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Taija Revels
Taija Revels

I’m the first member of my family to enroll in a university, and the first to leave Alaska.

Taija Revels
Tlingit Tribe of Juneau, Alaska
Senior – Women’s Studies

What is your story?
I was in high school in Anchorage when, one month before deadlines, I decided to go to a university. I needed to get out of Alaska. I needed to do something with my life. I’m not only the first of my family to go to a university, but the first to leave the state.

What were your barriers?
I’ve always had excellent grades, but we didn’t have any money. My mother had just left her abusive husband and filed for bankruptcy. I worked that summer at a remote lodge, hitchhiking both ways every day, to earn enough for my flight ticket and the first term. The day before my flight, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. My brother put off the next two years of his education to stay home with her, and I flew to Portland. That night, the cab ride took all the cash I had left.

What drew you to PSU?
PSU stated upfront that they would give me the most money. I initially came for the Biology program, but decided that was a mistake, and I’ve since switched to Women’s Studies.

How are you involved with NASCC and the community?
I ‘ve volunteered to help out with events and guest speakers. The community isn’t quite what I grew up with. The Tlingit Tribe doesn’t have Pow Wows, we have a festival called “Celebration”.

How are you paying for school?
I’m supported by a friend, but I also have a Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship. I went back home on a travel grant last summer, and I’ve applied for another from the Miller Foundation.

What are your plans for the future?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to go to med school, so I’ve been applying to Masters and Ph.D. programs in Public Health, especially those in Alaska. I’d like to do a public health practice and health education.