Iḷisaġvik College’s Uqautchim Uglua, or ‘language nest’ program, celebrated important milestones in 2012. The school introduced an Iñupiaq Early Learning Associate of Arts degree to meet the college’s goal to increase the number of indigenous certified teachers on the North Slope. This degree offers a holistic approach designed to support Native students in their learning experiences, has a traditional Iñupiaq emphasis, and meets accreditation requirements.
A strong Iñupiaq studies component is incorporated into the degree with 12 required credit hours of Iñupiaq language, cultural and traditional arts. Students can choose from an education or business track. The degree will prepare students to open their own language nests, become educational paraprofessionals, or continue their education at a four-year institution to become a certified teacher. New education courses include Child Development, Introduction to Early Childhood Profession, Family and Community Partnerships, Teaching Children’s Health and Wellness, Language and Creative Expression, Practicum, and Small Business Planning for Child Care.
The first student cohort will be held during the spring 2013 semester as Uqautchim Uglua brings program students together during a brief residency at Iḷisaġvik College. Courses are offered via distance delivery to facilitate the participation of students living in the outlying villages, across Alaska, and the United States.