When we talk about the brain drain that will come from the budget cuts, we are talking about me and my students. I am Inupiaq, and from Kotzebue. I earned a bachelor’s degree in medical microbiology and immunology and a Ph.D. in microbiology in the Lower 48. One of the few Alaska Natives with a Ph.D., I now teach microbiology to University of Alaska Anchorage students and have trained more than 30 people in my research laboratory. My students learn how microbes help us grow and protect us against pathogens.
While Outside for 20 years, I missed funerals and births, and lost my language, dances and connection with the land. I love that my students, mostly from Alaska and 10% of whom are Alaska Native/American Indian, can get a quality education while close to home. My students will feel the budget cuts through decreased course offerings and increased tuition, and will struggle with a weaker economy, fewer resources, and increased levels of crime and social problems in Alaska.
I am also a mom with elderly parents in rural Alaska. The governor’s cuts will impact my kids’ education, my parent’s ability to live off the land, and the health and safety of my family and friends all over Alaska. I came back, but may have to leave again due to the impact the budget cuts will have on my family, friends and students.
— Kat Milligan-Myre, Ph.D.
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