Many OU Law Master of Legal Studies students face the unique challenge of completing their online degree while continuing to serve in their specific industry. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the M.L.S. in Indigenous Peoples Law program not only continue to excel in their coursework but have found ways to address the needs of their communities during the ongoing health crisis.
Through their professional roles, many IPL students serve Native communities impacted by COVID-19 by providing health and social services, educational online programs and community leadership. Others serve as volunteers, assisting with the collection and delivery of food, masks and supplies.
Heath Bailey, a Spring 2020 M.L.S. in Indigenous Peoples Law graduate, works in national park management and helps facilitate understanding of the Pueblo Tribe’s cultural issues and needs during emergency response efforts, including those for COVID-19. Bailey was recently named Overall Outstanding Graduate Student for the 2019-2020 Academic Year by the University of Oklahoma’s Graduate Student Senate.
Charles Sams, a Spring 2020 M.L.S. in Indigenous Peoples Law graduate, works as the communications director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Utah. He is the incident commander for his tribe, responsible for isolation orders for the reservation and implementing their emergency operating plans across all entities of the Tribe.
Crystal Lee, a second-year M.L.S. in Indigenous Peoples Law student and assistant professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of New Mexico, works with Indian Country concerning health disparities. She is working with United Natives, a non-profit organization she founded, to help with relief efforts during COVID-19 in Navajo Nation in Arizona. Lee will graduate with her M.L.S. degree in August 2020.
Eric Jayne, a second-year M.L.S. in Indigenous Peoples Law student is a licensed practicing veterinarian, who works in collaboration with the Rosebud and Blackfeet tribes, along with the Humane Society, to provide veterinary services for tribal members. The primary goal of this work during COVID-19 is to help the tribal governments provide self-sustaining veterinary care for tribal citizens. Jayne will graduate with his M.L.S. degree in December 2020.
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