In our Storyteller profile series, we highlight the dreams, journeys and achievements of Doyon Foundation students, alumni and supporters. In this episode of Storyteller, we speak with Doyon Foundation alumnus and Fairbanks business owner, Patrick Tanner. You can watch or listen to Patrick’s full profile, or read a transcript, with minor edits for clarity.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: In this episode of Storyteller, we’re here with Patrick Tanner, a Doyon Foundation alumnus. Patrick graduated with his MBA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in spring 2022 and is the owner of Turbo Tags and Titles, a small business here in Fairbanks. Thank you so much, Patrick, for joining us.
PATRICK TANNER: Thank you, Jennifer. So just a little bit about myself … I grew up in Fairbanks and Galena. My maternal grandparents are Ed and Laura Pitka of Galena. My paternal grandparents are Jack and June Tanner of Oakland. My parents are Mike and Maudry Tanner of Fairbanks. Me and my wife, Sheena, live here in Fairbanks with our three kids, Hailee, Valek and Verek.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Tell me a little bit about your educational journey. What school did you graduate from? What degree did you receive? When did you graduate?
PATRICK TANNER: Well, it seemed like I was going to school forever. I think I started out down in Arizona for a couple of years. I transferred back to UAF. I was doing a computer science major, got my associate degree. Decided to change my major to accounting, so I got my bachelor’s in accounting in 2012. And then spring 2022, just got my master’s in business.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Wow, awesome. Why did you choose that field to study?
PATRICK TANNER: Business has always been something I was interested in. I always read stories of Jack Ma of Alibaba, Larry Page, or Richard Branson, like Virgin. Or Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Reading stories about the obstacles that they had to overcome to be a success, that’s just something that always interests me in business. Accounting came along with it because that’s the language of business. You got to know your numbers to have a business, so that’s where that came into play. And then the thought of owning a business and having the freedom to decide what I want to do for the day instead of being told by somebody else, that’s just always been something nice for me.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: What are you doing now and what do you hope to accomplish through your career/work?
PATRICK TANNER: When COVID started, just stuck at home, I was trying to be productive. So using my time wisely, I decided to take a couple of classes. And then I just started researching contracts with the State of Alaska and then I applied for one of them, the DMV business, and I was awarded that. And then taking master’s classes, you always have different projects that you got to do. So I used Turbo Tags as my project topic for a lot of marketing or business or HR processes. It kind of like doubled up, so it worked nicely for me in that regard.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: How did your education help you to get where you are today?
PATRICK TANNER: It just opened a lot of doors for me. I probably wouldn’t have access to different jobs without education and working in different places and learning from other people. Without education, I don’t think I would be able to develop further like I have been.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: What was the biggest challenge you faced in your educational journey and how did you overcome it?
PATRICK TANNER: I think the work/life balance. I mean school, I work full time, and balancing kids and scheduling … that was always a challenge, the every day scheduling.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Yeah, that’s true for pretty much everybody. Do you expect to continue your education in the future? If so, what are your plans?
PATRICK TANNER: Not in the traditional sense, but I think I’m a lifelong learner. I’m always reading and trying to learn new things and skills. I try to read a book a week. It doesn’t always come out that way, but I’m always trying to further learn stuff.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Awesome. That’s a good mindset to have. I love learning, too. Okay, next question. Apart from school and work, what other activities or community involvement do you enjoy?
PATRICK TANNER: I like watching my kids play basketball and hockey and cheer. Just watching the games and being out there and seeing them when they score a point or a goal is always kind of cool, the happiness on their face.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Yeah, that’s always fun. What role does your culture or Native language play in your life?
PATRICK TANNER: I like hunting and getting out and boating and snow machining, four wheeling, just being outdoors a lot. I remember as a kid, hearing Elders at the hall or potlatch talking in Native language and just trying to figure out what they’re talking about. I thought that was cool. I really think that’s a cool thing that the Doyon Foundation does with enhancing Native language and growth there.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Have you been able to try Doyon Languages Online?
PATRICK TANNER: Actually, I have in the past. I got on the website and had a bunch of different words on there and then I used the dictionary a couple of times.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Awesome. I think they added new content. I know Benhti is on there, which is Minto dialect. And then there’s Denaakk’e lessons on there if you get back on.
PATRICK TANNER: I always passed by the training room as the Elders were in their workshops with the younger people and teaching them, so I always thought that was cool.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: What kind of support did you receive from Doyon Foundation and how did it help you as a student?
PATRICK TANNER: Doyon Foundation has always been there for me, kind of like a rock. They always supported me throughout my education over the years so I’m really thankful for that.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Thank you for that. Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for students today?
PATRICK TANNER: I would say just to stay the course, keep going. I was in school for a super long time, just one or two classes some semesters, but eventually, you get a degree along the way. So I’d just say keep going.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Good words. Is there anything else you’d like to mention today?
PATRICK TANNER: I just wanted to thank Doyon Foundation and you, Jennifer, and also my wife and family for supporting me along my educational goals. That’s been a big help.
JENNIFER MAYO-SHANNON: Awesome. Thank you so much, Patrick.
PATRICK TANNER: Yeah, thanks for having me.
For more Storyteller profiles, visit doyonfoundation.com/storyteller. Or if you are interested in being featured in an upcoming Storyteller profile, or would like to nominate a Doyon Foundation student, alumni or supporter, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907.459.2048.