Ray Kasak is a soft-spoken young man from Nuiqsut, the son of Rhoda Mullen and Jerry Sikvayugak. He is pursuing an Associate of Arts (AA) degree at Iḷisaġvik College after dropping out of school in 10th grade and taking a series of jobs with no real future. It did not take long for Ray to realize that he did not have much of a future if he did not go back to school and get his GED and pursue some postsecondary education. Ray said, “I got tired of going from job to job. I wanted to have a career in something I liked doing. Maybe I’ll be a teacher. Maybe I’ll go on and get a four-year degree? Right now, I’m excited to be getting my AA degree.”
Ray credits Iḷisaġvik’s village outreach as one of the reasons he got back into school. An Iḷisaġvik recruiter went to Nuiqsut and Ray found himself listening to the recruiter’s message. Now, with the support of his family, the student services division at Iḷisaġvik, and financial aid, Ray finds himself on the path to a brighter future. “When I first came here I was homesick,” Ray said, “but then my family really encouraged me and the people at student services really supported me and now I feel like I’m really making it here and liking it. I think by having my family be so supportive and happy that I’m here has made all the difference in not giving up when I was homesick.”
IḷisaġvikAccording to Jennifer Kiser, Iḷisaġvik’s Student Advocate, “Ray has been doing great! He is currently a federal work-study student for student services and helps with various tasks from shoveling snow to cleaning rooms. He is very kind and generous. He enjoys spending time with friends and helping others. He really enjoys working with children and wants to have a career that has to do with helping children or helping others. Overall Ray’s positive light and care for others shines through.”
Recently Ray received the highest grade on a test in his biology class. Instructor Linda Nicholas-Figueroa said of Ray, “In the beginning Ray was shy to ask for help but after the student services set up tutoring sessions for him he became more comfortable and learned that it is okay and a good idea to get extra help when needed. After a couple of weeks of tutoring sessions Ray felt more confident about how to organize class time along with study time and is no longer in need of tutoring sessions. Ray is a pleasure to have in class. He is enthusiastic, positive, outgoing, and fully participates in all classroom activities and discussions.”
In addition, the Dean of Students and Institutional Development, Pearl Brower, states that “Ray is a great student and a great addition to our dorm family here at Iḷisaġvik. I commend him for the decision he made to return to school and finish his GED and then to go on to further his education. I look forward to seeing all of the accomplishments of this young man as he continues to grow and give back to his community.”
When asked what he would say to young people in high school or who dropped out and are now wondering whether they should go back to get their degree, Ray said, “Going to college is an experience you can keep and benefit from no matter what you study. Study something you love and then you can make it a career for the rest of your life.”
Congratulations Ray for being our spotlight student!
If you’re interested in finding the career you can love for the rest of your life, contact Recruiter Janelle Everett at (907) 852-1799. Remember, more education, more options, more out of life!