Name: Ellen Shell Purdy
High school graduated from: East High School
Year of high school graduation: 2003
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Academic Program at UAS: B.L.A. with emphasis in Communication
Class standing at UAS: Freshman
How do you think UAS is preparing you for your future?
In everything I do here. A lot comes from the pursuit of education. Not only knowledge, but experience, technique, critical thinking skills, relationships, mentors, leadership skill development. In the short time I have been here, I’ve already made relationships with people that I know will last my lifetime. In all classes that I take, there is something to be learned, and even more important is the journey in the pursuit if knowledge, being able to problem solve, and see all aspects of an issue, so that I can make informed decisions. In my future this ability will benefit me, my family, and my People. Math is important, there are a lot of financial responsibilities that come with adulthood, and I want to be ready to master the numbers. Electives here at UAS are awesome too. Last semester I took introduction to Sea Kayaking. We actually did two separate weekend outings, paddling open water to camps where we stayed over. The feeling of sitting in the water in a human powered boat that was traditionally created by my ancestors is powerful. I have never experienced something so neat as parking at the end of the road in Juneau, putting our boats in the water, and paddling away, into open water. A few seals followed us the whole time, poking their heads out every now and then to check on us. At our beach camp, we could hear the humpies spouting. UAS is preparing me to learn how to be successful, happy, healthy, strong, smart, and a leader. Even living on housing teaches you tolerance and acceptance. I am also in the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools, and that program is wonderful too. We have a course that we, as scholarship recipients take, and it’s basically a group of Alaska Native leaders, movers and shakers, that all have the aspiration to become educators in Alaskas’ schools. What a powerful group of people. We talk about leadership in education for Alaska Natives. We talk about our people, our way of life, and our dreams for our futures. We also have Alaska Native leaders from the community come and give talks about their journeys and struggles in finding success. So many things are here at UAS that prepare students in any way possible!
Do you know what you might be thinking of for a career after college?
I am going to be a teacher. Before I came back to school, I worked as a para-professional with at risk youth. I loved it, so naturally, I want to continue to work with youth. I remember growing up, good teachers and role models were hard to find, especially Alaska Native. A lot of my inspiration and confidence came from the few great teachers that I did have. They taught me that education is power, and the pursuit of knowledge is a life long journey. They showed me that through education and persistence, I could be anyone I wanted to be. I want to be that role model and mentor for the next generation. In order to find wellness and balance for Alaska Native people, we need educated leaders. I am striving to be an educated leader, so that I can help educate tomorrows leaders!
Do you have a favorite class or professor?
That’s a hard one! I love them all! Right now, my PITAAS class is a fav, but I am also taking cultural anthropology with Erica Hill, who is just amazing! I also love Nina Chordas, Jill Dumensnill, Ron Senator, gosh, everyone! I have not met a professor I didn’t like. It’s an extremely small university, so everyone is here because they want to be, which means they all do an awesome job! My favorite class to date is Intro to Sea Kayaking with Jodee, I encourage everyone to try out the outdoors PE classes.
I first arrived to Juneau in February of 2006 to advocate for a statewide nonprofit. I brought a group of youth here to join me on capitol hill and advocate for themselves, and the minute I stepped off the plane, I fell in love with the weather! (I love rain). When I came back I visited the campus on my own, it was a weekend, so I just walked around and felt the area. I walked up to the open air pavilion, and stood there for some time. You can see the glacier, and the mountains, rainforest, and campus. I felt it through my feet and out my finger tips, and knew- this WAS the place for me! So I went back to Anchorage, reviewed grants for the summer, saved up, dropped my grown up responsibilities and came back to school!
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself at UAS?
That’s a tough one. How into Student Government I am. I decided to run as Student Body of UAS-JC Senator to make a difference, and be involved and meet people, and I have gotten really into it. Again it’s a small University, so there’s a lot of potential to make a difference.
What surprised you the most when you arrived at UAS?
Everyone wants you to succeed. Everyone supports you, 100%! It’s such an amazing feeling to know that you have an entire campus behind you!
What was the most fun you’ve had at any campus event?
I have had a blast at every event! My favorite was the Halloween costume contest. Entire departments dress up in theme, and are judged in a competition, and then we all gather in the cafeteria and announce the winners. It’s HUGE here, I mean HUGE!!! It’s awesome to see everyone dressed up and having fun together, and the departments provide themed food, which is always a treat.
What is the best thing about life at UAS?
Waking up every day and looking out my window, and seeing this beautiful place that I live in. I am so thankful each day for life, and being here. If I had to choose the best, that would be it. But there are a lot of other ‘best things’ about UAS- I encourage everyone to come explore UAS and find their best!
What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Being involved on campus, studying, outdoors. UAS is located in the most beautiful area, and I love to get out there and enjoy as much of it as possible.
If you could choose three words that signify UAS, what would they be?
Learn, Engage, Change!