The University Record, May 21, 2001

Michigan Road Scholars tour inspires faculty research projects

By Elizabeth McNamara
News and Information Services

The weeklong annual Road Scholars tour invites participants to apply for special seed money from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies for research projects that stem from their tour experience. Examples of projects already under way include those with the Saginaw Career Complex and the Grand Traverse Band Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Saginaw Career Complex

Vocational schools such as the Saginaw Career Complex prepare high school students for work and college but unfortunately “attract a student with abilities and skills that a school like U-M doesn’t recognize,” says George Cooper, lecturer in English, who participated in the first Road Scholars tour. “Helping teachers coordinate trying to get their students to a place like U-M” became the focus of a research project Cooper undertook.

U-M faculty visited the Career Complex and talked with students and teachers about U-M admissions procedures, entrance criteria and class information, says Nancy Renko, Saginaw Career Complex language arts coordinator.

It became clear that “the classes at the complex conflict with the necessary entrance classes needed to be considered for acceptance to U-M,” Renko says. The students are skilled in work that is “hands-on,” which is not reflected in their college applications, Renko adds.

Several possibilities for helping the students gain college success were discussed, including:

  • Keeping in touch with Career Center students who are admitted to the U-M and tracking their progress.

  • Using Delta College, a Saginaw area community college, as a pathway for Career Center students who wish to gain admission to the University.

  • Communicating to students the necessary courses, grades and admission criteria.

  • Establishing a math track that, combined with technical courses, could be used to help students gain admission.

  • Working with the U-M-Flint to establish math classes on the Career Complex campus or online that would help students meet the admission requirements.

    “University staff members seemed to have gained a greater appreciation for the hands-on knowledge taught in a technical setting,” Renko says, “while professional conversations have helped us to open the door to some dialogue that needs to take place between the universities and high schools in our state.”

    For more information, contact Renko, (517) 797-4836 or or Cooper, (734) 764-5450 or

    Cancer screenings

    One in nine Native American women will have breast cancer in their lifetime, and although that number is greater for white women, the lack of screening for Native American women prevents the cancer from being found at an early stage. “This makes it much more difficult to treat,” says Mary Johnson, adjunct assistant professor of nursing and community health director for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

    Nancy Reame, the Rhetaugh Graves Dumas Professor of Nursing, met Johnson for the first time when the 1999 Road Scholars tour stopped in Traverse City. Johnson and Reame teamed up to develop a program to educate and screen for breast and cervical cancer.

    Johnson shared with Reame how transportation difficulties and a lack of awareness about screening prevented the women from receiving medical care.

    Two years ago, the program hired a woman from within the tribe, Debra Two Crow, to work with health providers to dispense information to women in the tribe. Two Crow gave presentations at town meetings about screening services and encouraged women to sign up for screenings. She also made appointments for the women for follow-up care. Two Crow worked with Johnson and the tribe for a year.

    Last year, 96 tribal members were screened, an increase from 80 the year before. Funding for the project was used to pay the tribal representative. The results encouraged Johnson to seek funding to continue the project next year.

    For more information, contact Johnson, (231) 995-1781 or or Reame, (734) 647-0134 or