Stacy Roberts, one of about 380 graduating seniors at Juneau-Douglas High School this year, would like to be a dentist - or a teacher.
The teacher part was inspired by JDHS social studies teacher Paula Dybdahl, Roberts said. The dentist part is because when she was in foster care, her foster parents were in the medical field.
Roberts, 18, has been a four-year member of the school's Early Scholars program, in which Native students take social studies classes together, receive guidance in selecting courses that prepare them for college, take classes at the University of Alaska Southeast and visit prospective colleges.
Dybdahl, a Native teacher in the Early Scholars program, is "very outgoing," Roberts said. "She doesn't get along with just one race. She gets along with everybody. She has fun with students and co-workers at the high school."
When Roberts was a freshman, she attended her first retreat with the Early Scholars. She was so quiet that Dybdahl worried about her transition to "our loud and overcrowded" high school, the teacher said.
"She quickly proved my worry to be groundless," Dybdahl said. "Throughout four years of growing and learning, both personally and academically, she has remained, hands down, one of the most grounded and kind people I have ever met.
"Even when faced with adversity, she maintains a positive and gentle attitude."
In addition, this year Roberts has been in a program for Native high school and college students that prepares them to be teachers. The UAS program is called Preparing Indigenous Teachers for Alaska Schools.
Roberts plans to go to a community college in Oklahoma and then transfer to Fort Lewis College in Colorado. She holds a $2,500 scholarship from Sealaska, the regional Native corporation.
"I think after I'm done with the college part, I'd move back up to Alaska to teach. Not a whole lot of Alaska Native students finish school, so I think it would be helpful to them to stay in school, learn about their culture, and not get involved in drugs and alcohol."
Besides Dybdahl's classes, Roberts particularly enjoyed courses with English teacher George Gress and oceanography teacher Clay Good.
Gress "made it fun and interesting. He didn't focus on one student. He spent time with all the students in his class. He made sure that they are passing and get their assignments done."
Good "was outgoing," she said, figuratively and literally. "He'd take the class out when it's sunny."
Roberts spent a year with Interact, a high school club that promotes leadership and community service, and a year and a half with a youth leadership group at Tlingit-Haida Central Council.
She participated in the Miss Tlingit-Haida Youth Leadership Pageant this year, for which she wrote an essay on racism and education. She fulfilled the talent portion of the contest by working with Harborview Elementary students who are in a Native dancing group.
Roberts said she'd like to see more cultural events in the high school.
"I know I would like it, and other students, too," she said.
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