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Something to Celebrate: Native Graduation Event

A projected 15% of UAS graduates will be Alaska Native

2008 Native Graduation CelebrationThe growing number of Alaska Natives making their way through the University of Alaska Southeast was reflected at a celebration for Alaska Native members of the UAS Class of 2008. UAS Director of Institutional Research Pat Moore projects that once degrees are audited, a record 15% of UAS graduates will be Alaska Native.

At the celebration held in the Juneau campus Egan Library the afternoon of Saturday May 3, Associate of Arts graduate Lyle James addressed the group of family, friends and co-workers, “Today is an exciting and almost overwhelming day, and it is good to see everyone,” he said. “This encourages us.”

The teacher at Yakoos Da Kaahidi alternative high school spoke in eloquent Tlingit as he introduced a song he composed with help from UAS faculty David Katzeek and wife and Native and Rural Center Director Kolene James. Then he led the Wooch Een (definition: Working Together) dance group in the powerful voice of a warrior, keeping time by hitting a walking stick on the floor.

Mary Folletti graduated with a BA in Education and plans to go on to the MAT program. She addressed the group on behalf of PITAAS students (Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools) Program. Folletti told the story of her friend Rikki Tagaban, who as he drove to a recent conference, noticed an eagle flying overhead. It was carrying a stick, presumably for its nest. “You also worked hard for that stick,” Folletti told her colleagues. “I encourage you all to find that stick and take it home.”


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