In honor of Native American Heritage month we are recognizing some of the exceptional Native American students at the College of Pharmacy.
Name: Katrin Henry
Graduation year: 2024
Tribal affiliation: P’urhepecha
Q: What brought you to pharmacy at the University of Arizona?
I tested oils for cosmetic products and worked alongside a pharmacist who would formulate samples like aftershave and lotions. I thought it was interesting that a pharmacist could do that. Just seeing how chemistry is the foundation for pharmacy made entering the PharmD program a natural next step.
Q: Do you have any role models that inspire you - at the college or in general?
I like what Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So the pharmacist profession is all about prevention. Pharmacists promote screenings, vitamins, vaccines, healthy lifestyle, alternative and natural medicines, and dispense medications to treat diseases. And pharmacists are experts in all the different types of medications, both over the counter and by prescription, and counsel patients on how to use them. Patients have a lot of choices and easy access to a health care professional at the pharmacy. Prevention, I see it as pharmacy - is a great approach for patient health.
Q: Have you experienced any challenges in school? How did you overcome them?
Technology was the biggest problem during the pandemic. Around March 2020, the graduate dorms told everyone if they could go home, to go home. So, I went to Yuma to be with my family. It’s a rural part of Arizona that does not have stable internet or cell phone signals unless you live in the city. I had meetings, lectures, assignments to do online but public libraries were closed. Everything was closed. I actually finished my semester on my cell phone. New technology had to be purchased and thankfully my family, teachers, classmates, and the school were extremely supportive and understanding.
Q: What does being Native American mean to you?
My identity is unique because our tribe was recognized only recently in 2013, although records from the Spaniards who arrived in the Americas mention the P’urhepecha (Tarascan in Spanish). We were never conquered. What is interesting is the P’urhepecha nation is once again self-governing by tribal customs and uses after over 500 years. Our language is unique too - Tarasco. We keep our way of life and beliefs alive by our songs and stories with life lessons that we pass down to each generation.
Q: Has being Native American influenced the way you approach your studies or research?
I want to succeed because I want other P’urhepecha to see it’s possible to succeed. There are a lot of us that don’t identify because then we get treated second class by non-indigenous people. It’s an honor for me to represent my family and my people. I do it for them.
Q: What are your goals for after graduation?
My goal after graduation – that's far away. I’m focused on what I have to do now. So right now, I have to finish the semester and then finish the PharmD program. So far, I’m impressed. I think the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy is very organized and top-quality. It was a pleasant surprise to notice the first time coming to campus that all the students were genuinely happy, smiling. I remember when I got accepted at the Coit College of Pharmacy it was surreal.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
I’m thankful for my family, friends, teachers, mentors, preceptors, classmates, and everyone who has supported me in this journey.