Laid off from her job, with no clear vision of what she wanted next, Payge Panamarioff found inspiration — and connection to her culture — at CITC
“I honestly didn’t have a plan straight out of high school,” said Payge Panamarioff. “Just going straight into the workforce, you kind of lose yourself because you’re just trying to survive. You can’t think about your dreams.”
Payge, 26 and a graduate of Dimond High School, didn’t have a plan, but she did know she wanted more. Eight years out of high school, she was working at a daycare, where she rarely took breaks. Her focus was entirely on the children.
“I was always burned out,” she said.
When COVID shut down the daycare, Payge lost her job — but she tried to look at it as an opportunity for change. While exploring CITC’s website, she found the Duch’deldih Administrative Apprenticeship program run by Alaska’s People.
The program, aimed at Alaska Native individuals 18 and older who have earned their high school diploma or GED, provides an opportunity for experienced and novice workers alike to grow into high-demand career fields.
“CITC’s core values seemed like something that really aligned with who I am as a person,” Payge said. “I applied for the apprenticeship program because I wanted to grow professional skills, but I also wanted to see where it could take me.”
The program took her to the Child and Family Services Department (CFS), CITC’s collection of programs that work to reunify families, support moms and dads in developing parenting skills, and prepare young children for lifelong learning. Payge greeted families in person and over the phone, directing them to the right case manager or connecting them with services.
Thanks to her interest in accounting and some previous administrative experience, she also helped her mentor, Administrative Assistant Sage O’Neil, with data entry, doing credit card reconciliation, and completing intake for programs like Father’s Journeys.
“From when she first started, I noticed Payge was a little shy,” Sage described. “But as she got more hands-on experience, she clearly felt more confident. She’s a super quick learner.”
In fact, Payge grew so confident in her position that she’s currently covering for Sage while he’s out of the office. Meanwhile, since completing the Administrative Apprenticeship, Payge has been hired full-time to represent Alaska’s People at the department’s front desk. She’s working her way toward becoming a workforce development coordinator with the department.
“Being able to serve my people — that made me want to dive deeper into my own backgrounds.”
“Through the administrative apprenticeship, I got a better grasp of all the departments here at CITC, and that position called out to me,” Payge said.
The apprenticeship also took her to a deeper understanding of her own background. Though she always felt in touch with the Inupiaq side of her family, learning about her Alutiiq background was more difficult. Through the cultural activities included in the apprenticeship program, Payge found ways to connect with her Alutiiq culture. Just working at CITC, too, inspired her to learn more about who she is.
“I never identified that way before, really,” Payge said of her Alutiiq heritage. “But here at CITC, there are other people from Kodiak, and I can connect with them and feel a part of that community. Being able to serve my people — that made me want to dive deeper into my own backgrounds.”
Though Payge started out with no plan, now she’s got a clear one. If you’re looking for your path to a new career, consider applying for CITC’s Administrative Apprenticeship Program. Learn more here, or explore other opportunities with Alaska’s People here.