Iḷisaġvik Students Honored at AIHEC Conference

Lauded for their academic achievements at the conference, Kivvaq and Jackie enjoy the scenery at the Dakota Badlands National Park.Iḷisaġvik College students Kivvaq Nungasak and Jacqueline (Jackie) Aamodt were honored at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC) Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota this past March. Both attended the conference with Iḷisaġvik’s Financial Aid Director Fred Miller. Jackie was honored as the College’s American Indian College Fund Student of the Year, a designation accompanied by a $1,000 scholarship. Kivvaq received a $5,000 Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship from the Coca-Cola Foundation and the American Indian College Fund.

Iḷisaġvik chose Jackie Aamodt as their Student of the Year based on her demonstrated community service and volunteer work while keeping a GPA of 3.0 or better. Jackie noted that “the Elder who prayed at each meeting also told stories about how he was one of the people fighting the battle for education to be among the Indian people. I realized how much I took for granted because I was living in the fruit of victories from battles that the Elders fought. I am glad that I heard these stories because I don’t want to live not knowing the worth of things I receive for free.”

To be eligible for the Coca-Cola Scholarship, Kivvaq had to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, be the first in her immediate family to attend college, be in the first or second semester of college and be of American Indian or Alaska Native descent with both exceptional academic achievement and financial need. When asked about her experiences at the conference and banquet, Kivvaq said, “The banquet was amazing and very formal. It felt good to be recognized and felt good to represent our tribal college. I am honored to come a long way to be recognized from sponsors that support me going to college. We met some people that were very friendly and it was amazing to see how their culture is, what songs they sing and how they drum. We met some people from Bad Nation Drum Group. Bad Nation was an awesome group and I heard they were very popular. On the night I was receiving my academics in excellence certificate, it felt like I was receiving my degree already.”

This is the second time Kivvaq has traveled to the lower 48 in pursuit of her academic dreams. She spent last summer in Washington, DC for an internship with ASRC Federal. Kivvaq said there were so many highlights to that trip that it would be hard to come up with just one or two, but that visiting the White House and traveling up to New York City were especially memorable.

Each student was honored at a banquet specific to their awards and also had a chance to attend a Pow Wow with Indian drummers and dancers. They also saw Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and the Dakota Badlands.

Mr. Miller said he was “very proud and honored to see these young ladies receive their very well-deserved awards.” He continued: “This trip is just another example of how studying with Iḷisaġvik and getting an education can provide you with more options and the chance to get more out of life.”

For more information on attending Iḷisaġvik, please contact Janelle Everett at 1-800-478-7337, toll-free. The same number applies if you would like to know more about getting scholarships to attend Iḷisaġvik, just be sure to ask for Fred Miller.