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Doyon Foundation Student Profile: Nazune Menka

As Doyon Foundation student Nazune Menka read an e-mail from the Foundation last month, something interesting caught her eye – information on the Native American Political Leadership Program, which offers full scholarships for qualified students to spend a semester in the nation’s capital, while taking classes at George Washington University. Soon after, Menka applied, was accepted and will travel to Washington, D.C. to begin the program in January.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to work with Congressional leaders on important issues and policies, while taking two courses in political management. I’m hoping to take all of the great experiences I’ve had and share them with the communities I am a part of,” Menka said.

Menka grew up in Anchorage and is currently living in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she is completing her master’s in environmental technology management via online courses offered through Arizona State University. Following her graduation in summer 2009, Menka plans to pursue a PhD in environmental science, policy and indigenous advocacy. After completing her schooling, Menka hopes to return to Alaska to work.

Menka said her internship experiences helped her decide what career path she wanted to take.

“It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to study. I had to try a lot of different jobs, internships and courses first, but eventually it all came down to taking care of the land and how we can work toward creating better policies to do that,” she said.

In addition to the upcoming leadership program in Washington, D.C., Menka has completed at least six other internships with organizations ranging from the Center for Disease Control to NBC. Most recently, she completed an internship with the National Park Service in Fairbanks, which she also learned about through the Foundation.

“Most of the valuable work experience I’ve received has been in the form of internships. They build your resume, allow you to travel to new places, meet new people and get experience without a long-term commitment. That allows you to really see what kind of work you can see yourself doing after you graduate,” Menka said.

In addition to her internship experiences, Menka has also worked with indigenous, environmental or low-income children’s programs. She is currently working at a Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization in Honolulu. Menka is also closely involved with Native student associations, including Alpha Pi Omega, the first Native American sorority in the nation. She also enjoys traveling and attending educational conferences.

Menka is the daughter of Dianna Knight and Leonard Menka, and the granddaughter of Winnie Woods and James Knight, and Rita Monaghan.