Jessica’s parents are the late Catherine Maki and the late Gordon Ruck; her grandparents are Nancy (Senungetuk) Felton, of Wales and Nome, and the late Willard Felton. Jessica’s hometown is Anchorage.
“Without Doyon Foundation’s support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Jessica, a doctoral student in social welfare at the University of Washington. Doyon Foundation scholarships, including the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship, helped her pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my educational successes,” she says. In addition to completing research, writing and exams that will precede her dissertation, Jessica reviews journal articles in her field and advocates for social welfare policy. She volunteers in her children’s school, offers guest lectures at UW and the University of Alaska Anchorage, and plans to resume a role with the Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity. She also serves as a co-president of the Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars.
“The stress of multiple demands can become overwhelming,” she acknowledges. “I’ve had to learn to limit what I take on.” Her advice to other students: Remember that persevering to Graduation Day takes more than going to class and cranking out papers.
“Do what brings you internal happiness and satisfaction, help others, always tend to your relationships. Stay connected to who you are and where you come from. Forgive. And always do the best you can.”
Named for the late president and chief executive of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Competitive Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $400,000 over the years to students like Jessica who share his commitment to excellence, leadership and integrity. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic held in June is the Foundation’s largest fundraiser to benefit these scholarships.