What drew you to the Caleb Scholars Program? Do you have a personal story about meeting Caleb, connection to his legacy, or connection to our Program mission?
I was drawn to the Caleb Scholars Program because I’m interested in furthering my education and skills. I heard about this program’s great resources through my advisor a couple of years back, and I knew I could gain more knowledge.
What does conservation mean to you? How do you engage with conservation at school and/or at home?
The Inuit-led conservation advocacy means protecting our lands, culture, and mammals. The Bering Sea is our garden, and we should do as much as possible to preserve and sustain it. Our people have harvested the same resources our ancestors have done for millennia and should be continued.
In my past Alaska Native Studies Community Healing and Wellness class, we discussed the impact of colonization and how it has impacted our relationship with the land. We can change harmful effects together before it’s too late to protect our ocean, lands, and culture. It’s making decisions that affect our way of life. I engage with conservation through school and at home.
What I learn in college each semester, I try to take it back home because knowledge is power. It gives people the resources of revived traditions towards wellness and connection with their true identity. Wellness practices preserve our culture and land while lifting one up. I discuss the impact of colonization and how we can continue to heal, thrive, and embrace what the land and ocean provide for us.
What are your future educational and career goals? What are the top three things that are moving you toward those goals?
I have two more semesters left until I am completely finished with taking classes for my bachelor’s degree. I will do a year of practicums; moreover, I want to take one out of Alaska and the rest in the region so I can experience different perspectives to help Alaskan Native people efficiently. My future goals are to provide healthcare services, food/drug safety, counseling, and environmental health care services. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to work for the Norton Sound Region. I won’t stop my education while I work; I will work towards my master’s degree. This way, I can achieve my goal of supporting my community and the state of Alaska. I also dream of making my own healthy/natural products for the human body and environment. After all, my minor is Holistic Health and Wellness, and I am really passionate about it. My goals will improve the health of Natives by providing many different avenues of Wellness Services. I will educate and guide Alaskan Natives and American Indians.
I have had support and challenges to help me to determine the future that I want to see. I am so grateful for the genuine love and support I get from family and friends. Every time I go back to my hometown for a short visit, I get proud smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement. Thinking about the next generations motivates me to set a great example that anything is possible through dedication. I hope my community will be encouraged to succeed the way I am, but in their own unique way. I know I can make all this happen by continuing to work hard and showing my resiliency. I believe our people have more potential. We are on our way, but we need more leaders; I really want to be one of them.
Can you share a memorable story from your past when you felt a relationship to the ocean or land?
One of my favorite memories is fishing for halibut in my hometown. I am blessed to experience camaraderie with some of my family during hunting seasons. My job included being a baiter and sometimes a puller. When you are a puller, It is more work as you have to pull up Halibut fish with a rope. While this required a lot of hard work, It was so fun and peaceful! Sometimes, the crew and I had to stay out in the Bering Sea Ocean for more than 8 hours, and I didn’t mind. Each catch was a great blessing to us. While on the boat, I’d feel the connection to the ocean, land, and mammals. The feeling of peace, hope, and fresh air hits you all at once. I felt uplifted, renewed, and protected.
When boating, the atmosphere and peace are different so I take time to reflect. I love the silence and the sound of water and birds it comes with. I also felt very spiritually connected with God and my Ancestors when I took a few hours spending time in nature. It feels as if being out in the ocean with people you love lets energy out that does not serve you. I believe being spiritually connected with the land and sea benefits one’s well-being. Being aware of moments is a beautiful thing and keeps you living in the moment. Especially when it is needed without you knowing it, it gives you power and strength. And sometimes, I can even imagine my ancestors telling me to be strong and reminding me of what I hold. All indigenous people are born with a fire inside them. We are still here and should continue to protect our ocean for us and the next generations.