Stanford junior Caroline Pecos-Duarte, ’21, is the recipient of the Udall Scholarship, which will support her pursuit of a career as a physician serving Native American communities.
Stanford junior Caroline Pecos-Duarte, ’21, is a recipient of the Udall Scholarship, which provides support for college sophomores and juniors interested in public service to Native American communities and the environment.
Pecos-Duarte is from Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, a rural tribal community outside of Albuquerque.
"This awardáis a reflection of the dedication and commitment I have for improving the health and well-being of Native communities," Pecos-Duarte said. "I am especially proud to represent my tribe, Jemez Pueblo, and our values of education and the shared understanding of working to give back to the community. I am grateful for the support of my family and community that have provided me the opportunity to be in this position."
At Stanford, Pecos-Duarte is studying human biology with a concentration in chronic disease and community health. She is taking additional coursework to satisfy premedical school requirements, as she aspires to be a physician. Once her education is complete, she intends to return to her hometown, which she said struggles to attract and retain qualified medical professionals, particularly those with a deeper understanding of sociocultural impacts on healthcare.
"Many community members’ daily lives are impacted by chronic illness, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, that are caused by many factors; both genetic and environmental influences contribute and are further affected by historical traumas that have remained intergenerationally," Pecos-Duarte said. "In becoming a physician, my focus will be in preventive medicine to improve the quality of life for those living in my community so traditions, language and culture can be preserved, and a healthy lifestyle can continue to be passed down to future generations."
Pecos-Duarte is active in the Native American community at Stanford. She has been a member of the Stanford Powwow planning committee and served as president of the Stanford Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Through the Native American Community Center, Pecos-Duarte has completed research on Native American artifact repatriation. She has also researched racial disparities in health care affordability at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The Udall Scholarship is supported by the Udall Foundation, which has granted 55 scholarships this year. The award provides up to $7,000 for academic expenses and access to the Udall Alumni Network, an association of influential professionals working in Native communities and environmental fields who share innovative ideas, professional advice and job and internship opportunities. Scholars also participate in a five-day orientation in Tucson, Arizona, to network with other scholars and learn new skills.
The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, former U.S. congressmen whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.