Calista GPA requirement unfair

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2010

With the Calista Annual Shareholders meeting coming up, I wanted to share a personal story for other shareholders to think about. While I understand their reasoning of requiring a 2.0 GPA to obtain funding for continuing education from Calista Corporation, I feel that the board should look at each individual application and not rubber stamp someone "denied" based only on a GPA. This practice will not benefit our people or help us to become self-sufficient.

I, like most adolescents in the villages, did not apply myself to my education during high school. Due to the lack of economic resources you would find in major populated areas in this country or problems in the family due to alcoholism, I graduated with less than a 2.0 GPA in 1987. Thirteen years later, I came out of alcohol rehabilitation determined to start my life over SOBER and to take care of my children. I really didn't have any skills that would support myself much less two young children. I made plans to go to vocational school to learn a trade and was accepted. I had always been told that the government would guarantee me a right to a free education, in exchange for our land and all the rights that were taken from our people. I chose plumbing because it is something that I can use to further help our people and village life. I requested funding from Calista Corporation and Alaska Village Council Presidents. Because of graduating with less than a 2.0 GPA, I was denied by Calista! Although Alaska Village Council presidents accepted my request and granted me funding, it wasn't enough. I still needed more money and turned to KNIK Tribal Council who helped make up the difference. I will forever be grateful to these two organizations for believing in me and giving me a chance at a new life!

In the year 2000, I started work as a plumber! I have been employed by a very successful company for 10 years this November. I own my own home and have my children with me. I live in North Carolina now, but my goal is to move back to Alaska as soon as possible.

I don't think any of this would be possible if A.V.C.P. and KNIK had turned their backs on me like Calista. How many of our people have been "denied" a chance at a new life that is successful, self-empowering, and breaking the cycle of addiction, because of a misspent youth?

Walter Heckman

Former resident, Mountain Village, currently residing in Haw River, N.C.

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