Arizona native advances towards dreams at North Dakota medical school
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Arizona native advances toward dreams at North Dakota medical school

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  • Troy Wilde/College Success Arizona

Antontrey Begaye1000

Trey Begaye is attending medical school in Grand Forks, North Dakota and closing in on his goal of becoming a doctor and returning to serve the Navajo Nation, where he grew up

“My plan is to go back to the Navajo Reservation and to work for Indian Health Services,” Begaye said. “That’s the health care that I grew up with and that I still utilize today. Just giving back to my community is really my goal – so, I hope to specialize in family medicine.”

Trey, age 23, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but he was mostly raised on the Navajo Nation. He later lived in Flagstaff where he graduated from Flagstaff High School. Trey went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University, and he’s currently enrolled at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of North Dakota.

Some of the coldest temperatures in the Lower 48 are recorded in Grand Forks. Trey says there was definitely a climatic transition

“I had to buy a nice winter coat that will last me the next four years, while I’ll be here for school. Also, I’ve had to consider transportation – even though Grand Forks is a small area, sometimes it snows and they don’t plow the roads in time, and we still have to be at our lectures in the morning,” Begaye said. “It’s a challenge, just trying to drive through some extreme winter weather and having to get winter tires, and getting the car ready for winter – it’s been a lot of transition from Arizona.”

Meanwhile, transitioning from his undergraduate experience at ASU to medical school has also presented Trey with some challenge.

“It was getting used to the curriculum and learning what we are going to be tested on, and knowing which things to study for. We are bombarded with so much information every week, and we’re accountable for all of that information, so you really just have to study everything and be well-rounded. Also, within the test questions, everything is applied and everything is clinically relevant now,” Begaye said. “So, it’s not just reciting a textbook, it’s actually applying it to a patient case, applying it to different diagnosis and what we’ll see in the clinic. So, adjusting to that type of thinking and that type of learning, took some time. I think I’ve got it down by now, just reaching out to professors, talking with second-year medical students and just working with my classmates, has really helped me a lot.”

Reflecting on his childhood, Trey said:

“It was great. My family relocating to the city (Flagstaff) actually gave me a better opportunity to further my education. There were a lot more programs available to me and a lot more support, so far as education, which allowed me to do a dual-enrollment plan between Flagstaff High School and Coconino Community College,” Begaye said. “That’s where I got my first actual experience of wanting to work in medicine, was by doing the medical assisting program, which exposed me to the clinical setting. I was able to interact with patients, monitor their vital signs, and see how the clinic operates. All of that really opened the doors for me to pursue medicine.”

For middle and high school students on the Navajo Nation, and elsewhere, who may be considering their own college options, Trey offers the following advice:

“What was really impactful for me were those programs, such as ‘Educational Talent Search,’ which are extremely helpful in preparing high school students for college. Just getting involved in these kinds of programs can really help you find your interest early,” Begaye said. “I know that if I wouldn’t have done those programs and found medicine early on, I probably wouldn’t have been as prepared for college as I was.”

Trey is among the hundreds of students who have earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses. The students also receive specialized mentoring services from a team of highly skilled Success Advisers.

Trey offers high praise for the advisers who worked with him, such as Angie Delgadillo.

“She was really awesome and she met with me at least once per month. I was able to talk to Angie about my experiences, and she was able to offer me different suggestions about finding jobs and reaching out for help around campus,” Begaye said. “She also helped connect me with upperclassmen on campus, which was really helpful in terms of getting advice and insight about college.”