When Revina Largo explains her dream of attending medical school, she doesn't think about the prestige or money she could gain as a doctor.
Instead, the Brigham Young University senior thinks of the good she can do for fellow American Indians living on the Navajo Reservation. For Largo, that dream recently got a step closer to becoming reality as she received the $5,000 Morris K. Udall Scholarship."When I complete graduate school, I'd like to go back and serve on the reservation," said Largo, 21, a native of New Mexico. "One advantage I can offer is I can still speak Navajo."
Largo is BYU's first-ever recipient of the Udall Scholarship, named for the former Arizona congressman and given to top American Indian students studying the environment, health-care or tribal issues. She also leads a group of 21 BYU students who accumulated more than $1 million in scholarship and fellowship awards this year.
Eight BYU students were selected to receive National Science Foundation fellowships, two received Fulbright fellowships and one was named a Mellon fellow. The number of National Science Foundation fellows ties BYU for 22nd place in the nation along with Carnegie Mellon University and Dartmouth College.
As with many of the award recipients, Largo views the scholarship less as an accolade and more as an aid to achieve her dream. She plans to graduate from BYU in 1999 and then wants to enter medical school either at the University of Utah or University of New Mexico.
Largo hopes to qualify for an Indian Health Service scholarship to help her get through medical school. If so, she will sign an agreement to work on the reservation for several years.
"But that's OK with me because that's what I want to do," she said. "My people need doctors who are concerned about helping them."
While serving an internship with the Indian Health Service hospital and clinic in Gallup, N.M., last fall, Largo saw the need for doctors on the reservation who are able to relate to patients and make them feel comfortable. Sharing their background and native language is perhaps the best way to accomplish that, she believes.
"When they're more comfortable, they share more with you about their problems and you can diagnose them better," Largo said.
Largo, whose friendliness and upbeat demeanor seem to draw others toward her, would like to encourage fellow American Indians to live healthy lives and be happy. She hopes to educate them about health issues such as the importance of exercising and not using harmful drugs.
She has seen how the difficulties of life on the reservation sometimes drove acquaintances to alcohol abuse, gangs and abuse. But Largo believes the education she has received - and will receive - since leaving the reservation to attend Salt Lake's Olympus High as part of a placement program can be distributed to others.
"It makes me want to go back and help them realize their potential," she said. "They don't have to resort to those kinds of things."
While at BYU, Largo has excelled not only in academics but also in extracurricular activities. For three years she helped organize the Harold A. Cedartree Memorial Powwow held on campus and sponsored by the Tribe of Many Feathers, a BYU student club. Participating in activities such as the powwow gave her Udall scholarship application more breadth, she believes.
Largo can use the proceeds from the scholarship as she finishes her senior year at BYU, where she is studying zoology. In addition, she has received tribal scholarships during each semester at BYU.
"I was fortunate enough that my mom saw the value of education and supported me in my goals," Largo said. "I guess all the support I've been given makes me want to give back."
BYU students who received the $15,000-a-year National Science Foundation fellowship were Daniel Austin of Aurora, Colo.; Deanne Clements of Buhl, Idaho; Nathan Crane of Richmond, Texas; Bryce Harrison of Ladson, S.C.; Barrett Kirwan of Pingree, Idaho; Frank McIntyre of Wichita, Kan.; Jon Wallace of Brigantine, N.J.; and D. Brian Walton of Orem.
The Mellon fellow is David Holland of Bountiful, and Fulbright student fellows are Brian Bishop of Nampa, Idaho, and Jamal Quereshi of Denver.