Student Highlights

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Kim Pikok

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Kimberly Kivvaq Pikok and I am an Iñupiaq fisher from Utqiaġvik, Alaska. I am the granddaughter of Tommy Nipik and Rhoda Kivvaq Pikok. I come from a fishing family that loves to spend time inland hunting and camping. I enjoy camping and fishing at Pikok Camp, learning about Arctic vegetation, and traveling to different places to learn about different communities, ecology, wildlife, and culture. I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in wildlife biology and I am now a graduate student at UAF in the Interdisciplinary Studies program with Tamamta researching Utqiaġvik’s seasonal changes in spring whaling by centering local hunter and whaler observations and knowledge from the Alaska Arctic Observatory and Knowledge Hub database (AAOKH), conducting interviews, and using community-based research methods. I am always full of excitement, laughter, and smiles especially if I can teach people about camping, Arctic plants and animals.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF has opened so many doors for me. UAF inspired me to get involved in research and wildlife management processes and learn more about my home's environment by taking Arctic vegetation and Arctic ecology classes here at UAF. I am now a graduate student at UAF with the Tamamta Fellowship Program and I am a graduate student researcher for the Alaska Arctic Observatory and Knowledge Hub at the International Arctic Research Center.

What internships have you done?

North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management College Intern, Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska, Haskell Environmental Research Studies Program

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

I was previously an RA at Eileen's House and recently started the RD position. I love being able to connect with other students from my region. I am a part of a few leadership programs outside of UAF where I am able to learn about other cultures, places, landscapes, and how we all relate to one another even though we may come from different parts of the world. These activities/programs are important to me because it is important to learn from others and build relationships and connections with others. It is an opportunity to explore the world around me while finding ways on how they relate to what is happening at home.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

Being able to go back home every summer and apply what I learned during my summer internship at the North Slope Borough.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

I used to be so shy and scared when I first started at UAF and it was difficult being in a degree program with students from all over the United States. I overcame these obstacles by joining extracurriculars and finding my friend group. My friends encouraged each other to get out of our comfort zone and start to do things that scared us. When you are surrounded by the right group of people, you are able to dream big and accomplish your goals together. They were my motivation and courage to get through these challenges I faced.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Don't be scared to try new things and explore! There is so much to learn about and so many people to connect with. The things you learn outside of classes can be applicable to your studies, career, and everyday life. The knowledge you have and the knowledge you gain no matter where it came from is valid, impactful, and applicable! Keep learning and growing.


Gabe Smith

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Gabe Smith, and I am from Nome, Alaska. I love all things outdoors, most notably hunting, fly fishing, archery, trapping, and then everything with a 2 stroke engine.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

I have met bunches of professors and professionals in my degree field that have really helped me with my success as a student but more importantly gave me insight to professional wildlife and fisheries management careers.

What internships have you done?

I have counted Pacific salmon in Western Alaska for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation. I also helped out ADFG with some volunteer work in the Nome office.

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

Fly fishing for me is very important. It helps me learn more about the fish I love to catch, gives me time to reflect on all the life choices I make and not to mention living in the moment. When you're sight fishing for 20 inch grayling with dry flies, time stops and that fish is the only thing that matters in the universe. It is a great way to recharge over the weekend.

What has motivated you at UAF?

One thing that really motivated me was all the scholarships that I was awarded. They gave me this feeling of obligation to be a good student.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

The recent pandemic was the largest setback I have had. Not being able to sit in a classroom to have in person lectures for upper level statistics and the last few classes in the wildlife biology degree program but me back a bit.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Give yourselves plenty of time to get assignments done the right way and on time. Do a little bit everyday for each class and you'll be just fine. Also make a list of every assignment you have due in any given week so nothing slips your mind.

Anything else you'd like to share?

RSS is a great place. I encourage students to go check it out. RSS hosts a bunch of student clubs and organizations that might interest you. It is a great place to be and will most likely give you a home away from home feeling.


Miya Page

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Noatak, Alaska. I am Inupiaq and African American. I grew up in Noatak my entire life with my mom's side of the family. My other side of the family is from Memphis, TN. This is my senior year here at UAF and I've been here since 2018. I am majoring in Rural Development with a minor in Inupiaq Eskimo. I am the first person in my immediate family who will be graduating from college.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

Being here at UAF has opened doors to friendships, job opportunities, and student clubs that I will always be a part of.

 What internships have you done?

For the past two summers, I was a human resources intern at Red Dog Mine with Teck Alaska. I learned to work with a collaborative team, gained computer skills and customer service, along with doing common HR duties.

What extracurricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

I am involved with the Inu-Yupiaq dance group here on campus. Since I took a course about Alaska Native dance in RAHI, I have fallen in love with our traditional dancing since I didn't grow up with it. Eskimo dancing is an important aspect of the Inupiaq culture and I love that I get to express it that way.

I also just got involved with intramural basketball. Since I am getting ready to graduate soon, my schedule has become quite busy and so being involved with this team allows me to be active every week and relieve any stress I may have.

 What motivates you to do well at UAF?

What motivates me to do well is my community and family supporting me. Every time I go home for a visit, I am always welcomed with a "welcome home college girl! Keep it up!" I want to graduate and be an example for others, especially the younger generation. As well as being a first-generation college graduate.

 What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

My first two years at UAF were rough. At that time, I think I was just not ready to be a student. I had bad time management, and I was not prioritizing what was important. I realized that I needed to stop wasting my time and get serious if I wanted to accomplish my goals. I started by learning to say "no" to myself and to others so I can focus on what needed to get done. I went from failing classes semester after semester to getting straight A's for two years in a row.

 Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Advice I would give is:

1) Don't spread yourself too thin to where you fall so far behind in school.

2) Prioritize what is important! Those fun activities can wait.

3) School can be stressful, so don't forget to take breaks. Give yourself some "me time".

4) Spend your money wisely and don't collect too many things before getting a place of your own.

5) Don't be afraid to reach out to your peers or professors if you are struggling.

6) Have FUN!



Tell us about yourself.

I'm a non-traditional student here at UAF majoring in Yup'ik language and engineering. I enjoy a variety of act ivies, but during the winter I try to spend my free time reading, skiing, star/aurora gazing, playing video games, practicing native games, and socializing with friends. My educational interests include both learning about my indigenous culture and language and about STEM, specifically energy and aerospace/space. 

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF has allowed me to pursue both my engineering interests as well as reconnecting with my heritage languages: Yugtun and Cugtun (Yup'ik and Cup'ik). It is a very unique opportunity to be able to study both of those at a single university. I've also been able to gain cultural knowledge, work and internship opportunities, connections, friends, and experiences I never would have imagined. Just in the past year I've been able to compete at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO), travel to California for an American Indian Science and Engineering Society national conference, start having conversations in Yup'ik, and so much more just from the experience and connections made at UAF. 

What internships have you done?

Currently I work as a student assistant for both the Alaska Native Language Center and the Alaska Native Language Archive. I am currently exploring engineering internship opportunities to shift toward. 

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

I am president of the Native Games Club, treasurer of Yugtun Egmilta (Yup'ik Language Club), and treasurer of the UAF chapter of American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). In addition, I yuraq with the UAF Iñu-Yupiaq Dance Group and attend ANSEP meetings. These are important to me because they allow me to be in spaces where I can gain more cultural knowledge, and provide spaces where people can be their full authentic selves. 

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

My mom always encouraged me to pursue higher education, and she inspires me because I've always known her to be constantly learning and trying new things. I will be the first in my direct family to hold a degree when I graduate, but most importantly the things I'm doing right now are where I've wanted to be for a long time. I think it's important to regularly revisit what I want out of life and if what I'm doing is truly what I want for myself. 

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

I'm not originally from Fairbanks, so it was difficult making the transition when I first moved here because everything was new and I didn't know anyone here. This was overcome by attending clubs and talking to random people to make friends and connections. I'm a big believer in building community wherever you're at, because you make opportunities to both help people and for others to help you. 

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

It's so important to set aside regimented and structured time to specifically focus on work, and it's just as important to also set aside time to have fun and take breaks. Life is just a balancing act, and you have to find what balance works for you. Work hard, play hard. Also, make sure to always be your genuine and authentic self, and you'll end up at the right place and with the right people. 

Anything else you'd like to share?

Quyana, piurci!


Laura Ekada

Tell us about yourself.

My family comes from Nulato, Koyukuk, and Minto. I was raised in Minto, AK until I attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School where I was the president of the Athabascan Dance group, participated in varsity cross country, varsity wrestling, Native Youth Olympics, and varsity cheerleading. I then competed in cross country, track, and wrestling at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, after which I transferred to UAF. I will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in biomedicine, and I hope to become a doctor and serve the Native people in interior Alaska.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF gave me the opportunity to learn more about my culture and stay close to my family. With the help from my previous boss Jo Narvaez, I started a podcast that focuses on Indigenous life and culture. I got to learn traditional skills from the Alaska Native Art Studio class and to speak my Native language in the Beginning Dene/ Athabascan I class. As a part of my job at the UAF Nanook Diversity and Action Center I was able to plan and conduct programs around various heritage months and awareness days. UAF has also given me the opportunity to take part in research as a BLaST scholar. One BLaST research project I am on is looking at questions on how culture and traditional activities could mitigate negative impacts of the pandemic, isolation, and their effects on mental health. Another project I am on examines how intergenerational connections, reflections on strengths, and digital storytelling facilitates cultural connections and wellness for rural Alaska Native youth. Both highlight how cultural activities support well-being and helped me learn how to conduct interviews and focus groups with Native populations. My capstone project is "Value of Reclaiming Culture for Wellness: Perspectives from Youth in Rural Alaska." I was able to present my research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists in Anaheim, California in November 2022.

What internships have you done?

My first internship was with Tanana Chiefs Conference when I was 14 years old. I worked as a Youth Office Assistant. I worked for two summers at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center as an Admin Intern. I was able to job shadow doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants. I was a summer intern with First Alaskans Institute and I was placed with Big Brothers Big Sisters. At Big Brothers Big Sisters I did a presentation to recruit more Alaska Native people to volunteer as a Big. I was hired by the Center for Native American Youth as a Democracy is Indigenous campaign organizer. I created social media posts to encourage Native people to vote. I was a summer intern for the Maternal Child Health Careers/ Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement - Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP). I spent the summer participating in professional development sessions, taking a Kaplan MCAT course, listening to talks where scientists share their research, and creating a presentation on health literacy. Last summer I was an interview facilitator for the Nulato Tribal Council. I spent a week in Nulato with the summer youth workers interviewing Elders.

What extracurricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

I have been an active member of the RSS Beading Club where I have helped students start projects and learn new beading techniques. Beading club is important to me because it is a cultural activity that calms my mind and reminds me of all the beaders in my family, and in my hometown. Having beading club every week gave me an opportunity to slow down and visit with my friends. I love sharing the skill of beading with anyone who wants to learn. I love when people branch out and try new things. I love that people are learning that they can appreciate Native culture without appropriating it.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

What motivates me to do well is my family. Many people in my family are graduates of UAF. I look up to them and want to be as strong and successful as they are. I have already told everyone in my family that I want to become a doctor so now they always ask me how I am doing in school. I have to keep pushing forward and finish now that they are expecting that of me. I also look at my younger cousins and siblings, I want them to have a good example to follow. I want my younger cousins to know that they can achieve anything if they really set their mind to it.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is having too much on my plate. I am learning to set boundaries and say no to things. I am currently volunteering as a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters, I have research hours to complete every week, I work part-time, I am a full-time student, I am currently working on my capstone project, and I babysit on weekends. When opportunities present themselves, I get so excited and I wish I could do everything, but I can't. I had a guest on my podcast once say that Native women do too much and that is so true in my life and so many of my friends lives.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

My advice for other students is to utilize the resources available to them. Sometimes when I am feeling down and worn out, I reach out to the people available to me. I reach out to my professors and let them know that I am having a hard time. My professors are always encouraging and supportive. Professors and TAs are there to help you. I have taken advantage of the free counseling sessions at the UAF Student Health and Counseling Center. Seeing a counselor helped me regulate my intrusive thoughts so that I can focus on the present and on my future. Mental health issues are a real problem for Alaska Native youth. I want students to know that they should listen to their feelings and rest if they need to. All of my friends and family are very encouraging. College is really hard and I am glad that I have a strong web of support to help me make it through.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Listen to the Urban Auntie Show episodes on, Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Google podcasts!

Georgia Attla

Tell us about yourself

My name is Georgia Attla, and I was born and raised in Fairbanks, and I’ve lived here for most of my life. I am a tribal member of Huslia, where my dad Gary Attla is from. My mom Maureen Mayo is from Stevens Village and Rampart. In 2019 I started taking classes at UAF as a nontraditional student. I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to major in, and so I just took general education and art classes. 

What doors has UAF opened for you?

From the beginning of my educational journey the Art department has always felt like home to me, and I knew that I wanted to get a degree related to art. It's a small department, and my teachers and other students make it a supportive atmosphere. I have really enjoyed the Alaska Native Art Studio and Drawing. I unexpectedly took a Printmaking class when another class didn't fit my schedule, and I ended up liking it. I can make multiple pieces of art from one printing plate. My teacher David Mollett is a printmaking legend, and he just knows a lot, and the best thing is being inspired and learning from the other print students. A lot of them have already graduated, and are working artists. One of my goals is to incorporate my Koyukon Athabascan language into my art designs. I believe it's a way to revitalize my language through seeing the words more in everyday life. Similar to when Barrow reclaimed the Native name Utqiagvik, I didn't know how to pronounce it, but I was able to learn from seeing it and hearing it.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

I’m motivated to do well in school, because I feel more prepared at this stage in my life. I also get inspired by witnessing other people’s success stories with school, and starting their careers. UAF has given me the opportunity to develop my artistic skills through their art department, and I have decided I want to become a graphic designer. I graduate this spring from UAF with my Associate of Arts degree, and in the fall I will begin my bachelor’s degree at Fort Lewis College, majoring in Communication Design. I am very eager to start my next journey.

What are some challenges you've faced as a student, and how have you overcome them?

One of my biggest challenges that I have overcome as a student has been math. I dreaded math, and I had so much self doubt that it kept me from going back to school sooner. I literally started at the bottom in Pre Algebra which isn't college level math, and I’ve worked my way up from there. In developmental math UAF required me to take a math study skills class, and I learned people have math anxiety and trauma, and also how to overcome it. I've had to devote so much of my time to math homework, and learning the concepts. I still struggle with it occasionally, but I actually kind of like math now.

 Advice for fellow students

My advice to another student who is struggling with any class or subject is to utilize the many tutoring resources UAF has to offer. There are multiple tutoring places, and the tutors really want students to succeed. I’ve gone to the tutors on campus, RSS, and at CTC. Even if I don’t need their help I’ll still go, and sit there to do my homework until I need help. It’s more time efficient to get the help right away whenever the need arises, instead of struggling all alone at home. My other advice is to find other students who are further along in school, and let them mentor you. Also get a good advisor who can help you navigate which classes and teachers to take.  


Cavelila Wonhola

Hello my name is Cavelila Wonhola and I'm from New Stuyahok, Alaska which is located in Southwest Alaska in Bristol Bay. This is my sixth year studying here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I'm pursuing two degrees in Yup'ik Bachelors and Construction Management. 

I have done four internships three with Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) and one with Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA). Over past years I have been involved with American Indian Science & Engineering Society (Aises), Festival of Native Arts (FNA), Native Games, and Inu-Yupiaq. Why these are important is that joining these clubs keep me busy and connected with communities. 

What motivates me is to working hard and getting one step closer to the two degrees.

I had to overcome difficult times. Just had to get back on up and to work on. The hard classes I have had is to make them the time to do the homework and study.

Don't be afraid to ask for help with your classes and tuition. Because you are not alone in your classes. Make time for a study buddy to help you understand the homework or course materials. I know it can easily to procrastinate and a lot of free time. So you got to put in the work and time for studies. 

I would highly recommend Rural Student Services. Reason is great advisors and help with your schooling, tuition, homework, and good company.

Thomasina Tall

Tell us about yourself.

My Cup'ik name is Nungagaq and I am from Chevak, Alaska. I have been a UAF student since 2017 studying Elementary Education to become a teacher.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

Since I've been a part of the UAF community, I have been included in events such as Educators Rise. I have also been to some of the elementary schools around Fairbanks to get involved in the classrooms. Because of my academic success, I have also been accepted for many scholarships and internships.

What internships have you done?

I have done internships in the past with Coastal Villages Region Fund in my hometown of Chevak. I also had a chance to intern with my native corporation––Calista Corporation––for one summer.

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

The only extracurricular activity I am involved in is UAF's Intramurals that's run by the staff at the Student Rec Center. It's important to me because it gives me a reason to go to the gym and exercise.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

I want to make my family proud.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

One of the most difficult challenges I have overcame was culture shock. The interior is a lot different than the coast––where I grew up, as well as the food and community. I overcame this by making a lot of friends who are also from the same region as me. I also got involved in a student club where we gathered to eskimo dance. 

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Get involved in student clubs and make new friends.

Jaden Andrew

My name is Jaden Andrew and I am from Nunapitchuk, Alaska. I am in my first year of college here at UAF studying Mathematics with a minor in Elementary Education. 

I always wanted to go to college after I graduate high school and UAF was the top choice for me. UAF opened the door for me to realize my passion was helping others learn and succeed in education.

Since last semester, I have been apart of the ANSEP (Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program.) Then in the start of the Spring Semester I started attending the AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Both of these are important because it gives me time away from studying and doing homework. The meetings are held via zoom and I get to listen to amazing guest speakers and doing activities with the fellow students. It is always so good to attend the meetings and network with people. These programs also keep me up to date with announcements at UAF and give out great scholarship and or internship opportunities.

There are a lot of things that motivate me to do well here at UAF. One that stands out is if I finish my homework, turn them in on time, do well in the quizzes and exams, and eventually pass my classes I will get closer and closer to graduating and obtaining my degree. Having a study buddy also makes it very easy for me to finish homework on time.

I had a really hard time in Trigonometry last fall semester and had to withdraw from that class. This semester I am retaking Trigonometry and am doing way better than last fall. I was always scared to ask the professors questions and now every little question I have I make sure to ask. Before coming to UAF, I never had to take an online class and I feel like now I am better with technology.

If you're planning to go to college apply to as much scholarships as you possibly can so it can eliminate the hardship of paying tuition. Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people so you can have friends. Ask a lot of questions in class and take a lot of notes. Try not to procrastinate because its so easy to do that. Never stress on little things and lastly STUDY STUDY STUDY and take your education seriously.

RSS PCN's are awesome and the food is amazing!

Andrew Nicolai

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Andrew Nicolai. I am Yup'ik from Kwethluk, Alaska. I'm currently finishing up my bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering and graduating this Fall 2021 semester. With my degree, I would like to give back to my community and increase the infrastructure in rural Alaska.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF has opened many opportunities for me and one of them was getting involved with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). I've been involved with AISES since my freshman year and got the opportunity to travel to conferences in Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.

What internships have you done?

Most of my internships were with my native corporation (Calista Corp). Through Calista, I've got to intern in Hawaii, Alabama, and Alaska. One summer I got to intern for First Alaskans Institute and was placed with Alaska Native Health Consortium in Anchorage.

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

The extra curricular activities I was involved with was with American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and Inu-Yupiaq Dance Group. These clubs were important to me because it helped me interact and network with other students, staff, and professionals.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

Helping my community and being in charge with creating better infrastructure in rural Alaska. Also, my family encouraging me to do well and making them proud.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

Being away from home, missing family, and family gatherings was one of the most challenging obstacles I've faced at UAF. The way I've overcome those challenges was going to RSS and being with students who are facing the same challenges. This community helped me get through the toughest times and made me feel like home.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Get out of you comfort zone, join student groups, and make new friends. Pellugiciquten (You will get over it) keep moving forward and do your best.

Rebekah Hartman

Tell us about yourself.

Ade’. Rebekah Gidinatiy Hartman si’ezre’. Fairbanks dhisdo. Wasilla xist'anh. Deg Xit’an itlanh. Singonh Angela Hartman vi’ezre’. Sito’ Mike Hartman vi’ezre’. Sitse’ Alice Demientieff vi’ezre’. Sitsiy Rudy Demientieff vi’ezre’. Hello. My name is Rebekah Gidinatiy Hartman. I live in Fairbanks. I’m from Wasilla. I am Deg Xit’an. My mother is Angela Hartman. My father is Mike Hartman. My grandmother is Alice Demientieff. My grandfather is Rudy Demientieff.

I am an artist and my artwork revolves around language revitalization. This started three years ago when I started learning my Native language Deg Xinag. I wanted to create images along with the words I was learning. Then when I went for my Bachelors of Fine Arts I knew that my thesis would be about revitalizing my Native language. My BFA thesis was Dinayetr "Our Breath": Deg Xinag Language Revitalization.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF has been incredibly helpful for learning my Native language. It was here that I was able to take Gwich'in and Athabascan Linguistics. Both of these classes helped me learn Deg Xinag in the long run. Gwich’in helped me learn Deg Xinag because they are both Athabascan languages and once you learn the structures of one it is easier to learn the structure of another Athabascan language. Additionally it was here that I was able to figure out my artistic path in life. When I started my BFA thesis work on language revitalization I knew then I wanted to create more art around preservation of Native languages.

What extra curricular activities are you involved with and why are they important to you?

My junior year I joined the Alaska Native Social Workers Association (ANSWA). We worked to make a positive change in Native communities. The members of the club are amazing people. I know that they are there to help me when needed. I always love to give back to my community and this was a wonderful way to do so.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

My own desire is to learn more about the world and about myself. I love taking classes and learning all I can from them. My classes are helping me move towards the artist career I want in life.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

There are many times in each semester that my anxiety becomes overwhelming and my mental health takes a negative turn. I found it hard at these times to even tell my friends what I was going through. What helped me out was health and counselling. I absolutely loved my counselor. She was able to help me process my thoughts and feelings and I could tell that she cared about my wellbeing. Every time I came back from counselling I felt a million times better. It helped me through my darkest parts of each semester.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Make sure you take care of yourself and your mental health first.

Lillian Marerro


Introduction: I grew up in Anaktuvuk Pass, AK and went to high school at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. I am graduating from UAF with a BA interdisciplinary degree in Design and Digital Marketing. It took me a long time to figure out which direction I wanted to go, I got stuck in the mindset that I needed to pursue a career in science or engineering. I didn't know or think that art could get me places, and now I am working for an amazing PR firm in Anchorage, Thompson & Co. as their associate art director. So never give up!

What doors has UAF opened for you? While at UAF I had the opportunity to work at the Wood Center, under amazing mentors who taught me a lot of what I know now and prepared me for real-life experiences. I took two classes through the SOM program that counted as internships and received some real office experience.

What motivates you to do well at UAF? I wanted to graduate as soon as I could with the knowledge that would help me become a prime candidate for the job I wanted. I also wanted to start my career as soon as possible!

What are some challenges that you have faced as a student at UAF, and how have you overcome them? My only challenge was leaving the house to get to class when it was 40 below.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students? Explore the classes UAF has to offer, explore the different opportunities given to you, and don't settle on something you don't want to do.

What is Rural Student Services to you, and how has it impacted your higher education goals? If it wasn't for Gabby, my RSS advisor, I would have been so lost and probably still trying to figure out what degree to choose. She helped me stay focused and driven! I couldn't have done it without her!

Michelle Kaleak

Michelle Kaleak is from Barrow, Alaska. Working on a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She plans on finishing her last year of the program in Barrow and become a teacher in her hometown.

What doors has UAF opened for her? UAF helped Michelle meet many new friends from all over Alaska. Also, taking education classes had helped her realize what grades she would like to teach.  She was a student worker at Rural Student Services and is now the Student Coordinator for the Festival of Native Arts.The extracurricular activities Michelle is involved in are the Alaska Native Education Student Association (ANESA). This group helped her feel more comfortable being an education major with other students from rural Alaska. She has also been apart of the Festival of Native Arts club and the Inu-Yupiaq dance group, which helps her stay close to her culture. Finishing her degree and going home to become a teacher is what motivates her to do well at UAF.  Having to manage her time with classwork, work and having a social life has been hard to balance. But keeping to-do lists and a planner helps her manage her time better.The advice she has for fellow students: "Never forget why you started, because that is what will keep you going." Michelle's perspective on Rural Student Services: "RSS made UAF feel more like home because of the close-knit community it creates. The amount of help and support I get from the workers at RSS helps me go through school and work. RSS has also made me realize how much I love to help other students going to college, and maybe it could be a job I would want in the future."

Kyle Kanuk

Kyle Kanuk is from Kongiganak, Alaska. He likes teaching students about Native games as well as teaching his friends and family new Yup'ik words, which came from his father, who taught him many things before he had passed away.  He had an internship with the Coastal Villages Region Fund at the Southwest Yup'ik Region.

As Kyle entered UAF, they understood his challenges. UAF also gave him classes that help him reach his degree and the benefit to support others.  Kyle  currently in the Iñu-Yupiaq Dance Group that practices both Iñupiaq and Yup'ik dances. Another club he is apart of is Natives Games, where any college students are welcome to be apart of the club. The practice of the Native Games contains native's survival tactics that transformed into games for people to maintain physical fitness.

What motivates Kyle to do well at UAF is maintaining a good GPA and inspiring others to do well and do their best for their degree.

Advice he has for fellow students: "Make sure to eat well, sleep well, talk to each other, work well, and stay well. Also, aim for A's for your classes."

Kyle thinks Rural Student Services is:  "A place that feels like home. Reaching out to me and to others for updates and news for upcoming events."

Kyle would also like to share is: "UAF Fairbanks is another challenge after graduating from High School. This is a whole new level to be a part of what UAF has to give. The reason I got this far is because I follow my heart and instinct to achieve my goal."

Paul Larson


I am a full Yup'ik from Napaskiak, Alaska. I grew up doing subsistence harvests with my family and listening to elders wise words of wisdom on respect for humans/land/animals. With this knowledge, I am pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, to contribute to the knowledge of human/animal/environment relationship. I want to understand/research the relationship between animals with respect to their environment and the people.

What doors has UAF opened for you?

UAF offers many opportunities to explore education. Attending UAF, I am able to focus on my specific degree and attend classes and labs that strengthen my knowledge and increases my skills to use in internships and for my future career.

What motivates you to do well at UAF?

My future career of being a Wildlife Biologist Pilot and conducting research that contributes to human/animal/environment. Also, extracurricular activities/advisors/mentors motivates me to do well and complete my goals.

What are some challenges that you have faced as a student at UAF and how have you overcome them?

Being away from home has been very challenging. I overcome this by staying busy with homework, class, and being in clubs to help time go by.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students?

Join clubs you are interested in, and apply for internships/jobs that excite you. Also set aside time to study for classes, so you can be successful with the courses.

What is Rural Student Services to you and how has it impacted your higher education goals?

RSS is a great place to be at. They provide me with awesome advisors, make me feel like I'm at home, providing home cooked meals, and providing a place to study amongst other people that are in the same situation as me.

Anything else you'd like to share?

My favorite quote from an elder, "Qigcikiyukuvet nunat ungungssiit-llu, tuaiguq ungungssiq paivngaciquq elpenun," meaning "If you respect the land and the animals, the animal will present itself to you." I use this quote to remind myself to be mindful of others, and my connection to the land and the animals.



Timotheen Charles

Timotheen Charles is from Kasigluk, Alaska. Majoring in Alaska Native Studies concentrating in Alaska Native Knowledge, Cultural Resources and Expression and minoring in Yup'ik. Her interests changed as she learned about things and vary from cultural, traditional and language based knowledge from issues that communities face in different Indigenous communities around the world. She recently started working as one of the Festival of Native Arts student co-coordinators and she has stepped out of her comfort zone a little. UAF classes, activities have connected her with the students, peers and outside entities that are important to her. Festival of Native Arts- it is one of the two events on campus that bring in Indigenous people and gathering to empower and connect with. Festival of Native Arts annual celebration is a little piece of home.

What motivates her to do well at UAF? Her parents, grandparents, three siblings, community and her future. These are people and places that motivate her to do good and encourage her to bring her cultural values with her wherever she goes. "Coming from the village and transitioning into a community that focuses on western concepts was hard because it felt like no one was there to support me." But, RSS and the departments within helped her succeed by connecting with people that came from similar backgrounds and experiences. Being one of the shyer and quiet students kind of pushed her back from getting all the opportunities she could. Encouraging friends, professors and advisors were a big help. Advice she has for fellow students: "Take opportunities, pass your classes and connect with people. Knowing what you are here for and having support from home and here at UAF brings you further than you could imagine." 

Timotheen's perspective on Rural Student Services: "RSS is a place where you can connect with people who have similar background and experiences as you. The monthly Positive Connection Nights were fun to attend because the food was home cooked and the activities were optional. Having a piece of home even through food, has been a little helpful in homesickness. My advisor, Colleen, is also a major part of my success."

Anything else you'd like to share? Be kind, be humble and always keep your traditional values with you. Stay smart.


Joe Bifelt

My name is Joe Bifelt and I am an elementary education major from Huslia, Alaska which is an Interior village of roughly 300 people. Growing up in a subsistence lifestyle and playing basketball pretty much describes my entire childhood. In school, I noticed that a lot (not all but a lot) of teachers were coming in and out every year and they just seemed to have trouble connecting the classwork to the students and their local culture. Not only that but these teachers were often young and inexperienced combined with the fact that they didn't really know what they were getting themselves into because rural Alaska is much more isolated than people realize. 

Anyway, somewhere along the line in middle school I realized that teaching might not be a bad fit for me because I might be able to connect the culture of the students with the class content. I also figured that teaching is a good option that allows me to have a reliable job in rural Alaska and give back to my community by helping the youth! I also figured it might open up options to coach basketball as well. 

I am currently in my senior year here at UAF and I am interning at Watershed Charter School for the school year! It's been a learning experience - you learn to mentally push yourself and somewhere in the midst of it, you learn to have fun and be in the moment realizing that it's going to be alright.

Michelle Quillin

Michelle Quillin is a student working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. Being a student here at UAF has presented her with many opportunities to become more marketable and knowledgeable in the wildlife field through traveling and networking with other biologists. In the summers, she works as a biological science technician in Denali National Park, and during the semester she is a student assistant here at Rural Student Services! Not only does she work to support herself through college, but staying busy also helps her to stay focused, and manage her time wisely.

Aside from working and attending classes, she is currently putting together a youth program focusing on Alaska Native high school students - one goal of this program is to encourage students to go to college and hopefully become involved in the wildlife field. Michelle's advice to other students is that " life is not a straight line and it does take a while to get to where you want to be, but don't let that discourage you from following your dreams. The best view comes after the hardest climb."


Zane DeBilt

Hello, my name is Zane DeBilt and I am a senior studying Japanese with a minor in history. I am from the Southwestern part of Alaska, and through my time here at UAF, have had many incredible experiences. In the 2014-2015 school year, I was able to study abroad for a year in Japan, and that memory is one of the best of my time in university so far. I aim to pursue a Master's degree in International Business with Marketing, and will be attending the University of Stirling in Scotland to attain that goal. Before I head to the U.K., I hope to continue to gain knowledge and experience in business through internships. I have applied to an internship in Seattle, which will take place over the summer with the sales department of a company I have had the good fortune to work with in previous years. The real-world experience I gain will help me in my studies once I enter graduate school. UAF has been an awesome experience, and I would like to thank everyone I have come across for making it so.

Denae Benson

Denae Benson is a History major with a double minor in Spanish and Political Science. After obtaining her Bachelor's degree, she wants to attend graduate school to get a Master's in Education. In 2015, Denae was able to intern with Lisa Murkowski, and this past summer she was invited to participate in the Model Arctic Council (MAC). She spent a week at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire while playing the role of the Inuit Circumpolar Council representative, discussing issues that face the Arctic and the people who live there. She says that "this opportunity was absolutely an amazing experience and I may have the opportunity to travel to Finland next year to participate in the MAC again." Lastly, she encourages other students to "look for opportunities!"

Taniesha Emry

Taniesha Emry will be graduating with her Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Human Services with a concentration in Addictions Counseling in May. After graduation, she plans on returning to school in the fall to work on her Bachelor's in Social Work. After successfully completing her practicum/internship in December 2016 at Interior AIDS Association she was offered a job as the HIV Client Services Case Manager Assistant. Taniesha continues to work there and likes to be involved in the community including fundraising events.

Taniesha is excited to be working towards her Social Work degree and is involved with the Social Work club ANSWA. Besides work and school she is also busy raising her two-year-old son, Avery, with her fianc Conrad Moses. To stay active she enjoys yoga, aerial silks, and playing basketball. She is originally from Northway, Alaska, a village along the ALCAN highway near Canada, and loves to take the four hour road trip home as often as she can.

Bobbie McNeley

My name is Bobbie McNeley, I am Alaskan Aleut from Nelson Lagoon, Alaska, on the Alaska Peninsula. I am in my third year at UAF, majoring in Alaska Native Studies with a concentration in Alaska Native Law, Government and Politics, and a minor in Law and Society. I am a representative for my regional non-profit Aleutian Pribilof Island Association Language Revitalization Program. Over the Summer I participated in a language camp where I learned Unangam Tunuu (Aleut Language). After participating in the camp I started a club at the UAF campus called the Fairbanks Unangam Tunuu (Aleut Language) Club, where I teach the language to a group of students and community members.

Bobbie works as a student Assistant with the Office of Admissions and the Registrar and has been with Rural Student Services since she graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in 2014. Once she arrived on campus she also became involved with the Student Support Services Program (SSSP). Bobbie has many interests and an exceptional determination to learn and be accomplished in all realms and she is well on her way to completing her Bachelor's Degree in 3 years. Last spring semester she registered for and completed a record 27 credits in one semester and also graduated with her Certificate in UAF's CTC Diesel and Heavy Equipment Program.


Katie Roseberry

Katie Roseberry is finishing up her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Biochemistry. She is from Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, AK. Besides working towards her degree requirements, Katie has taken advantage of other opportunities. She has been involved in science and engineering organizations such as ANSEP and AISES. Through the BLaST program, she worked in Diane O'Brien's lab and worked on research that focused on nitrogen isotope ratios in native foods to determine if we could use them as a biomarker of traditional food intake for the Inupiat of the North Slope. This last summer she served as an intern Clinical and Research Services department of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage. As an intern, she did a variety of tasks from data entry, shadowing practitioners, and conducting background research for current or upcoming projects. As an intern she was required to attend weekly presentations on topics such as LGBTQ patients, how to treat stress, and breastfeeding.

Terrell Jones

My name is Terrell Jones, I am a Rural Development Major, and this summer I did an internship with First Alaskans Institute. First Alaskans Institute is a non-profit organization that strives to promote Alaska's future leaders by placing them into organizations where they can be utilized to their fullest potiential.

For my internship, I was placed into ASRC, where I studied the traditional uses of plants on the north slope and traveled to Point Hope to conduct interviews with local elders for the project. The entire experience was inspirational.

Tayesia Nick

Tayesia Genevieve Belynda Ann Nick (Panicungaq) has been chosen as an outstanding student that we would like to recognize in this month's edition of the Reach Out.

Tayesia is from Pilot Station and is now a Junior studying natural resources management. She is excited to say that she's been selected for her first internship with the Alaska Oregon Research Training Partnership and would offer the following advice to anyone who was interested in applying for an internship: "Apply for as many as you can. When accepted for multiple ones, choose the one that will benefit you the most."

Tayesia understands that she can get more from college than a degree. She is outgoing and has been taking advantage of different programs at UAF since the spring of 2012. She is a secretary for Natives for Positive change and a Secretariat for Native Alaskan Business Leaders. She is also involved with the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and American Indian Science and Engineering Society. She says that this level of social and academic involvement helps motivate her to do well in her classes.

She is not without struggle, however, and finds that her most common challenge is the fear of failing a class. She feels that overcoming the fear and actually passing her classes takes a lot of effort. She says that drawing on her time management skills to stay structured and also studying with friends helps her push forward.

Tayesia also offered some insight on some of the best ways to pay for school. She employs the use of grants and scholarships to cover her costs. Her advice is to apply for all of the scholarships that you qualify for and keep in touch with your funding sources so you are aware and can make them aware of any changes or updates.

Finally, Tayesia closed the interview with the following words of advice: "It is scientifically proven that thinking positive and believing in what you want to accomplish helps." We think this is applicable to all things in life and hope you find the same.

Thank you, Tayesia, for being such an outstanding student!

Alaina Ctibor

My name is Alaina Ctibor and I grew up in Bethel, AK. I am currently a fourth year psychology major here at the university and intend to go on to grad school either in clinical psychology or public health after I receive my bachelors degree. My experience here at UAF has been wonderful. I currently am employed through the Center for Alaska Native Health Research here on campus as a student research assistant. Technically it's not an internship, but because I am working with people who are in the psychology department and am doing work regarding psychology, it's more than just a job, it's something that will help me in the future. I was lucky enough to volunteer with one of the PhD students in the psychology program here last spring which I think is really important for students to do, especially if they want to continue on with their education after getting their bachelors. After volunteering for some time, a job opportunity was presented to me and that's how I became a student research assistant. Besides working on campus I am also a student ambassador for the university.

The UAF student ambassador program consists of a handful of student volunteers, our main objective is to help inform prospective students and their families about the university and what it is like to be a student here and what it has to offer by giving campus tours, responding to mail and emails as well as chatting online with students who are visiting the UAF website. I am also part of ANPSYCH (which stands for Alaska Natives into Psychology), and that has been a great experience.

A couple things that motivate me to do well in school are my parents and just my own personal goals and career choice. If it weren't for their support I wouldn't be where I am now. In addition to them (and many other supportive people in my life) the fact that I took my time to really explore my career options contributed to my work and enthusiasm that has kept me here. I think choosing something that you love and are interested in is one of the most, if not THE most, important thing to keep in mind when preparing and attending college. I didn't know what I wanted to study when I arrived and I didn't declare my major until after I had been here for a few semesters because I was still exploring my options. I think a big mistake a lot of students make when coming to college is just deciding a major just because they're pressured to or because a lot of people have declared. It's not something that should be rushed, nobody wants to be 40 years old wishing they had done something else with their lives. Not that it's too late at 40 to change, but I guess what I'm trying to get across is that life is short and you should do something that you love and be sure to explore your options.

Keep up the good work Alaina, RSS continues to be proud of you!


Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker, a second year UAF student from Washington State and Fairbanks/North Pole is currently studying in Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development with concentrations in Alaska Native Law, Government, Politics, and Natural Resource Management with a minor in Yup'ik. Sarah completed two internships with the City of Washougal, WA and Doyon, Limited. From her internships, she learned the art of the Southwest Washington Native Americans (she mainly dealt with the petroglyphs) and working for a Native Corporation where she learned more about ANCSA, business communications, and marketing. Her advice to students is to apply for internships and make sure you follow up because most internships aren't applied for and the companies really want to teach you. Internships are a great experience and helps to prepare you for life after college.

Currently Sarah is president of two student clubs: Native Alaskan Business Leaders (NABL) and Festival of Native Arts (FNA). She also participates in the Inu-Yupiaq Dance Group, UAF LIVE program, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Student Support Services. Sarah is a first generation low-income college student. Two of her older siblings didn't graduate high school and had to go to Job Corps to get their degrees; and another older brother that was supposed to graduate before her didn't graduate high school until a year after she did. Plus she would always hear that "if we wanted to go somewhere in life that we would need a college degree".

Sarah recalls, "And growing up in Washington where people would always ask me "Are you Chinese? Japanese? Mexican? Indian? Hawaiian?" and then when I told them I'm Eskimo (I'm both Yup'ik and Inupiaq) they thought I was lying and they would say that Eskimos aren't real or always ask if I live in an igloo and travel by dog sled." Growing up in the Fairbanks/North Pole area some other students would look at her as just some "dumb Native," and say that I would never do anything in life because I am just a "dumb" Native and that they never make it past high school and just some other stuff like that. So, I told myself that I'm not going to be included in some stereotypical statistic. I will graduate from a University being proud of my Native heritages and where I came from and nobody/nothing is going to get in my way. And after I graduate I'll get a real good job that will also stop those stereotypes from getting passed on."

Sarah shares, "As a first generation-low income student I had to first find a way to even get here. So when I got my acceptance letters I chose UAF and then worked all summer in Washington state mowing lawns, gardening and tree trimming, washing cars and picking up trash in my apartment complex. (It was one hot summer!! Sometimes 90-100 degrees)". And then when I came up here I found out that I still had fees due and I thought that I had to quit school but then a very special friend just paid the balance and I was able to stay. So I started searching for a job and couldn't find anything on campus but found a job at Geist Road Pizza Hut. I worked at Pizza Hut at night after all my classes (I was taking 15 credits fall semester and 16 spring semester) so I can repay that friend that paid my school balance and save money to go home for the Holidays and my sister's wedding where I was the Maid of Honor.

While I was making payments to that friend and saving money for that trip home I was also helping my sister pay for her wedding. I bought all the food and my (7 foot) brother's tuxedo and decorations and some of her wedding attire; I was also sending money home so my parents wouldn't get kicked out of the two-bedroom apartment. My Dad was the only one working because my Momma's cancer came back and the chemo and radiation didn't leave her with much energy. My brothers couldn't get a job because my family just happens to live in the county that has the highest unemployment rate in Washington State. Then my advisor said I should apply for the FNA's Student Coordinator I did and got it. But I didn't find out about it until January and had less than two months to plan Festival. And for a little over one month I was working two part time jobs and going to school full time (I don't know how I did it, but I made it happen and passed all my classes).

Sarah applies for grants and scholarships to help pay for college expenses. She recommends getting the applications done as soon as possible and answer all the questions honestly. Most of the places that give scholarships also provide internships. Also filling out the FAFSA early is a big help.

"I love being back in Alaska and being a part of UAF and RSS. You guys are awesome!"

And RSS is amazed and inspired by your energy and enthusiasm Sarah. Keep up the good work!

I am of the Kaigani Haida from the village of Kasaan on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska, and I am currently attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks in pursuit of a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts, with emphasis on Native art.

My Haida names are Nang K'adangaas (The Smart One), Kats Ts'ilaa (Curly Hair) and K'uhlaal (Bent Knife). My father is Glenn Hamar and my mother is Bonnie Neet. I am the grandson of George Hamar and Ethel Almquist, great grandson of Elmer Almquist and Phyllis Alexander. In June of 2010, I was accepted into the College Emerging Artist Program through the National Museum of the American Indian. Right at the beginning of December I was able to spend a full week in Washington D.C studying old masks and regalia collected at the turn of the twentieth century from across southeast Alaska, and I also attended classes on how to market my artwork to the public. This experience was endlessly inspirational and made me realize the true goal that I have been trying to achieve: the revival of the Kasaan style of Haida art. Over the past century, Haida art has slowly been melting from a diverse art form with many styles to a single, basic style that is dictated more by personal preference opposed to geographic region as was historically the case. I aim to bring back the uniqueness of the Kasaan style of carving as well as two dimensional works so that those that come after us will be able to recognize my style as Kasaan style, not just my individual style. As it stands now, there are a total of two artists that reside in Kasaan including myself and it just isn't enough to continue the line of Kasaan art. As I've been attending college at UAF, I have been honing my skills as a carver and trying to exemplify what the unique qualities of Kasaan art are. It is my hope that when I leave college, I will be able to bring that art back to my community to share as well as to teach so that it continues on.

I was also recently awarded the Undergraduate Research Grant by the College of Liberal arts within UAF. Under this grant, I will be studying the use of masks in theatre performance. The grant will also pay my way to Toronto, Canada, where I will take part in a staged reading of Lance Twitchell's play "Raven Speak" at a First Nations theatre conference in Toronto, Canada. After I return to Fairbanks, I will be in charge of making a variety of masks and other props for a future full production of the play.

We are so proud that you are a part of the RSS family.

Kelsey Wallace

Kelsey Wallace from Bethel is a sophmore at UAF majoring in Communications with a minor in Alaska Native Studies. Kelsey was in Washington DC as an itern with Senator Murkowski. Kelsey states, "it is important to always remember where you come from and the morals you grew up with." Internships broaden experiences so Kelsey suggest all students partake in any interships related to their majors and interests.

Kelsey participated in the Festival of Native Arts and in leadership at Moore Hall within the past year.

Kelsey's motivation to do well in school comes from her parents and younger brother. She would like to set an example for her younger brother and wants to be a role model for people from her area.

Kelsey remembers why she is here at college and stays focused on getting good grades so she can keep distractions of the many things to do in Fairbanks from interfering with her goals.

Kelsey pays for college through scholarships, family savings and hard work. Her suggestion to future students is to apply for all scholarships that apply to their interests and majors.

Kelsey is really excited for this semester.

RSS wishes Kelsey an awesome year and congratulations on Miss WEIO 2011!!

My name is Kavelina Torres. My parents are Terry and Craig Anderson. My Dad is from Bellevue, New Jersey, right across the water from Newark, NJ. My Mother was born in Aniak to Catherine Ann Terry who was born to Massapokorluk wife to Chief Steven Nickolai on the Yukon River. I currently live in North Pole, Alaska with my husband and four children. I am a Junior at UAF taking concurrently an Associates in Business and an Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Technology in Yup'ik Filmmaking (encompassing Film, Business, Yup'ik Language and Alaska Native Studies). I love telling stories! I have told many of my stories to my children! I have always told stories the difference now is that I write them down to remember them for later. And now I have so many waiting in queue waiting to be developed and only so many hours of the day for college, research for my writing, time with family, household chores and actual writing! Never enough time! Never enough time! Never enough time! To that end, I have written a play for the Alaska Native Heritage Center that has been subsequently selected for a play lab in Valdez at The Last Frontier Theater Conference. I have also written 10 minute bilingual plays. A screenplay that I have written has been entered into the Sundance Native Lab Fellowship - though they only select four writers from across the nation, so I am okay if they do not choose my script!

I have had the immutable pleasure of recently completing an internship with NBC Universal! I worked on "The Everybody Loves Whales" set in Anchorage this last semester. I was able to observe business practices, Alaska Native languages at work (Yup'ik and Inupiat) and see how a major motion picture really comes into being! It was a fantastic opportunity that I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn the film industry up close. My job was a production assistant. We fill in the nooks and crannies that need filling! Like getting breakfasts for the cast, making sure they were comfortable, collecting time sheets and making sure everyone knew when they needed to be back, making sure the crew of 150-300 cast and crew can hear the Director and Assistant Director. That means going to a specific location and repeating the directions given over a radio to the cast crew present in that locale. It also means keeping everyone quiet during the camera taping! The movie was so relevant to my major, Yup'ik Filmmaking, as I want to make films and I want Alaska Natives in them speaking our languages, whether that be an actual language or language of culture. Being involved in Everybody Loves Whales afforded me the pleasure of making new and renewing old friendships! It was both very hard work and exciting! The most important thing I learned in the internship was that I can't do it alone. Surrounding myself with like-minded, capable individuals who share a passion for not just making movies but also making Alaska movies with a good story is another goal I have attained! My advice to students thinking of entering an internship: DO IT!!! DO IT! DO IT! Any internship will be good for you! An internship only increases your knowledge of an area of work. Even if it is to learn that you don't want to do that job ever again! Then you won't waste your time studying for something you will not like! If, on the other hand, you find that you like a job, it will solidify your resolve to continue to learn about the area of study! It allows a person to be able to put into practice what they have been learning about and learn many more skills on the job.

I set my goals early on so that I know what I am striving for and what I need to do to get there. I did not know my ancestors personally but I know they would be disappointed in me if I were not to meet those goals. I am also showing my children what life is like beyond grade and middle school. I hope to lead by example to show them that it is never too late to learn and that you can study something you like or want.

I have had many challenges at UAF. Student culture was foreign to me as was large groups of people. Speaking in front of people was my most crippling challenge. Practice makes perfect! The more I speak the better I get. I am not excited about doing it but when I am excited about the topic no one can stop me from speaking about it! College costs money... I pay for school by applying for scholarships, saving money, and getting the lowest interest in loans (ones that are deferrable - so I can wait to pay them after I have completed college). The most important step to getting a scholarship is to get good grades! There are several scholarships that are based just on good grades. Apply for a scholarship is the most important thing you could do in your college life. Let's face it, in the day and time we could all use some free money! The only way you can do that is by logging onto and filling out the scholarship application. It's really just writing about you and your accomplishments. Simple and easy.

"RSS is pleased and honored to have you as part of the family Kavelina!"

Charlene Church

Waqaa! My name is Charlene Church, I am known by many as Woman (may seem odd or weird to call me by it but I don't mind, it's my nickname). I was born and raised in Quinhagak, Alaska. Quinhagak is situated on the Kanektok River and near the Arolik River, approximately a mile from the Kuskokwim Bay of the Bering Sea Southwest of Alaska. My parents are Bobby and Carol Church, they are also from Quinhagak.

My hobbies are beading, picking berries, helping others (I consider it a hobby because I love helping anyone), and rod-and-reeling on the Konektok River. I have recently been addicted to making earrings. I also have been addicted to playing my Wii lately. My favorite sport is volleyball, and all-time favorite color is green. Green is the color of life I think. It's so beautiful and lively.

This is my 2nd year at UAF and I am currently in the Bachelor of Science program in biology. My goals in life are to further my education and become a physician assistant. It's going to take a couple years to finish but I believe that I can do it.

For all those attending UAF and future students, just work hard and do your work. It may seem so much fun to skip class and hang out with friends instead of doing your work, but in time, the work will catch up and you will drown in unfinished school work. In my first year here, I never hung out with anybody, I was anti-social pretty much. And I lived off campus, so, I wasn't influenced to skip class and not do homework. What I am trying to say is: school is very important and everyone should take advantage of their time by doing homework. Doing your work and finishing it keeps you moving and gets you closer to your goal and degree.

Sarah is from Barrow and has attended UAF since 2006. Sarah will graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting this May 2010, with Leadership Honors. She has been very involved with volunteer work on campus and around the community, including ASUAF Senator, Rural Student Services Peer Mentor, Native Alaskan Business Leaders President & Secretary, Greater Alaskan Accounting People Programs Officer, Leadership annual conference planning committee, and the Festival of Native Arts as volunteer, member and the Coordinator. She is also the recipient of the 2008 Emerging leader scholarship and placed first in the Business Plan Competition at the American Indian Business Leaders 2010 National Business Leadership Conference in Carlton Minnesota. Congratulations Sarah!

Agnes is from St Marys, Alaska, she is in her second year at UAF as an Elementary Education major. She currently participates in ANESA, Future Teachers of Alasak (FTA), and Inu~Yupiaq Dance Group. She gets her motivation to do well in school from her parents, RSS advisor, and friends. One challenge faced while attending UAF is video games, but she forces herself to do the work and get it done. Currently she pays for schooling through scholarships. Agnes shares "I really encourage students to apply for scholarships because it sucks paying for school out of your own pocket or taking out loans. Also scholarships are easy to fill out and there are a lot of scholarships out there, you just have to reach out for them."

Denali Quyanna Qapvik Whiting is from Kotzebue and Sisaulik, Alaska. She is a freshman at UAF and plan to double major in Elementary Education and Biology with a minor in American Sign Language. Denali has been the vice president of the Kotzebue chapter of National Honor Society, involved with student government since elementary school (holding positions as class representative, treasurer, historian, secretary, and vice president), captain of the Kotzebue chapter of youth leaders, varsity cheer captain for three consecutive years (winning 1st runner up at the state level and receiving the team GPA award), and participated in cross-country. She was in choir for two years attending the regional music festival and ranking to go to the state music festival. Denali has been a part of the sivulik media group in Kotzebue for about five years where they complete media training including interviewing, filming, audio recording, still photos, video editing, and explore personal expression. She has also served as photographer and page editor for the Kotzebue high school year book. Denali quotes "You truly do get back what you put in, the harder you work, the greater the reward will be even if it is just a greater feeling of self-esteem and knowing you tried your best." She is motivated to do well in school knowing that she is representing her family, high school, region, and heritage. She wants to set a good example for her peers and the younger generations. The biggest challenge Denali has faced while attending UAF was the transition from high school to college. She is an only child so she has a strong connection with her parents. Denali quotes "we are like the three musketeers!" Denali keeps going strong by staying busy with school work, being active and practicing healthy habits such as exercise and eating healthy, and getting involved with volunteering. Denali has supportive family members in Fairbanks that makes the transition easier on her. Denali has used scholarships to pay for her entire first semester of school. Denali suggests "Even if you don't think you are eligible for certain scholarships or if it is passed due, APPLY! It doesn't hurt to try, the worst that could happen is they will say no! Research scholarships opportunities early so you can begin the process and won't be rushing to make deadlines. Also think outside the box, apply for local scholarships offered through UAF but also keep in mind there are scholarships nationwide that you could be eligible for!"

Denali had the honor to be crowned Miss Teen Arctic Circle 2008 which is a traditional pageant held in Kotzebue available to young Alaskan Native women. That year she also received the Most Photogenic Award and Most Traditional Award. She is currently reigning Miss Alaska Teen USA 2011. This is her biggest accomplishment to date. She is excited to represent Alaska and especially young Alaskan Native women through this title. She will be competing at the Miss Teen USA pageant, which is part of the Miss USA and Miss Universe organization. Denali quotes "It is important to be aware of your roots and embrace your culture." CONGRATULATIONS DENALI!!!

Marjorie Tahbone

Marjorie is from Nome, she is in her 4th year at UAF majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Inupiaq Language. Marjorie has been working as an intern for the Norton Sound Fisheries Research & Development in Nome for the past four summers. She recommends all students to apply for internships that may be of interest to you. She has been involved with Inu-Yupiaq Dance Group, ANSEP, & AISES student clubs. Marjorie gets her motivation to do good in school from family, peers, & community members. Her school expenses are paid through scholarships, she encourages all students to apply for as many as you can and its best to do them early and not wait for the deadline.

Congrats to Marjorie on becoming the Miss WEIO 2010 and Miss Arctic Native Brotherhood. RSS continues to support you in all your efforts.

Norman Carlo

Norman Carlo Jr. is from Tanana, Alaska. He is in his second year at UAF majoring in process technology. He is part of the Inu~Yupiaq Dance Group. He says being a part of the dance group is a lot of fun with a lot of love, they are good friends and like family. Norman gets his motivation to do well in school from himself, family, and God. One challenge he has faced is distractions, he recommends to find a quiet place to do homework, such as the library. He pays for college with the help from scholarships and personal income. His recommendation for scholarships is to apply early, be persistent, and to follow through to completion of the application. Norman shares, "To the kids who are having problems with school and personal problems, use me as an example. In the Fall of 2007 I lasted only one month in college before I got kicked out for drinking too much. This was a big wake up call for me. Not only did I let myself down, but my family as well. Even though I was struggling with alcohol and kicked out of college, I did not give up hope. I took one year off of school and worked. During this time I quit drinking because I knew the only way I was going to make it in this world was to be free from alcohol. I am now on my second year of school and I am doing alright. I am still fighting the fight to succeed in life but no matter what happens I will never give up. Whatever you do in life just be the best that you can be and never forget where you come from and who you are. For our Native culture is just as important as education. Remember you are not only representing yourself but your family, village, and your people as well. Enaa baasee for listening to what i have to say."