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Aspiring teacher talks inspiration
Iqaluit woman wins Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Monday, August 3, 2015

Teachers made a big impact on Caroline Ipeelie-Qiatsuk's life and she wants to return the favour to the next generation.

NNSL photo/graphic

Caroline Ipeelie-Qiatsuk is one of two recipients of the 2015 Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Pursuing a degree in the Nunavut Teachers' Education Program, she received $5,000 toward her studies. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

The young Iqaluit resident is one of two recipients, along with Mavis Ell of Coral Harbour, of the 2015 Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

"I looked back and realized that every one of (my) teachers had their own gifts, personalities and traits that made them the kind of teachers they were," said Ipeelie-Qiatsuk, who is pursuing a degree in the Nunavut Teachers' Education Program.

Two teachers in particular pushed her to be better and stronger.

"They were always motivating, encouraging and wore many hats as an individual," recalled Ipeelie-Qiatsuk.

"And when I mean wore many hats, I mean they weren't just teachers. They were a friend when you needed them to be, they were the psychologist you needed just at that particular time, they were mentors. I am fortunate to have had crossed paths with the very true models of what educators in Nunavut strive to be."

Those good teachers feed her passion to become a teacher herself.

Ipeelie-Qiatsuk was one of 14 applicants for the scholarship, which required submission of an essay outlining applicants' dreams, goals and how they would keep the legacy of Jose Kusugak alive.

"Writing the essay forced me to dig deep, ask myself over and over, 'What do I want to achieve in life and after I complete my studies?'" said Ipeelie-Qiatsuk, adding that it was challenging but in a good way.

She was very excited when she heard the good news.

"I was so excited and honoured that I was one of the two that was chosen for the JAK scholarship," she said.

"I was starting to feel nervous and impatient that I hadn't been called or notified that I got selected, but once I got an e-mail a couple days before Nunavut Day, I showed my husband and called my parents right away."

She said it was hard to keep it to herself before the official announcement.

Teaching runs in her blood. Ipeelie-Qiatsuk's mother was in the educational system for 15 years.

"I have observed the joys and challenges of educating and being a part of the educational and emotional growth of these children," said Ipeelie-Qiatsuk, who is a mother, too.

That hooked her on the desire to make a career out of it.

"Becoming a teacher would fulfill my goal and desire to serve as an educator in Nunavut," she said.

"I strongly believe I can make a difference in doing my part in preserving and strengthening our Inuit culture and language through instruction."

As fall comes, Ipeelie-Qiatsuk will be continuing her studies at Nunavut Arctic College, going into her fourth year and starting a 12-week in-school training period.

"Once I'm done school, I want to go straight into teaching as an Inuktitut teacher here in Iqaluit," she said.

Nellie Kusugak, wife of the late Jose, participated in the jury this year. The Kusugak family has played a guiding role in the scholarship since its inception in 2011.

"In his personal and professional life, Jose always stressed the critical importance of Inuit language and culture and instilling this in our Inuit identity," stated Nellie Kusugak in a news release.

"His commitment to education was very strong, and I am pleased to see his beliefs and work carry on."

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