Date of Press Release: March 22, 2013
A documentary that features Alaska Native students making their way through college at the University of Alaska will premiere Friday, March 29, 7 p.m. at the Egan Lecture Hall on the University of Alaska Southeast Auke Lake campus.
Since 2004, the Alaska College Track Series has shown the challenges faced by some Alaska Native students as they balance cultural obligations with work and school. The film is followed by a videotaped panel discussion with students. Part of the Sound and Motion series, the film and panel discussion will run on Alaska Public Television in April.
“Separating children from their parents and stripping them of their language is the kind of story you might expect from a dystopian novel rather than our recent history,” said director Pat Race. “But it wasn't long ago that education in Alaska meant the whitewashing of Alaska Native people and culture. These generations grew up with a thinning awareness of their cultural identity and today their children and grandchildren scramble to preserve that fading knowledge.”
The Alaska College track series follows several rural Alaska Native students on their path toward graduation, including Ralph and Gloria Wolfe of Yakutat and Hydaburg residents Ben and Marita Young. The series documents how different a university education can be when a student is also struggling to preserve and rebuild a culture.
Yakutat resident Amanda Bremner Porter has been featured in all three installments of the College Track series, in 2004, 2007 and 2013. In 2011, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from UAS in the Liberal Arts with an emphasis in English and minor in Social Science and Tlingit.
Porter spent half her college career in Yakutat taking e-learning courses. She received a temporary teaching certificate from the State of Alaska, which allowed her to teach Tlingit language and culture studies at the secondary level at the Yakutat High School.
“I’m very grateful for the College Track series. It brings insight on the struggles of rural students and their pursuit of higher education,” said Porter. “Although it is important for staff and faculty to understand the unique situations many students face, I believe it is even more important for students themselves to understand that these obstacles are not definitive. Balancing our traditional and familial obligations with our own pursuit of education and growth is difficult, but it can be done.
Alaska College Track 3 is produced by Lucid Reverie in association with The University of Alaska Southeast with funding from First National Bank Alaska.
Ralph and Gloria Wolfe