“Doyon Foundation has made my dreams possible”

In honor of our upcoming 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, we’d like to introduce you to another one of our amazing Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipients: Calee Stark. This is the latest in our series of student profiles highlighting our 2020 – 2021 Morris Thompson students and honoring their hard work and achievements, leading up to the event on June 17. For 20 years, the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic has raised money for student scholarships while honoring the memory of inspirational Native leader, the late Morris Thompson.

An undergraduate at the University of Washington (UW), Calee Stark is the daughter of Emily Pitka of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Wes Stark, raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Calee plans to study psychology with the goal of becoming a physician assistant following her graduation from UW in 2023. Her hometown is Fairbanks.

As a student with an interest in autism, Calee Stark believes that one of the best things about her career field – health care – is that it doesn’t yet have all the answers. “Many things remain unknown that we can one day hope to discover,” she says.

Calee traces her commitment to medicine after witnessing care extended to an uncle who was treated for cancer. “Watching the nurses and physicians attempt to do everything they could inspired me to want to improve the level of care in the future,” she shares.

Her short-term goal includes continuing her work as a certified nursing assistant at a Seattle nursing home and eventually serving her community as a physician assistant (PA) in hospitals. Working under a doctor’s supervision, PAs often are among the first medical staff that a patient meets. Physician assistants may examine and diagnose injury or illness, treat and educate patients, and prescribe medicine, among other primary care duties undertaken by doctors.

“Doyon Foundation has made my dreams of working in the medical field possible,” Calee says. “It allowed me to focus on my studies and not stress about how to afford my education. I’m beyond grateful for that.”

A member of organizations aimed at advancing the interests of Indigenous students, Calee belongs to First Nations at UW, an intertribal group focusing on culture and traditions, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Her future plans include taking part in a clinical internship with Apex Summer Camp through the UW Autism Center. The camp offers student interns a chance to gain research insight while it helps children build social and behavioral skills.

Calee, who graduated from high school in 2019, says that college students who encounter challenging courses may benefit from re-thinking what they’ve learned about learning: Strategies that served her well in high school were falling short at a competitive university that attracted other bright students.

“For a while I struggled to learn how to properly study,” she shares. “This was a challenge because I wasn’t used to asking for help.” She soon found on-campus sites for academic advising. Calee says she benefited from more efficient study habits as well as learning the rewards of asking for help. “That ended up being the solution to my problem,” she says.

Her advice to other students: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they may sound obvious.

“If you’re struggling in a class, acknowledge that but don’t let it continue for long,” she advises. “More opportunities started lining up for me when I started to ask questions.” That led her to realize that many people are willing to help: “Just ask!” 

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students forward their education. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. The 20th annual golf classic will take place Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Fairbanks. There are many opportunities to support the event as a sponsor, golfer or volunteer; to learn more and get involved, visit the Foundation website or contact golf@doyon.com.