Craig Chythlook is using his indigenous perspective and his academic experiences to address community and social needs.
Name: Craig Chythlook
Hometown: Dillingham, Alaska
Future study or career plans: With help from BLaST and my many mentors, I will continue to focus on my undergraduate studies and complete my business administration degree with a minor in rural development. I would like to use my undergraduate degree and research experience to contribute and help with local and regional current events happening in the Bristol Bay area, helping to protect our traditional and renewable natural resources.
Tell us about a recent project you worked on: With the help of BLaST and a collaboration with my mentor, Barbara Johnson, I was able to travel to rural villages in February. I helped Barbara organize community meetings to discuss the affordability of residential water and wastewater rates. Her project was funded by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water Village Safe Water program.
What is the best-selling point about your major that you would like others to know? The business administration degree gives me a foundation in both business and economics. I will be able to use my own rural, commercial fisherman, and Indigenous perspectives to help try and better express a non-traditional or western value system, like subsistence, in a way that academic and theoretical and from an Indigenous perspective.
Who or what inspired your interest in your major? My original interest in a business administration degree was to be able to work with my regional corporations and non-profit corporations to help in any way I can to promote regional and local hire. It has been my education here at UAF and the many opportunities here, like working with my mentor and BLaST, or participating in the North American Indigenous Leadership Academy, Model Arctic Council, and other amazing programs and opportunities here that are helping to refine and shape my goals.
What has been your best experience with working in your major or conducting research? I have really enjoyed using theoretical and academic knowledge to come up with a research project about a topic that is relevant and of personal interest to myself. I have had the chance to meet many new friends, be introduced to many mentors, and network with many professionals in professions I am interested in. Without the help of UAF, BLaST, and my many mentors I may not have had nearly the same number of academic and professional opportunities.
What is your favorite animal? Bristol Bay sockeye salmon!
What is your favorite thing about UAF? The environment of learning and opportunity to grow here has been amazing. With everything I have experienced in life as an Indigenous and non-traditional student, it has been amazing to come into a place and be met with so much support, encouragement, and opportunities to grow personally and professionally. For example, in the Fall of 2018, I was a delegate at Model Arctic Council in Finland – it was an empowering experience which helped me hone my communication skills. I was able to put those skills to use when I was asked to guest lecture in several Economics classes to discuss my research and my academic and potential career paths.
Do you have advice for anyone who may have an interest in pursuing your major? We are students of an Alaskan university and we have unique perspectives. We are coming here to UAF with many difference experience and backgrounds, traditions, cultures, and histories. Use the theoretical and academic knowledge we are learning together and incorporate that with the main opportunity coming to a communal college like UAF has to give, and for me that is the ability to work with and interact with many different folks from all across our state with many different backgrounds. Embrace our own unique cultures and experience and develop the ability to express your communal perspectives and unique needs with folks around you who are willing and working very hard to help progress our many social and community needs.
Anything else about your experience that you'd like to share with us? Being here at UAF has been an amazing and life changing opportunity. We are given the opportunity to learn how to communicate, network, and express our own unique perspectives and community needs. Being here at UAF gives us the opportunity to meet and work with many industry professionals and experts in our own desired working fields. Be present, be engaged, and focus on how we can best use our own experiences and perspective to help others.