Our Elders and young ones hold a special place in my heart”

Amber Steinhilpert is the daughter of Ada Chapman of Tanacross and Charles Steinhilpert, Jr. of Anchorage. Amber’s maternal grandparents are the late Louise Luke and Wayne Chapman, and her paternal grandparents are the late Ramona Butler and Charles Steinhilpert, Sr.  

Amber attends Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, where she has earned Dean’s List honors while pursuing a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She plays NCAA Division III women’s hockey for the Alvernia Golden Wolves and plans to graduate in 2023. Her hometown is Anchorage. 

Doyon Foundation: You’ll soon be in clinical training — an intensive job shadow to put learning into practice — and you’ll start studying for licensing exams that are taken after graduation. What’s life like for you? 

Amber Steinhilpert: I’m preparing for a nursing clinical in spring 2021. There are many requirements that nursing students go through before they may be in clinical training. Then over the next six months, I’ll be studying for exams that determine next steps in my nursing program. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, I’ll complete the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses). Preparing for this exam must be done years in advance — it’s critical. 

DF: How does playing hockey fit in?

AS: Hockey helps maintain my physical health. I’m starting my second year as a forward with the NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey for Alvernia. We formed the team last year and have significantly improved. I’m looking forward to being on the ice with my teammates and coaches.

DF: And as you look beyond Graduation Day and licensing?

AS: I’d love to return to Alaska to work with my Indigenous people, to educate others about physical and mental health, especially in places with limited access to medical care. My goal is work in the surgical unit at an Indian Health Service hospital. I want to advocate for patients, anticipate their needs, and communicate with patients and families. 

I’d be humbled to help our Native community receive the medical care they deserve, especially our Elders and young ones, who hold a special place in my heart.

DF: You’re the first in your family to pursue a medical career. How did your Doyon Foundation scholarship help you reach this milestone?

AS: I’m thankful for Doyon Foundation merit-based scholarships. My student account is paid in full so that I may focus on my studies. I’m fulfilling my dreams of becoming a student athlete at Alvernia while studying nursing. 

Having support from my Native community motivates me to be a positive role model, to help educate others to grow our culture and pursue their own dreams for medical careers. 

DF: Most students in challenging programs like yours say that managing time is vital.

AS: Majoring in nursing while also playing a collegiate sport is difficult and time consuming. I decided that education is a top priority, and that focus has allowed me to succeed in required courses.

Time management is the biggest challenge I’ve faced during my education. It’ll continue to be difficult because advanced courses are required to stay in the nursing program. Test-taking skills are another challenge. Questions on the NCLEX-RN can be tricky. You have to understand the material as well as how a question is structured. Practice is needed. 

DF: You’ve got a time-management plan: Keep a daily schedule, start school assignments early and set realistic goals. Other ideas to help students stay on track? 

AS: I believe that as long as you give your full effort and then some, the rest will fall into place. 

Students who are pursuing education at a higher level should be sure they love what they’re doing. Seek opportunities to help others. Participate in campus activities. Push yourself but know your limits.

Leading by example may inspire other students or athletes. Allow for mistakes with the expectation of correcting and improving. And remember to have fun, enjoy your education and help better this world. 

DF: Hockey is more than a game for young athletes like you who want to help others. 

AS: Yes. I’m involved in the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Middle Atlantic Conference SAAC. We meet about twice a month to discuss ways to support healthy lifestyles for student athletes.

I volunteer at the local ice rink, helping children learn to play ice hockey. It’s a program through the Reading (Pennsylvania) Royals, the men’s professional hockey team. It’s heartwarming when younger girls skate up to ask how I got where I am and what advice I have to help them succeed. 

I’m also involved in the Justice, Equity and Inclusion Club at Alvernia. At a time when there are disagreements worldwide over politics, race, and gender identification, among many other issues involving diversity, I believe that education and discussion are important. 

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