Umatilla Indian Reservation
Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center
Annette is an enrolled member of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon but grew up in Bethel, Alaska along the Kuskokwim River. She grew up with 5 siblings in a blended family. Her mother Cathy was a medical Social Worker, her father a Physician, and grandmother Arleta was a nurse at the Yukon Kuskowim Regional Hospital. It was normal to have one of her parents’ getting an emergency call in the middle of the night and knowing they were off to the hospital. Annette has fond memories of the Yup’ik dances, singing, and fishing for king salmon at fish camp throughout her childhood.
Annette’s family relocated to Yakima, Washington to be closer to family and it was a culture shock. Going from being around all Native kids, she was now one of only a few in her classroom and she found the academics rigorous. Her parents put her and her siblings in summer school and tutoring to help catch up. Annette found basketball and cross country as a catapult to stay on top of her grades. Being closer to home meant participating in traditional practices such as digging roots and gathering huckleberries for feast where Annette found strength and balance.
Annette and her sister Mariah decided to transfer to their local tribal school Nixyaawii Community School to finish out her high school studies. Playing basketball, learning her Native language and Tribal politics was incorporated in the unique curriculum. Annette attended College Horizons during her junior summer and learned about different career pathways and applying to college. She took classes at Blue Mountain Community College to help strengthen her college applications and resume.
Annette was accepted to the liberal arts school Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington. She was a part of the Native American student union and met wonderful students from around the world. However, the rigorous academics were challenging and she failed one of her classes and ultimately decided the traditional college pathway did not suit her. She transferred to Yakima Community college and then ultimately looked into nursing after job shadowing Native nurses at the IHS clinics in Yakama and Yellowhawk. Annette buckled down and completed her nursing prerequisites in 1 year and was accepted to Blue Mountain Community College nursing program and was awarded the Indian Health Service Scholarship.
Upon completion of the nursing program, Annette started immediate work at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center as a clinical nurse and started her online bachelor’s degree at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU). After completing her bachelor’s degree Annette took up extra shifts on the weekend at St. Anthony Hospital for inpatient experience. She had a beautiful daughter Juniper who was born on Halloween 2014.
Annette’s young family decided to move to central Oregon and she started work at the Warm Springs Health & Wellness center which is an IHS service unit. Annette obtained her case management certificate and the IHS Service of Excellence from the Portland Area office. She is currently working full time at the clinic and looking forward to starting a research project with Dr. Amanda Bruegl, a Native American GYN surgeon focusing on women’s health. Now as a single mother, Annette has been very fortunate for her community and family support and will be applying to Family Nurse Practitioner programs, with the goal of beginning in the fall 2019.