My Turn: It's a migration, not a brain drain

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Thursday's front-page "Brain Drain" headline was alarmist and unnecessary. In my experience, it's normal that 40 percent of Alaskans in their mid to late teens in 1994 are still out-of-state 10 years later. It's too early for them to come back. We need between 10 to 15 years Outside before we complete our migratory cycle.

I grew up in Juneau and after graduating high school I was eager to explore the world Outside and satisfy my curiosity about what the rest of the country is like. And while young Alaskans like myself headed South for adventure, young folks from Outside headed North. Every year, a new group of eager 20-somethings choose to move to Juneau and every year some of them make Juneau their permanent home. We all benefit from their contribution to the community - as do the communities Outside where Alaskans choose to reside - so it isn't a brain drain, but more of an exchange program.

The term "migration" implies a returning. It takes a salmon two to three years at sea before it gets the urge to return home. For Alaskan kids, it's just a bit longer. I chose to make Juneau my permanent home after a 15-year absence and I've never regretted leaving or coming back. My migration enriched my life and served to strengthen my resolve that, indeed, this is my home.

Patricia R. Hull

JDHS class of 1980


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