former MSU Faculty member Aaron Kingsbury led the grant-funded study abroad trip to Japan in which Cherokee participated. “They supported me in and out of the classroom. I can’t thank them enough for giving me opportunities that I never thought would be possible for me.”

Down the road, Cherokee plans to seek work in medical research, which may require a doctorate degree. As she continues down this path, she knows that it all began with the firm foundation of mentoring and teaching that began at her alma mater, Mayville State University.