Condon, Standing River Sioux, PharmD, recently earned
his degree in pharmacy at the College of Pharmacy,
Nursing and Allied Sciences at North Dakota State
University. Now he has realized his dream and is a
pharmacist on his home reservation.
Following are excerpts from an article that was originally published when Dr. Condon had just finished the pre-pharmacy phase of the curriculum and was entering the four-year long professional phase of the pharmacy program. Updates from Dr. Condon follow this short article.
Preparing to Serve His People
“I always wanted to be involved in health care,” says Condon. “I like helping people.” In 1997 after graduating from high school in Ft. Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation, Condon went to Bismarck State College as a pre-med student. By the time he transferred to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) in 2002, he had decided on a career in pharmacy.
“NDSU is primarily a white school. NAPP [Native Americans in Pharmacy Program] helped me get involved with other Natives and with the school. They let you know what you need to do for your future. I like the fact that the NAPP monthly meetings focus on school and on real world issues.”
Jaclynn Davis Wallette, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Coordinator of NAPP, travels to Native communities in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, recruiting students into pharmacy. She said that Condon made a major contribution to this effort. “He prepared a public service announcement (PSA) designed to recruit American Indian people into pharmacy. The PSA is played on local radio stations so when I visit communities, I have interest from grandmas, moms and dads of future students.
Condon took a well-earned break this summer before entering the professional program. For the past seven summers, he has been fighting wild fires in Oregon.
When he completes his pharmacy education, Condon would like to work with Indian people, eventually doing a combination of clinical work and administration. “I have the desire to work with Indian people, especially with my own people back on the Standing Rock Reservation,” he says. “I feel that it will be extremely rewarding for myself, and I want to show the young people at home that it is okay to leave home to get an education and then come back home to work. I feel if I can change even one person’s viewpoint on this matter, then it will be worth all the hard work that I put myself through.”
Condon says there will always be jobs in pharmacy and in health care in general. “If you really like helping people, and particularly if you want to help other Indian people, just stick with your math and science and accomplish what you want to accomplish.
Once you’re in pharmacy school, Condon says, “Go to class. Since you’re not forced to go to class, it’s easy to not go. But it is also easy to fall behind. If you are organized and go to classes, you’ll know what needs to be done, and you can get your work done. Managing your time this way will help you in the real world.”
Condon suggests, “If you’re away from home, call home every now and then. Tell them what’s going on. Tell them your accomplishments and your problems. Most likely you’ll get some good advice from your immediate family For those who don’t have that opportunity, try to talk to people who are in good standing in your community or wherever you are from. They’ll be plenty of good advice.
“Make as many friends as you can who are involved in school and won’t put you down the wrong path,” continues Condon. “In college you have to be a little more outgoing, especially if you’re in the minority.”
The article above was first published in the Autumn 2004 issue of Winds of Change. (The cover artist is Clarrisa Hudson, Tlingit.)
Travis Condon writes: “I graduated from North Dakota State University May of 2008. I passed the NAPLEX and the Jurisprudence test the Summer of 2008. During that time I applied for a position in McLaughlin, South Dakota located on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, my home reservation. I was able to stay true to my word of working back home for my people. I was fortunate enough that there was a position open and I started working September 2008.
My personal life has also been extremely busy and rewarding. My oldest son turned 3. My middle daughter turned 2, and my youngest daughter is 6 months old. Needless to say my wife and I did not waste time in producing a family. She is currently a stay-at-home mother. which is extremely difficult but also very rewarding for her. She's fortunate to see many of the things that I miss while away at work, but it brings me pleasure to provide for my family.
In the future my wife plans to utilize her psychology degree and also work for IHS in mental health. She is also an enrolled member of Standing Rock and it brings me great pride that we both returned home educated and willing to help our people.
Over the last 6-7 years I have become very involved in all aspects of my Lakota/Dakota culture. I participate in traditional ceremonies, and I am attempting to not only learn the Lakota language but to preserve it as well. I am currently a member on a design board to start a full immersion Lakota language school on Standing Rock.
Having a family has changed my outlook on life immensely. I encourage all people to strive for education to better themselves and their family, but also to take hold and remember those values and traditions that our ancestors fought and sacrificed themselves for. I am very fortunate and thankful to have been given such great opportunities in life thus far. I believe education is an answer for many of the problems that American Indians face today. I also believe that there are answers and happiness in old traditions as well. Life is what we make it and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that crosses our path.
Condon is now in the final year of the pharmacy curriculum, which focuses on clinical rotations in general adult medicine. Students can also pursue rotations in such specialized areas as pediatrics, family practice and oncology. “We do nine rotations, each lasting for five weeks,” says Condon. “I’m currently working at the MeritCare Roger Maris Cancer Center. It is a very educational and interesting experience.”
Condon stresses that pharmacy school is hard work. All the teachers want you to have a handle on their areas of focus. However, if you’re willing to challenge yourself, Condon recommends going into a medical field. “There will always be a need for teachers and for people in medicine,” he says.
Since the first article was published, Condon and his wife have become parents of a little boy. Condon is scheduled to receive his PharmD degree in 2008.