Student Profile


melody-hoffmanMelody Hoffman, daughter of Ronald and Cathleen Hoffman, and granddaughter of Mary Demientieff of Holy Cross, Alaska, has a lot to offer her community. As a mother and Doyon Foundation student, Melody juggles her family commitments with her daily workload at Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) as an operations support staff supervisor in Bethel, Alaska. There, she works with all of the village clinics that YKHC serves in the Yukon-Delta region.

“We are the ‘go-to’ employees for any questions they need to help serve them remotely,” explains Melody.

“My plan is to keep growing with the corporation and to become an advocate for not only our patients, but for our nursing staff too,” says Melody, who balances parenting and a class load at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “I received my acceptance letter from UAA (University of Alaska Anchorage) for the next nursing cohort that starts in January 2017 that is offered in Bethel. I plan to work at YKHC until December 2016 and when my nursing classes begin I plan to concentrate solely on my nursing classes and my children.” Melody has two children, Ronald, age 7, and Christian, age 2.

Her biggest challenge while pursuing higher education has been balancing her personal life, work life and educational life. “I have learned to manage my time effectively,” Melody shares. “My main priorities are my family and to succeed in any of my projects that are given to me at work and to work tirelessly on my college classes.”

Doyon Foundation has been an integral part of Melody’s success. “With Doyon Foundation’s support I am able to continue my education without the added stress of finding my own funds to pursue my educational dreams. This really shows that Doyon Foundation cares and supports our shareholders to become successful and to give back to our people. Thank you, Doyon Foundation!”

In addition to pursuing her educational goals and raising a family, Melody also contributes to her community. “I am a graduate from one of the Native management programs offered by YKHC and have moved into a leadership role because of the Alaska Native Development Pillar.”

Melody hopes that her educational achievements will be beneficial to not only her family, but her community as well. “In the end, it will be all worth it and I will be able to give back to my community in being an advocate for our people and to provide and be a great role model to my children.”

She attributes her success to time management and constantly having a source of motivation: her kids and family. “To all the parents out there who have dreams to get a college education, it is possible to raise our kids and work hard to get a college degree,” she says.

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Help Doyon Foundation support students like Melody – Pick. Click. Give. to Doyon Foundation when you fill out your 2017 PFD application!

noahNoah Lovell, born in Fairbanks, Alaska, is the son of Sallie and Patrick Lovell, and the grandson of Lillian J. Evans and Joseph W. Burns. He is currently enrolled as a freshman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks pursuing a degree in business administration with a minor in Japanese.

Since the age of 15, Noah has worked as a Native tour guide on the Riverboat Discovery, where he shares how Alaska Natives have lived for generations. Noah, who is Japanese and Alaska Native, says he has always had an interest in cultures, particularly his own. He has been able to experience both cultures, growing up in Alaska and traveling to Japan on a summer exchange in high school.

Noah also enjoys stories from his father about his youth and his grandmother about their indigenous heritage. “I love going to different cultural events, listening to elders sing and dance, as well as being active in the festivities myself,” he says. “Surrounding yourself in a community of strong people is the best thing for anyone, and I’m happy our Alaska Native community is as strong as it is.”

As a Doyon Foundation fall 2016 Competitive Committee Choice scholarship recipient, Noah says, “The Foundation has helped me financially to further my education and has been instrumental with connecting me with others in the community. It’s shown me that there are groups and organizations that can help Native students achieve their goals.”

Choosing a major has been one of the biggest challenges Noah has faced in college so far. “College catapults you into the workforce and picking the right major that suits you and your interests is very important,” he says, adding that he overcame this challenge by reviewing his options and personal strengths before picking a field that was right for him. “I chose business because it’s a strong field and allows people to understand the business side of the world around us as well as enabling me to possibly start my own business.”

Speaking to his fellow students, Noah says, “Realize that success is for everyone, and never forget where you came from. Wherever you go in life, always take with you a strong work ethic, dedication towards your goals, and a willingness to learn new things.”

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Help Doyon Foundation support students like Noah – Pick. Click. Give. to Doyon Foundation when you fill out your 2017 PFD application!

Aubrielle Champagne, of Tok, Alaska, is the daughter of Karla and Shawn Champagne, and the granddaughter of Ted Charles and Darlene Summar, and Ray and Linda Champagne.

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The Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient has been playing hockey since she was 5 years old. Then, during her freshman year of high school, everything changed. Aubrielle was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal. She underwent five brain surgeries, contracted meningitis – and almost died. When she recovered, her doctors told her she should never play hockey again.

Instead, Aubrielle worked hard toward gaining full mobility and getting back on the ice. She exceeded expectations and today is a goalie on the hockey team at the University of Wisconsin Superior (UWS), where she is working toward her bachelor’s degree in biology.

“I am working hard to fight the pain Chiari has brought me and I continue to get mentally and physically stronger. If it wasn’t for God’s miracles, I wouldn’t be alive today and I am thankful. Even though the pain never ends, I fight for the game I love,” she says, adding that giving up has never been an option, and that when she can no longer play she will coach. “Hockey has opened my mind to new possibilities and I am forever grateful.”

While school and hockey are central in Aubrielle’s life, she also finds time for other activities. In the summer, she volunteers for Hockey Ministries International to help coach their youth hockey players in Alaska. This past summer she was also a biology volunteer at Tetlin Wildlife Refuge. She also enjoys photography.

After everything she has experienced and overcome, Aubrielle says she has much to be grateful for, including Doyon Foundation’s support. “Doyon Foundation helped me achieve my dreams as a student athlete. Without Doyon Foundation, I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “I also would like to thank anyone who has helped me throughout the years, and my friends and family for showing me love and compassion and teaching me to never lose hope.”

Speaking from experience, Aubrielle now encourages others to have hope. “Believe in yourself and no matter what, don’t give up on your dreams,” she says.

pcg-logo-fb-profileHelp Doyon Foundation support students like Aubrielle – Pick. Click. Give. to Doyon Foundation when you fill out your 2017 PFD application!

 

Sharing Language through Children’s Books

As Doyon Foundation continues to grow our language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region, we are noticing a group of people who are committed and dedicating their own time 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 contact our language program director at haytona@doyon.com. You may also learn more about our language revitalization program on our website.

jamie-traillLanguage revitalization is important to Jamie Marunde. “Our Upper Tanana ways of life are changing so much and one part of our culture that we can always have and share is our language. It’s also a lot of fun to learn and practice,” said Jamie, who is the daughter of Glen and Cherie Marunde of Northway, Alaska. She lived in Northway for 19 years and has spent the past 10 years between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Jamie is a former Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient, receiving support for her associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and MBA. She currently works at Doyon, Limited as the operations manager, and is also the chair of Northway Natives, Inc., where she is the youngest elected member.

Earlier this year, Jamie was one of 13 Alaskans honored with a 2016 First Lady Volunteer of the Year Award. She was selected for the prestigious award because she has been a role model for young people in her village by living a healthy lifestyle, pursuing a higher education, and being committed to her culture and language.

Among her many activities, Jamie and her mom are leading an effort to create children’s books using the Upper Tanana Athabascan language. Upper Tanana Athabascan is spoken mainly in the Alaska villages of Northway, Tetlin and Tok, but has a small population also across the border in Canada. The indigenous name for the language is Nee’aaneegn’. The language is one of the 10 endangered Native languages in the Doyon region. Learn more about these languages and efforts to revitalize them on the Foundation website.

“My mom wanted to start making the books for her grandson and was translating our Upper Tanana words under English words in English books already,” Jamie said. “We came up with the idea to create our own Athabascan books for our own Athabascan youth.”

Jamie’s mom writes the words and double checks everything with Elders and other fluent speakers to make sure it is accurate. The village youth draw or color the pictures. Jamie then takes all of their work and inputs it into online software to create the book.

To date, they have created nine books, with seven readily available to purchase online at www.blurb.com/user/jamiem907. Book topics include counting from 1 – 10, body parts, common phrases, animals, bugs and weather. Future book ideas include fishing terms and family titles. Jamie said they plan to continue making as many books as possible and, in the future, would like to develop an Upper Tanana language app.

“Our goal is to create quality materials that are fun and teach our language,” Jamie said. “We are also trying to capture as many words as we can that aren’t in existing dictionaries while we have that opportunity.”

Helena Marie Jacobs is the daughter of Dee Olin and David Hoffman, and the Helena Jacobsgranddaughter of the late Lillian and Fred Olin, the late Lorraine and John Honea, and the late Helen and George Hoffman. Born in Fairbanks, and with family roots in Ruby, Alaska, Helena now owns a consulting business in Anchorage, Alaska. She has spent over 10 years working to support leadership development, capacity building and the pursuit of higher education.

Helena received bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and Spanish from Willamette University, where she graduated cum laude, and with honors from the Spanish department. She then continued her education by receiving a master’s in public policy from UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.

Helena, who received both basic and competitive scholarships, says Doyon Foundation helped her financially throughout her academic career. “The Foundation offers financial support, and an invitation to join a community of supporters and cheerleaders. It is invested in promoting the well-being of our people through educational advancement and connection to culture and language,” she says.

During graduate school, Helena shares that she “wanted to quit every midterm period. So once about every two or three months, I would secretly work on an exit strategy to leave my school in California and move back home to Alaska.”

While she did end up taking a semester off, Helena returned to successfully finish her studies. “Looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t allow myself to quit. Two years of homesickness feels like a drop in the bucket now compared to all the opportunity, open doors and relationships I have because of it,” she says.

Helena encourages other students who are struggling to plug into the community that the Foundation provides. “Reaching out and investing in just one extra relationship with someone who can help provide you perspective and support when you need it most can be one of the most valuable things to help you reach your goals,” she says.

Today, Helena stays busy running her business and raising five children ranging in age from 1 to 15 alongside her husband, Torin. She stays involved in her community as a RurAL CAP Alaska Native youth success resource basket advisory group member, and a hero donor for Blood Bank of Alaska.

She is also a part of the Doyon Foundation Alumni Association, and volunteers her time reviewing students’ scholarship essays before submission. Helena also serves on the Foundation’s board of directors, and supports the Foundation as a Nee Ts’ee Neeyh (We All Give or Help) donor.

Doyon Foundation student Nicole Smith, daughter of Nancy and John Smith, and granddaughter of Elsie Smith, and Anita and Michael Bolton, aspires to become a marketing manager in a large corporation or to start her own business. From Dexter, New York, Nicole will begin at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego in the fall and study marketing.Nicole Smith

Along with looking for internships, “my plan is to cheer at Oswego State. I have cheered since I was 9 years old. I have always loved the sport and cannot wait to continue my career in college,” says Nicole, who was also on a lacrosse team throughout high school.

Nicole says her biggest challenge to overcome has been transitioning into college life, especially “leaving the only home I have ever known. Leaving my family will certainly not be easy, but I know we can do it.”

Fostering a close relationship with her father, a firefighter, Nicole volunteered at the fire department in her community as a junior firefighter. She had the opportunity to go on calls, help get equipment and learn more by attending a weekly training class.

“My father, also enrolled in the Nenana tribe, is a firefighter and that always inspired me to help people like he does and to be just like him,” Nicole says.

Eager to start her college career, Nicole says, “Doyon Foundation has been so helpful as they have been there by giving me the opportunity to apply for scholarships to help me as I advance to higher education; they are great supporters.”

To supplement her scholarship, Nicole also plans to enroll in a work-study program to help pay for her tuition.

Her advice to current and future students is to “never give up. I just graduated high school and this is my time to shine. Show the world, your school, your family what you can do. If you choose to attend college, do your best and never give up.”

Nicole plans to join clubs at college, and encourages others to “always push for the stars whether it’s school, work, clubs, sports or just simply meeting new people! Push as hard as you can with everything you do. Go for your dreams!”

Doyon Foundation student Christina Edwin is the daughter of Christine Edwin and Greg Hoffman, and the granddaughter of Flora McCoy and Steve Feltch, and Virginia Wells and Donald Hoffman. From Anchorage, Alaska, Christina expects to graduate in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in rural development and a minor in Alaska Native languages from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).Christina Edwin

In the fall Christina will start her junior year at UAF, where she will focus on maintaining a high GPA and return to her role as president of the Native Student Union. “We are a Native student lead club on campus. I look forward to organizing our annual events and amping up our team to build our leadership,” she says.

Christina, who has always dreamt of doing research around community health, will also be working as an undergraduate fellow on a research project partnering with tribes in the Interior on sustainable, traditional and customary hunting, fishing and gathering practices.

Doyon Foundation has “been a great financial support,” Christina says, which has allowed her to continue building her leadership capacity through multiple roles within the UAF Native community and the Alaska Native community at large.

Outside of the classroom Christina enjoys dancing and is a member of the UAF Inu-Yupiaq dancers. She also prioritizes healthy eating, “so I spend mornings and evenings cooking to energize my body and spirit.” She encourages students to take time to do what they love and to set goals for themselves.

However going to school outside of Anchorage has its challenges as well. “I would say one of the most enduring parts of my college career is being away from my family in Anchorage,” Christina says. She spends her breaks reconnecting with family in Anchorage, especially her mom who she says is “the motivation for my success for all that I do.”

Nothing is stopping this junior, who spends most of her time outside of classes and homework organizing educational events as well as nurturing her culture and community’s well-being. “Place yourself amongst people who are go-getters and will support and uplift you in both times of failure and success. Don’t settle for less,” says Christina. “Most of all, remember where you come from and continue to nurture those roots.”

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