Kuskokwim Campus Student of the Year Awards

by Cindy Andrecheck

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus is pleased to announce its Student of the Year Awards. Full-time Student of the Year Award was presented to Isabelle Arnayagaq Dyment from Bethel, AK.

Isabelle is completing her first year at KuC as a student in the LKSD Associate Teacher Program “Two and Done,” a program to help associate teachers who are within 2 years of completing their baccalaureate degrees.

Originally from Toksook Bay on Alaska’s far western coast, Isabelle, motivated by her math teacher, dreamt at an early age of becoming a teacher. She began her career in education as a substitute teacher in Toksook Bay, then worked as a teacher’s aide.

After moving to Bethel in 1998, she worked for several years as a teacher’s aide at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, Bethel’s Yup’ik immersion elementary school, before taking time off to concentrate on raising her family.

In 2011 an Associate Teacher position opened up for her at Ayaprun with the understanding that she would obtain her bachelor’s degree, taking a minimum of 9 college credits per year. Accepting an opening 4 years later into the “Two and Done” program puts her very close to her goal of, as she says, “having my own classroom and teaching with an open heart,” passing down the Yup’ik language and culture to future generations.

While working towards her degree, she finds the staff and faculty at KuC very caring and always willing to give a helping hand. Isabelle thanks the KuC faculty and staff, Barb Angaiak and Josh Gill from LKSD, and her husband, children, dad and siblings for their continued support and encouragement. She has become a statewide ambassador for LKSD’s “Two and Done” program through media interviews by KTUU, ADN, and Indian Country Media Network.

KuC’s Part-time Student of the Year Award was given to Rachel Naulalria Chakuchin from Bethel. After graduating from Bethel Regional High School in May 2016, Rachel decided to attend KuC beginning in the Fall 2016. She felt the need to stay close to family while transitioning to the life of a college student. College, however, is only one part of Rachel’s life, and being a full-time student did not leave enough time for her to fulfill her other obligations. Both her job and her college career were important to her, as was her desire to excel in both.

Rachel discovered that being a part-time student allowed her to keep a sense of balance in her life. By taking fewer classes, she has been able to keep her job, be an active member of her church, and participate in KuC’s Student Government as its Secretary.

“It’s better to do well in a few classes than to not do well in any of them,” advises Rachel. Students at KuC know all the teachers and staff, and the teachers and staff know the students by name – that’s something she really likes about KuC. Though Rachel is still exploring career options, surely a person with her sense of self-knowledge will find a path that suits her.

Congratulations Isabelle and Rachel from all of us at Kuskokwim Campus.