RIGHT TO LEFT–Graduates make the symbolic move of their tassels from right to left, signifying completion of their degree. The commencement for the University of Alaska Northwest Campus took place at Old St. Joe’s on May 9.

UAF Northwest Campus honors 33 graduates at Commencement

It was all Pomp & Circumstance in Old St. Joes last Thursday night, May 9, as family and friends gathered for the University of Alaska Northwest Campus graduation ceremony. Eleven of the 33 graduates were present to receive degrees and certificates ranging from General Education to Master’s.  
Dr. Barb Amarok, Director of the Northwest Campus hosted the event along with local leaders who spoke on the importance of higher education to the Bering Strait region.
“We’re hopeful that the education you received here will allow you to use your talents to serve the region, by filling the much-needed positions and leadership roles we have here in our home communities,” Chair of the Northwest Campus Advisory Council Tyler Rhodes said in his speech.
 Norton Sound Health Corporation’s CEO Angie Gorn spoke on the important training partnerships between the campus and NSHC which helps grow a cohort of employees from the region. “We receive so many compliments from our patients when there’s a local face involved in their care,” Gorn said.
Throughout the ceremony a common theme of resilience and perseverance was present. Degree recipients spoke about their unique education journeys that brought them to the stage that day.
“I’ve had the luxury of raising my family taking three credits at a time and really getting a lot out of my courses,” Lucinda Conwell Wielder said. “You don’t have to go full gusto, just take it as it works for you and your family. Do it on your time, you will achieve it.”
Tyler Ivanoff summarized his educational experience in two words: “Wisdom and resilience. It’s what we already have in our Inupiaq culture, in our Yupik culture.  Our survival depends on the mastery of subsistence of the land and sea,” Ivanoff said.
“When I was a little girl I used to say to my dad, ‘Dad, I’m gonna be a teacher when I’m older’,” Gussie Olanna said in her speech. She spoke about having no high school diploma or GED when she began working at Head Start in Brevig Mission. Through the years she kept working on her education, with the support of her family.  “I’m so proud of myself, my daughter was my biggest cheerleader while taking classes,” Olanna said. A certified teacher, Olanna is now pursuing her master’s degree.
In her speech, Rosa Wright used dandelions as a metaphor for the knowledge seekers of the region. “Nome and our communities’ greatest strengths are creating dandelions that grow tall and reach the breeze. Not only do we bloom but we share our thoughts, ideas, leadership, wisdom, kindness and knowledge with others,” Wright said.
Concluding the event, Dr. Amarok said, “Thank you graduates for you willingness to share, throughout this ceremony, your accomplishments and messages. You will inspire many to follow in your footsteps.”

Class of 2024:
Master’s Degrees
Josephine Daniels: Master of Education, Reading Specialist (UAS); Sara Henslee: Master of Science, Wildlife Biology and Conservation; Jolene Nanouk: Master of Arts, Rural Development; James Smyth: Master of Education, Counseling; Rosa Wright: Master of Education.

Graduate Certificates
Gussie Olanna - Graduate Licensure Certificate, Elementary Education

Baccalaureate Degrees
Jewel Blanchard: Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education; Lucinda Conwell Wieler: Bachelor of Arts, Alaska Native Studies; James Isabell: Bachelor of Applied Management; Tyler Ivanoff:  Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education; Jennie Reynolds: Bachelor of Arts, Justice; Darlene Turner:  Bachelor of Education; Yuka Ungwiluk:  Bachelor of Arts, Social Work; Alazae Waghiyi: Bachelor of Arts, Social Work.

Associate Degrees    
Eva Dickson: A.A., General Program; Mandy Ellanna: A.A., General Program; Alyssa Jemewouk:  A.A.S., Applied Business; Asaaluk Nichols: A.A.S., Applied Business; Karen Tocktoo Olson:  A.A.S., Early Childhood Education; Sharon Rida: A.A.S., Applied Business; McKenzie Sagoonick: A.A.S., Health Science (UAS); David Wortman: A.A., General Program.

Colleen Adams: Accounting Technician; David Bahnke: Airframe and Powerplant; Tobin Hobbs: Airframe and Powerplant; Marina Koonooka: Pre-Nursing; Assaluk Nichols:  Applied Business Management; Karen Tocktoo Olson: Early Childhood Education; Janelle Otton - Accounting Technician (UAS); Amanda Paniptchuk: Local Knowledge Educator; Sharon Rida: Applied Business Management; McKenzie Sagoonick: Medical Assistant (UAS).

Occupational Endorsements
Valerie Apangalook - Certified Nurse Aide (UAS); Carrina Campbell - Certified Nurse Aide (UAS); Jelsey Gologergen - Welding (LAS); Asaaluk Nichols - Supervision & Personnel and Management.

General Education Diplomas
Sierra Aningayou, Nome; Neil Seppilu, Nome.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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