Student Spotlight

Alberta Jones, PhD Indigenous Studies Candidate

Alberta Jones is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Juneau for the past eight years. She is a tenure track faculty and teaches in the teacher education program. Alberta grew up in Sitka, Alaska, with her mother, Corrine Sundberg Brown from Larsen Bay on Kodiak Island and father, Albert Nelson, is from Ketchikan and Metlakatla. She is of Tsimshian, Alutiiq, Russian, Hispanic, Norwegian, Swedish, and German decent.

           During her public school teaching years, she taught in the Juneau School District at middle school level and upper elementary levels. She worked on two master’s degrees, while also having a family when teaching. She coached many sports during her ten years at middle school. Middle school coaching and teaching were a very rewarding part of her teaching experience. Alberta then moved into administrative work and served as a grant director, coordinating multiple large federal Native education grant programs. A highlight was coordinating many secondary level summer science camps,  including a role as a cultural coordinator with Alaska Native Student Wisdom Enrichment Retreat (ANSWER) Camp, which typically involved 80 Alaska Native students from 40 rural communities. The academically rigorous, STEM camps embedded place-based education with integrating several standards-based content areas and culturally responsive curriculum in the two-week intensive camp programs.

           Following her 20-year retirement, she moved to metro DC with her federal employee husband, Peter and son, Bruce. Alberta then taught in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public schools. She greatly valued the opportunity and benefited from it with gaining knowledge in rigorous assessment models. Following her husband’s two-year job detail in Washington DC, they drove back to Alaska and within six hours of arrival she began teaching at UAS and entered University of Alaska Fairbanks Indigenous Studies PhD program a month later.

           While teaching at UAS, Alberta completed her PhD degree in Indigenous Studies with an emphasis in Research. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society (top 10%) as well as a recipient of the Mellon dissertation Fellowship Scholarship.

           Her emphasis area was in Research. She recently successfully defended her dissertation. Her thesis was entitled, “Alaska Native Scholars: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Factors Influencing their Ph.D. Attainment.” The study is a one of a kind study for Alaska and will have great benefits to Indigenous graduate students and to universities and agencies seeking to recruit, retain, and graduate Alaska Native PhD students. Alberta investigated first-hand information and experiences from nearly all living Alaska Native PhDs, located around the country and overseas in fall 2014. Her study resulted in finding common and unique demographics and factors of the participants. She discovered what motivated them prior and during their doctoral journey, as well as their various types of support networks that contributed to their PhD degree attainment. Ninety-two percent of living Alaska Native PhDs replied to her lengthy survey, which was followed up with ten personal interviews from eight different ethnicities, including diverse degree fields, year of completion, birthplace, and degree location.

           Alberta understands the importance of the necessary elements to support Alaska Native graduate (and even undergraduate) students. She enjoys networking with her peers and having fruitful discussions on Native student success in postsecondary education, particularly with the interest of increasing the number of future teachers.

           Now that she finished her PhD journey, she would like to work on publication of the important research she has done. Alberta looks forward to getting back to some travel, family time, and other interests.

Photo courtesy of Dan Ho

Dan Ho, PhD in Indigenous Studies Candidate

Dan expects to receive his PhD in Indigenous Knowledge Systems in May, 2018. Prior to attending UAF’s PhD program, he had a long career in publishing and cable television. Later he pursued teaching secondary science and math, which he left as he pursued his PhD. He is a native of Guam, and speaks fluent Chamorro.
A Mellon Foundation Fellow for 2017-2018, Dan’s doctoral research is about the traditional Chamorro after-life belief system known as fa’nague. His research design included field work in Guam, and online data gathering for Chamorros in the diaspora. The project includes a comprehensive definition of the Chamorro cosmology which does not yet exist in academia. In addition, he uses the research as a working model for a proposed research methodology he’s calling Neo-Indigenous Methodology.

Photo courtesy of January Scott

January Scott, PhD in Indigenous Studies Candidate

December 2017
January Scott is Tlingit from Kake, Alaska. B orn and raised in Kake, Alaska, she attended high school in Juneau, AK and graduated from Juneau Douglas High School. She attended and graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Her interest in working with youth and adolescents led her to pursue and receive her Masters in the Arts of Teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2006.
 In previous work positions, she has worked with a wide-cross section of Rural and Alaska Native people and has traveled across rural Alaska due to her work with youth. She has 15 years’ experience leading and developing youth programming that is culturally responsive and based on positive youth development that is consistently guided by research of current best practices. During her tenure working in the non-profit realm, January graduated from the Alaska Humanities Forum’s Leadership Anchorage program in 2014 and Foraker Group’s Catalyst for Nonprofit Leadership program in 2015. 
January began her PhD in Indigenous Studies with University of Alaska Fairbanks this Fall of 2017. She was selected to assist in the research project “Indigenizing Salmon Management” which is a new research project with UAF. While her passion is working with youth in the educational realm, equity and access for Alaska Native people is the primary motivation behind the work that she is engage in and dedicates her efforts towards. 
As with education, equity and access are at the heart of the Indigenizing Salmon Management Project. The goal of the Indigenizing Salmon Management project is to use a deeply participatory approach to document the breadth and depth of Indigenous values, knowledge, management and governance systems in its connection to salmon across Alaska and to use this community informed information and knowledge to assess and make recommendations for improving current salmon management processes in Alaska. The project focuses deeply on the inequities in the salmon management system that stem from the historical context of colonialist practices which are currently perpetuated in today’s management systems.

Photo courtesy of Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone

Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone, M.A. Cross-Cultural Studies (current student)

October 2017
Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone grew up in Nome, Alaska and is both Iñupiaq and Kiowa. While growing up she learned how to pick and gather food from the land. Her mother taught her the proper ways to take care of seal and fish to prepare for winter storage. This upbringing guided her to pursue an undergraduate in Alaska Native Studies and a minor in Iñupiaq language. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in 2012. Kunaq is currently working on her master's degree in Cross Cultural Studies. Her emphasis has been on reviving traditional Iñupiaq tattooing and reclamation of our ceremonies. Kunaq has been actively working as an Inuit tattooist in Alaska. She hopes to use her experiences and stories to share with the future generations. Her anticipated graduation date is December 2018.

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