Jacy

Jacy Hutchinson, Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipient

A Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient since her undergraduate days, Jacy Hutchinson is completing a doctorate in clinical-community psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).

Her mother is Dianna Merry of Fairbanks; her maternal grandparents are Renee Merry of Rampart and Peter Merry of Coos Bay, Oregon. Jacy’s father is Chad Hutchinson of Fairbanks; her paternal grandparents are John and Debra Hutchinson of Falkton, South Dakota.

Jacy will graduate in 2022. She is the recipient of a Morris Thompson scholarship from Doyon Foundation. 

Doyon Foundation: What was it like to have Foundation scholarships throughout your schooling? Why is this financial help important to you?

Jacy: Thanks to Doyon Foundation, I was able to focus on my education by going to school full time. I’m very appreciative of this support with the many expenses of school throughout my journey.

Doyon Foundation: You’re doing research, serving as a teaching assistant and pursuing a practicum. What’s involved in each?

Jacy: I’m completing a practicum as a student clinician in the Psychological Services Clinic at UAA. Because of this experience, I feel confident with my decision to pursue a career in clinical-community psychology. I’ve found it highly rewarding to help people work toward their goals and support them in improving the quality of life.

In addition to the practicum and spring semester classes, I’m working as a teaching assistant in a lifespan development class for undergraduates. I’ve enjoyed being a TA because I have been able to enhance my teaching skills and practice public speaking. I have found that teaching is a fantastic way to learn the material.

My research project is aimed at identifying common pathways that lead to homelessness in Anchorage so that interventions to prevent homelessness are better informed. I’ll be spending the summer in Iceland studying the Icelandic language and continuing to research factors that contribute to homelessness.

In the fall, I plan to travel with my family during hunting season to pick berries. I’ll return to school after that to complete coursework and a community internship in Anchorage.

Doyon Foundation: Your program helps students develop an awareness of cultural contexts and issues that affect rural and indigenous people. Students become scholars as well as practitioners. How are your goals and education linked?

Jacy: After completing my Ph.D., my goal is to become a licensed clinical psychologist in Alaska, working for an Alaska Native corporation or in a community clinic.

I’m primarily interested in working with people suffering from anxiety and related disorders – among the most prevalent psychological disorders.

I’d also like to contribute to my community by developing programs or preventative measures. Each can be powerful ways of reaching more people. I’m particularly interested in working with programs that prevent homelessness and reduce prison reentry rates.

Doyon Foundation: When it comes to relieving stress, you’re a believer in organizing and planning.

Jacy: That’s right. My biggest challenge during my education has been learning to balance the varying responsibilities that come with higher education. Thoughtful planning has helped me overcome this challenge, including planning time to exercise, socialize and have fun.

I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family and friends, playing with my dogs, hiking and learning to ski. Finding time is not always easy, but it’s essential.

Another challenge is knowing myself and being mindful of how much work I’m actually able to take on.

Doyon Foundation: Your advice to other students involves the connection between body and mind.

Jacy: It can be easy to neglect healthy living, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping habits. I’d also remind students to use university resources. During my undergraduate years, writing centers and math tutoring helped me countless times.

Taking care of our physical and mental health actually helps us strive academically. Live a balanced life!

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

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 Classicraises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

Diloola Erickson a1Doyon Foundation welcomes former student and intern Diloola Erickson as our new Doyon Languages Online II project manager!

“We are thrilled to have Diloola join our team and lead this new project. This is a beautiful example of ‘growing our own’ to serve important leadership roles in our region,” says Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “Diloola brings energy, experience and passion for language revitalization, and we are excited to see how she helps grow this project.”

While the job is new to Diloola, she is not new to the Foundation. She is a previous Foundation scholarship recipient who graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks this spring with bachelor’s degrees in rural development and mechanical engineering.

Diloola also served as a First Alaskans Institute summer intern at the Foundation last year, developing multimedia materials promoting language revitalization in the Doyon region and helping to lead a language workshop at the 2017 First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth Conference. Read more about Diloola in her language champion profile on the Foundation blog.

“I’m beyond thrilled to get to work with such a dynamic team at Doyon Foundation, and I’m honored to get to work on this project with our Athabascan languages,” Diloola says. “It feels really good to be able to step into a position where I can contribute to an organization that has helped me so much throughout my undergraduate studies.”

The Doyon Languages Online II project is funded by a three-year, $977,423 grant from the U.S. Department of Education – Alaska Native Educational Program. The project focuses on the languages Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana), Deg Xinag and Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim). It will create more than 220 online language-learning lessons, train teachers in the use of the technology, and field test lessons with students.

This project builds on the progress of the existing Doyon Languages Online project, which is already developing online language-learning for Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in). Through these two projects, the Foundation will produce online learning for nine of the 10 Doyon region languages.

For more information on Doyon Languages Online visit the Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

 

“For anyone lucky enough to have been mentored by them, Hugh and Mary Jane’s words were life changing” – Niisha Walsh

Niisha

A University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) May 2018 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Niisha Walsh is the daughter of Maureen Walsh of Tanana and Dewayne Sanford of Tok. Her step-mother is Lena Sanford of Beaver Creek, Yukon, Canada. Niisha’s maternal grandparents are the late John Walsh, Sr. and Esther Starr-Walsh. Her paternal grandparents are the late Walter and Laura Sanford of Tok.

“I’m extremely grateful to be the first recipient of a scholarship that honors two people whose passion for bettering the lives of others continues through those who were privileged to be mentored by them,” Niisha says.

Niisha has made a point of meeting people who’ve benefited from the efforts of Mary Jane and Hugh Fate throughout their 65-year marriage. Effects are plain to see: “For anyone lucky enough to have been mentored by them, Hugh and Mary Jane’s words were life changing,” Niisha says.

Born in Rampart and among the first Alaska Native women to attend UAF, Mary Jane drew on her Athabascan subsistence traditions to overcome hardship and become a lifelong leader at the state and federal levels on behalf of Alaska Native people and the status of women. In 2014, she was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in recognition of her role, along with others, to lobby Congress for passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. A Korean War veteran who came to Alaska in search of new opportunities, Hugh is a retired dentist whose many leadership achievements include serving as president of the University of Alaska Regents and as Alaska state representative from Fairbanks.IMG_2992-001

Established in 2017 by their daughter, Jennifer Fate, the Mary Jane and Hugh Fate, Jr. Leadership Fund is among Doyon Foundation scholarships for shareholders pursuing higher education in a variety of programs.

“This fund celebrates those who strive to make our community a better place, and our people a stronger and healthier people,” says Jennifer, a member of the Doyon, Limited, and the Doyon Foundation boards. Applications are encouraged from Doyon shareholders studying health care, mental health, business and other professions that advance Alaska Native business, cultural or community interests. The next application deadline is May 15, 2018.

Niisha, the first recipient of this scholarship, traces her passion for helping people in part to her grandmother, the late Laura Sanford, with whom Niisha spent much of her childhood.

“She’s remembered as a compassionate but no-nonsense woman, rich in her Athabascan culture,” Niisha says, adding that her grandmother often opened her home to children from outlying villages who needed a safe place to stay while attending school. “She was selfless, resilient and fearless.”

Witnessing her grandmother’s willingness to help others led Niisha to her own commitment to improving the health and safety of youth and families. Today she’s a foster care and adoption recruitment specialistin the Child Protection Program at Fairbanks-based Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC). Niisha’s goals include earning a master’s degree in social work through the advanced placement graduate program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and remaining with TCC, working in the best interest of Alaska Native children.

“I want to continue building community and tribal relationships to better serve youth,” Niisha says, echoing the passion for activism that the Mary Jane and Hugh Fate, Jr. Leadership Scholarship seeks to foster.

“This leadership scholarship celebrates the positive ‘can-do’ activism that has helped build our innovative system of for-profit and nonprofit Native organizations, all geared to improve the well-being of our people. It upholds the values of self-reliance, productivity and creative collaboration for the betterment of our community,” Jennifer says. “Niisha represents these positive values and will carry these qualities into her work and studies.”

A recipient of Doyon Foundation scholarships throughout her college education, Niisha says she’s come to consider the Foundation part of a team that motivates her to always do her best. “I can’t thank Doyon Foundation enough for its generosity,” she says.

Since graduating high school from Tok School in 2002, Niisha’s work has focused on improving the lives of young people, often through education. Volunteering over the years has included time as a basketball and tee-ball coach and working with the Johnson O’Malley Native Youth Basketball Tournament. Before joining TCC, she worked in the Tribal Home Visiting Program of Fairbanks Native Association. Today she serves as treasurer of the Alaska Native Social Workers Association.

“My short-term goal is to continue to raise awareness regarding the need for Alaska Native foster homes throughout the Doyon region,” Niisha says. For instance, in 2013, the state reported that Alaska Native children represented more than half of the roughly 2,000 children needing foster care statewide. However, less than a third of licensed foster homes in Fairbanks that year were Alaska Native foster homes.

Niisha’s long-term goals include developing a program offering youth in and out of the child welfare system a way to resolve obstacles to well-being while building on their strengths.

Niisha enjoys family dinners, watching football, baking and boat rides. She’s looking forward to time with family before embarking on her master’s degree, and she encourages other students to remember that educational success depends in part on surrounding yourself with people who push you to be your best.

“When you’re not feeling motivated to write that 10-page paper,” Niisha says, “find people who tell you, ‘Eye on the prize.’ Find people who want to see you win and hold onto them.”

Selina

Selina Sam, Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipient

Selina Sam will graduate in May 2019 with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). Her parents are the late William and Janice Sam of Tanana. Her maternal grandparents are the late James and Elizabeth Folger of Tanana, and her paternal grandparents are the late Frank and Elma Sam of Alatna.  

Doyon Foundation: You’re among students who’ve earned the Foundation’s Morris Thompson Scholarship, a competitive award. What has that meant to you?

Selina: Being the recipient of a Morris Thompson scholarship is such an honor. In 2017, I volunteered at the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, where I helped with hole watching. I learned that there are many donors who believe in the value of education and how it can benefit shareholders of Doyon, Limited.

I’ve received a Doyon Foundation scholarship almost every semester while I was enrolled in the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and working toward my bachelor’s degree in rural development. I graduated in 2017. These scholarships have allowed me to focus on my schoolwork rather than worrying about making financial ends meet.

Doyon Foundation: The golf classic is the Foundation’s annual fundraiser for scholarships. It’s among several volunteer outlets for you.

Selina: I sit on two boards, Tozitna, Limited, which is the Tanana village corporation, and the Interior Alaska Campus Council (IAC-C). The Interior Alaska Campus, based at UAF, is committed to lifelong learning for rural Alaskans and Alaska Native communities, culture and ways of life.

I started volunteering for each board about a year ago because I believe it’s important to be involved with things that affect you and your livelihood.

I also enjoy volunteering with the Tanana Dog Mushers Association, where I serve as a trail marshal. And I volunteer with the UAF Festival of Native Arts, an annual event planned by Alaska Native students and involving Alaska Native students from around the state.

Doyon Foundation: You’re volunteering, going to school full-time and working too.

Selina: I currently work as a community outreach facilitator and program adviser at the Interior Campus of UAF while working online toward my master’s degree at UAS.

My plans are to finish the spring semester, take two classes over the summer and head back to school full-time in the fall. After graduation, my goal is to obtain a public administration job within the University of Alaska system.

Doyon Foundation: Public sector jobs are a big part of Alaska’s economy. What attracts you to your field?

Selina: Public administration will serve as a great degree for me as I currently work in the public sector. It’s important to understand how government works and affects our state and university system.

Doyon Foundation: What advice do you have for other students?

Selina: Learn to take care of yourself throughout the semester to prevent burnout. Be aware of important deadlines, including scholarship deadlines. Never be afraid to ask for help. There are people whose job it is to help you succeed.

Doyon Foundation: You’ve applied this advice to your own college career.

Selina: In the fall of 2015, I lost my parent. Instead of dropping out, I motivated myself to finish my undergraduate degree earlier than originally planned. I changed my major and found something I really enjoyed.

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

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 takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

The Doyon Foundation board of directors recently held its officer election, and is pleased to announce the new officers.

Lanien Livingston will continue to serve as board president, while Helena Jacobs steps into the position of vice president, and Jennifer Fate assumes the role of board secretary/treasurer.

LaVerne Huntington

LaVerne Huntington

Other members of the all-volunteer board are LaVerne Demientieff, LaVerne Huntington and Sonta Roach. Huntington joined the board most recently, after being elected during the Foundation’s annual membership meeting last fall.

Huntington, of Koyukuk and Fairbanks, is a previous Foundation scholarship who holds several degrees and certificates, including an associate of arts and sciences degree in applied accounting and human resource, and an applied business certificate in human resource from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is currently the planning and development manager for Tanana Chiefs Conference.

When asked about why she is serving, Huntington quoted the Dalai Lama, “When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.”

Read more about the board members on the Foundation website.

Cheynne

Cheyenne Swanger, Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship Recipient

A nursing student whose hometown is Allison Park, Pennsylvania, Cheyenne Swanger is the daughter of Jack and step-mother Amy (Fink) Swanger of Allison Park. Her paternal grandparents are Kathy and Jack Swanger of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and her step-grandparents are Joyce and Tom Fink of Allison Park.  

Cheyenne’s biological maternal grandmother, Denise James of Fairbanks, helped Cheyenne learn about Doyon Foundation’s scholarship program. Since fall 2015, Cheyenne has been a recipient of Morris Thompson Scholarships for undergraduates.

She completes the nursing portion of her education in May at Citizens School of Nursing before a final year at Penn State University for her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing.

Doyon Foundation: That last year of nursing school can be a real challenge. What’s on the horizon for you, Cheyenne?  

Cheyenne: I’ll complete the nursing portion of my studies on May 2 and then go on to take the NCLEX, the National Council Licensure Examination, which will board-certify me as a registered nurse. Summer school starts May 7. I’ll be taking three courses so that as I move into my final year at Penn State the load won’t be quite as strenuous.  

Between the end of nursing courses and the start of summer school, my paternal grandmother Kathy (meme) and I are taking a short trip to New York City to refresh. We’ll visit the 9/11 Memorial, see “Wicked” on Broadway, and just take in the many sights.  

Doyon Foundation: Then school starts again? 

Cheyenne: August begins the final year toward my bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN); graduation is December 2019. I’ve applied to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and hope to be on staff there by July. It’s the largest trauma hospital in western Pennsylvania. 

After receiving my BSN, I plan to work several years as a nurse. Eventually I want to complete a master’s degree in nursing and then take steps to become certified as a nurse practitioner. Once I reach that goal, I want to specialize in pediatrics. I’d like to have my own practice or work in conjunction with another physician. 

Doyon Foundation: That means several years of schooling ahead.  

Cheyenne: I’m staying focused solely on my current studies. I believe that will give me a solid foundation as I move forward.  

Doyon Foundation: How did you choose nursing?  

Cheyenne: As far back as I can remember, my goal has always been to become some part of the medical field. Add to this that my paternal grandfather has had multiple sclerosis all my life.

Although all aspects of nursing pique my interest, my aspiration is to apply my skills in some form of specialized nursing. 

Doyon Foundation: You’ve mentioned the importance of keeping focused. How have scholarships from Doyon Foundation helped?  

Cheyenne: Without a doubt, Doyon Foundation has been a true blessing to me. I’ve watched as classmates struggled with families, jobs and schooling without assistance. I’ve watched as some failed to realize their dreams. 

The generosity of the Doyon Foundation scholarship allowed me focus on my studies without the burden of worrying where funds would come from to see me through the school year. Neither of the schools I have attended or am attending were accustomed to dealing with Native American scholarships. There were many times when the Foundation went out of its way to email me and worked with me when I was confused about scholarship details.  

Doyon Foundation’s ongoing support and some of the financial worry lifted helped me to do as well as I have with my college studies. And for that I’m forever grateful.  

Doyon Foundation: You believe in paying generosity forward. You’ve done that throughout your time in nursing school.  

Cheyenne: I’ve been truly blessed to have financial support through scholarships. Not having that constant financial pressure has allowed me to volunteer, starting with the beginning of my college career when I was activity coordinator for elderly people in an assisted living home. I must say that even among the aging, competition in games and activities is ever present! 

I also volunteered for two years as clerical help in the financial aid office while attending the Citizens School of Nursing. Currently I’m volunteering at the Veterans Administration hospital in Aspinwall near Pittsburgh. I help compile informational folders that educate veterans on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I donate blood regularly and I’m registered as a bone marrow and stem cell donor.  

Between school and volunteering, there’s not much time left for hobbies. But I always find a little time for family and friends.  

Doyon Foundation: What challenges have you encountered? And what advice do you have for others who confront obstacles? 

Cheyenne: I find I put pressure on myself to excel in everything I do. Exams are the worst. I’ll study and study, then test time comes and it seems as if I tense up. Doesn’t matter if I get an A or not, if I have missed questions, I become very disappointed in myself. I’m learning that as long as I’ve put forth a solid effort and truly dedicate myself to studying, then I’m doing the best I can. That’s all anyone can really do. 

Doyon Foundation: You’d encourage others to believe in themselves too.   

Cheyenne: The best advice I could give anyone is that if you dare to dream, then with determination and dedication your goals are attainable. I’d say believe in yourself, but also know that anything worth having will never come easily. Yes, it takes work. Stay focused, be positive, and don’t give up.   

If you’re making an effort to do well, there’s always someone there to help. And never hesitate to pay it forward.  

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

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 takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

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Here is your May Native Word of the Month in Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in)! Hai’ (thank you) to our translator, Allan Hayton.

May = Gwiluu Zhrii

Ch’idlii = He or she is singing.

Aii deetrya’ gwiint’aii ch’idlii k’it zhyaa haachik. = That raven sounds like he is singing really strongly.

Listen to an audio recording of the translation: