JDHS Graduate to Law Student – Highlighting Scholarship Recipient Marissa Brakes

Sealaska shareholders have told us that education and vocational scholarships are a top priority. Sealaska is proud to recognize our scholarship recipients.

Marissa Brakes has many different interests when it comes to her future career in law. Through internships at Sealaska and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise, Idaho, three years of work at a civil litigation firm, and her role as guardian ad litem representing children in child protective services cases, narrowing down what kind of law she wants to practice has been tough.

Brakes will graduate from the University of Idaho in Boise this spring. She’s one of 551 students who received $1.34 million in scholarship funding from Sealaska this year, both of which are record highs in the corporation’s history. Brakes received Sealaska scholarship support for four years as an undergrad at Boise State University, where she majored in criminal justice, and all three years of law school.

“It’s definitely been a substantial source of support,” she said of her Sealaska scholarships.

Brakes, who is a child of the Kaagwaantaan (Wolf) Clan, grew up in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School (JDHS) in 2013. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2017.

“I like the complexity of things that have to do with the law and criminal justice,” Brakes said. “And I like that it gives me the ability to use that kind of degree to help vulnerable populations, whether through criminal law or social work or advocacy.”

Brakes said her internships at Sealaska helped her clarify her career goals and pushed her toward law school. Brakes was particularly influenced by the working relationship she built with Jaeleen Kookesh, Sealaska’s vice president of policy and legal affairs.

“I had never worked with anything to do with my tribe or anything to do with being Alaska Native; I had mostly worked in the service industry,” Brakes explained. “Working (at Sealaska) made me really proud to be a shareholder. The internship program was amazing. We had workshops, seminars, resume building, went on tours, and really learned the ins and outs of the corporation. It made me realize there’s lots of opportunities for employment through Sealaska, and how fulfilling it could be to help shareholders and the community.”

Brakes said the University of Idaho hasn’t yet determined how classes will be conducted this fall, whether online or in person. She’s continuing to work at a civil litigation firm she’s been with throughout law school as she writes her thesis this summer and prepares for her final year of school, and with everything she has going on, there isn’t much time for extracurricular activities.

“I love being in school,” she said. “But I loved my high school, too. I loved Boise State, and I love the University of Idaho. It will be a relief (to be done), but it will also be a little bit sad.”

Scholarship Deadlines – Important Dates (every year)

  • December 15: Application Becomes Available
  • February 1: Early Bird Incentive Deadline
  • March 1: Scholarship Application Deadline
  • May 1: Scholarship Recipients Notified

More information is available at the shareholder portal MySealaska.com. Please visit Sealaska Heritage Institute for information on the Sealaska scholarship program and others, including the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program.

Did you know?

  • Since 2019, part-time students are now eligible for scholarships.
  • Scholarships are awarded to students enrolled at vocational and technical schools, graduate schools, four-year colleges and other types of post-secondary programs.
  • Scholarships are funded by Sealaska and administered by Sealaska Heritage Institute.
  • Descendants are eligible to apply — not just shareholders.

Calling all former Sealaska scholarship recipients!

Are you a former scholarship recipient? Or do you know someone who is? We want to hear from you! Reach out to webmaster@sealaska.com and let us know how education has shaped your journey. Be sure to include a photo!