She has found consistent inspiration from her professors and classmates and their commitment to giving back to Native communities. Being the first of her family to pursue a graduate-level degree, Koch has received the care and guidance of her professor and department chair, Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Ph.D.
This support has led Shelby to a focused research study on the biases that people perceive are directed against them when they visit a doctor. Native Americans often face unique obstacles to receiving the care they need, which can sometimes go unseen.
“I know that a lot of my Native friends dress up and present themselves in a specific manner when they go to the doctor, so that they feel the doctor will listen to them and take them seriously,” Koch explains.
She hopes this research will shine a light on barriers contributing Native American health care problems that are not as tangible as others.
Koch believes her time at OU will prove invaluable to her pursuit of a medical degree, as it will help her to understand the unique cultural backgrounds and potential challenges faced by Native American patients when they visit the doctor’s office.
“I’m a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, and I’ve received quite a bit of help from them paying for schooling, and I see this as a way to give back to the community that has supported me.”
To learn more about the Department of Native American Studies, please visit http://www.ou.edu/cas/nas.