Calista Shareholder at Yulista Aviation Thrives on Cultural Identity … and Sweet Tea
Former intern Kayla Williams pursues business degree while employed at Lower 48 subsidiary
June 25, 2020 | Adapted from 2019 Annual Report to Shareholders
Kayla Williams, born and raised in Bethel, spoke Yup’ik and English as her first languages. She is now working for Yulista Aviation in Huntsville, Alabama.
Growing up in Bethel and Kwethluk gave Kayla a strong cultural identity to discover the world outside our Region.
“I just told myself, you might get homesick and you might want to go back, but home will always be there,” Kayla says. “Time flies when you’re young. So if you’re able to do this while you’re young, you can always go back to Alaska.”
Kayla is a Calista Corporation Shareholder with ties to Kwethluk—spending summers in the village with family at fish camp.
Kayla started her college education by pursuing a bachelor’s in elementary education to teach kindergarten. Now she’s pursuing a bachelor’s in business management. Her credits will transfer over to complete her degree at Athens State University in Alabama. Kayla is pursuing her degree all while working full-time at Yulista Aviation in Huntsville.
“Yulista is like a family,” Kayla says. “Everyone supports each other, and they understand family needs. I was even invited to coworkers’ family gatherings for Christmas and the Fourth of July.”
“Shareholders should come to work and intern at Yulista,” Kayla says. “Every contract we go after through Yulista, is ultimately there to provide for our Shareholders. With every new contract and every new Shareholder at Yulista, it brings in more income.”
Kayla was a Yulista intern in the summer of 2015 and 2016. Kayla says the internship opened her eyes to more possibilities. She got a taste of the workforce by joining finance, HR, IT and security at Yulista for a week each, but her main focus was business development.
“I began at Yulista Aviation as a Project Assistant and worked on EVM [Earned Value Management], and I fell in love with that,” Kayla says.
Earned Value Management is a systematic process for managers to measure a project’s performance, balancing the cost and schedule control, very useful for someone stepping into the workforce.
“Learning aspects of EVM allowed me to learn more about myself and my strengths and weaknesses,” Kayla says. “It gave me the confidence to ask for a promotion and move up to Project Coordinator for Aviation Support. It felt great to bring my knowledge to the table and continue learning.”
One of Kayla’s aspirations as a Shareholder employee is to inform other employees about Alaska, the Calista Region and her Yup’ik heritage.
“We’re not the Fortune 500 companies in New York City, we’re different,” says Kayla. “We’re proud of our culture and as a former education major, I love educating people on our culture and our way of life.”
Kayla says the team in Yulista is receptive to learn about Calista and the origins of the people in the Region.
Kayla knows where she comes from and she’s not afraid to move forward and thrive. Looking forward is always about the little things in life—like the charm of sweet tea.
“Alaska will always be there, but the tea in the South is sweet.”