Ethel Beck cutting fish, as seen in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeDpzAiG6XA

Thank you to our speakers, sisters Ruth Ridley and Ethel Beck, for sharing our August 2021 Native Word of the Month in Hän!

Ruth: Łuu gąyy nįdhänn? = Would you like some dry fish?

Ethel: Ą̈hą̈̀ʼ, łuu gąyy shëjèhtląą. = Yes, Iʼd like some dry fish.

For more translations, view our Native word of the month archives on the Foundation website.

We also invite you to access free online language-learning lessons by signing up for Doyon Languages Online! We currently have lessons available for Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Holikachuk and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), as well as a special set of Hän lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. All interested learners may sign up and access the courses at no charge – sign up today!

This year, Doyon Foundation is partnering with the Great Alaska Duck Race, which takes place in Anchorage on September 11. (Please note this duck race is separate from the Rubber Duckie Race in Fairbanks!)

The event is organized by Alaska EXCEL, a nonprofit providing educational opportunities to rural Alaska youth. For every duck we sell, Doyon Foundation will receive half of the proceeds, which will go to support our scholarship program. Visit our fundraising page to buy a duck and help us earn some bucks!

Duck race tickets range from $10 to $20, and the grand prize is $10,000! Last year, there were winners from all over the state. In fact, the $10,000 grand prize was won by a woman in Fairbanks! Only 12,000 tickets will be sold, so don’t wait – get your tickets today on our fundraising page, https://bit.ly/DoyonFoundationDuckRace.

$10 ticket prizes:

  • 1st place duck wins $5,000
  • 2nd place duck wins $500
  • 3rd place duck wins $250 

$20 ticket prizes:

  • GRAND PRIZE duck wins $10,000 
  • 2nd place duck wins $1,000
  • 3rd place duck wins $500

Winners don’t need to be present to win, but if you want to join in the fun, be at Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, September 11 at 11 a.m. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch the livestream on the race website!

We’re also looking for volunteers to help us meet our volunteer commitment as an event partner. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Selling duck race tickets at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, three-hour shift on a day of your choosing from August 20 to September 6, two volunteers needed
  • Tagging ducks at a TBA location in Anchorage, September 9, 3 – 7 p.m., at least one volunteer needed
  • Race set up or clean up, Ship Creek in Anchorage, September 11, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., at least one volunteer needed

If you are interested in volunteering, please call 907.459.2048 or email foundation@doyon.com with your preferred date, time and any questions.

Thank you for your support. Go buy a duck – and good luck!

‘If you’re interested in learning your language, then begin today’

A speaker and instructor of Gwich’in at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), Hishinlai’ Peter is the daughter of Katherine Peter of Stevens Village and Steven Peter of Arctic Village. Her grandparents are Soozan and Peter Shajol of Arctic Village. Hishinlai’s family includes her husband, Jeff Currey; daughters, Francine Kazenoff and Hannah Sikorski; and four grandchildren.

Hishinlai’ graduated from UAF where she earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics, a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction, and a doctorate in applied linguistics for her dissertation that explored the relationship between Gwich’in adult language learning and identity development. She lives in Fairbanks.

Hishinlai’ Peter’s commitment to Gwich’in is far reaching: From teaching the language to university students and working on a Gwich’in dictionary, to annotating traditional stories and providing translations for voting materials and to promote public health during the pandemic, Hishinlai’s work demonstrates the ways that language defines a person’s core.

“Language is the root of your identity,” she says. “If you’re interested in learning your language, then begin today. You don’t need a classroom or money. And you don’t need to sound perfect.”

A key figure in her own learning is Lillian Garnett, an Elder from Arctic Village and noted contributor to linguistic materials and story collections published in Gwich’in.

Gwich’in is among Arctic Indigenous languages in the Doyon region that are a focus of revitalization, including a series of online courses offered through Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project. In 2019, Hishinlai’ was a member of a Doyon Languages Online team that developed the Foundation’s online language-learning course in Gwich’in. The course is currently available for free to all interested language learners via the Doyon Foundation website.

Hishinlai’ is also a linguist who serves on the advisory board of Tanan Ch’at’oh, the language immersion nest in Fairbanks that enrolled a first group of toddlers 2021.

Hishinlai’ encourages students learning the language to let others know: “Learn how to say in the language, ‘Help me, how do we say….’ Let people know you’re trying.”

“Remember to stay positive,” she adds. “Use the humor that’s inherent in our cultures to learn or teach your language.” She advises students to find others who are at their fluency level and then learn together or to teach what they’ve already mastered.

Her plans include continuing to help children learn the language and developing course materials. When she started teaching at UAF in 2002, language courses were face to face before shifting to online in 2020 because of the virus pandemic. Hishinlai’ at first found it challenging to come up with interactive games to foster language learning. Students eventually worked together through worksheets, and Hishinlai’ developed card games for use in a student’s own environment. She went on to develop activities for teaching other languages, such as Yup’ik or Iñupiaq, that are not in the same language family as Dene.

A hurdle for many students whose first language is English is a tendency to default to English when attempting to speak in another language. Hishinlai’s advice to teachers: Keep speaking to students in the language without falling back on English. “Practice, determination and not being afraid to make mistakes are among the best learning techniques,” she says.

About Doyon Languages Online

Through the Doyon Language Online project, Doyon Foundation is developing introductory online lessons for Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Deg Xinag, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana).

The project officially launched in summer 2019 with the first four courses, now available for free to all interested learners.

Doyon Languages Online is funded by a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), awarded in 2016, and an additional three-year grant from the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP), awarded in 2017.

About the Language Champion Profile Series

As Doyon Foundation continues to grow our language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region, we believe it is important to recognize people who are committed to learning and perpetuating their ancestral language. We are pleased to share some of these “language champion” profiles with you.

If you know a language champion, please nominate him or her by contacting our language program director at haytona@doyon.com. Language champions may also complete our profile questionnaire here.

You may learn more about our language revitalization program on our website, or sign up to access the free Doyon Languages Online courses here.

More than $130,000 raised for scholarships at June 17 event

Doyon Foundation supporters came together to raise money for scholarships at the 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, which marked the 20th anniversary of the fundraiser.

After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, the event returned with strong support, including 116 golfers on 29 teams, more than 60 sponsors and more than 50 volunteers. The 2021 golf classic, held June 17 in Fairbanks, raised approximately $131,000 for the Morris Thompson competitive scholarship fund, named in memory of the late Morris Thompson, who served as president and CEO of Doyon, Limited from 1985 – 2000.

The 2021 golf classic took place at Chena Bend Golf Course on Fort Wainwright, where team 15 (Drew Mazzolini, Kirk Butcher, Andrew Honea and Paul Mazzolini) and team 30 (Connie Johnson, Martha Hanlon, Dee Liebl and Janette Smith) tied for first place.

The festivities continued at Pike’s Landing, where donors showed their generosity at the Fund the Future live donation event, and live and silent auctions, which featured items including a stay at Peppermill Resort, a Holland America cruise and a Denali getaway.

Attendees also heard from student speaker, Sheena Tanner, who graduated in December 2020 with her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Sheena shared how watching her mother obtain a degree inspired her own educational journey. “My mother graduated from UAF with her teaching degree when I was 8 years old,” she said. “Seeing the process firsthand of how beneficial an education is inspired me to earn my degree and start my career in a field that I am passionate about.”

Sheena took her time choosing her educational direction and completing her degrees. “I knew that my strengths were in organization and writing but I wasn’t ready to choose a degree program (after graduating high school),” she said. “I learned not to be impatient when it comes to my education and to assess my workload and move forward with what my schedule allowed.”

Her patience and persistence paid off, as Sheena now holds an Associate of Arts degree and a bachelor’s in criminal justice, in addition to her master’s degree. Doyon Foundation scholarships helped her along the way. “Because I was receiving a scholarship from Doyon Foundation, I used that as a driving force to get my work done, especially when the going got tough,” she said. “I would tell myself that I’m not just doing this for myself, I have others depending on me and others that have invested in me. It was a good reminder to keep moving forward.”

Today, Sheena encourages those around her to keep moving forward with their own education, including her niece, daughter and husband, who are all enrolled in programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“I’m so proud of my niece, daughter and husband, and especially thankful for Doyon Foundation and all of those who have contributed to the Foundation, as those contributions help to make educational goals possible,” Sheena said. “Education can lead to opportunities.”

The Foundation extends a special thank you to major sponsors KeyBank, Key Equipment Finance, Doyon Family of Companies and Council Tree Investors, as well as Robin Renfroe and Howie Thies, who celebrated 20 years of volunteering, and golfer Woody Wallis, who has participated in 19 of 20 golf classic events.

Since inception, proceeds from the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic have provided 214 scholarships totaling $556,180 to higher education students, including 2020 – 2021 recipients: Shane Derendoff, Cory LePore, Hannah Bagot, Andrianna Albert, and Calee Stark

The golf classic will return to a two-day format next year, with events taking place Thursday and Friday, June 23 and 24, 2022. Watch the Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com, for 2022 event information or contact 907.459.2000 or golf@doyon.com with questions. 

We’re giving away 20 laptops to Foundation students!

With the shift to virtual work, classes and social interaction over the past year, computer and online access is more important than ever. At Doyon Foundation, we know this can cause hardship for students who do not have easy access to these resources. 

In an effort to support our students in a comprehensive way, we are pleased to launch our computer gifting program! Thanks to the generosity of donors designDATA and the Google American Indian Network, we have a pool of Lenovo ThinkPads to gift to students at no cost, to help them succeed in their educational journeys.

To be eligible to receive a computer, applicants must:

  • Be enrolled to Doyon, Limited, or the child of an original enrollee.
  • Be accepted to an accredited college, university, technical or vocational school.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.0 (undergraduates), 3.0 (graduate/master’s) or 3.25 (specialists/doctorates).
  • Have applied or been awarded a Doyon Foundation scholarship in the past.

This program is need-based. Students who do not currently have access to a computer, and need one to pursue their educational goals, are invited to complete our online student computer need survey. Students who cannot access the online form may contact us at 907.459.2049 or scholarships@doyon.com and a Foundation staff member can complete the online form by proxy.

The deadline to complete the computer need survey is Friday, August 27, at 5 p.m. We will then review the submissions and eligible students will be entered into a random drawing to receive one of 20 Lenovo ThinkPads.

We will announce the computer recipients during our scholarship award recognition presentation, which will take place virtually on Friday, September 10. Watch the Foundation website and social media for more details on the event, or sign up for our email updates to receive the latest news.  

Remember – complete the computer need survey online by Friday, August 27, at 5 p.m. If you have questions or need help completing the form by proxy, contact us at 907.459.2049 or scholarships@doyon.com.

A University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) student graduating in 2021, Rebekah Hartman is the daughter of Michael and Angela Hartman. Her maternal grandparents are Alice and Rudy Demientieff of Holy Cross. Rebekah’s hometown is Wasilla. 

Two years ago, Doyon Foundation student Rebekah Hartman was the keynote speaker at a Foundation event, where she shared about her educational journey and how the Foundation scholarship program was helping her reach her goal of graduating from UAF with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in printmaking.

At the event, she met Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program, who shared that he was looking for artists to submit work for a book project being led by the Foundation. Fast-forward a year and Hartman just completed a series of illustrations that will be featured in the Foundation’s soon-to-be released Our Languages Everyday Activity Book, designed to help families incorporate Native language learning into their daily lives.

Rebekah Hartman’s art will be featured in Doyon Foundation’s upcoming Our Languages Everyday Activity Book

“I was interested to take on this project because working for Doyon Foundation is a great opportunity and it helps me feel more connected to my language,” Hartman says. “I hope my illustrations will help others too.”

Hartman credits the award-winning animated children’s program “Steven Universe” with helping set the course for her future. “Those are the types of shows I want to work on,” she says. The Cartoon Network adventure series tells the story of friends protecting their own kind in a fictionalized world. “Growing up, I did not really know anything about LGBTQ+ people — I thought they were strange. It was shows like ‘Steven Universe’ that made me realize I was wrong.”

“What attracts me to animation is that, first of all, it’s beautiful and second is the impact that animated stories can have,” Hartman says. “I want to work on stories that are meaningful and inclusive.”

An active volunteer focused on projects to benefit Alaska Native people, Hartman served as student club secretary of the Alaska Native Social Workers Association in the 2019 – 2020 school year. The UAF group’s purpose includes service to others and promoting awareness of Alaska Native cultures in the state. At the winter holidays, Hartman helped make greeting cards for the Fairbanks Native Association Elder Program. She has volunteered with First Alaskans Institute, an Anchorage-based public policy and research group, and with the Elders and Youth Conference sponsored by Alaska Federation of Natives.

One of the pieces Rebekah Hartman created for her fall BFA art show

Hartman hopes other students will be attentive to mental health, especially if interest in school or self-confidence starts to slip. “What I’ve found helpful to address these emotions is going to counseling,” she shares. “It helps clear my mind and to understand myself better.”

As part of her graduation requirements, Hartman will have her BFA art show this fall, from September 7 – 17 at UAF. “The title of my show is Dinayetr ‘Our Breath’: Deg Xinag Language Revitalization,” she says. “It is about helping people learn Deg Xinag through art. I think having a visual when learning a language helps.”

After graduating this fall, Hartman plans to attend art school to earn a master’s degree in animation. “I want to work on a show that includes Indigenous people,” she said. “We are constantly forgotten in television and when we are included, there are usually stereotypes.”

Among her favorite animated series is “Molly of Denali,” a first-of-its kind children’s show whose main character is an Alaska Native person. “My goal,” Hartman says, “is to create meaningful stories for people to watch.”

Keep an eye on the Foundation’s website and social media channels for upcoming announcements about the Our Languages Everyday Activity Book, featuring art by Hartman.

After more than a year of being unable to meet in person, Doyon Foundation hosted an ANEP Language Gathering in Tok in early June 2021.

The goal of the three-day gathering was to record audio for use in Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) and Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) courses being developed as part of the Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project.

The majority of the necessary audio files were recorded during the recent gathering. As next steps, the Foundation will arrange to bring language teams to Fairbanks to finish out the audio recordings and begin video recordings.

We thank the language gathering participants, including Glen Demit, Cora Demit, Verna Hagen, Irene Arnold, Polly Hyslop and Chance Shank, as well as volunteer Annastasia Johnson, for sharing their time and knowledge.

Once completed, the Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) and Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) courses will join the currently available Doyon Languages Online courses in Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) and Holikachuk, as well as a special Hän course based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. Additional courses in Hän, Deg Xinag and Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim) are also in development.

Doyon Languages Online courses are available for free to all interested learners who want to learn the endangered languages of the Doyon region. Learn more at www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

View our 2021 graduate yearbook!

Get to know the Doyon Foundation Class of 2021 in our interactive graduate yearbook, and help celebrate our 2021 graduates in our inspiring graduate video! The yearbook was just released on our website and the video just premiered on our YouTube channel.

This year, we celebrated more than 60 Doyon Foundation graduates from high school, certificate, associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs. We are so proud of their efforts and accomplishments, and are excited to introduce and celebrate them in this year’s graduate yearbook and video. Please watch and share!

If you have graduate information additions or corrections, please contact us at scholarships@doyon.com.

Watch our 2021 graduate video!

Photo courtesy of https://pixnio.com/fauna-animals/deers/moose-and-elk/aerial-photo-of-moose-in-river

Thank you to our speakers Steven Nikolai, Sr. and his grandson, Blake Nikolai, for sharing our July 2021 Native Word of the Month in Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim)!

Dineje = Moose

Dineje dot’anh? = What is the moose doing?

Dineje nok’ot miłdiłanh dighnoisdinh ts’e’ hits’tsa el’gotch’. = The moose was sleeping on the sandbar and got up and ran.

For more translations, view our Native word of the month archives on the Foundation website.

We also invite you to access free online language-learning lessons by signing up for Doyon Languages Online! We currently have lessons available for Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Holikachuk and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), as well as a special set of Hän lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. All interested learners may sign up and access the courses at no charge – sign up today!

“The smile on an Elder’s face when they hear you speak is the best motivation!”

Rochelle Adams

Shoozhrì’ Rochelle Adams oozhįį. Gwichyaa Zhee ts’à’ Tseeduu diink’eedhat. Shiyehghan naįį Angela Peter-Mayo ts’à’ Cliff Adams goovoozhrì’. Shahan Gwichyaa Zhee gwats’an nilįį ts’à’ Shitì’ Tseeduu gwats’an nilįį. Shigii naįį Amaya, Koso Naazhrii ts’à’ Łeeyadaakhan goovoozhrì’. Shalak naįį łyâa gwiintł’oo gooveet’ihthan. Diinan ts’à’ diichuu haa diigwandaii nilii! Nihłaa narilzhii nan vak’aiirinyaa. Chihłak tr’inlii! Mahsì’ choo Shalak naįį! It’ee.

Rochelle Adams is the daughter of Angela Peter-Mayo of Fort Yukon and the late Cliff Adams, Jr. of Beaver. Her maternal grandparents are the late Susie Lord Peter of Nenana and Fort Yukon and Johnny Peter, Sr. of Fort Yukon. Rochelle’s paternal grandparents are Hanna “Babe” Adams and the late Clifford Adams, Sr.

Rochelle’s children are Amaya, Koso and Leeyadaakhan. Her heritage language is Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in).

A member of Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization committee, Rochelle Adams is committed to language learning and teaching, especially in ways that involve art to develop materials and content. She serves as a cultural adviser to Molly of Denali, the award-winning animated PBS television series and the first children’s programming of its kind to feature an Alaska Native character in the title role.

Rochelle studied design at the Institute of American Indian Arts and holds a bachelor’s degree with a focus on Native art and languages from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). She is pursuing a master’s degree in applied linguistics at UAF with an emphasis on Native language education.

Rochelle is the Indigenous engagement director for Native Peoples Action, an Anchorage-based advocacy group whose mission is to align the knowledge, values and ways of being of Alaska Native people with regulatory and governing policies that affect daily life. She lives in Anchorage. 

Doyon Foundation: Congratulations on your work with Molly of Denali, recently renewed for a second season. How did the program find you? What does a cultural adviser like you do to help Molly be successful?

Rochelle Adams: I was invited to join as a cultural bearer because of my work in language and culture in my region and also statewide. In the beginning, the cultural advisors really shaped the world of Molly. We envisioned who she was and who her family and community were. Now we advise on all levels of production to tell authentic Alaska stories. We do this out of love and to carry our traditional values from our communities.

It’s exciting that children are growing up in a world where Molly, a young Alaska Native person, shares her stories and adventures. It really brings Indigenous people to the forefront. We get to reset some of those stereotypes and misconceptions. It means so much to me to be a part of this!

DF: Language learning and teaching seem like a natural extension of your upbringing in a traditional Athabascan lifestyle, following the Yukon River seasons of hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. Who comes to mind as you think about your own language learning?

RA: My grandfathers on both sides of my family were the strongest language speakers and then my grandparents before them. My parents were from the generation that did not speak the language, but they understood a lot. I’m also grateful to my bilingual teachers, including Mary Fields, when I was in grade school.

Language connects me to my people, my community, my place and my ancestors. It’s the tie that connects our long line of culture to a place. It’s our core.

DF: Learning from Elders is one of the things that heritage language learners say they really treasure. Why do you think that is?

RA: Speaking with Elders as often as I can is among the best techniques to learn the language. There’s nothing like the smile and look on an Elder’s face when they hear you speak! It’s the best motivation.

Practice in as many ways as I can has really helped me learn. Reading our stories and listening to recordings have really helped me. Finding every resource and being on this journey of teaching and learning have been so fulfilling.

DF: Readers will know you from your statewide efforts on language advocacy as an aspect of inclusion. To name just a few, you’ve helped to mobilize the Alaska Native vote, promote safety and getting vaccinated during the pandemic, and joined Indigenous-language efforts to see that the Census reaches Alaska Native people. And, in 2019, you helped lead a panel at a language-learning weekend sponsored by Doyon Foundation. How do these efforts fit into your commitment to the Gwich’in language?

RA: I advocate for the language in as many spaces as possible. I enjoy facilitating language panels that do translation and messaging for education purposes. I teach where I can and always find ways to learn.

I really love working with my home region of the Yukon Flats and building Gwich’in content with our local Elders, speakers, educators and language learners. Some of my projects with Elders center on art and traditional activities so that I may learn them and document them to pass on cultural knowledge. I love sharing these resources and uplifting the language in any way I can!

DF: What ideas do you have to practice the language?

RA: The biggest challenge has been to practice with fluent speakers, to use the language. I overcome this by speaking with my children. It’s a great way to teach what I know. And when you teach, you learn – one reinforces the other. I also use social media to practice with fluent speakers and knowledge holders. I use books, videos and audio, and I search out speakers for face-to-face practice.

I want to learn the original place names in Alaska and I ask a lot of questions. I do land acknowledgments that honor the original people whose lands I’m on. I seek the knowledge of place.

DF: You’re guided by an awareness that you’re an Elder in training. How does your commitment to language learning, teaching and advocacy fit in?

RA: I plan to share as I learn. I plan to continue all the work I’m doing now to help grow, support and encourage the next generation of language learners and teachers.

Language is a very important part of who we are and it’s also vital to the health and wellness of our lands and waters. Embedded in our language is an understanding of the need to be good stewards of our homes and all that live alongside us, our fish, bird and animal relatives.

About Doyon Languages Online

Through the Doyon Language Online project, Doyon Foundation is developing introductory online lessons for Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Deg Xinag, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana).

The project officially launched in summer 2019 with the first four courses, now available for free to all interested learners.

Doyon Languages Online is funded by a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), awarded in 2016, and an additional three-year grant from the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP), awarded in 2017.

About the Language Champion Profile Series

As Doyon Foundation continues to grow our language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region, we believe it is important to recognize people who are committed to learning and perpetuating their ancestral language. We are pleased to share some of these “language champion” profiles with you.

If you know a language champion, please nominate him or her by contacting our language program director at haytona@doyon.com. Language champions may also complete our profile questionnaire here.

You may learn more about our language revitalization program on our website, or sign up to access the free Doyon Languages Online courses here.

“Goals influence all of your decisions”

In honor of our 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another one of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Shane Derendoff. This is the last in our series of student profiles highlighting our 2020 – 2021 Morris Thompson students and honoring their hard work and achievements, leading up to the event on June 17. For 20 years, the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic has raised money for student scholarships while honoring the memory of inspirational Native leader, the late Morris Thompson.

A software developer based in North Pole, Shane Derendoff is the son of Cece Derendoff-Nollner and Francis Nollner, both of Huslia. His maternal grandparents are Angeline Happy and Richard Derendoff, both of Cutoff-Huslia. Cutoff, a flood-prone site, was established in the 1920s and eventually relocated to the area known today as Huslia.

Shane has served as president of the Doyon Foundation board and is a past director of the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center in Fairbanks. His hometown is the Koyukon Athabascan community of Huslia.

Shane Derendoff believes that setting goals for yourself — including goals that others may consider far-fetched — are a key to steady success.

“It never hurts to ask,” he said. “These goals influence all of your decisions from that point forward, most times subconsciously.” Pursuing higher education is among self-assigned goals he values, but he’s realistic about obstacles.

“My challenge has been to keep motivated, to keep pushing to completion,” he said. “Often it’s easier to just get a job and make a wage. But sticking to your educational goals will pay long-term dividends and raise your potential career ceiling.”

Shane earned a bachelor of science degree in 1998 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was a recipient of Doyon Foundation scholarships. Before enrolling in the master’s of business administration (MBA) program at Alaska Pacific University (APU), where his emphasis is information technology, he served as technical service manager at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and owned Koyukon Consulting. He anticipates graduating from APU in 2022.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Shane went on to volunteer for several years on the Doyon Foundation board. “I gained key nonprofit experience,” he said. “Once I started my MBA, Doyon Foundation has funded me each step of the way.”

Shane plans to continue working as a software developer while attending APU and then start a consulting practice after graduation. His interests are management and nonprofit and leadership training. He enjoys seeking out other professionals whose early-career experiences mesh with his own. And he makes time for traditional activities such as hunting, wood-cutting and helping Elders.

“Doyon Foundation has been a key part of my educational and professional background,” he said.

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students forward their education. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. The 20th annual golf classic will take place Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Fairbanks. To learn more, visit the Foundation website or contact golf@doyon.com.  

Congratulations to the 130 students who are receiving a total of $247,200 in scholarships for the summer 2021 semester! We are pleased to award 56 full-time basic scholarships and 74 part-time basic scholarships to students in a wide variety of programs, including certificate, associate, bachelor’s, graduate and vocational.

Students, your scholarship is on its way! Log in to your student account if you have questions about your scholarship status.

We’re busy processing our fall scholarship applications, so keep an eye out for an announcement of those awards this summer. Also, mark your calendar now for our next scholarship application deadline: November 15 is the deadline to apply for scholarships for the spring 2022 semester, and the online application will be available on our website starting in early August.

Learn more about our scholarships in our scholarship brochure, our vocational scholarship brochure and scholarship resource handbook. You can also read about some of our past and current recipients on our blog!

These scholarships are made possible through the generosity of our donors. See a list of last fiscal year’s donors on our website. If you’d like to get involved, we invite you to visit our website to learn about the different ways you can support the Foundation and our students. 

For more information or assistance, contact our scholarship program manager at 907.459.2048 or scholarships@doyon.com.

Boat launch in Tanacross

Thank you to our speakers Nellie Probert, Dollie Jonathan and Irene Arnold for sharing summer-themed translations in Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) for our June 2021 Native Word of the Month!

Sheen = Summer

Nellie: Sheen tah shaa xuns̲ųų. = I like summer.

Dollie: Sheen tah łuug ghah Dihthâad nits’indah. = In the summer we move to Mansfield for fishing.

Irene: Ą̂ą, sheen tah jêg ts’enehtsíik. = Yes, we pick berries in the summer.

For more translations, view our Native word of the month archives on the Foundation website.

We also invite you to access free online language-learning lessons by signing up for Doyon Languages Online! We currently have lessons available for HolikachukDenaakk’eBenhti Kenaga’ and Gwich’in, as well as a special set of Hän lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. All interested learners may sign up and access the courses at no charge – sign up today!

Doyon Foundation scholarships help me share diversity within health care-related discussions”

– Hannah Bagot

In honor of our upcoming 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another one of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Hannah Bagot. This is the latest in our series of student profiles highlighting our 2020 – 2021 Morris Thompson students and honoring their hard work and achievements, leading up to the event on June 17. For 20 years, the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic has raised money for student scholarships while honoring the memory of inspirational Native leader, the late Morris Thompson.

A graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hannah Bagot is the daughter of Michael and Helen Bagot. Hannah recently completed a master’s degree in health care administration and graduated in May 2021. Her hometown is Pleasanton, California.

Hannah recalls searching out college programs to find one that matched her goals. It’s a path familiar to many students on their way to a rewarding career.

“I explored other majors in health care but they never seemed to be the right fit,” Hannah said, adding that obstacles like these can feel like failure.

“But through volunteering, working and internships, I eventually came to find the right profession for me,” she said. Hannah has volunteered at hospitals in North Carolina and in Utah, where she worked with a physical fitness program for children with special needs.

“My biggest piece of advice for other students is to take opportunities and try new things even if they’re not in your scope of interest or field of study. Everything can be a learning experience,” she said.

“You never know where you will pick up new skills, meet new people, or discover new passions. Try not to compare yourself with others.”

Scholarships from Doyon Foundation have helped Hannah attend schools to gain professional and academic skills for success in health care. “Doyon Foundation has made it possible for me to pursue a graduate degree in a field I’m passionate about,” she said. “Doyon Foundation scholarships have given me the opportunity to share diversity within health care-related discussions.”

After her recent graduation in May 2021, Hannah’s plans include serving as the Health Policy and Management Fellow for Hoag Hospital and Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, California.

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students forward their education. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. The 20th annual golf classic will take place Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Fairbanks. There are still opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer; to learn more and get involved, visit the Foundation website or contact golf@doyon.com.  

“Doyon Foundation has made my dreams possible”

In honor of our upcoming 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another one of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Calee Stark. This is the latest in our series of student profiles highlighting our 2020 – 2021 Morris Thompson students and honoring their hard work and achievements, leading up to the event on June 17. For 20 years, the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic has raised money for student scholarships while honoring the memory of inspirational Native leader, the late Morris Thompson.

An undergraduate at the University of Washington (UW), Calee Stark is the daughter of Emily Pitka of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Wes Stark, raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Calee plans to study psychology with the goal of becoming a physician assistant following her graduation from UW in 2023. Her hometown is Fairbanks.

As a student with an interest in autism, Calee Stark believes that one of the best things about her career field – health care – is that it doesn’t yet have all the answers. “Many things remain unknown that we can one day hope to discover,” she says.

Calee traces her commitment to medicine after witnessing care extended to an uncle who was treated for cancer. “Watching the nurses and physicians attempt to do everything they could inspired me to want to improve the level of care in the future,” she shares.

Her short-term goal includes continuing her work as a certified nursing assistant at a Seattle nursing home and eventually serving her community as a physician assistant (PA) in hospitals. Working under a doctor’s supervision, PAs often are among the first medical staff that a patient meets. Physician assistants may examine and diagnose injury or illness, treat and educate patients, and prescribe medicine, among other primary care duties undertaken by doctors.

“Doyon Foundation has made my dreams of working in the medical field possible,” Calee says. “It allowed me to focus on my studies and not stress about how to afford my education. I’m beyond grateful for that.”

A member of organizations aimed at advancing the interests of Indigenous students, Calee belongs to First Nations at UW, an intertribal group focusing on culture and traditions, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Her future plans include taking part in a clinical internship with Apex Summer Camp through the UW Autism Center. The camp offers student interns a chance to gain research insight while it helps children build social and behavioral skills.

Calee, who graduated from high school in 2019, says that college students who encounter challenging courses may benefit from re-thinking what they’ve learned about learning: Strategies that served her well in high school were falling short at a competitive university that attracted other bright students.

“For a while I struggled to learn how to properly study,” she shares. “This was a challenge because I wasn’t used to asking for help.” She soon found on-campus sites for academic advising. Calee says she benefited from more efficient study habits as well as learning the rewards of asking for help. “That ended up being the solution to my problem,” she says.

Her advice to other students: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they may sound obvious.

“If you’re struggling in a class, acknowledge that but don’t let it continue for long,” she advises. “More opportunities started lining up for me when I started to ask questions.” That led her to realize that many people are willing to help: “Just ask!” 

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students forward their education. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. The 20th annual golf classic will take place Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Fairbanks. There are many opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer; to learn more and get involved, visit the Foundation website or contact golf@doyon.com.