Profiles of Our Graduates

Dr. Sean Asiqłuq Topkok, PhD Indigenous Studies 2015

Dr. Sean Asiqłuq Topkok is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His family comes from the Seward Peninsula in Igloo and Teller, Alaska, and is Iñupiaq, Sámi, Irish, and Norwegian. He began his career in Alaska Native education since 1987, working in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Dr. Topkok is the leader of the Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers of Fairbanks founded in 1999, a local community dance group inviting Native and non-Native people interested Iñupiaq dance, cultural heritage, and cultural values. He received his B.A. in Humanities, M.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, and Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies – all from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His dissertation was entitled: Iñupiat Ilitqusiat: Inner Views of Our Iñupiaq Values. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed academic articles and chapters focusing on Indigenous values, methodologies, and well-being. Dr. Topkok presents worldwide about his academic research and has given a Tedx Talk about Iñupiaq Stories: Past, Present, and Future. He has been a keynote and plenary speaker at several conferences. He works closely with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies as an Indigenous education faculty member. Dr. Topkok is active in various Indigenous organizations and research at the local, national, and international level. He is the chair for UAF’s Graduate Advisory and Academic Committee and Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Native Education. He is one of the co-chairs for the Alaska Native Studies Council and serves on the University of Alaska Teacher Education Council. He serves on the Alaska Board for the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium and collaborates with various international universities for UArctic Thematic Networks.

Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John, PhD Indigenous Studies 2010

Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was raised in a large family in the traditional Yup’ik lifestyle in the village of Toksook Bay in Southwest Alaska. These early life grounded her in Indigenous cultural principles and values and knowledge systems, which has shaped both her personal and academic life. As an advocate for Native education, she is highly involved in various organizations and projects that promote traditional Native culture, history, rituals and ceremonials, spirituality, language and education.
Dr. John received her B.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her thesis was titled:  Yuraryararput Kangiit-llu: Our Ways of Dance and Their Meanings.   She has authored numerous academic articles and a co-author of a book Yupiit Yuraryarait: Yup’ik Ways of Dancing and has presented her work at dozens of local, national, and international professional conferences. Dr. John currently serves on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum. She is a former member of the Alaskan State Council Arts and the former Chair of the Traditional Native Arts Panel. She is also the recipient of the Governor's Distinguished Humanities Educator Award and Alaska State Library Award.
National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE)
President Obama appointed me to serve on NACIE in 2011.
The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) is authorized by section 7141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), 20 U.S.C. 7471; and governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C. App. II.
The fifteen NACIE members are appointed by the President and serve with the following purpose and functions: To advise the Secretary of Education (Secretary) concerning the funding and administration (including the development of regulations and administrative policies and practices) of any program, including any program established under Title VII, part A of the ESEA, with respect to which the Secretary has jurisdiction and that includes Indian children or adults as participants or that may benefit Indian children or adults.
White House is planning the next NACIE meeting for January 2018.

Dr. Pearl Kiyawn Brower, PhD Indigenous Studies 2016

B.A. Anthropology and B.A. Alaska Native Studies from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004.  Masters in Alaska Native and Rural Development from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010.  Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies, with an emphasis in Indigenous Leadership from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, of May 2016.

Dr. Brower is currently the President of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only Tribal College.  She has been with the College since 2007 working in External Relations, Institutional Advancement, Student Services, and Marketing.  She has served as President since 2012.  Prior to working for the College Dr. Brower managed an education and culture grant for the North Slope Borough for three years and worked as the Museum Curator of the Iñupiat Heritage Center.

Dr. Brower grew up in both Barrow, Alaska and in northern California practicing a subsistence lifestyle in both areas.  She has a daughter, Isla, who is 5 and along with her husband, Jesse Darling, lives in Barrow, Alaska where she loves to be close to her culture and community.  Brower was named one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015.

Brower is active in her community in Barrow, on the North Slope and statewide.  She is Board Member of the Friends of Tuzzy Library and is a co-founder of Leadership:Barrow.  She serves on the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board, serves as the Vocational/Tribal representative on the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network, serves on the Alaska Airlines Community Advisory Board, on the Foraker Group’s Operations Board, and as a Commissioner for the State of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education.   

Dr. Richard Hum, PhD Interdisciplinary Studies 2017

Rich has a diverse educational and professional background. He is from California, lived all over the Western United States, and has called both rural and urban Alaska his home for the past twenty years. He holds an M.A. in Networked Communication, a B.S. in Earth Science, and an interdisciplinary P.h.D focused on cross-cultural communication around environmental change issues. Professionally he has extensive experience in online education- specifically in development and delivery of mixed face-to-face and at-distance content. His research reflects this diverse background and utilizes mixed qualitative and quantitative methodologies to explore social ecological, or environmental, systems.
By attempting to more fully understand the processes of cross-cultural communication and institutional, or organizational, reform, Richard’s work advocates for greater Urban-Rural communication in times of rapid environmental change. More generally, his research is focused on understanding spatially grounded communication networks in order to maintain cultural diversity while increasing connectivity and improving community well-being and self-reliance during times of rapid social-ecological change. In whimsical terms, he is interested in anything to do with how people interact and communicate with the environments they inhabit.
Check out this VoiceThread introduction to his work.
Courses Taught for Cross-Cultural Studies:
CCS 690: International Seminar in Indigenous Education
CCS 693: Talking in Circles-- cross cultural communication in the age of social media
(an Introductory VoiceThread)
CCS 693: Network Weaving: Moving research to practice for community wellbeing
CCS 492: Comparative Food Systems

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