Shareholder Graduates to Begin Medical Technologist Career
Nussan Olrun, Leader from the Region
Storyknife, May/June 2021 edition
Nussan Olrun, a Shareholder with ties to Mekoryuk, is set to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science this May. She begins her career as a medical technologist in a hospital laboratory setting.
“I am filling out applications and will be taking my ASCP certification exam in July, while being a mother of three,” says Nussan.
Nussan was born in Bethel, raised in Anchorage, and left Alaska before
she turned 8-years-old. Her father is Wallen Olrun Sr., and her mother is Pauline Brunelli. Her grandmother and grandfather are Nuss’an Daisy Olrun and Olie Olrun of Mekoryuk.
“I have my Cup’ik name as my real name, something that was taken away from my grandmother Nuss’an Olrun,” Nussan says. “Although I was not raised up traditionally, I take great pride in my Native heritage.”
Growing up, Nussan would travel back to Alaska nearly every summer to visit family. Nussan is Cup’ig and African American.
“As far as I know I will become the first Cup’ig and African American woman to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist through Winston-Salem State University. This is very important to me, as I represent my tribe and my family,” says Nussan.
Nussan’s advice for any student aspiring for your education is “no matter what your age is, no matter how hard things look, never give up, and go for what you want in your heart because you only have one life.”
Nussan is a mother of three, two daughters and one son. Nussan has overcome knee injuries, education challenges with her son, experiencing homelessness with children, and even losing a very young child to medical complications. Through it all, she maintained her grades, kept to her goals, and continued to raise her children.
“I knew that I wanted to help people and be in the position to give back,” Nussan says. “My plans are to show young Alaska Natives that we can still have our traditions and get an education.”
“Thank you so much Calista Corporation and CECI for the scholarships,” she says. “Thank you so much to the Olrun family, my Elders, and to my village Mekoryuk. I love you all and will always have my family in my heart.”
Nussan has been going to school full-time and maintained a GPA of 3.0 and higher to stay on the Dean’s List.
CECI scholarships for an eligible full-time student with a 3.0 GPA or higher may receive up to $1,000 per semester to be used for tuition, books and fees. Students with a lower GPA or only on part-time status, receive less support, so it pays to do to well! CECI scholarships can be used for Graduate school and Trade school as well.
“It is important that as Alaska Natives we come and give back to our community,” Nussan says. “We must build up our Youth so we can take care of our own, by investing in our own.”
HOW CECI ADAPTED TO THE PANDEMIC
As the pandemic shuttered offices and public spaces, CECI transitioned to telework last March. The CECI Scholarship program saw many students completing applications online, and CECI assisted current students with their individual needs during the pandemic. Some grants that demanded travel were put on hold, some grants were completed, and CECI was even awarded two more grants in 2021.
During the pandemic, CECI completed and published four books from December 2020 to this summer timeframe.
The “Yuuyaraq” curriculum for middle school students and Take Wing “Tengluni” program for high school students were both redesigned. Learning opportunities to the students and teachers were offered through virtual and audio conferences.
CECI staff recorded Cultural Immersion Camp Instructional Videos. Students learned how to mend a net, how to make a cloth face mask, how to make a drum, and more cultural crafts.
Overall, CECI has adapted to the new social environment, and has still been able to connect students in the Region with culture and educational opportunities. Go to www.CalistaEducation.org to find more info about CECI’s programs.