Kuskokwim Campus Graduation

Associate of Arts Degree recipients. From left are Alicia Jane Oscar, Jesslyn McGowan, Gerald J. Anvil, Jennieve Benavente, and Gloria J.A. Cleveland.

by KuC Staff

Twenty-four graduates walked the stage at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center on a sunny Friday afternoon to mark the forty-third commencement ceremony at UAF’s Kuskokwim Campus (KuC).

Ten students earned certificates in Community Health through the CHAP (Certified Health Aide Practitioner) program. One student, Nikki Corbett of Bethel, earned a certificate in Ethnobotany, the study of traditional uses of plants. The university conferred ten associate degrees in Early Child Education and General Studies. Zoya Ayapan of Kwethluk graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education, and Carmen Pitka of Marshall earned a B.A. in Social Work. Jimmy Andrew of Kongiganak was decorated with a ceremonial hood for completing his master’s degree in Teaching Secondary Education.

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Linda Curda, Associate Professor of Community Health. She urged the new graduates to thank their loved ones for their support, citing the African concept of “Ubuntu,” or humanity towards others. Curda spoke of the cooperative nature of Yup’ik and Cup’ik culture and observed that most of the day’s graduates were entering “caring, helping professions” like health care and teaching.

Associate of Arts summa cum laude graduate Gerald J. Anvil of Bethel delivered the student address. Anvil shared emotional stories of how he overcame personal and educational challenges on the way to success at KuC. After working as a substitute teacher at Bethel Regional High School, Anvil was inspired to work toward becoming a math teacher. As the next step toward that goal, he will transfer to the UAF main campus in the fall. Anvil concluded with the message that he and his fellow graduates “are built Alaska strong.”

The next speaker to the podium, Asela Calhoun, who conferred the certificates in Community Health, called Anvil’s address “the best commencement speech [she had] ever heard.”

After a rousing performance of several songs by the KuC Yuraq Class, closing remarks were delivered by Student Regent Stacy Lucason of the University of Alaska Board of Regents. Lucason noted the many children in the audience at the Cultural Center and urged the graduates to use their degrees to “inspire the little ones.”

Almost all the graduates wore the red sash denoting Alaska Native and Native American ancestry, while many others who graduated with honors wore the gold honor cord. Graduates represented nine Y-K delta communities.

Congratulations to all the 2017 graduates and their families! Photos by Dean Swope

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