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 it aligns with my commitment to our lands and the practices of my ancestors. While I did not know Caleb personally, I am familiar with his dedication to Arctic conservation, which I admire greatly. This program provides a means to contribute to Caleb’s legacy, and I am honored by this opportunity and challenge.
What does conservation mean to you? How do you engage with conservation at school and/or at home?
Conservation means preserving and protecting our land, waters, and air, which allows us to sustain our cultural practices. Coming from a subsistence-hunting family, I was raised to understand the importance of conserving our resources because it directly ensures food security and economic stability within our community. Passing on our traditional knowledge of the land while harvesting only what we need is the foundation of conservation efforts.
What are your future educational and career goals? What are the top three things that are moving you toward those goals?
Once I earn my bachelor’s degree in accounting, I plan to return to my hometown of Utqiaġvik. In the future, I hope to have a career that calls for me to utilize my financial skills while being able to advocate for my community and honor our Iñupiaq value Qiksiksrautiqaġniq Iñuuniaġvigmun (Respect for Nature).
My family, community, and culture are the top three influences that advance me toward my goals. My family has guided me to where I am and supported my academic career. Throughout my life, I have had support from many community members, who are now the motivation for me to give the same support to the youth in my hometown. Above all, my Iñupiaq culture has shaped me into who I am and continues to provide me guidance through our values.
Can you share a memorable story from your past when you felt a relationship to the ocean or land?
In my whaling community of Utqiaġvik, the ocean provides our most treasured subsistence food – bowhead whales. Since I was a little girl, I have spent many spring and fall days in my Aapa & Aaka’s (grandparent’s) home, learning our traditional ways of preparing and serving our season’s blessing for my community with the guidance of my aunties and cousins. My favorite memory is from 7th grade when my family’s crew caught a whale while I was still in school. I was so excited and restless throughout the rest of my classes that day, and once school was out I ran all the way over to my Aapa & Aaka’s house to help prepare the catch and serve my community. Whaling is one of my favorite aspects of my culture, and my conservation efforts are in hopes that our people can continue this practice throughout future generations.