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Kaitlin Tom. UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

Kaitlin Tom

Bachelor’s in Yup’ik Eskimo
Hometown: Newtok

What words of advice do you have for seniors in high school right now?

Pingnatuluten. When opportunities come your way, take it. You don’t know when or if that opportunity will come again. Don’t give up.

Who was one person you’d suggest students connect with to get advice and assistance?

Your school counselor and, once you get to college, meet with your Rural Student Services advisor.

What’s one thing you wish you were told before coming to college?

College is way different than high school. You’re going to have to learn how to discipline yourself. You might have all the “freedom” from your home, parents and school, but set aside time to do your homework and learn to manage your time and do all assignments.

Do you have any advice or suggestions about financial aid?

Getting good grades = good GPA = more or continued scholarship funding = no loans = no debt = but broke sometimes = no debt though! There are on-campus jobs that can work with your schedule if you need extra cash, but you are mainly here for college. Focus on finishing out the whole semester!

What is your reason for continuing your education? Why are you a student?

My parents believed that I could excel in anything I put myself up to. I also didn’t want to sit around in the village. I want to make myself useful for when I do apply for jobs, and I will have that qualification of holding a bachelor’s degree. I am a student because I love learning. There are many routes people can take in life. It is your decision; make it a good one.

How do you suggest students overcome roadblocks or any challenges they face along the way?

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in college for five years already. I thought I wouldn’t get through a semester because I worried about finances and travel expenses. Sometimes when we enter college, or even before, life happens in some way. Process it. Don’t bury it. We will always encounter roadblocks and challenges. It’s how you view it. If you have a fixed mindset — “I’m not good at this” or “I’ll never…” — then you’ll be stuck wherever you are. Change your fixed mindset to a growth mindset. There’s always room for growing. There’s always room for learning. Practice. Make time. Re-examine your priorities.

What are some things you did that helped you prepare for college?

I went to Galena Interior Learning Academy. It’s a boarding school I chose to go to. It provided me opportunities ranging from vocational to academic advances. It also helped me overcome my homesickness. That’s how it prepared me for college. I also learned to read for fun.

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