The rigors and rewards of RAHI
by Tori Tragis, University
Marketing and Publications
Professor of English
I teach RAHI's core classes: the two writing classes and the study skills class. The rest of the year I teach at UAF's Bristol Bay Campus: I teach teachers how to teach writing, plus I teach business writing. I also write novels, though my newest book (due out in September) is nonfiction, and for the past decade I have been engaged in a massive project that combines Western and non-Western ways of thinking to improve how we teach writing and grammar.
I am originally from Washington state. After teaching college in the '70s and being a science-magazine editor-in-chief in the early '80s, I taught high school in the villages of Gambell and Elim before moving to Dillingham, where I have been since 1990. Teaching at the Dillingham branch certainly has its drawbacks, but it enables me to be part of the university without all the politics and committees.
My academic background is a B.A. in literature; M.F.A. in fiction writing; master's work in business communications and applied linguistics; doctoral work in adult education; and I'm now finishing a Ph.D. in the teaching of writing.
I've been with RAHI 16 years. I love seeing kids blossom intellectually in just six weeks. My favorite memory from RAHI is the time I saw a student finishing the last sentence of a paper, which he had not saved on disk, and another student accidentally unplugged the computer--this after the student writer had already accidentally done the same thing. He lay down on the carpet and bemoaned his fate. Fortunately, he is now finishing a master's degree in education and she has a law degree from Yale.
I feel that my greatest accomplishments are (1) coaching ten students in Gambell, previously called "uneducable," to three national championships in academics; and (2) helping Greg Owens, Denise Wartes and Jim Kowalsky mold RAHI into the nation's most successful college preparatory program for Native Americans.