The rigors and rewards of RAHI
by Tori Tragis, University
Marketing and Publications
Associate professor of mathematics
I am the academic coordinator and math professor with RAHI. In the fall and spring I teach math at UAF. I grew up in the Midwest: Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. I have a degree in mathematics and education with a minor in English and a certificate in coaching and I earned a master's degree from UAF in education.
My research focused on the attitude toward mathematics of Alaska Native/American Indian students at UAF, and best practices for teaching math. I've taught high school in American Samoa, Montana and at the former boarding school in St. Mary's, Alaska. I just finished my nineteenth year of teaching math at UAF, and 2006 is my 22nd year with RAHI. I enjoy the challenge of trying to transform adolescents from the "best and brightest" in their villages to college-ready students.
I am fortunate to have many former RAHI students in my math classes at UAF. In addition, I see many alumni during the annual RAHI reunion held in conjunction with the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
RAHI students start to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed at college. When asked, most students tell me that RAHI is more challenging and intense than a typical semester. The challenge for students is to internalize the study habits and team building they were exposed to at RAHI and incorporate them into their college practices.
RAHI students are at a special age: they see themselves as adults and want the privileges that come with it, but most are still very confused and in need of direction. RAHI places its emphasis on skill-building to increase the future chances of academic success, but it also places a premium on cultural identity and living in a community. I am repeatedly amazed at the deep impact students tell me RAHI has had in shaping their development.