CITC Youth Outreach Coordinator Wins Hometown Scholarship - Cook Inlet Tribal Council
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CITC Youth Outreach Coordinator Wins Hometown Scholarship

For Peri Sanders, receiving the John Active Memorial award is about more than paying for school

CITC employee Peri Sanders, pictured with her parents, was named as this year’s recipient of the John Active Memorial Scholarship.

This August, Bethel Community Services Foundation announced that this year’s recipient of the John Active Memorial Scholarship was CITC Tribal PREP Outreach Coordinator Peri Qancuk Sanders.

Peri, who is pursuing her master’s degree in Indigenous Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), will receive $1,000 in support of her studies and in honor of Aqumgaciq John Active, a groundbreaking Alaska Native journalist and passionate advocate of Yugtun and Yup’ik culture.

The money will help with paying tuition. But for Peri, winning the scholarship signifies the support of her home community.

“The John Active Memorial Scholarship is the only scholarship from Bethel that I’m eligible for, and Bethel is my hometown,” she explained. “I think it’s so special, small communities really celebrating their people. And it came at the exact right moment.”

Going Independent

For two years, Peri has been working toward her master’s degree while simultaneously serving CITC youth involved in the Tribal Personal Responsibility Education Program (Tribal PREP). She completed her coursework with support from the CITC Education Scholarship, which is available to any full-time CITC employee who has been with the organization for a year or longer.

But Peri has kept quiet about her educational goals—until now.

“I feel like I’m at a point where I’m confident I’ll finish,” she shared. “It’s kind of intimidating because this semester is independent study.”

For her independent project, Peri’s goal is to create a web-based resource center of sexual health and healthy relationship information for Alaska Native and other youth.

The project won’t just allow her to complete her degree; it will directly benefit young people involved in CITC programs.

“There’s just not a lot out there that’s culturally relevant,” explained Peri.

Doing It for Our Youth

Peri Sanders

In fact, that lack of resources was the whole inspiration behind returning to school in the first place, Peri shared.

While developing curriculum for the Strengthening Our Youth program, Peri was searching in vain for existing tools she could incorporate into her lesson plans. She needed content that addressed sexual health and healthy relationships, and that was also culturally adapted for Alaska Native youth.

“I wasn’t even planning on going to school,” she admitted. “I was literally just looking for resources to make this program better, and then UAF’s program for Indigenous Studies popped up on a Google search.”

For the past two years, as she completed her coursework, Peri simultaneously revised CITC’s Tribal PREP/Strengthening Our Youth curricula to make it more culturally relevant for Alaska Native youth. She worked with Tribal PREP youth peer educators to make lessons more accessible and to find language that better communicated the ideas the curriculum aims to teach.

“The resource center is illustrative of where we want to go,” Peri said. “We want things to be more efficient and accessible, and we want our program to be simple and straightforward. With this project, I feel like it’s come full circle.”

Being awarded the John Active Memorial Scholarship, she added, will not only allow her to complete a final project that will benefit CITC and other youth, but “fills me with a strong sense of pride and security. I am humbled and so thankful to know that I have the support of the home that raised me.”

For more information about CITC’s youth education programs, visit our website.

Peri, far right, pictured with two CITC youth peer educators who helped create Tribal PREP curricula that is more culturally inclusive for Alaska Native youth.