Name: Michelle D. Martin
High school graduated from: Hoonah High School
Year of high school graduation: 1991
Hometown: Hoonah, Alaska
Academic Program at UAS: AA General Studies, BA Social Science, MAT Elementary Ed
How do you think UAS is preparing you for your future?
UAS has given me the opportunity to go out into the field for my major in anthropology in Glacier Bay. This was highly relevant for me as we were studying my father’s people, the Chookaneidi clan of the Tlingit people. I was able to survey the land, practice archaeology and geology skills, and learn the ethnohistory of my people. It couldn’t have gotten any better than that! I’ve taken many cultural classes about the Tlingit culture and valued everything I learned. I experienced my culture as an adolescent growing up in Hoonah. At UAS, I learned more in-depth of my culture through critical thinking and expanded my knowledge of it at a college level. With my master’s, I applied a lot of culture in every aspect I was learning to become a teacher. I student taught in the Tlingit Culture Language & Literacy (TCLL) Program at Harborview Elementary and really put an emphasis on culturally relevant material. My passion is to teach through the Tlingit culture and provide relevant material and knowledge for all ages. UAS has helped me learn how to do this, to share the knowledge I have of my culture and how to apply it in the real world. This has helped me feel prepared for my future as a social science major and as a teacher.
Do you know what you might be thinking of for a career after college?
I want to be an Elementary teacher, particularly in the primary ages. If I cannot be a teacher then I would like to work as an ethnohistorian and help preserve the cultural history of Native people; in particular the Tlingit people.
Do you have a favorite class or professor?
Of course I loved the anthropology classes and all the classes I took for my master’s degree. There are so many that I choose them all as my favorite. I will say I feel completely indebted to my advisors who were also my professors. Dan Monteith was my anthropology professor/advisor for my undergrad and Anne Jones was my graduate professor/advisor. I went to them for help and I was given immediate feedback and so much help when I needed them. These are people I value, appreciate, and who have helped me get to where I am today.
I love UAS!! I grew up and acquired my adolescent education in a rural village, Hoonah Alaska. It was a small school and everyone knew everyone. UAS is a small campus and I was able to seek help whenever I needed. I also got to know a lot of people and they knew who I was and that makes a huge difference! UAS provides a lot of opportunities for students to go out into the field and practice their skills. There is always something happening on campus. I became close friends with my colleagues and valued their friendship as we sought each other out through the stress, difficulty, and successes. I recommend people from rural communities in Alaska go to UAS to help them adjust and transition from a small community to an urban community. I’ve seen students take off to these big schools down south and end up returning too soon. UAS provides opportunities to create a community, to build friendships, to know your professors who will look out for you, to meet people who want you to be successful. UAS is a great campus and I continue to recruit for this school!
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself at UAS?
More on my Tlingit culture! Growing up in the village, I was encouraged to get my Western education. I was exposed to the traditional way of living culturally with my grandparents. When I took anthropology and Tlingit language classes as UAS, there were deep discussions about cultural ways of living. At UAS, I learned to value the way I was raised. My college education taught me to think at a higher level of my own culture. On another note, I also saw my children valuing their education as they watched me go through college. They see the value in continuing their education.
What surprised you the most once you arrived at UAS?
Learning how to critically write!! I thank former faculty Tom McKenna for helping me during my first English class. I cried, struggled, worked my tail off and managed to pull off an A- in that class! That is the hardest A- I earned through my undergrad!
What is the most fun you've had at any campus event?
I would have to say the family events during my Christmas at student housing. My kids were involved and made candies and Christmas cards. My children were able to meet other kids who lived on campus and they had a blast! There are just so many to mention – Chancellor’s Christmas event, all the Evening at Egan events (one I presented on Glacier Bay), Wooch.een events, etc.
What is the best thing about life at UAS?
A small community. I felt like I was in another world out at UAS. There were opportunities to build community with everyone. The events that kept students busy on campus, the chance to go to another campus (WUE), going out into the field to practice skills we’re studying, everything!
What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
I enjoyed the events UAS provided. I enjoyed going to the REC center. I saw the Eagle totem pole being carved by the Young brothers. It created a beautiful aesthetic atmosphere on campus, especially after studying so hard. The smell of the wood, the sight of the wood, it was all wonderful!
If you could choose three words that signify UAS, what would they be?
Community, in-depth, relevant
(I had a hard time with this one! LOL, we Tlingits like to say more than just a few words!)