First in her family to earn a college degree, Paoli credits APU’s work-friendly schedule

By Christy Hanson
APU Website Intern

Jorie (Zilys) Paoli knew what she wanted in life: To work for her Alaska Native people. To be a good mother. To earn a college degree.

Paoli, ’07, today is a policy and research coordinator at First Alaskans Institute, a statewide Native nonprofit that advances Alaska Native people through work on its vision: “Progress for the next 10,000 years.”

After enrolling in various programs at other colleges, Paoli said she was grateful to find APU’s flexible course schedule and a supportive cohort through the Rural Alaska Native Adult Distance Education program.

She completed a BA in Organizational Management with a non-profit emphasis and was named graduation speaker, representing RANA peers.

“I’m glad I saw it through,” said Paoli, who was a single mother and worked full-time while attending APU.

An Iñupiaq who was born and raised in Anchorage, Paoli was the first in her family to earn a college degree. Her senior project focused on Section 29, the federal Agreement and Grant of Right-of-Way for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and corresponding Alaska Native Utilization Agreement.

Section 29 and ANUA require recruitment, training and employment of Alaska Native people to ensure that Alaska Natives comprise 20 percent of the combined full-time jobs of the pipeline operator and its contractors.

A chance to realize her professional dreams wasn’t the only thing Paoli developed in her time at APU. “It’s thanks to APU and RANA that I met my husband, Chris Paoli,” she said.

After meeting in online classes in 2005, Jorie and Chris eventually began dating and graduated together in spring 2007.

Chris earned his BA in Outdoor Studies and today is primary caregiver for the couple’s three – soon to be four – children. Chris blogs as “Daddy Dynamic” for the award-winning radio program “Kids These Days!” heard on public radio stations statewide and elsewhere.

Bio: Christy Hanson is a 2012 graduate of New Mexico State University-Main Campus and an APU summer intern with Anchorage-based First Alaskans Institute.