Student Profile


Crystal Demientieff-Worl, Rico Demientieff-Worl, and Kyle Kaayak’w Demientieff-Worl are three siblings who share a dedication to the culture of Alaska Native people. Each earned Doyon Foundation scholarships. The siblings are committed to applying their college education to advance Native people.

Their parents are Beverly Demientieff and Rodney Worl. Their maternal grandparents are Alice and Rudy Demientieff; their paternal grandparents are Rosita Worl and Rodolfo Rodriguez. Their stepmother is Dawn Dinwoodie.

“Foundation scholarships helped so much,” says Rico. “To be competitive as a people, it’s so important that higher education be accessible to as many of our youth as possible.”

Rico and Crystal live in Juneau; Kyle lists his hometowns as Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau.

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Rico and his sister, Crystal, run Trickster Company.

Rico graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Today he and his sister, Crystal, run Trickster Company, an innovative graphic design and art gift shop in Juneau promoting Alaska Native creativity.

“I went to school in Philadelphia. It was a culture shock for a long time,” Rico says. “I missed being home with family, but I kept in mind that my culture and my family raised me up all my life. That’s where I got my strength. Having salmon strips and a bit of herring eggs really helped.”

So did being able to practice art that connected him to home, a pursuit he continues today through Trickster and serving on the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. After graduating from college, he worked as a cultural specialist with Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau and went on to help start the Institute’s art department, serving as its director for a few years before founding Trickster with Crystal.

“Trickster is on the right path,” Rico says. “We’d like to see it become a stable staple of modern indigenous design throughout Alaska.

“When I graduated from college, I thought I was next going to go to law school; I ended up finding my passion as a creative professional. The degree gave me perspective, a cross-cultural experience and an understanding of the Western world.

“Pursuing your passion, wherever you find it, is powerful,” Rico says. “It’s important for Native people across Alaska. We row together.”

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Crystal Demientieff-Worl

A 2013 graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Crystal holds a bachelor’s of fine arts in studio arts with an emphasis in jewelry metalsmithing. “Financial support and encouragement from the Foundation helped me advance,” she says.

“I’ve worked various jobs – as a barista, as a college campus recruiter, in student activities. Today I’m proud to say I’m my own boss! Starting Trickster Company with my brother, Rico, allows us to accomplish several goals, including engaging our community through art, education, entrepreneurship and social justice.”

Leaving Alaska for college was among her biggest challenges: “I’m very close to my home, our ancestors’ foods, and my family. But the education and connections I gained were well worth it. Being away strengthened my bond to my family’s history and the stories they passed on to me.”

Her plans include earning a master’s in fine arts in Northwest coast arts and culture. “I want to open more shops and engage with more emerging artists,” Crystal says. “And I want to travel the world, sharing my artwork and the stories of Alaska Native artists, especially indigenous women.”

Her advice to other Foundation scholarship students: “Make your ancestors proud! Remember who they were and what they survived so that you could have choices.”

Kyle Worl

Kyle Demientieff-Worl

Foundation scholarships allowed Kyle to attend school full-time and pursue his commitment to advocating for Tlingit, his Alaska Native language.

“I changed my major several times,” he recalls. He eventually chose a degree that stems from his passions – to speak Tlingit fluently, teach the language, and help with language revitalization.

Kyle believes in volunteering. During his years at the University of Alaska Anchorage, he served as treasurer, co-chair and president of the Native Student Council. He’s been involved as a coach or official with Native Youth Olympics and attended the Arctic Winter Games and the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics as an athlete. He recently coached the Anchorage team competing in the Native Youth Olympics. He trained daily for the 2017 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, which took place in July in Fairbanks.

Kyle regularly visits schools and holds workshops to encourage Alaska Native youth to take part in the Native games. He credits his time with Native Student Council for helping him gain leadership ability as well as insight into the importance of his education to foster positive change.

His advice for success in college: Be involved with your campus and community. “I felt a greater purpose in my education by volunteering and working with various Native organizations,” he says.

Three women – each of them helped by Doyon Foundation scholarships – earned doctorates in 2017, demonstrating their commitment to lifelong learning and the sustaining powers of heritage. The Foundation is honored to have helped them along their path to graduation.

“Our three Ph.D. graduates this year are inspiring role models and incredible assets for our state,” says Doris Miller, the Foundation’s executive director. “There are many needs and opportunities in our region, and we are pleased to play a part in growing our own to fill these roles. We at Doyon Foundation are honored to support our past, present and future students, and we are proud of each and every one of them.”

Anna Sappah: “Discipline is simply remembering the goal”

Anna’s birth parents are Margaret Aucoin Meseck of Chignik and Donald Meseck. Her maternal grandmother is Katie Andre of Chignik. Anna’s adopted parents are Joseph and Agnes Deer. Joseph was from Chevak; Agnes was the daughter of Olivia and Andrew Johnson of Holy Cross. Anna’s hometown is Anchorage. 

Anna“I’m a passionate advocate for addiction treatment and recovery services,” says Anna. She graduated in April 2017 with a doctorate in psychology from Alaska Pacific University.

A longtime employee and volunteer in the behavioral health field, Anna’s policy and advocacy work focuses on people confronting both substance abuse and mental health disorders. She held a graduate student scholarship awarded by the Foundation.

“Work-life balance was the most difficult challenge while I was a full-time student,” she recalls. “Staying grounded in my family and culture helped.”

Anna is a clinical supervisor at Alaska Wisdom Recovery, an Anchorage-based center for substance use disorder and mental health treatment. Her plans include continuing in her current position, working toward certification as a licensed professional counselor, and eventually becoming a university professor focusing on addiction studies.

Anna believes in self-care that includes managing time and priorities: “I adore spending time with our four kids and 14 grandchildren.” She dances and sings with the Northern Lights Intertribal Pow Wow Drum and enjoys beading, berry picking, gardening, and fishing with a family business, Sappah and Son Guide Service. She’s active with local recovery groups.

Her advice to other students: Take time to take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Talk to others if you’re feeling overwhelmed and follow your course syllabus like a roadmap to success: “Discipline is simply remembering the goal.”

Charleen Fisher: “Always strive for your dreams!”

Charleen’s parents are Margaret Ann Fisher of Beaver and the Rev. Scott O. Fisher of Falls Church, Virginia. Her maternal grandparents are Charlotte and Salvin Adams; her paternal grandparents are Kitson and John R. Fisher. Charleen is a member of the Foss family of Iliamna and Pedro Bay. Her family includes her husband, Darrel Salmon; daughters Shelby, Julia, Allyson and Shani; and grandson Hunter. Her hometown is Beaver. 

CharleenOn track to graduate in August, Charleen is pursuing a doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Her discipline aims to reframe, reclaim and revitalize Indigenous knowledge systems. “It’s a new field that researches our own rich, beautiful cultures and documents them properly without bias,” Charleen says. In May, she earned an education leadership certificate from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Her Ph.D. path was a long one, Charleen recalls. She taught in K-12 schools for more than 10 years and spent nine years as a principal/teacher. Remaining committed to her doctorate and leadership credential meant choosing part-time work and giving up full-time positions that she enjoyed – a disruption, she says, that both she and her family learned to accommodate. She has held several positions with the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, where she works today as director of the Native American Career and Technical Education Program.

Charleen credits the Foundation with providing scholarship help so that she could achieve her education goals. She also encourages students to apply for funding that helps them present their work at conferences, as she did while at UAF. When she’s not focused on school, she enjoys time with family, including her grandson, Hunter. “Always strive for your dreams!” she says.

LaVerne Demientieff: “It was comforting to know I could rely on Doyon Foundation”

LaVerne Demientieff is the daughter of the late Rudy and Alice (Frank) Demientieff of Holy Cross and Anvik; she is the granddaughter of Stanley Demientieff and Edith Bifelt, and Joe Frank and Marcia Reed. LaVerne was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Nenana and Anchorage.

LaVerne_Bio_PicA single parent who worked throughout college, LaVerne received Foundation scholarships leading to a doctorate in social work in 2017 from the University of Utah. “The financial support went a long way,” she says. “It was comforting to know I could rely on Doyon Foundation to help when I needed it.”

LaVerne, who is among the Foundation’s board of directors, believes that learning is healing. “Remember who you are and be who you are in all the different situations you find yourself in,” she advises. “Build relationships with peers, instructors and staff along the way. You never know what door those relationships might open for you.”

LaVerne is a clinical associate professor in social work at UAF, where she has taught since 2006. Earning her doctorate brought to mind the many faces of family and friends who over the years encouraged her or helped emotionally and financially.

“I’m grateful to each and every one,” she says. “No one succeeds alone. Raising my son and being so busy was a challenge. He sacrificed just as much as I did so that I could earn my degrees. I believe we did this together.”

LaVerne enjoys walking, hiking, fishing and berry picking with family and friends. Her plans include becoming fluent in her Athabascan language, Deg Xinag, and continuing to focus on wellness and healing efforts with Alaska Native communities. Her research interests are language, wellness, healing and trauma. She is UAF faculty adviser to the Alaska Native Social Work Association and a member of the language revitalization committee of the Doyon Foundation board. “I’m honored and grateful to be able to give back to my community and people,” she says.

The Doyon Foundation 2017 Graduate Yearbook is now available on the Foundation website!

2017 grad yearbook collagePacked with photos and profiles, the yearbook celebrates our 2017 graduates including:

  • 1 pre-school
  • 36 high school
  • 3 certificates
  • 22 associate’s degrees
  • 19 bachelor’s degrees
  • 5 master’s degrees
  • And 3 doctorate degrees!

Download your copy of the 2017 Graduate Yearbook now!

Have an addition or correction? Please send them to foundation@doyon.com or call 907.459.2048.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Annie Sanford’s parents are Lena Blair Sanford and Dewayne Sanford, both from Tok. Her maternal grandparents are Mary Tom Tom Blair and William Blair of Snag, Yukon, Canada; her paternal grandparents are Laura Isaac Sanford of Tanacross and Walter Sanford of Chistochina. Annie’s hometown is Tok.

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“Normally I don’t volunteer myself to give speeches, but I felt it was important to express how important of a role Doyon Foundation has played in my higher education,” Annie shares as she takes the stage as the student speaker at Doyon Foundation’s Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic Calcutta reception in June. The annual golf classic raises money for the Morris Thompson Scholarship Fund, which honors the memory of the late Morris Thompson and awards scholarships to students exhibiting leadership, integrity and a commitment to excellence.

“There is a lot to take into account when it comes to higher education, and Doyon Foundation has helped take the financial burden off of my shoulders,” Annie explains. “I feel like Doyon Foundation is a third proud parent in my pursuit of a higher education. They stay involved, they provide encouragement, and they are genuinely happy to witness my educational journey.”

“I want to thank Doyon Foundation and their sponsors for supporting not only me but students across Alaska pursuing our educational dreams,” Annie concludes. See the full video of her speech on the Foundation YouTube channel.

Annie is a University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) student who plans to complete her associate’s degree and join the university’s radiologic technology program in 2018. It’s a competitive process; only a half-dozen or so of the top students are selected to enroll each year. “I’m improving every aspect of my application to be among the top six or seven,” she says.

Her goals including graduating from the radiologic technology program in 2020 and pursuing her career in Fairbanks. “I want to work to give back to the community that has given me so much,” says Annie, who hopes to work at the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Clinic or Fairbanks Memorial Hospital before continuing her studies to become an ultrasound technologist.

“Early on, in high school, I knew I wanted to help people medically and not just from your typical office cubicle,” Annie recalls. After high school, while she was trying to figure out what to do, it was a coworker who inspired Annie to go into radiology.

“Due to radiology not being commonly talked about, I wish to mentor future students who want to pursue radiology because I know I would have liked to have someone to talk to who already went through the process and could answer my questions,” she says.

For now, Annie advises other students to stay organized and keep motivated. “Using a planner and whiteboard are essential,” she says. “I highly recommend them.”

Kaylen’s mother is Shari Rempp, whose parents are Glenn and Marjorie Buss. Kaylen’s father is Chris Demientieff, whose parents are Rudy and Alice Demientieff. Kaylen’s hometown is Anchorage.

Kaylen“The greatest challenge I had in going back to school was supporting myself financially,” Kaylen says. A member of the 2017 graduating class of Colorado Mesa University, Kaylen met financial challenges by competing for scholarships, including the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship through Doyon Foundation.

“Doyon Foundation helped me to graduate,” she says. Foundation support helped with tuition as well as day-to-day expenses like rent. Because of the Foundation, she says, “I’m one step closer to becoming debt free.”

Named for the late president and chief executive of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $400,000 over the years to students like Kaylen who share his commitment to excellence, leadership and integrity. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, starting tomorrow, is the Foundation’s largest fundraiser to benefit these scholarships.

“I devoted my time to working hard and studying,” says Kaylen, who held a job while going to school. She studied radiologic technology and plans to work toward mammography certification. Her goals include becoming a traveling mammography technologist. She graduated in May.

“College can be overwhelming, especially if you must work outside of school. I spent my free time hiking and sewing. It’s important to stay focused and work hard, but remember to have fun!”

 

Jessica’s parents are the late Catherine Maki and the late Gordon Ruck; her grandparents are Nancy (Senungetuk) Felton, of Wales and Nome, and the late Willard Felton. Jessica’s hometown is Anchorage.

Jessica“Without Doyon Foundation’s support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Jessica, a doctoral student in social welfare at the University of Washington. Doyon Foundation scholarships, including the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship, helped her pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my educational successes,” she says. In addition to completing research, writing and exams that will precede her dissertation, Jessica reviews journal articles in her field and advocates for social welfare policy. She volunteers in her children’s school, offers guest lectures at UW and the University of Alaska Anchorage, and plans to resume a role with the Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity. She also serves as a co-president of the Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars.

“The stress of multiple demands can become overwhelming,” she acknowledges. “I’ve had to learn to limit what I take on.” Her advice to other students: Remember that persevering to Graduation Day takes more than going to class and cranking out papers.

“Do what brings you internal happiness and satisfaction, help others, always tend to your relationships. Stay connected to who you are and where you come from. Forgive. And always do the best you can.”

Named for the late president and chief executive of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $400,000 over the years to students like Jessica who share his commitment to excellence, leadership and integrity. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic held in June is the Foundation’s largest fundraiser to benefit these scholarships.

 

Jarynn’s parents are Lucille Stickman and the late John Cunningham II. Her maternal grandparents are the late Jessie Stickman and the late Donald Stickman; her paternal grandparents are Betty Cunningham and the late John Cunningham. Jarynn’s hometown is Palmer.

JarynnJarynn is a May 2017 graduate of Minnesota-based Century College, where she earned an associate’s degree in computer science. Her plans include enrolling in the fall in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

She says that being awarded a Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship through Doyon Foundation demonstrated that the Foundation is as supportive as family when it comes to seeing college students succeed: “The Foundation gave me the opportunity to fully invest my time into my education. I am very thankful.”

Named for the late president and chief executive of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $400,000 over the years to students like Jarynn who share his commitment to excellence, leadership and integrity. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic held in June is the Foundation’s largest fundraiser to benefit these scholarships.

Jarynn’s long-term plans include completing her bachelor’s degree in two years and then working in software development. She advises others to maintain perspective when it comes to potential setbacks on the way to earning a college degree.

“Our education journeys may seem daunting at first. But all our efforts will pay off in the long run. We’ll become a better version of ourselves,” she says.

Among her biggest challenges: Recognizing when it’s time to ask for emotional or academic support.

“I’ve learned that struggling is nothing to be ashamed of,” Jarynn says. “It’s OK to reach out for help. Balancing your priorities – school, work, family, health – is the key to being successful.”

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