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Doyon Foundation Student Profile: Peter Hjelm

When Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient Raymond Pitka Jr. looks at Alaska’s youth, he sees potential and possibilities, waiting to be uncovered and developed.

Peter Hjelm of Stevens Village was recently named the 2014 $3,000 Sunnyboy Memorial Competitive Scholarship recipient. The son of John and Isabel Hjelm, of Stevens Village and Princeton, Minnesota, and grandson of Lucy and Theodore John of Stevens Village, Peter is currently attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He expects to graduate in spring 2015 with a degree in rural development, and then plans to find work in his degree area.

“Find something that you love to do and will benefit the people of your community,” Peter advises his fellow students. “Look for a field that has a public service component that your community has need in, then structure your education goals around that. Balance your goals with all aspects, such as finding a career that will support you and give you a sense of satisfaction. For me, that was doing something that would help the people of my community.”

Peter is an active member of his community, having served as a village council member, village corporation board of directors member, and community nonprofit board of directors member. He also sings and dances with the Stevens Village Dance Group.

Peter began his higher education journey more than 25 years ago, and shared that his biggest challenge was returning to a different education system, filled with much younger students and in some cases younger professors.

“I had to remain humble and open to the idea that there are still things I could learn. I realized that I could be a contributor and benefit to my community with more education, so I decided last year to embark on this new exciting journey,” he said.

Speaking from his own life experiences, Peter encouraged other students by saying, “Do not get discouraged by failures – they are simply opportunities to try again and eventually finding success. It took me more than 20 years to return to finding my path again and I look forward to serving my community in any way that will benefit the people of Stevens Village.”

Read more student profiles and success stories.