BSNC is pleased to announce Charlene Aqpik Apok as the 2019 awardee of the Bering Straits Foundation’s (BSF) newly-created Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship. The Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship is a new $10,000 merit-based competitive scholarship awarded by BSF annually to one high-performing student enrolled in an accredited college or university. The scholarship honors the late Tim Towarak, who worked tirelessly to advocate for Alaska Native people.
“This scholarship honors the many contributions of the late Tim Towarak to our company and Region,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “He worked tirelessly to protect Native peoples’ subsistence rights. Charlene’s commitment to advancing and serving indigenous peoples is apparent to me through her academic achievements, devotion to gaining knowledge as a PhD in Indigenous Studies candidate, and through her work in health-related clinical research benefitting Alaska Native people.”
“BSF is very proud to present the inaugural Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship to Charlene Apok and thankful to BSNC for establishing the scholarship,” said BSF Board Chair Jed Ballard. “We are looking forward to celebrating all the great accomplishments Charlene will make for our culture and region.”
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the board of BSF and BSNC for the support,” said Charlene Apok. “There was a time where I felt disconnected between being in higher education and serving our community. I thought I would quit school. Then without saying these things, an Elder knew. They said to me, “Charlene, do you know I was sent to boarding school?” I nodded. “And when that happened, I forgot our language and I can’t sew fancy mukluks. But you know what? I was able to get an education, come back, and teach our people. And I relearned our language.” That story was their way of telling me my path was valid and that I could serve our people in this way – through education and research. From that point on I have not doubted my path using academia while still being a culture bearer, bridging the two. I encourage our people to think about the many ways we can serve our communities through the skill-sets we are given.”
Apok earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies from the University of Washington, a master’s degree in Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development with an emphasis on Circumpolar Health from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Candidates for the Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship are professional career-track shareholder or descendant students with a passion for advocating for, or serving, Alaska Native people. Students do not apply separately for the scholarship. Preference for the scholarship award will be given to students who are Alaska residents.