Doyon Foundation student Jessie Bergman-David, from Allakaket, is pursuing a bachelor of arts in elementary education through the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Interior-Aleutians Campus, and expects to graduate in May 2010.
Bergman-David, who is a non-traditional student, said higher education students face many challenges. “As a new student, I found I had to learn three difficult aspects simultaneously – terminology, content and technology,” she said.
Another challenge is pursuing her degree via distance delivery, which requires a lot of self-motivation. “As long as you keep up your end, all instructors will work with you,” she said. “Interior-Aleutians Campus staff are wonderful people. They are committed to seeing their students through the education process. In addition to all of the support from the university, I am inspired by previous graduates, especially my cousin, Eleanor Sam, who received her degree in 2007.”
Bergman-David said she is also very grateful for the financial support from Doyon Foundation. “With their support, I have been able to stay at home and focus on my studies,” she said. “Without their support, I most likely would not be where I am. I am already looking forward to the day when I can be a contributor and give a little of what I have been so fortunate to receive back.”
As well as being a full-time student, Bergman-David also works as Allakaket’s home educator for the Head Start Program. She also enjoys winter sports, and is a member of St. John’s in the Wilderness Church. She also recently attended the Graduate Horizons program in Tucson, Ariz., which offered a five-day “crash course” for Native college students, master’s students and alumni to help prepare them for graduate school.
“They bring in representatives from all of the major universities across the nation and have them mentor students on a one-to-one basis,” Bergman-David said. “I came away from this gathering completely inspired by our younger generation. They are driven, intelligent and dedicated to accomplishing their goals.”
Bergman-David had several pieces of advice for other students. “Think positive. Have confidence in yourself. Honor your heritage by achieving those goals that maybe were not available to them. Do the classwork right after class, while the information is fresh, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand,” said Bergman-David, who is the daughter of the late Edward, Sr. and Elizabeth Bergman, and the granddaughter of the late Billy and Cesa Bergman, and the late Linus and Lily.