Doyon Foundation, with the support of the golfers, sponsors, planning committee, staff and volunteers, held another successful Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic June 22 – 23 in Fairbanks, Alaska. In addition to raising money for the Foundation’s Morris Thompson Scholarship Fund, the popular annual event also honored the memory of the late Morris Thompson.

“Morris was an enthusiastic and tireless supporter of education, and we are honored to hold this event in his memory,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “The Morris Thompson Scholarship Fund was established to provide scholarships to students who exhibit the qualities we admired most in Morris – vision, dedication to excellence, exemplary leadership and integrity.”

The 17th annual event kicked off Thursday, June 22 with a skills tournament warm-up at Chena Bend Golf Course on Fort Wainwright, followed by a reception and Calcutta at Wedgewood Resort. See the skills tournament results on the Foundation website.

AS MF

Aaron Schutt and Marissa Flannery announce the new competitive scholarship for law students at the Calcutta reception.

The reception featured two very special moments. The first was when Doyon, Limited President and CEO Aaron Schutt took the stage with his wife, Marissa Flannery, to announce the establishment of an endowment for a new competitive scholarship for aspiring young lawyers.

Both graduates of Stanford Law School, the couple partnered with the Doyon, Limited board to help establish the new scholarship fund, making a five-year commitment to getting the scholarship in place.

“I know very well the cost and benefits a legal degree can have for Native students,” said Flannery, who said she and her husband each graduated with more than $100,000 in student loan debts. “We’ve never regretted our choice, and we hope that other students will make that choice.”

Annie

Student speaker Annie Sanford addresses reception guests.

Student speaker Annie Sanford of Tok, Alaska, then shared her story, giving the audience a real-life example of how their support makes a difference in the lives of students.

“Let’s see if I learned anything from my communications class I took last semester,” Sanford quipped at the start of her speech, drawing encouraging laughter from the filled room.

“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,” continued Sanford, who is pursuing an associate’s degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and hopes to join the university’s very competitive radiologic technology program in 2018. Her post-graduate plans include staying in Fairbanks to give back to the community that has given her so much.

“I feel like Doyon Foundation is a third proud parent in my pursuit of a higher education,” Sanford said. “I want to thank Doyon Foundation and their sponsors for supporting not only me but students across Alaska pursuing our educational dreams.” Read more about Sanford on the Foundation’s blog and see a video of her speech on the Foundation YouTube channel.

The evening concluded with a spirited Calcutta, where teams and members of the audience bid on the teams they thought would win the golf tournament the next day. Always a popular event, the Calcutta brought in more than $50,000, which was split between the winning bidders and the Foundation scholarship fund.

The festivities continued on Friday, June 23 with the golf tournament, which drew 33 teams of four players each. By early afternoon, the teams had finished the 18 holes at Chena Bend and were celebrating at the golf banquet.

2017 winning team

First-place team at the 2017 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic.

Congratulations to the first-place team comprised of Rick Boyles, Dan Clark, Rob Graves and Scott Jepsen. See the full list of winners on the Foundation website.

“Thank you to the golfers, sponsors and volunteers for bringing your great energy and fun to the tournament this year,” Miller said. “We couldn’t have asked for better conditions and fundraising results. Thanks for your continued support and generosity.”

This year marked the 17th year of the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic. Since inception, the event has enabled the Foundation to award 173 students with Morris Thompson scholarships totaling $370,180.

For more information on Doyon Foundation or the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, visit www.doyonfoundation.com.

More than 50 family, friends and other supporters gathered to celebrate the class of 2016 at the Doyon Foundation Graduate Reception, held May 6 in Fairbanks. The event recognized the 80 Doyon Foundation students who graduated from high school or college this spring. See more photos on Facebook!

Join us in saying “congratulations” to the class of 2016 in one of our Native languages!

  • Hǫǫsǫǫ dįįdį’ = You did great (Née’aaneegn’ – Upper Tanana)
  • Neeshoo tr’inlii = We’re happy for you. (Gwich’in)
  • Ngoxo dinaxoneł = We’re happy for you. (Deg Xinag)
  • Yeho sodegets’eeyh = I am happy for you. (Denaakk’e)

Our 2016 Graduate Reception included a welcome from Doris Miller, Foundation executive director, Lanien Livingston, Foundation board president, and Doyon, Limited President and CEO Aaron M. Schutt, as well as an address from alumna speaker Melissa McGinty and graduate speaker Jason Paskvan. The graduates in attendance also had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the audience.

Our graduate speaker, Melissa McGinty, holds a bachelor’s of business administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a master’s in business administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. She shared her reflections on getting to where she is today – a journey that included an accounting internship at Doyon, Limited and several years working at Doyon Foundation. “Education is absolutely needed but experience with that is key,” she said.

She also spoke about her dream to get her master’s degree and how she found a way to accomplish that without going into debt. “The moral of that story is to plan and to set your goals and it’ll happen,” Melissa said. See Melissa’s full speech on YouTube.

Graduate speaker Jason Paskvan began his speech with an introduction in his Native language. Jason, who graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks last month with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, spoke about the three critical steps to overcoming obstacles – perception, action and will. He also encouraged his fellow graduates to “remember the good times and good experiences we had in school.”

Jason closed with a quote from Bruce Lee, who said, “Always be yourself. Express yourself. Have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” Jason added, “If we work to be ourselves and be the best we can be, we’ll make a difference.” See Jason’s full speech on YouTube.

Learn more about the class of 2016 in our electronic graduate yearbook! We’ll be publishing the yearbook, featuring photos and short bios of all 2016 graduates, this month. To receive the yearbook, simply join the Foundation’s e-newsletter list at www.doyonfoundation.com.

Congratulations to the Doyon Foundation class of 2016!

  • Alicia Ambrosio, Business Management, Master’s of Business Administration

  • Tracey Arnold, Addiction Studies, Master’s Certificate

  • Angelica Baalam, Nursing, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Geoffrey Bacon, Industrial and Labor Relations, Master’s of Arts

  • Amanda Bailey, Transfer Degree, Associate’s of Arts

  • Aloysia Ballard, Medical Assistant, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Carrie Bazilwich, Psychology, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Dennis Blackburn, Teaching and Learning, Master’s of Arts

  • Charlotte Brinkman, Tribal Management, Certificate

  • Leslie Brooks, Mathematics, Chemistry, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Matthew Calhoun, Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

  • Melvin Captain, High School Diploma

  • Jada Carroll, High School Diploma

  • Peter Charlie, Human Services/Psychology, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Courtney Cradock, History in Secondary Education, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Gabriella Chase, High School Diploma

  • Brenna Cruger, High School Diploma

  • Johnny David, Jr., Information Technology, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Leah David, Accounting Technician, Certificate

  • Taylor Davis, Kinesiology, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Hillary Demit, High School Diploma

  • Emily Dobson, General Studies, Bachelor’s of Business Administration

  • Matthew Driskill, Accounting, Doctor of Philosophy

  • Sonya Edwards, Elementary Education, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Stanley Edwin, Atmospheric Science, Master’s of Science

  • Kailey Erickson, Exercise Science, Master’s of Science

  • Eve Esmailka-Blake, Tribal Governance and Business Management, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Kaden Girard, High School Diploma

  • Joseph Gregory, Computer Technician, Certificate

  • Jacob Gustafson, Film, Associate’s of Arts

  • Monica Gustafson, Alaska Native Studies, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Gary Hawkins, Diesel Mechanic, Associate’s of Arts

  • Brittany Henry, High School Diploma

  • Thomas Henry, High School Diploma

  • Sarah Henzie, High School Diploma

  • Lethearen Jimmie, High School Diploma

  • Jenny Johnson, Health, Associate’s of Arts

  • Raymond Kangas, Mechanical Engineering, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Tiana Kraus, Social Work, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Patricia Kriska, Nurse Aide, Certificate

  • Patrick Lovell, Engineering, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Deanna Mayo, Applied Business, Associate’s of Arts

  • Jolene McGinty, School of Education-Counseling, Master’s of Arts

  • Sharon Menzo, Business/Finance, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Codi Miller, Biology, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Beattus Moses, High School Diploma

  • Kaylee Nelson, High School Diploma

  • Vincent Nusunginya, General, Associate’s of Arts

  • Adam Paskvan, Chemistry, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Jason Paskvan, Mechanical Engineering, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Dalarie Peters, Public Administration, Master’s of Arts

  • Ruby Peters, High School Diploma

  • Tristan Richardson, High School Diploma

  • Karena Rounsaville, Medicine, Medical Doctor

  • Corina Sam, High School Diploma

  • Dustina Sam, High School Diploma

  • Shirley Sam, Tribal Management, Associate’s of Arts

  • Annie Sanford, High School Diploma

  • Alisia Serrano, Nutrition/Dietetics, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Natalya Shellikoff, High School Diploma

  • Edna Silva, Business Management, Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration

  • Crystal Smith, Biomedical Sciences, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Alyssa Sommer, Power Technology: Diesel Emphasis, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Sonja Sommer, General Business, Bachelor’s of Business Administration

  • Brian Stanley, English, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Anastasia Starr, Bookkeeping, Associate’s of Arts

  • Adele Stickman, Accounting, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Brand Strom, Radiology, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Tiana Teter, Human Services, Associate’s of Arts

  • Tamara Thomas, Health Information Management, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Charlissa Titus, High School Diploma

  • Allison Turner, Occupational Safety and Health, Associate’s of Applied Science

  • Sarah Walker, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, Master’s of Arts

  • Lisa Weimer, Business, Associate’s of Arts

  • Darren Whitworth, Chaplain Ministry, Master’s of Divinity

  • Ashley Williams, Supply Chain Management, Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences

  • Lorelei Winkelman, Medical Administration, Associate’s of Arts

  • Mikel Winkelman, Dietetics, Bachelor’s of Science

  • Kyle Demientieff-Worl, Anthropology and Alaska Native Studies, Bachelor’s of Arts

  • Natasha Yates, Applied Science, Associate’s of Arts

  • Malari Zarate, Liberal Studies, Bachelor’s of Arts

 

Due to the rapidly decreasing number of fluent speakers, Native languages within the Doyon region are not being passed on quickly enough to ensure their survival, creating an urgent need to promote and foster language opportunities for non-speakers.

“In 5 to 10 years, language extinction is possible,” said Wesley Roberts Dalton, former vice president of the Doyon Foundation board of directors and former chair of the Foundation’s language revitalization committee.

To address this critical issue, Doyon Foundation is launching the Language Revitalization Program, a comprehensive, region-wide program to capture, preserve, share and perpetuate Athabascan languages.

Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization committee has been working on this goal for almost four years.  A 10-year strategic plan and program proposal were developed, and the committee is now working on a business plan. The committee also researched many different language-learning software and technology options before selecting the Byki language-learning program, offered by Transparent Language, which has helped millions of individuals learn new languages and is used by more than 12,000 schools and universities, including top government language schools.

The committee and Foundation staff also developed one- to five-year goals. Some first-year goals include hiring a language revitalization program director, building relationships and collaborating with like-minded partners, securing additional funding, and creating a pilot language learning program, among other tasks.

“The Doyon Foundation program could grow into a multi-million dollar, grant-funded department. That’s been demonstrated by other Native corporations in the state,” Dalton said. “We can become leaders in language revitalization.”

Earlier this year, the Doyon, Limited board of directors approved a resolution and a $150,000 contribution to the Foundation to establish and operate the first year of the program.

“The resolution reaffirms the board’s mission to strengthen our Native way of life and support the Doyon Foundation, which provides educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders,” said Aaron Schutt, Doyon, Limited president and CEO.

“Providing cultural opportunities and a strong demonstration of Native traditional language and culture is at the core of Doyon Foundation’s mission and vision,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “Doyon’s support of this program will enable us to make significant strides toward the revitalization of our Native languages, which is critical for their survival. We are grateful beyond words for Doyon, Limited’s support.”

The need for the program is clear: According to the Alaska Native Language Center, there are less than 500 speakers of the nine Athabascan languages in the Doyon region. Gwich’in and Koyukon have the most, with 150 speakers. Most of the others have fewer than 30 speakers.

In addition to the declining number of speakers, there are insufficient numbers of qualified Athabascan language teachers, and there is not a solid, region-wide language revitalization effort to provide easily accessible language programs.

But this need is not just about language; it is also about bringing positive change to the people of the Doyon region. Research has shown that the ability to speak one’s language is essential to strong self-identity, self-esteem and the perpetuation of cultural beliefs, values and traditions.

A quote from Victor Nicholas, Doyon, Limited board vice president and Doyon Foundation board member, sums it up. “It’s our language – it’s who we are,” he said.

The development of this program has been a labor of love for the Foundation’s language committee members, including Chair Paul Mountain, Lorraine David, Wesley Roberts Dalton, Teisha Simmons, Patricia Paul, Alan Hayton, Polly E. Hyslop and Susan Paskvan, as well as many others who have volunteered their time.

“These individuals have demonstrated their deep commitment to our people and culture by volunteering countless hours researching the need, similar programs and possible solutions, as well as building relationships and developing a plan for the program. We are deeply grateful for their efforts and look forward to seeing our vision come to life,” Miller said.