Iḷisaġvik College awards its first bachelor’s degree

Jun 22, 2020

Darian Danner of Anchorage received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Iḷisaġvik College in Utqiaġvik in 2020. Iḷisaġvik became the first Tribal college in the state of Alaska to do so. It is Danner's second bachelor's degree. (Photo courtesy Darian Danner)

Iḷisaġvik College in Utqiaġvik awarded its first bachelor’s degree. It’s the first Tribal college in Alaska to do so.

Anchorage resident Darian Danner received her first bachelor’s degree from the University of Anchorage. But when Iḷisaġvik College offered a tuition waiver to Alaska Native and American Indian students, getting her second degree was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

The mother of a 2-year-old boy says getting her second degree from the Tribal college in Utqiaġvik was just a little sweeter than the first.

“Having a degree from a traditional university or going to a Tribal university, you really have that sense of community that we have in that in our Native communities,” Danner said.

Her first bachelor’s was in economics and she was able to transfer enough credits to Iḷisaġvik College to enroll in its four-year program in business administration, which the college started in 2017.

Danner, who is Inupiaq and Native Hawaiian, lived in Utqiaġvik until she was 7, and then lived in Hawaii with her father’s family until she was 18. Now, an adult and raising a family of her own -- Danner was able to take all of her course work through distance-learning courses while at home in Anchorage.

“It gave me the flexibility I needed as a parent and working professional, working a full-time job and then managing household and everything pertaining to life.”

At Iḷisaġvik College, she says the professors have the luxury to work one-on-one with students and provide better assistance to those that may need it – especially in business administration.

“I highly recommend the program and university,” Danner said. “Especially for Indigenous students I recommend giving it a shot. There’s really very little to lose and so much to gain from such a great program that Iḷisaġvik staff has worked so very hard to put together over the years.”

Danner says that she’s onto her next academic challenge -- she’s started an executive certificate program through Notre Dame.