BSNC descendant Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair is a student dedicated to her career goal of working as a counselor for youth struggling with addiction. he is currently working toward earning a dual master’s degree in Addiction Studies and Social Work at Eastern Washington University and plans to return to Alaska to work as a licensed substance use disorder professional with youth in Utqiagvik and the surrounding villages.
Telfair earned a bachelor’s degree in Children’s Studies and a minor in African American Studies from Eastern Washington University in 2020. She is the daughter of Marie and Ernest Stackhouse of Utqiagvik, granddaughter of Leonard Felder of Utqiagvik, the late Rita Felder of Teller and Michael and Martha Stackhouse of Utqiagvik.
“Compassion, kindness and staying open-hearted is important in both the work field and life.”
What resources do you use to attain your degree and for graduate school?
Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair: “Through scholarships, internships, extracurricular activities and cultural traditions, we are always students and always learning. These resources made it possible for my transition into my bachelor’s degree and now a dual master’s degree. Staying involved within my local community was critical for my future success, even when I did not know it at the time.”
What training or experiences have helped you progress through higher education?
Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair: “Transitioning from my hometown of Barrow, Alaska to Cheney, Wash., was definitely challenging. Experiences such as traveling with my high school sports teams and participating in programs such as Young Scholars and GeoForce Alaska were helpful.
As I progressed further into my degree, internships in Barrow and working with my community gave me a better perspective on what I wanted to do. For most of my college career, I worked directly with children with the North Slope Borough at Children and Youth Services. These experiences solidified my passion for youth which made all my training much more enjoyable.”
What barriers or challenges have you faced?
Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair: “The biggest barrier I continue to face while attending college is being homesick. My first few months of my freshman year, I did not think I could continue. I missed my family, our traditions, and our celebrations. Being 2,000 miles away was so difficult. I still become very homesick.
I have adjusted by building connections in Washington. Friends and mentors have made my time worthwhile. I started to get involved with organizations, community service and clubs through my school. Staying involved and putting yourself out to the world is always helpful no matter where you are.”
What skills or traits are useful in your field?
Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair: “The most important skills I have recognized within this field are active listening, compassion and kindness. You never know someone’s story until you listen. It is always important to be kind to everyone you come across. Compassion, kindness and staying open-hearted is important in both the work field and life.”
What advice do you have for young Alaska Native people interested in pursuing this pathway?
Angelica Dawn Alivrun Telfair: “My biggest advice would be to ‘just try it.’ Trying new things can reveal a lot about yourself. Putting yourself in unfamiliar situations is an opportunity for growth, whether leaving the state for school/trade school, learning a new language, trying a new sport or even something as small as trying new food. Do not be afraid of failure, especially if you are trying something new. You are growing!”