OT student Ilse Coleman, a McNair Scholar, keeps busy volunteering amid rigorous academic demands

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OT student Ilse Coleman, a McNair Scholar, keeps busy volunteering amid rigorous academic demands

University of North Dakota student Ilse Coleman's career ambition was to become a health care professional. Everything she's done in college underscored that ambition.

"When I came to UND, I knew that I was going to do something in health care because I have an inner drive to help people," she said.

Coleman, a Spanish-speaking El Paso, Texas, native, chose UND's Occupational Therapy (OT) program for just that reason.

"I found out about UND because my dad, a border patrol agent, lives up here, and I toured UND and liked it a lot," said Coleman.

Coleman volunteers a lot, even as she undertakes the rigorous academic program in OT. That combination mirrors her career choice.

"I really liked the science behind the health care professions, but I also liked that there's a real human component to those careers," Coleman said.

Coleman wrote herself an ambitious roadmap that includes becoming a college professor eventually.

"I took pre-med biology, explored various career options and finally shadowed an OT," said Coleman, a 2013 UND Alumni Association Spirit Award winner. "I saw that OTs took a lot of time to get know their clients, and that was the first time that I'd really seen that in a health care profession, which I think is very important."

Coleman was accepted into the OT program ? part of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences ? in April 2012. She credits a lot of her ongoing academic progress to her OT faculty mentor, Anne Haskins.

McNair connection

A McNair scholarship ? part of a the Federal TRIO programs which were originally launched by act of Congress in 1965 ? helps her get through college.

Coleman connected with this TRIO program through a colleague at the UND Multicultural Student Services Center, which she frequents.

"I applied and wrote an essay about why research is important to me and my plans for a Ph.D., she said. "Ultimately I want to be faculty at a university, but at the beginning of my career I want to do research and treat patients in a research hospital setting. The McNair Scholarship relieves a lot of stress in my life."

"My experience in McNair has been incredible," Coleman said in an essay about the scholarship program. "Through this program I have challenged my skill-sets and grown personally and academically through the myriad learning opportunities this program offers."

Coleman, who won a Special Olympics benefit dance competition this spring, said faculty support such what she gets from Anne Haskins, her OT mentor, is vital to her success.

"Because I'm so far away from family in El Paso, that kind of support keeps me going," she said. "I fit in great here, but it's not my Hispanic culture and that's sometimes been very challenging. So faculty have been my backbone here. In that regard, the UND OT program is excellent. Every single person in the program is there to help you. I felt very lucky to be accepted into this program, to be able to collaborate with the team here and get to know them."

What is TRIO

The Federal TRIO are outreach and student services programs ? represented here at UND ? were launched as direct consequence of the Higher Education Act of 1965. They're designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.

TRIO was given its name because it started as a group of just three programs; the name is not an acronym.

Elaine Metcalfe is director of TRIO Programs at UND.

Juan Miguel Pedraza

University and Public Affairs writer

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