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Ancestor Energy Helps Edwell John Jr. in Pursuit of Doctorate Degree

This summer, look for stories from some of Sealaska’s scholarship recipients. Each student is on a different path, with diverse personal, academic and professional goals. Sealaska believes in their dreams. By helping to further the education of these future leaders, we are investing in our people’s shared future. For the 2022-2023 school year, Sealaska proudly granted scholarships totaling $1,166,227 to 426 awardees.  

“My ancestors are watching and cheering me on.”  

Edwell John Jr. is pursuing a doctorate in executive leadership with the support of Sealaska, his community and his ancestors. His program is rigorous and challenging for even the most seasoned academic, but receiving a scholarship from Sealaska has helped tremendously with the financial component, he said, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.  

John said he hopes to gain insight and a deeper understanding of leadership at every level – from industry and nonprofit to human services – through the program and hopes to work with and for Alaska Native people upon completing his doctorate: 

“I want to give back to the community by serving the community. With my newly acquired research-based professional degree, I am eager to share all that I learned with my fellow brothers and sisters of Native communities. All organizations benefit from exceptional leadership.” 

John hopes to encourage other nontraditional students to pursue their educational dreams through determination, remembering to take things one step at a time. “Each person will have their path, but one characteristic that should remain constant in your educational journey is to keep moving, one chapter at a time, one essay at a time, one paper at a time, and before you know it, you’ve completed another class. Don’t quit – your ancestors are with you!” 

The support he has received from his community has been an invaluable key to his success, said John. “Gunalchéesh to those who cheered me on throughout my academic journey. In my doctoral program, we started with twenty-two cohort members, and today there are two of us remaining. I will make it, and I will graduate. My ancestors are watching and cheering me on.”

About Sealaska’s Scholarship Program 

Sealaska is dedicated to advancing the opportunities of our people through access to higher education and vocational training. The Sealaska scholarship program serves shareholders and descendants enrolled full or part time in vocational-technical programs and accredited colleges and universities. To date, Sealaska has committed $26.5 million to its scholarship fund and awards 400-plus scholarships per year. For full program information and eligibility requirements, please visit