Nine members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe graduated from Pima Community College's nursing assistant program last week.
Brian Stewart, the dean of education and biomedical sciences at the college, said this is the first group of students to go through the 120-hour program on the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's reservation.
The college celebrated the graduates in a pinning ceremony May 30 on the reservation.
"When we're working with any multi-barrier population, I think it's important to recognize success," said Stewart. "For the community itself in that area, it is really important for them to see and celebrate the success stories for the people that are like them."
Stewart said that these new licensed nursing assistants will be able to work at long-term care facilities and health centers, but more career options are possible if they pass their board exams. He said all of the students will take the exams in the next couple of months.
Nine of the 10 Pascua Yaqui students in the 2019 class graduated from the Pima Community College Center for Training and Development Nursing Assistant Program. Stewart said when he was the dean over this program in 2011 to 2013, only one or two nursing assistant students per class identified as an Indigenous person.
He said the site on the Pascua Yaqui reservation will attract students who otherwise wouldn't be able to get to a Pima Community College campus in Tucson.
"We made a concerted effort to put something out on-location that is designed specifically to target the kind of cultural things that they need in nursing assistants," said Stewart.