Kellen London is one of 62 part-time students who were awarded Sealaska scholarships in 2019. Last year was the first year the scholarship program included part-time students.
Some might think that being a part-time student means going back to school while raising kids or pursuing a second career. Or maybe it means finishing the degree you always wanted to. Not always so.
Meet Kellen London, part-time Sealaska scholarship recipient studying at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Kellen graduated from high school in 2018. It’s been an unimaginable journey of strength that led him this far. When Kellen was 10 years old, he suffered two brain hemorrhages. He was in the hospital for months, undergoing multiple surgeries. As a result, Kellen lost his right peripheral vision in both eyes. He also deals with short-term memory loss. Yet, Kellen is not defined by this experience and has an incredibly optimistic outlook. “It doesn’t stop me from doing anything,” said Kellen. “That’s the truth. I try to figure it out as I go.”
And he means it. Kellen graduated from high school and spent a year working as a hotel valet before going off to college. An avid skier and outdoor sports lover, he is working on a degree in adventure education at Fort Lewis College, which means spending time outside as much as possible.
Kellen is enjoying student life at Fort Lewis College, partially because of its interesting history and strong population of Native students on campus. Fort Lewis provides a tuition waver for Native students.
Kellen’s unusual classes in telemark skiing, mountaineering and technical skills can prepare him for a career in the outdoor industry. All first-year students also get a free season pass to nearby ski resorts, Hesperus and Purgatory.
But with his vision and short-term memory loss, Kellen describes himself as a slow learner. He was overwhelmed in his first semester. He made a decision to set his own pace and start his second term with fewer classes. He is now in school part-time. “I feel a lot less rushed now, like I can grasp the information better with time in between to really absorb my classes,” Kellen explained. “It meant a lot to me that I could keep my Sealaska scholarship. I’m so glad there is funding for part-time students like me.”
Kellen plans to use his new knowledge from his adventure education courses to work and ski when he is not in class. All of this is part of his own thoughtful plan.
“There’s no rush, I’m on my journey and that’s what matters. I want other people in the Sealaska community to know that no matter what’s happening in your life, it’s okay to set your own pace, to be in school part-time.”
Right now, Kellen has dreams of using his unique degree to work for a travel company, or perhaps start his own business connected to wildlife and Native values. Kellen grew up in Bothell, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, with a strong connection to both Ketchikan and Angoon, where his family has Tlingit roots. Recently Kellen attended a Sealaska Heritage Institute culture camp in Angoon, which opened up his perspective on his own Native identity, giving him even more confidence and bright ideas for his future.
“I want to help share the beauty of Alaska with others,” said Kellen. “I can talk about the heritage of Native people because it’s my heritage. I can picture a future where I can teach others about the importance of enjoying and protecting the environment around us.” Kellen is Tlingit/Eagle, Tsaagweidí (Killer Whale clan). He is the son of Debi London and Sealaska director Tate London Kellen comes from a whole family of scholarship recipients, including his dad Tate, his twin sister Ellee, and sisters Lacey and Alyssa. Alyssa was also a Sealaska board youth advisor.
Upcoming 2020 Deadlines
February 1: Early Bird deadline ($50 incentive)
March 1: Final deadline to submit all scholarship application materials
More information is available at the shareholder portal at MySealaska.com and Sealaska Heritage Institute also has information on our scholarships and others, including the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program.
Did you know?
- Since last year, 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how education has shaped your journey. Be sure to include a photo!