Doyon Foundation Graduate Defies Statistics to Become Positive Role Model
When Doyon Foundation student Greg Bringhurst walked across the stage to receive his college diploma on Sunday, May 11, it was not only a great personal accomplishment - it was also a positive example for other young, Alaska Native men.
Bringhurst, a life-long Fairbanks resident who graduated last Sunday from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) with a degree in management and organization, has overcome his share of challenges to get to this point. In addition to being one of the first in his family to attain a college degree, Bringhurst has also defied the high rate of Alaska Native students who drop out of college, and challenged statistics showing that Alaska Native males are less likely to obtain a college education than Alaska Native females.
Bringhurst, a graduate of Lathrop High School, watched many of his fellow students either drop out or chose not to pursue higher education. "I knew a lot of kids were dropping out, but I knew it was really important to have a degree, so I made it a goal," he said.
Following high school, Bringhurst attended a business school in Hawaii for two years before deciding to return home to finish his schooling. Upon his return, however, he discovered that hardly any of his credits would transfer. "It was almost like starting over," he said.
Bringhurst took it in stride, however, and "started going to school really seriously." That was in 2005. Now, three years later, he is a college graduate.
"It never dawned on me not to graduate," he said. "It did occur to me that my education wouldn't be a direct, four-year path, but I never thought to throw in the towel. No matter what challenges you face, you can still take charge, work through it and succeed."
Bringhurst acknowledges there is a high number of Alaska Native students who don't complete their degrees, and said he hopes he can be a role model for younger students. For Bringhurst personally, his uncle, who taught at the collegiate level for a number of years in the past, has served as a positive example.
"My uncle has been really inspirational to me," he said. "Having a role model has been really good."
In addition to having a role model, Bringhurst also encourages students to get involved - an area where he certainly leads by example. Bringhurst is the vice president of the UAF Native Alaskan Business Leaders, is a member of the UAF School of Management Student Advisory Committee, and is involved with the Interior Alaska Leadership Council.
Bringhurst is also involved in the Model United Nations Alliance, and was one of four UAF students to travel to Santa Barbara, Calif. to participate in a conference in April. Through his participation in the UAF Leadership Program, Bringhurst traveled to Washington, D.C. in March to broaden the perspective on hunger and homelessness by meeting with state politicians and working with a local service organization.
"It's important to pay attention to what's going on, and speak up on things that are going to impact your life," he said.
After graduating, Bringhurst said he would like to realize his life-long dream of starting his own business - an advertising firm, perhaps. "I want to find something that is rewarding, a job where I can give back," he said.
Bringhurst will give the keynote address at the annual Doyon Foundation graduation reception, which will be held Friday, May 16, 2008 from 3 - 5 p.m. at the Doyon, Limited Chiefs Court at 1 Doyon Place in Fairbanks, Alaska.