Student Profile


Doyon is supporting my endeavor toward a career in the electrical field”

spencerA Doyon Foundation student pursuing his certificate in industrial electricity, Spencer Brown is scheduled to graduate from the Alaska Vocational Technical School (AVTEC) in June 2020. His parents are Nadene and Chad Brown; Nadene is from the McGrath area and Chad is from Anchorage. His maternal grandparents are Alice Verdene and Richard Anslement, both of the McGrath area.

Spencer has received a competitive scholarship awarded by Doyon Foundation. He is a 2019 high school graduate from Enlightium Academy and lives in Seward, where AVTEC is located.

Spencer understands the power of setting goals. “My plans for the next six months are to stay focused on school, work hard and finish at the top of my class,” he says. Beyond that, he’s eager to enter the workforce and keep learning.

“Doyon Foundation graciously offered to help support my endeavor,” Spencer says. His scholarship helped cover costs of tuition as well as tools needed for AVTEC classes. “Doyon helped me overcome this challenge.”

A tour of AVTEC introduced him to the range of topics covered in the industrial electricity certificate. Day-to-day homework involves Spencer in practical applications of mathematical principles and theory.

“I love that I’m able to figure out such things as superposition, sine waves and Thevenin and Norton equivalents,” he says. “Everything I learn has a reason and a purpose. It’s an incredibly interesting and diverse field.”

Graduates in industrial electricity are in demand as construction and maintenance electricians, controls technicians, and marine engineers, among other careers. AVTEC’s program attracts detail-oriented students who enjoy solving complex technical projects – a passion Spencer discovered when he was 14 and helped his father with a building project.

Spencer continues to value teamwork. “I’d say the most fun part of industrial electricity is the cooperation among my peers to complete various labs and projects,” he says. Among the most challenging tasks was memorizing complex diagrams and functions in a mathematical logic class.

Students in Spencer’s field demonstrate proficiency in circuit analysis, including an ability to design, build, test and troubleshoot circuits and devices. Industrial electricity classes involve physics; industrial safety and health; renewable power; and an understanding of the National Electrical Code for construction and maintenance projects.

Founded in 1969, AVTEC is the only career and technical education center for post-secondary students statewide. “I would absolutely recommend AVTEC to anyone interested in the trades,” Spencer says.

While his time away from studies is limited as graduation day approaches, Spencer says that taking a break helps. “I’m putting all my efforts into studying,” he says, “but I do allow myself downtime.” He enjoys reading, hiking, fishing and composing music.

Whenever the going gets tough, ask for help, whether it’s from family, peers or Him up above,” Spencer says. He encourages other students to get enough rest, eat healthy foods, and avoid drugs and alcohol.

“Respect your body,” he says. “The effort you put into your studies will determine how successful you are at them. You are accountable for your actions.”

Alyssa“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation”

 

An undergraduate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) scheduled to graduate with an associate degree in process technology in May 2020, Alyssa Sommer is the daughter of Fred Sommer, Jr. and Diane Evans-Sommer of Fairbanks. Alyssa’s maternal grandparents are Lily and Alfred “Dick” Evans of Galena. Her paternal grandparents are Dorothy and the late Fred Sommer, Sr. of Nulato.

Alyssa’s hometown is Fairbanks. She attends UAF with support from a Doyon Foundation competitive scholarship.

Among Alyssa’s lifelong ambitions has been to help run the Fort Wainwright power plant, where she has worked as a coal operator since August 2019. The plant is one of three units owned and operated since 2007 by Doyon Utilities LLC and supplying service to military sites in Alaska. Fairbanks-based Fort Wainwright is home to an electrical distribution system, a central heat and power plant, and a heat distribution system, among other services operated by Doyon Utilities.

Alyssa’s plans after graduation include advancing to boiler operations and controls at the power plant. Fort Wainwright is an Army installation that includes some 1,400 on-post housing units. Its civilian and military population totals about 11,000.

“I’m looking forward to learning and progressing,” says Alyssa, who enjoys tracing various boiler system components to gain greater insight into the unit overall. Daily tasks include unloading coal from rail cars; directing coal through the plant system; and inspecting equipment and hauling ash to the landfill. “From the first time I saw process technicians in action in 2011, I knew that was the job I wanted,” Alyssa says. She values the chance to work close to home and among welcoming coworkers.

“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation,” Alyssa says. “Doyon Foundation has helped me start the journey in my desired lifelong field.” In 2016 she earned a certificate in welding from UAF and an associate degree in diesel mechanics from the University of Alaska Southeast. In each semester she was awarded Doyon Foundation scholarships.

Attending school full-time while working a physically demanding full-time job has Alyssa managing a hectic schedule. “It’s quite important to me to get in family time whenever I can,” she says. Going for long drives, taking walks, swimming, cooking and going to the movies are among ways that she manages stress while enjoying family and friends.

“Time has its challenges,” she says. “I never quite feel prepared at times. But I push forward. I try not to beat myself up if I don’t get the grade I want or if I find I need to take a break for a day.”

Her advice to other students: Remember that stress can undermine focus that’s needed to do well in school. “Try not to stress,” Alyssa says. “Take a day to relax when needed.”

Meet more of our students! Check out our more student profiles on our blog. 

Learn more about Doyon Foundation and our scholarships on our website!

126_DLO Language Champion Promotion_FB-INI’m so proud of Doyon Foundation for its work with our languages”

Paul Mountain is the son of Josephine Rita (Nickoli) and Simeon Charley Mountain Senior. Paul’s maternal grandparents are Maria Catherine (K’elestemets) and Paul (Naakk’oos) Nickoli. His paternal grandparents are Vivian (Sipary) Peter and Cosmas Mountain. Cosmas’ parents are Charley and Mary Mountain.

Paul’s Alaska Native language is Denaakkenaage’, spoken by Koyukon Athabascan people of Nulato and Kaltag. He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1991, and holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics with a minor in Alaska Native languages. He is a past recipient of Doyon Foundation scholarships.

“I have always been intrigued by the use of language to communicate,” says Paul, who is tribal administrator for the Nulato Tribal Council.

Paul’s earliest memories include time spent with his grandmother, Maria Nikoli, who spoke only Koyukon Athabascan and helped him gain a good foundation for understanding the language. His mother, uncles and aunts were instrumental in teaching the language.

“The Koyukon language is so interesting,” Paul says. “There are so many different ways to express yourself without saying too much.” For instance, when someone says “emaa,” the word may translate as “ouch” or “it hurts.” The same word may be used today as an idiom, meaning “I feel bum.” For health care providers who may be unfamiliar with Koyukon, its flexibility can be frustrating, Paul says.

As in other languages, some Koyukon words fall out of use. “Songs were made in the past using words even the fluent speakers sometimes don’t understand fully. There’s a certain amount of poetic license on the part of the songmaker,” Paul says.

Connecting words to form sentences was an important step in advancing his fluency. “I think a lot of people know lots of words and what they mean, but what they lack is how to form complete sentences. Repetition was a really good way to learn,” he says.

To remain active in language learning, Paul takes part in a Native singing and dance group based in Nulato. The dance group is sponsored by Nulato Tribal Council in partnership with Andrew K. Demoski School. In his role as tribal administrator, Paul is supportive of a Nulato Tribal Council project to re-translate workbooks into the Lower Koyukon dialect. But as Native language speakers are being lost to old age, he knows that among the biggest challenges to language learning is a lack of people available to speak with and learn from.

“It’s really difficult,” he says. “I’m so proud of Doyon Foundation for its work with our languages.”

Paul plans to continue working with the Native dance group, which includes members as young as 8 years old, to develop their understanding of the meaning behind songs. “It’s so entertaining to help them,” he says. “I’d also like to help as they grow older and learn to make songs themselves.”

About Doyon Languages Online

Through the Doyon Language Online project, Doyon Foundation is developing introductory online lessons for Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (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 Language Champions

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.

 

118_People Promotion_Jayne_FB-IN

In honor of the 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Jayne Martin. A 2019 graduate who holds bachelor’s degrees in safety management and business management, Jayne earned Morris Thompson competitive scholarships awarded by Doyon Foundation. Her parents are Jean Martin of Clarion, Pennsylvania, and Jim Martin of Butler, Pennsylvania. Jayne’s hometown is Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Jayne is a graduate of Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. She lives in Virginia where she’s employed as a safety coordinator with Rosendin Electric, a design-build engineering company founded in 1919.

Doyon Foundation: Congratulations on your new job and earning two degrees in four years. How did Doyon Foundation help you achieve your goals?

Jayne Martin: The Foundation helped endlessly by awarding me with scholarships every semester. Without those scholarships, it would have been difficult to stay in school and earn two degrees in my four years.

DF: That’s a significant achievement.

JM: My biggest challenge was overcoming challenges that were new to me. But the greatest challenges and struggles in life bring you the greatest rewards. I learned that it’s important to be resilient and face challenges head on.

I would tell everyone to always remember that failure is a part of life. Failing is a learning opportunity that can make you stronger and better in the end.

DF: And beyond the classroom? How did you spend your time?

JM: I was part of a Relay for Life team representing my college majors. In my freshman year, I was a seminar peer leader. I’ve volunteered through my church and was a member of professional groups including Women in Safety Excellence and the American Society of Safety Professionals.

DF: Now that you’re settling into a new home and a new job what’s on the horizon for you?

JM: I plan to continue working for Rosendin and eventually earn credentials as an Associate Safety Professional and Certified Safety Professional. I want to become a safety manager one day.

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 earn college degrees. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic took place June 13 and 14 in Fairbanks.

A special thank you to all of our 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic sponsors, including our custom sponsors:

  • Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
  • Avalon Development Corporation
  • American Tire & Auto
  • Associated Pipe Line Contractors, Inc.
  • Avalon Development Corporation
  • B & H Promotions
  • Bruce Abbott & Helen Renfrew
  • Carlson Center
  • Chena Hot Springs Resort
  • Colville, Inc.
  • DW Grill & Catering
  • Explore Fairbanks
  • Chevrolet Buick GMC of Fairbanks
  • GCI
  • Great Harvest Bread Company
  • McCafferty’s, A Coffee House, Etc.
  • Moose’s Tooth/Bear Tooth
  • NOV Rig Technologies
  • Peppermill Reno
  • Salon Bella
  • Santina’s Flowers & Gifts
  • Sophie’s Station & Zach’s Restaurant
  • Spenard Roadhouse
  • Strategies 360
  • Street Sounds
  • Sunrise Bagel & Espresso
  • The Outpost
  • The Woodway
  • Westmark Fairbanks
  • Yukon Quest

Your support makes scholarships for students like Jayne possible! View all 2019 sponsors on our website.

To learn about future opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

118_People Promotion_Janelle_FB-INIn honor of the 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Janelle Solbos. A doctoral pharmacy student from Anchorage, Janelle is the daughter of Darrell Butler Jerue of Anvik and Carol H. Jerue of Portland, Oregon. Janelle’s paternal grandmother is Alta Jerue of Anvik.

Janelle attends the University Alaska Anchorage (UAA)-Idaho State University pharmacy program. She graduates in May 2020.

Doyon Foundation: Congratulations as you work toward a doctorate in pharmacy in a very competitive program at UAA. What does that fourth and final year of schooling hold for you?

Janelle Solbos: The fourth year is spent on rotations, learning from pharmacists in at least seven different settings. I’m poring myself into applying everything I’ve learned over the past three years to become a competent and caring pharmacist.

DF: Educating future pharmacists committed to remaining in Alaska is a key mission of your program. What are your plans as an Alaska pharmacist?

JS: I’m learning everything I can to serve Alaskans living in rural communities, especially places with limited connections to outside resources, a condition that’s true of many Alaska communities.

My husband and I have family living on Prince of Wales island in southeast Alaska. We hope to move there after pharmacy school.

DF: How did your interest in a pharmacy begin? Where has that interest taken you?

JS: Before enrolling in pharmacy school and for the first half of it, I worked as a pharmacy technician at two Anchorage hospitals. That’s where I was inspired to become a pharmacist.

I’ve held numerous student roles throughout pharmacy school. I was the first pharmacy student in Alaska to serve as a local chair of Operation Diabetes, a nationwide effort of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists to screen people at risk for diabetes.

I’ve also prepared and presented a drug utilization review, known as a DUR, for an Alaska Medical Assistance DUR committee meeting. These reviews are a quality-assurance measure. I also volunteer regularly as a Babies First Friend at neonatal and pediatric intensive care units at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Volunteering has been an incredible experience in meeting and supporting Alaska Native families.

DF: How have these efforts added to your program’s emphasis on educating pharmacists who serve as patient advocates?

JS: My volunteering and outreach activities are very valuable and rewarding. A desire to help Alaskans is the reason I decided I want to become a pharmacist and still want to be one.

My biggest challenge has been balancing my time and effort between outreach and volunteer work and extremely demanding coursework in the first years of pharmacy school. Support from Doyon Foundation and my family allowed me to spend time on both of these passions.

DF: How has Doyon Foundation helped you reach your goals?

JS: Foundation support meant that I could spend time establishing new roles on campus and becoming the first student in my program to hold a variety of positions with professional organizations in pharmacy.

Doyon Foundation generously supported my education so that I could limit my working hours to part time. That left time to study and pursue projects that supported my peers, community and learning.

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 earn college degrees. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic took place June 13 and 14 in Fairbanks.

A special thank you to all of our 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic sponsors, including our certificate level sponsors: Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, and Taiga Mining Company. Your support makes scholarships for students like Janelle possible! View all 2019 sponsors on our website.

To learn about future opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

118_People Promotion_Annie_FB-IN

In honor of the 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Annie Sanford. A University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) student from Tok, Annie is the daughter of Dewayne Carl Sanford and Lena Blair Sanford, both of Tok. Her paternal grandparents are Walter and Laura Sanford of Tanacross. Her maternal grandparents are Mary Jane Tom Tom Blair and William Blair, both of Snag, Yukon.

Annie is pursuing an associate degree in applied science in radiologic technology. She’s completing a summer internship for academic credit at Bassett Army Community Hospital in Fairbanks. She graduates in 2020.

Annie was the featured student speaker at the 2017 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic. The annual fundraiser benefits Doyon Foundation scholarships and honors the memory of the late Morris Thompson, who served as president and chief operating officer of Doyon, Limited.

Doyon Foundation: Your degree program at UAA is competitive — only about a third of students who apply are accepted. What are some challenges you’ve encountered?

Annie Sanford: The biggest challenge I faced during my education would have to be starting my practicum while taking radiology courses. The practicum is building my confidence and knowledge in healthcare, but it’s also a new experience that requires learning a new environment and working with a wide range of people.

Finding a balance between hands-on radiology while learning new coursework was difficult. I was able to keep a strong head on my shoulders and kept persevering with the support of family, friends and classmates. Their encouraging words and gestures constantly remind me of the wonderful work I’ll be able to do once I complete my program.

DF: And when you’re not focused on school?

AS: I spend time with family and friends or at the student recreation center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In April I volunteered at a conference of the Alaska Society of Radiologic Technologists. It was a good chance to meet people in my field and learn more about it.

DF: How did earning a Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded competitively by Doyon Foundation, help with your education?

AS: Education has always been part of who I am. Doyon Foundation provided enormous support, financially and through student events like a Navajo taco dinner. These gestures made gaining a higher education easier. I’m a full-time student and very much appreciate the Foundation’s efforts.

DF: You’ve mentioned that keeping a goal in sight helped relieve stress. That sounds like a success tip for other students.

AS: Yes. There’ll be times when you’ll feel overwhelmed with stress from school and life in general. That’s when it’s important to take time to surround yourself with positivity — whether that’s time with family and friends or just a day to relax.

I’ve learned that when you surround yourself with positivity, you’ll be reminded that feelings of stress are worth pushing through to reach your goal.

DF: What’s ahead for you?

AS: I’ll continue taking radiology courses in the 2019 – 2020 academic year while completing practicum hours around class time. I’m on track to graduate in May 2020. Once I’m certified as a radiologic technician, I hope to work at Tanana Valley Clinic or Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center in Fairbanks.

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 earn college degrees. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic took place June 13 and 14 in Fairbanks.
A special thank you to all of our 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic sponsors, including our hole sponsors: Alaska Communications, Alaska National Insurance Company, Chapman Capitol Consulting Inc., Doyon Board of Directors, Doyon Senior Management, Doyon Utilities, Great Northwest Inc., Hilcorp Alaska, LLC, Kent Dawson Company, Inc., Lynden International, Marsh | Wortham, NOV Rig Technologies, Northrim Bank, Owl Ridge Natural, Resource Consultants, Inc., Pearl Meyer, Stoel Rives LLP, Texas AGA, and Ultimate Software Group, Inc. Your support makes scholarships for students like Annie possible! View all 2019 sponsors on our website.

To learn about future opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details.

118_People Promotion_Megan_FB_INIn honor of the 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Megan Patsy. A graduate of AVTEC-Alaska’s Institute of Technology, Megan is the daughter of Donna Demoski and James Patsy, both of Nulato. Her maternal grandparents are Ida Demoski of Nulato and Glenn Demoski, Sr., of Anvik. Her paternal grandparents are Laurie Ralston of Nulato and Andrew Sommer of Galena.

Megan earned a Morris Thompson competitive scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation.

Her hometown is Nulato.

Megan Patsy is a step closer to her long-term plan of starting her own business since graduating in May 2019 with a certificate in administrative support. Attending school in Seward, where AVTEC has been located since 1968, prompted some homesickness.

“My biggest challenge was being so far from home,” Megan recalled. “What I did to overcome this was to remind myself that time away to attend school was just 10 months. I’d have years ahead to be at home.”

Megan’s plans include attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the fall.

She credits the Morris Thompson scholarship awarded by Doyon Foundation with helping her toward her lifetime goals.

“Education is the most important thing,” Megan 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 earn college degrees. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic took place June 13 and 14 in Fairbanks.

A special thank you to all of our 2019 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic sponsors, including our Associate level sponsors: Alaska Permanent Capital Management, BP, Council Tree Investors, Covington & Burling LLP, Holland America, KPMG, Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska, and Ravn Alaska. Your support makes scholarships for students like Megan possible! View all 2019 sponsors on our website.

To learn about future opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

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