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Crystal Rogers2012 Student Speaker: Crystal Rogers

“I remember looking back at Dry Bay from the ocean and I got this overwhelming feeling like this is where all my ancestors are from.  I’ll never forget it.  I never thought being at UAS I’d have the opportunity like that.” 

Crystal Rogers is receiving her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Independent Design, focusing on the art, language, government and history of indigenous and Western societies in Alaska, with a minor in Tlingit.

"I'm the first student to design a major in the BLA independent design [program]," Rogers said. "When I came [to UAS] I transferred and I was ready to begin my major. I was really specific, I had a specific goal. I want to contribute to my community."

Rogers came home to Juneau after living in Portland for six years due to family illness. "I came back when they said my mom's cancer was terminal. I came back under very difficult circumstances," Rogers said.  "I had about a year and a half with my mom before she passed away in October 2010. Finishing my degree here at UAS has been a blessing in disguise. In the middle of all that I could come back here and start to take Tlingit language classes. There aren’t many other places I can do that."

An Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URECA) grant recipient, Rogers is working on a Tlingit language apprenticeship, helping to create an immersion class and fish camp at the end of the summer. "The final project for the research grant is going to be this August. We’ll be getting the fish, cutting it, putting it in the smoke house and smoking it all while speaking Tlingit. It’s going to be offered for credit, so we’re partnering with the university."

UAS has provided Rogers with many cultural opportunities including a visit to Dry Bay, the origin of her ancestral house, the Whale house, with anthropology faculty Dan Monteith in 2010.  “I always thought, ‘someday I’ll get to go there’.   I didn’t know that a few months later I would be there.”  It is one of her favorite memories of UAS.  “I remember looking back at Dry Bay from the ocean and I got this overwhelming feeling like this is where all my ancestors are from.  I’ll never forget it,” she said.  “I never thought being at UAS I’d have the opportunity like that.” 

Rogers has worked hard at UAS, and is a leader as a Tlingit speaker.

"I have not seen a student who works harder to expand her ability to learn, speak, and understand one of the world’s most complicated and endangered languages," said UAS assistant professor of Alaska native languages, Lance Twitchell. "Crystal has shown outstanding determination while facing tremendous odds, and recognizing her efforts and successes would be a great step for showing how worthy it is to invest in Alaska Native languages and arts."

"Crystal has consistently done twice as much work as is required," said Alice Taff, research assistant professor of Alaska native languages at UAS.  "She is the leading Tlingit language learner among her cohort of learners. An excellent public speaker, showing respect to each sector of the UAS community in the Tlingit way, Crystal will give a meaningful, memorable commencement address."

UAS’ 2012 Commencement will be held May 6 at 2:00 p.m. in the UAS Recreational Center.


Student Speaker Link

Crystal Rogers is receiving her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Independent Design, focusing on the art, language, government and history of indigenous and Western societies in Alaska, with a minor in Tlingit.

Learn more about Crystal Rogers, this year's student speaker at the UAS Commencement in Juneau on May 6th.