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Ilisagvik offers First Alaskans internship program

July 20th, 2013 | By Sarah Martinsen Print this article   Email this article  

This year, Ilisagvik College hosted First Alaskans intern Piiyuuk Olivia Shields, a sophomore at the University of Alaska Anchorage studying Early Childhood Education.

Piiyuuk said that she was interested in this program "because I believe in their vision. First Alaskans Institute works to advance Alaska Natives through community engagement, information and research, collaboration, and leadership development. I also saw this as a great opportunity to advance my skills so I could use them to help our Native people."

She added, "Ilisagvik College was my number one choice because I have heard nothing but great things about this college and also saw it as an opportunity to learn about what Ilisagvik has to offer."

Piiyuuk is Yup'ik and tribally affiliated with Nunakauyarmiut Tribal Council of Toksook Bay. Her parents are Agatha John-Shields and Samuel T. Shields Jr.

Piiyuuk has been more than a little busy during her summer with Ilisagvik. In just her first two weeks, she developed, advertised and taught a Yup'ik dance class; developed a 15-hour training to teach people how to take their baby sitting business and turn it into a legal and licensed home-based business; and researched the need for a semester-long class on behavior management in a childcare setting, a class she subsequently developed.

During her internship, Piiyuuk will work with College President Pearl Brower and her staff in the areas of External Relations and Development, on projects such as researching and writing grants and doing successful fundraising. She will work with the Department of Instruction to understand the value of each function in the department as it relates to the overall goals of the college, including areas such as the ABE/GED program, Distance Education, Foundational Education, Inupiaq Studies and Admissions and Records.

Piiyuuk will also spend time with the Department of Community and Workforce Development to specifically assist the dean in arranging a Workforce Development Advisory Board meeting by creating an agenda and leading a discussion that would focus on facilitating their participation. She will then move on to work with the Dean of Students to develop three activities for summer camp programming: one recreational, one cultural and one academic. Piiyuuk is expected to develop an overview of each activity as well as define the supplies needed, create the instructions required by the facilitator, implement the program, and finally, develop a questionnaire to evaluate the success of the activity.

The Iḷisaġvik College's First Alaskans Institute Summer Internship Program has extensive and admirable goals.

Some of the objectives for the interns are exploring such topics as understanding the qualities, characteristics, traits, choices and actions of effective Native leaders; discussing political, economic, educational and social issues and their historical impacts on Native people, politics, and leaders; helping interns understand their own personality traits, their personal interactions and choices, and providing some practical tools for effective planning and decision-making; training interns in successful management practices for organizations; training interns in the processes of policy formation at various levels of government; presenting and discussing current issues in the context of Native cultural values; and familiarizing interns with methods and institutions of community service (including volunteering, educational mentoring, child-care and development, Elder care, etc.). After 10 years of operations, these goals have been met and exceeded by the interns participating in the program.

Clearly Ilisagvik is keeping Piiyuuk busy and occupied this summer. So why is she working so hard during her summer vacation? According to Piiyuuk, "Here at Ilisagvik I have learned the unique role and importance of each college department. I have learned much about how the college works and even taught a class. This experience has been valuable because it's become clear to me how the college helps to serve and empower the communities throughout the North Slope."

She concluded, "I would greatly recommend that others apply for the First Alaskans Institute's Summer Internship Program because I believe that the First Alaskans Institute is doing a great job in advancing Alaskan Natives. I would also recommend doing the internship at the Ilisagvik College because it is a great place to work, filled with wonderful staff that are doing great things for their community."

Added Ilisagvik President Pearl Brower, "Ilisagvik is dedicated to advancing Native peoples from all over the state of Alaska. Working with this summer intern program gives us a chance to do just that. It gives students from all over the state a chance to see just how vibrant and vital an educational atmosphere exists at Ilisagvik. Our goal is to have them spread the word that education is the way to our future as Alaska's First People and Ilisagvik is playing a leading role in that endeavor."

For more information on the First Alaskans Institute's Summer Intern Program, go to

For more information on how Ilisagvik College can be your first step into a brighter future, contact Recruitment Coordinator, Janelle Everett, at 1-800-478-7337 ext. 1799, or online at


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