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!

Graduation – it’s our favorite time of the year! (Well, except maybe for Christmas…)

It’s a time to celebrate the hard work and incredible accomplishments of our students who are at the end of one important journey and getting ready to start on the next.

Join us at our annual graduate reception to give them some well-deserved kudos and say conGRADulations!

Doyon Foundation 2017 Graduate Reception

Friday, May 5

2 p.m.

Doyon Industrial Facility Cafeteria

615 Bidwell Ave., Fairbanks, Alaska

capWe’ll have inspiring addresses from our student and alumni speakers, recognize our 2016 – 2017 graduates, and enjoy refreshments.


High school and college students who are graduating during the 2016 – 2017 academic year
are encouraged to attend, along with their friends, families, teachers and other Foundation supporters.

If you plan to join us, please RSVP with your name and the number of people attending to sommerj@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.

Come help us celebrate the class of 2016 at the Doyon Foundation Graduate Reception this Friday, May 6! The event will take place at 2 p.m. in the Doyon Industrial Facilities cafeteria at 615 Bidwell Ave. in Fairbanks.

High school and college graduates, as well as their friends, families, teachers and other Foundation supporters are welcome to attend. Please RSVP with your name and the number of people attending to stickmans@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.

We’re excited to announce Melissa McGinty as our alumni speaker, and Jason Paskvan as our student speaker! Melissa 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. Jason is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In addition to hearing from our speakers, our 2016 graduates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves. We invite everyone to stay after the reception to enjoy complimentary refreshments.

Are you graduating this spring? If so, please be sure to complete our 2016 graduate questionnaire available at https://fs8.formsite.com/doyonfoundation/form14/index.html. Respondents will be included in our 2016 graduate yearbook e-newsletter. Check out the 2015 graduate yearbook on our website.

For more information, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com, or contact us 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com. We hope to see you this Friday at the graduation reception!

Approximately 40 people gathered to celebrate the class of 2015 at the annual Doyon Foundation graduation reception on May 8 in Fairbanks. Foundation staff and board members, as well as graduates’ friends, family and other supporters attended the event, which honored the educational achievements of 57 graduates, including high school, certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate students.Ronald Burgett, Rachel Dewilde, Nadine Carroll and son, Stacey Demoski, Selina Powers, Travis David, Kelly Mitchell 3

“Looking at our 2015 graduates, I am confident about the success of our state’s future because of the Native minds that will be leading us. The minds in this room will be shaping policies, keeping our communities safe, teaching our children, caring for our families’ health, discovering new solutions, and carrying on our cultural traditions,” said the Foundation’s executive director, Doris Miller, who emceed the event.

“Like all of you family and friends, we at the Foundation are so proud of these students, and we are honored to play even a small role in their success. I can’t say that without thanking our donors, who make it possible for us to support our students’ educational journeys,” Miller added.

During the reception, attendees also heard from graduate speaker Rachel DeWilde, who received a bachelor’s of science in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) this spring, as well as alumna speaker LaVerne Demientieff, a clinical associate professor in social work at UAF.

“(As a professor) I see graduates every year and I go through graduation every year,” Demientieff said. “It is such an inspiring time, a lot of celebrations and joy. It is also a very reflectful time, thinking back to the beginning and all that you have learned. All the successes and all the challenges – challenges that were overcome because of determination and grit and the help of the people and community around us.”

Following the speakers, graduates had the opportunity to introduce themselves, and the reception culminated with refreshments and mingling.

The graduates will be featured in the Foundation’s upcoming 2015 graduate yearbook e-newsletter. Interested recipients may sign up to receive the e-newsletter on the Foundation’s website, www.doyonfoundation.com.

For more information, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com, or contact the Foundation at 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate the class of 2015 at our annual Doyon Foundation graduation reception this Friday, May 8 at 2 p.m. at the Doyon Industrial Facility, 615 Bidwell Avenue, Suite 101 in Fairbanks!

High school and college graduates, as well as their friends, families, teachers and other Foundation supporters are invited to attend the festivities. We’ll have alumni and graduate keynote speakers, the graduates will have an opportunity to introduce themselves, and of course there will be refreshments.

Are you graduating this spring? If so, please be sure to complete our 2015 graduate questionnaire by today, Monday, May 4, so we can include you in our reception program and in our 2015 graduate yearbook e-newsletter.

For more information, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com, or contact us 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com. We hope to see you Friday at the graduation reception!

The class of 2014 was celebrated at the  Doyon Foundation Graduation Reception, which took place May 9 in Fairbanks. A total of 40 people, including staff, board members, donors, supporters, family and friends, attended the reception. See photos from the event on Facebook.

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The event featured alumni speaker Paul Mountain, a graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and a current Foundation board member, as well as graduate speaker Lessa Peter, who graduated from UAF this spring and currently works in the communications department at Doyon, Limited.

Graduates had the opportunity to introduce themselves to reception attendees, and the afternoon culminated with light refreshments and visiting.

The Foundation will distribute the 2014 Graduate Yearbook e-newsletter this spring. Those interested in receiving the yearbook and other Foundation news are encouraged to sign up for the Foundation e-newsletter at www.doyonfoundation.com.