New UNHS clinical director is glad to be coming home

When Kolenya Holly graduated from Whitehorse High School in 2005 she left Montezuma Creek, and for the past eleven years she’s been paying dues and gaining experience to prepare her for her new job.

  In October, Kolenya’s hard work paid off when she was offered a position as Clinical Manager with Utah Navajo Health System, Inc., replacing Shawn Begay who is now the UNHS Public Health Director. She is excited about her new position and the opportunity to move back to Montezuma Creek with her partner and two sons, ages 7 and 1, and be around her mother and other family members. Although Montezuma Creek is far removed from the cities she’s lived in for the past decade, Kolenya said she’s glad to give up take-out food and window shopping, for the chance to raise her sons near family in a small town.

  “I left home when I was 17 and with school and working two or three jobs some times, I’ve not visited home for more than a week at a time since I left,” Kolenya explained. “Now I am living in Montezuma Creek again, with my mom, in the same room I grew up in.”

  An outstanding high school athlete, Kolenya excelled in volleyball and basketball. After high school she spent one semester at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, on academic schol- arship. However, Fayetteville was twenty-six hours from home and that was just too far for her. So, she transferred to Snow College, in Ephraim, Utah and earned her Associates Degree in 2008. She then attended Southern Utah University, in Cedar City, where she received her Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training in 2012. While in Cedar City she put her love for athletics to work, literally, as an official for high school volleyball and basketball, doing two or three games a week for 1A, 2A and 3A schools.

  During her time a SUU Kolenya was also involved with a Native American Research Internship at the University of Utah, for two summers. She did clinical research with Dr. Nicole Mihalopoulous, an Adolescent Medicine Physician, in Salt Lake City, on a project dealing with adolescent obesity. She also worked in the Athletic Training Department at Westminster College, working with the school’s Lacrosse and Soccer programs.

  After graduating from SUU, Kolenya went to work for the University of Utah’s Department of Pediatrics as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She coordinated on twenty clinical trial studies, dealing with investigational drugs and devices. While a full-time employee at the U of U, she was also accepted to Westminster College and earned her Masters Degree in Public Health in 2014. She worked at the U of U for four years, right up until the day she took her current job with UNHS.

  “This job came along at just the right time, and I’m very grateful for the this opportunity,” she said. “Jobs on the reservation are not easy to find all the time. I’ve heard nothing but good things about UNHS. The staff is very welcoming and the community is welcoming as well. Customer service and patient care at UNHS are nothing but excellent. I only hope I can perform at the same high standard and keep everyone happy.”

  Kolenya is the oldest of five children in her family. She has three younger brothers who are all grown. Her sister is the youngest in the family and she is a senior at Whitehorse High School.

  We are glad to have Kolenya back in Montezuma Creek as a part of the UNHS family. She’ll be an asset to the community. We wish her luck in her new position and know she’ll do a great job. Welcome home.

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