Josie Drobny, a Black Hills State University student from Martin, recently completed a paid internship through Sanford Research aimed at preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies among teenage girls living in the Pine Ridge Reservation. She presented her research results this month at the Great Plains Sociology Conference in Aberdeen, where she earned first place in the research poster competition.
Josie said the internship was a great opportunity to apply what she’s learning in her human services and sociology majors at BHSU.
“It was awesome to be in Pine Ridge to see how programs like these are beneficial and to see first-hand that research is changing lives,” says Josie.
The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) internship was offered through Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. Josie worked under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Hanson, a leading expert on the prevention of alcohol-exposed pregnancies with preconceptional American Indian Women.
To support the research, Josie assisted with interviews and recruitment, and attended health fairs on the reservation. She also presented her research results at Sanford's 2018 Summer Research Symposium.
Josie first heard about the SURE internship through the Center for American Indian Studies at BHSU. A member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Josie was part of the Bridge program her freshman year at BHSU, a program with expanded college orientation for American Indian students.
“I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone, so I needed that extra orientation before college,” says Josie. “I made great connections through the program and am still best friends with those I met during Bridge.”
Josie says she followed in her cousin, Lacey Lokken’s, Class of 2012, footsteps in choosing to get her degree at BHSU and in choosing human services and sociology as her major areas of study. Dr. Trenton Ellis, assistant professor of human services, has helped Josie think through her career options.
“At BHSU I’ve taken research and program planning classes. That was helpful because with the internship I saw the different steps that go in to research and could relate that back to those classes,” says Josie.
With plans to graduate in December, Josie is excited to return to her hometown area where her family lives to pursue a career in counseling or behavioral sciences on the reservation.
“At BHSU the American Indian community is very empowering,” says Josie. “I’m excited to go home after graduation and give back to my community and my tribal community.”