BSNC’s Career Pathways Series helps showcase jobs held by successful shareholders and descendants. This series aims to raise awareness of these career options and the essential skills needed to succeed in these positions.
BSNC shareholder Ashley Sockpick recently completed an accelerated community-based distance education nursing program through Frontier Nursing University (FNU). FNU seeks to meet the needs of prospective nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners who seek to remain in their home communities while earning a graduate education in pursuit of their professional goals. She is now a Family Nurse Practitioner at Southcentral Foundation.
In 2014, Sockpick earned her Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a Chemistry minor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. She also attended school in Moorhead, Minn. Sockpick’s parents are Ricky Sockpick and Anne Narog.
What inspired you to pursue your career?
“I grew up in Nome, Alaska and spent most of my summers with my grandmother Agnes Amarok and Aunt Deborah Anungazuk at fish camp. I thrived in my traditional values and found my love for the medical field. I grew up observing, experiencing and hearing stories from Irene Aukongak, our health aid at that time. My mother Anne is also a Family Nurse Practitioner. From then on, I knew I wanted to follow Irene and my mother’s path on becoming a health practitioner.”
What were some challenges or barriers you faced?
“Some of the challenges that I faced during my career journey included attending school away from home. I could have attended school in Alaska, but the wait time for nursing school was two years, so I sacrificed being close to home to become a nurse sooner. I often was home-sick and sometimes could not afford to fly back home for the holidays. This was hard at times, but I was lucky to have the support of other students on campus in very similar situations. I knew that, in the end, I would not be away from home forever. In a way, I feel that this made me confident and more independent and solidified my dream and abilities to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Once I attained my bachelor’s degree, I returned home and worked as a registered nurse for two years and applied to FNU. The day that I got that acceptance letter to a top graduate nurse program, I cried. I attended FNU’s distance education program while working full-time as a nurse at Alaska Native Medical Center and as needed for the Department of Corrections. I became pregnant during school and danced my early contractions away while attending lectures online. It was great because most of my colleagues in school were becoming midwives and knew so much about pregnancy while I was just learning. I had so much support and a culture of caring that thrived throughout my graduate program.”
What resources did you use to pursue your degree?
“During these school years, I was blessed to have the support from the Native American Center (NAC) on campus and support from surrounding tribes in Moorhead, that offered study areas and fun activities to engage and connect with other students. I felt that without the support of my family, friends and NAC, it would have been very challenging and at times impossible to move forward in school as I missed home so much.
Looking back, it sounds like it was a lot to handle, but at the moment, it was doable. I made lists of what I needed to get done, I asked my family for help, and I scheduled out my days to tackle schoolwork a little before and after school, never leaving it for the last minute. I also joined a Facebook group of other Native women pursuing school while working or raising kids. We would vent about household chores, talk about school or reach out when I needed childcare. This group was such a great resource. I also called my family to talk about stresses and every one of them would offer words of encouragement and remind me of my end goals.”
What advice do you have for young people?
“For those thinking of any career path, I want you to know that it is possible! Use your resources, know that your community, family and friends support you and break things down into smaller tasks! Eventually, while you’re chipping away, you’ll be all done!”