Scholarship Student Spotlight
In 2020, ONC will feature a scholarship student success story each month
to highlight the hard work and dedication of its scholarship recipients.
My name is Makayla Pestrikoff and I am originally from Eagle River, Alaska, but I am currently living in Seattle, Washington for school. Having been raised by my parents Michael and Debra Pestrikoff, I inherited two culturally rich and diverse heritages. My native heritage comes from my father’s side of the family and extends clear back to my great grandparents, Dora and Pat Pestrikoff, who are from Ouzinkie, as well as my grandmother, Dorothy Morrison. As for my mother’s side of the family, I acquired my Italian roots from my grandfather, Charles Digati, and his parents, who immigrated from Sicily, Italy to the United States in the early 1900s. With this diverse heritage came a lot of unique perspectives, traditions, and experiences that helped shape me into the woman I have become today. I believe my passion for human rights is closely attributed to my heritage, particularly my Alaska Native heritage.
I am currently a senior at the University of Washington and plan on graduating this coming spring with a degree in both Political Science and Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ), and a minor in Human Rights. In regard to my future plans, I initially planned on going to law school directly after graduating from undergrad to pursue my long-range career aspiration of becoming a human rights attorney. However, due to all the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic I have decided to take a gap year before attending law school. During this gap year, I plan to gain practical experience by interning or working at some type of human rights related non-profit organization or law firm and studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). While I am still deciding on which particular field of law that I want to go into, I have narrowed it down to either criminal justice or human rights as they are the two areas that I am most passionate about and interested in pursuing a career out of.
Youth scholarship recipient, Margaux VanTrease, is eight years old and attends Miss Shelly’s School of Dance in Tulsa, Oklahoma and she also plays soccer.
Margaux is the daughter of Jill and Phillip VanTrease and the granddaughter of William and Julie Torsen.
Margaux said, “I like soccer because I’m fast and I’m a good forward. I also like tumbling because I have strong arms and I like to do handsprings and bridges.”
My name is Bella Hanson and I was born and raised in Eagle River, Alaska. I am the daughter of David and Valery Hanson. My grandparents are Glenn and Patricia Godfrey and my great-grandparents are Betty and Jerry Gugel. I spent much of my childhood at my great-grandparents' house listening to stories about their lives growing up in Kodiak. I was always envious of the time they spent with their children and great-grandchildren commercial fishing. The opportunities I have had to explore Kodiak have given me an insight to my family's history.
I am currently a senior at Elmira College in Elmira, New York. I am pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and will be graduating in the spring of 2021. During my time at Elmira, I have been on the Dean's List every year and was awarded Academic All American my Sophomore and Junior years (awarded to student-athletes who maintain a 3.5 GPA and A- average). While it is difficult to manage academics and athletics simultaneously, I have managed to do so by studying and completing homework in any available downtime. This includes studying on the bus after games, as well as spending long nights in the library after a day consisting of class, lifting, and practice.
Upon graduating in the spring, I would like to land a job as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit or Pediatric Oncology. Personally, I like working in areas that require critical thinking at a fast pace. Furthermore, I would like to be in a position where I am able to impact patients to a high degree and make difficult times slightly easier for them and their families.
While in college, I have been competing on a high-caliber women's ice hockey team. During my time here, we have won three conference championships and competed in the national tournament three times. I have played multiple sports throughout my life and love being a part of a team. Having the opportunity to play collegiate hockey while pursuing a career in nursing is something I have always dreamed of doing.
I am eternally grateful for the continuous support and generosity of the Ouzinkie Native Corporation. I would not have been able to afford college or have the academic success I have had without the scholarships I have received.
My name is Rebecca Jones and I was born and raised in Kodiak, Alaska. As a child we often visited Ouzinkie Village, where my Grandma Edna Torsen and Great Grandma Polly Torsen (Panamarioff) were both born and raised. I have fond memories of traveling from Kodiak to Ouzinkie on my dad’s commercial fishing boat with aunts and uncles to go visit family and spend the day together.
I am married to Trevor Jones and we have three beautiful kids ages 13 (girl), 11 (girl) and 8 (boy), who were all born and raised in Kodiak as well.
Through the help of ONC scholarships, I graduated in 2018 with my Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education with a Minor in Early Childhood Special Education. With this degree, I was able to teach for at East Elementary as a Special Education teacher in the Developmental Preschool. I really enjoyed this position and will be returning to the position this fall, after a one year leave of absence in order to finish building a house Trevor had bought when we was in college in Fairbanks and we have not been able to work on since being in Kodiak. We took the year to have flexibility in travel and work and I look forward to teaching again in the fall of 2020.
I am now taking graduate classes through University of Fairbanks in Special Education to better my abilities as a special education teacher. I plan to take classes this summer and next summer and hopefully graduate within the next 2-3 years.
Thank you to ONC for all the support and encouragement their scholarships are and how wonderful the staff is to work with!
I am humbled and so thankful for this help and would not be able to have this degree or position without their support!
ONC Shareholder Melissa Thomas received a Career Enhancement Scholarship to attend a two-day training to become a Volume Lash Technician in January 2020.
Melissa’s parents are Anna Rae Bent and Nicholas Chichenoff, and her daughter is Mia Thomas.
Melissa has her own business called Esteem Beauty.
ONC descendant, Tyler Agafonov, is a senior at the University of Washington, Seattle and an ONC scholarship recipient. Tyler is earning a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science with a Minor in Education (Learning and Society) and he will graduate in spring 2021. He also made the Dean’s List for the school year and received a letter of accomplishment from the dean.
Tyler’s parents are Jo Ann (Torsen) Agafonov and Edward Agafonov, and his grandparent is Claudia Torsen.
ONC descendant Chanel Pestrikoff a sophomore at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon and a youth scholarship recipient.
Chanel said, “Hello, my name is Chanel Pestrikoff. My parents are Michael and Debbie Pestrikoff. My late grandparents are Dorothy Morrison and my great grandparents are Dora and Patrick Pestrikoff - they are all from Ouzinkie. On my mothers’ side, they are Charles and Joan Digati and they both lived in Eugene, Oregon for most of their lives.
I am now a sophomore at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon. I’m currently doing online schooling. It is going really well, and I have adjusted. I’ve learned to manage my time with a schedule that works best; however, I do miss socialization with my classmates and friends. My favorite subject is English, because I really enjoy writing and being creative.
I have taken on a new sport as of this year which is Lacrosse, and I love learning and playing the game. I’m looking forward to being able to get back on the field with my teammates and play again when time allows.
Thanks for your continuing support Ouzinkie Native Corporation.
I appreciate you.
ONC shareholder Annie Ferguson is currently a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman. She is working on a degree in microbiology as an environmental health major and is also working towards a global health minor while being on the pre-med track. She hopes to be able to attend medical school after graduation and practice medicine in Alaska.
Annie said, “I know how important access to quality healthcare is regarding creating a thriving community and I would love to be a part of that someday. During school I also work as a caregiver and I try to do at least four hours of community service a week.
My family includes my mom, Mary Boggs, my dad,
Shawn Ferguson, and my older sister, Emma Ferguson. My grandmother, Martha Delgado, is the one who inspired me to pursue a career in medicine because I saw how important it is to have medical professionals who care about their patients as a person.”
Annie recently met with her college advisor who mentioned that she needed at least 40 hours of shadowing if she wanted her med school application to be competitive. She is currently reaching out to healthcare professionals who might be interested in having a student shadow them this summer.
ONC descendant, William Josef Ressel, is a fifth grader in Golden, Colorado. Will has received an ONC youth scholarship since 2019 for his music lessons and he studies classical acoustical guitar and piano at Bartle Guitar Studio.
Will enjoys music and has been studying and playing since 2016. He performs in several recitals a year that are organized by his teacher and he’s been selected twice to compete in his grammar school Talent Show.
Will was born in Colorado and enjoys going to Alaska several times a year to visit family. He especially likes fishing with his Grandfather Josef, although last time he went fishing he had a broken arm and had to have his dad help him fish. He is in fifth grade at Golden View Classical Academy and is looking forward to middle school.
His grandparents are Josef and Ina Ressel (Petersen) of Anchorage. His great-grand parents are Nels and Margaret Petersen (Danielsen) of Anchorage and his great-great grandparents are Sverre and Katherine Danielsen (Larionoff) of Kodiak.
Will’s parents, Erik and Kim Ressel, said:
“For us - his parents - we think the scholarship program is great and we really appreciate how supportive you are for descendants and shareholders. We want to offer as many opportunities to our son as possible and this scholarship helps us support his music hobby. Thank you so much!”
ONC descendant, Josh Hanson, is in his final year of college at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Josh has received an ONC scholarship since 2016 and he will graduate in June 2020 with a double major - a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a cumulative GPA of 3.47.
Josh is the Vice-Chair of the Koniag Education Foundation Student Advisory Committee. He also plays hockey for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Hockey Team. Originally from Eagle River, Josh’s mother is Valerie Godfrey Hanson, his father is David Hanson, his grandmother is Patricia Godfrey and his great-grandmother is Betty Gugel.
In 2018, Josh wrote a letter to the ONC Board of Directors regarding the John Panamarioff Sr., Scholarship Program. His letter read:
Dear Ouzinkie Native Corporation members,
My name is Joshua Hanson and I am a recipient of the John Panamarioff Sr. Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. I am a lifelong Alaskan and when I’m away from home doing my undergraduate studies, I always count down the days until I can once again see the Chugach Mountains as I ﬂy over the Cook Inlet and back to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
I graduated from West High School in Anchorage in May of 2010 before I left to play junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in Portland, Oregon from August 2010 to May of 2015. Through the ups and downs of my hockey career, I stayed persistent and earned a 5 year scholarship through the WHL to attend the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. While this scholarship was very generous, it only covered a portion of the total university cost and left me stressing about my ﬁnances. That’s when the Ouzinkie Native Corporation stepped in.
The corporation’s generosity in the form of the John Panamarioff Sr. Scholarship helped me bridge the ﬁnancial gap and gave me peace of mind and ﬁnancial stability. It has allowed me to focus entirely on my studies and not have to stress about how I’m going to buy my next meal, cover my tuition, or pay my rent. As a result, I have been able to earn Academic All-Canadian Honors in each of my ﬁrst two years at the university and maintain a 3.5 GPA and A- average. I was even humbled by making the Dean’s List at the end of my second year.
There is no doubt in my mind that my success would not be possible without the generosity and support of the Ouzinkie Native Corporation. I would not be able to afford tuition at such a high quality university without the John Panamarioff Sr. Scholarship and would not be blessed with the academic success I’ve accrued without the ﬁnancial stability the scholarship offers me.
I would like to thank the corporation from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to the possibility of one day giving back to the community and the corporation that has given so much to me. Thank you!
Youth scholarship recipient, Hayley Holden, received a youth scholarship to attend dance class at “Next Step Dance” in Kodiak.
Hayley’s mother is shareholder Amanda Holden and she said, “Great, thank you so much! This is great news! Please send our extended thank you to all involved. Such a great program ONC offers the youth.”