Jennifer Waltman, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student in the Doctor of Psychology program, was one of 24 leaders recently awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship.
Waltman, from Maple Grove, Minn., will use her $100,000 award to assist her during the next three years in completing her studies at Saint Mary’s and helping develop systems to assist in mental health advocacy and therapy for Native Americans.
“I’m a Lakota, and my interest is in my own community and improving the health of Native Americans,” Waltman said. “Natives have the biggest disparity in the nation for chronic disease. It is my hypothesis that historical trauma has caused epigenetic changes that contribute to epidemics of poor health outcomes such as diabetes, substance use disorder, cancer, heart disease, depression and PTSD. I want to explore mental health treatment incorporating traditional healing that would improve symptoms of chronic disease.”
Citing guidance from mentors in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Waltman will also use some of the award money to fund research with professors at UCLA and the University of Oklahoma. Her long-term goals include working with other multi-cultural psychologists to create a multicultural health and wellness center, eventually leading to consulting tribes and native people to help eliminate health disparity.
Before she embarks on her future plans, Waltman will finish her doctoral studies at Saint Mary’s. She is currently doing clinical training at Abbott Northwestern, learning with an integrated team comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists and nurse practitioners. She is continuing her studies while working as the managing partner for Heritage Strategic Group where she advises businesses and non-profit organizations on strategic processes.
“I think she’s an excellent student,” said Ken Solberg, Ph.D., director of the doctor of psychology program. “Jennifer does not know how to do things halfway; she goes all in. She really commits herself to what she believes in and what she’s trying to achieve.”
Since 1965, the Bush Foundation has worked to develop the leadership capacity of the region by making investments in more than 2,200 people through its Fellowship programs. The Bush Fellowship is designed for people who have already demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities, but who feel they could accomplish even more for their community with focused, intensive leadership development. The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to articulate what they need to become a better leader — whether through a self-designed learning experience or an academic program — then providing them with the resources and support to make it happen.
About Saint Mary’s University
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures, and empowers learners to ethical lives of service and leadership. A private Lasallian Catholic institution, Saint Mary’s offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs. About 1,200 students are enrolled in the residential undergraduate college in Winona, established in 1912. Approximately 4,300 students are enrolled in the schools of graduate and professional programs, which offers master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as bachelor’s degree completion, certificate and specialist programs. The university delivers education to adults through campuses in Winona, Minneapolis and Nairobi, Kenya; centers in Apple Valley, Rochester and Oakdale; and at numerous other locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Jamaica. Saint Mary’s is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.