Gen-I Ambassadors Discuss Career Pathways in Medicine at AAP Events

As part of our commitment to strengthen career opportunities for Native youth, CNAY partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to provide a platform for Native youth leaders at their recent events in Washington, DC.

Gen-I Ambassadors Alec Calac (Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians) and Summer Brunoe (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) were invited guests at the Committee on Native American Child Health (CONACH) business meeting on March 12. Alec, currently a trainee at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is pursuing a PhD/MD next year. Summer, an undergraduate student at Brown University, is interested in a career in pediatric oncology.

At the CONACH meeting, Alec shared his ongoing work with the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) as one of their 2017 Tribal Youth Health Policy Fellows. Early in their tenure, the Fellows identified tribal food sovereignty and the opioid epidemic as priority focus areas and have been monitoring and contributing to policy developments regarding both issues. Additionally, Summer shared her experience and journey to becoming a doctor. For Summer, access to Native mentors in health fields has been of paramount importance. At the meeting, both Ambassadors interacted with Native healthcare providers who offered tailored professional advice, as well as insight on the role of organizations like CONACH in advocating for Native American youth.

On March 13, Alec and Summer were panelists at the AAP CONACH Hill Briefing Pathways to Health Professions: Supporting Native Youth in Pursuing Health Careers. At the briefing, Summer spoke about her journey to becoming a doctor, noting the challenges she’s faced and the people who have helped make her dreams possible. Summer emphasized the importance of programming and funding for Native youth to gain exposure to medical fields. Moreover, she discussed the critical role of representation in the workplace, and the importance of having visible Native role models in medical professions.

“Native American youth need to know they have allies who will support and fight for them” – Summer Brunoe

Alec, too, shared his journey and how the support of his father, a doctor, helped spark his interest in medicine and science. Additionally, Alec discussed the brute realities involved in applying to medical schools, noting not only the competitiveness, but the exorbitant costs associated with applying: application fees, travel and lodging for interviews, and so on. And that’s all before you even enroll.

“Being Native isn’t about being part something. It’s about being a part of something” – Alec Calac

CNAY extends its gratitude to both Alec and Summer for their continued leadership and dedication to bettering Native communities. We also express thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics and their Committee on Native American Child Health.

To learn more about resources to support your journey to a career in medicine, contact Aaron Slater at

This post contributed by CNAY Policy Program Coordinator Aaron Slater.