Written by Megan.
I recently graduated with my Master of Education from Portland State University. It was bittersweet as I said goodbye to my wonderful class of kindergarteners and my colleagues who I had been with nearly every weekday for the past year. It was always a goal of mine to get my Master’s degree, but something made it feel out-of-reach. I knew that I was capable of doing this academically, but there was something there about it that felt unattainable, until recently.
I am Alaska Native and my culture is a great part of me. I truly did not know this for a long time, but once realized it was difficult to not feel the connection. It is especially important to me that I try to be the best role model for native youth as possible. The American Indian/Alaska Native demographic represents the lowest achieving group of students with approximately 72% earning high school diplomas.
I try to be a positive role model for all youth, especially my younger siblings. I want them to know that no matter what they have been through in their early years, they can be in control of their future with drive and sacrifice. Particularly, I have hopes to inspire those who are growing up in poverty, like I did for most of my memorable childhood years. I am the first to attend a university in my immediate family, rather I am a first-generation college student. It was quite intimidating coming from a small town and deciding to move to the “big city” (Portland) when I was 17. This meant that I was mostly on my own to figure out how to get myself to college and getting myself through. I feel incredibly grateful for the support and resources I had this year as I was lucky enough to get into the American Indian Teacher Program at PSU. With the support of this program, my family, and friends; this once so unattainable feeling goal was achievable.
Education is deeply important to me because of the way it has changed my life. I made a decision at a young age that I would be in charge. I do this through learning. Getting an education was a way out and a pathway to building myself into who I wanted to be. I think one of the most powerful things that a person can do for themselves is to invest in themselves in this way. Does this necessarily mean going to a university? No, but whatever a person decides to do with their life, I believe it should be with a passion because we were all meant to do something great.