Program honors students with academic achievement, leadership skills
June 18, 2020
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has chosen two Native graduate students for its 2020 Judson L. Brown Leadership Award.
The awards went to Mike Hoyt of Wrangell, who is pursuing his Masters in Education at the University of Southeast Alaska, and Katelynn Drake of Hoonah, who is pursuing her Masters in English at Emerson College.
The $5,000 scholarships go to students who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership skills, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
“Both candidates are excellent examples of the caliber of scholars the program is striving to cultivate and support,” Worl said. “They are also both rooted in their Native culture.”
Mike Hoyt was appointed leader of the Teeyhittaan clan of Wrangell in 2013. He has served on the Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council since 2016 and as a delegate at Tlingit and Haida General Assembly since 2018. He resigned to take a job as a teacher in Nome, where he became the advisor for the Nome Native Youth Leadership Organization and served the Nome Public Schools Equity Committee, which seeks to raise the achievement of all learners and eliminate the racial and socio-economic predictability and disproportionality of the highest and lowest achieving groups.
He is a strong advocate of place-based and culturally-relevant education within K-12 schools. To that end, he has introduced new courses that span oral stories from time immemorial to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
As a teacher, his goal is to “bridge the gaps between Western education, which tends to privilege the written word, and Alaska Native cultures, which tend to feature oral stories and history,” Hoyt wrote.
Katelynn Drake is a writer who aspires to document Tlingit culturally-based stories and narratives to prevent Native histories from being lost. She hopes to work in the publishing industry, which employs the “gatekeepers” in the literary world who sometimes prevent marginalized voices from being heard, she wrote.
“In recent years there has been a push to rectify this, but there is no denying that Native Americans suffer from the effects of invisibility. We are rarely ever portrayed in the media, and if we are, it is usually in an offensive and stereotypical way,” she wrote.
“I think that it is important that Native works are shared, archived and published in the industry, and I would like to work in a capacity that promotes our voices and preserves our histories.”
Chris and Mary McNeil established the scholarship fund in 2006 in honor of Chris’ uncle, Tlingit leader Judson Lawrence Brown, who was a forceful advocate for education and leadership development. The endowment is administered by Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.
CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Mike Hoyt and Katelynn Drake. Photos courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. For high-resolution images, contact email@example.com.