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.

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.