Audrey Leary wants to put down roots in her home Region, where her roots reach far and wide. Audrey was raised along the Kuskokwim River, from the lower to the upper and she cherishes the childhood she spent traveling up and down the river. She spent summers in Napaimute, a village she credits for developing her passion for the Calista Region. Audrey’s parents are Mark and Shelley Leary. Her maternal grandparents are Bea Kristovich and Bill Kristovich.
“I love our Region; it’s amazing,” Audrey said. “Every village has its own rewards, beauty and challenges as well.”
A Calista Descendant, Yup’ik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian, Audrey feels very connected to her culture and is committed to teaching Calista Youth. In May, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a minor in Alaska Native studies policy. During college, she was a member of the Alaska Native Student Council and worked for Native Student Services.
“It wasn’t until I got my job at Native Student Services and declared my minor that I began to understand my role as a Native person and my role as a Native woman,” Audrey said.
Audrey believes her role is to help the Native Youth of her Region and she is spending the summer in Napaimute working with at-risk Youth. She accepted her first teaching position, set to begin this fall in Kwethluk. In a Region facing high teacher turnover rates, Audrey hopes her background will allow her to connect with and inspire her students.
“I love our Youth; they are the future of our Region,” Audrey said. “They need to hold on to their upbringing but also keep foot in the western way.”
While she admits college isn’t the right course for everyone, Audrey encourages Youth to pursue some form of postsecondary training or education in order to secure good jobs in the Region. As this year’s emcee for the Calista Golf Classic Tournament, the biggest fundraiser for Calista Education Culture, Inc. (CEC), Audrey is helping to raise awareness and money for Youth scholarships. Audrey credits her CEC scholarships for helping her succeed in college.
“It’s hard to leave home and go to school and add the financial burden on top of that; you need help. I’m thankful Calista supports empowering Youth through education,” Audrey said. Additionally, her paid internship through Calista helped her boost her resume. “It was an awesome opportunity. I encourage all Youth to apply,” Audrey said. With her passion for her Region and her inspiring personality, Audrey proves there’s a bright future in the Calista Region. empowering Youth through education,” Audrey said.
“It’s amazing to help an organization that helped me personally fulfill my lifelong goal and allow me to come home and use it. It’s an awesome opportunity and I’m grateful Calista asked me to co-host the golf tournament.”