Ciugun Kelsey Wallace is Yup’ik Eskimo from Bethel, Alaska on the Kuskokwim River. Her parents are John and Cingarkaq Sheila Wallace. She has a younger brother and best friend, Cungauyar Alfred Wallace. Her maternal grandparents are the late Caliaq Moses Mojin and Ciukaq Mary Mojin whom Ciugun is named after. Her paternal grandparents are Shirley Wallace and the late John Wallace. Ciugun is 20-years-old and is honored to represent her family, friends, community members as well as the Kuskokwim region.
Kelsey is a 2010 graduate from the Bethel Regional High School with high honors. Currently, she is attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is pursuing a degree in Public Relations and Communications. After completing her program, she plans to provide a voice and representation for Alaska and serve as an advocate for the Native people of Alaska.
Kelsey loves spending her time keeping active. She enjoys working out, running, and being actively involved in many different activities important to her. Kelsey attended Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik Immersion school in Bethel for seven years where she learned how to read, write, and speak Yup’ik and continues to build on her Yup’ik fluency. Attending the immersion school has taught her Yup’ik values of knowing your heritage language, customs and the importance of passing them on to the next generation. In addition, it has given her the love of traditional Yup’ik dancing. She is the first generation in her family lineage to participate in Yup’ik dancing and bringing it back into the culture to help revitalize it. Today, she enjoys learning about other cultures, traditional and contemporary dancing, and theatre.
Kelsey’s platform is fostering the importance of self-motivation and the self-confidence to live successfully in today’s world. She believes that we can draw from our inner strength to build motivation and confidence which need to be fostered from a very young age. Kelsey believes that providing a healthy family environment is essential to develop life skills so that the younger generation of Natives will emerge as leaders within their school, community, region, and state for strong representation and voice.
Kelsey’s active involvement in sports, academics, student council, and extra-curricular activities has earned her awards for leadership and services in local, statewide, and national platforms. Among her achievements she served as an Alaska student internship in Washington D.C. for the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, was awarded the Alaska Student Leader of the Year Award by the Alaska Association of Student Governments, and served on the Alaska Native Education Panel at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention by delivering a statewide speech representing the youth on the importance of education. Kelsey was awarded the 2010 BP Principle and Commissioner Scholarship selected by the Alaska Commissioner of Education based on student success and commitment. She served as a Representative of Resident Leadership Council for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the University of Fairbanks Leader for Suicide Prevention, and is the Alaska Leader of Raising Student Voice and Participation.
In July 2011 Kelsey entered her first Pageant: Miss Kuskokwim. After becoming Miss Kuskokwim she then competed in the 2011 Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics Pageant in Fairbanks. She became Miss WEIO on July 26, 2011 after sweeping all events, Miss Congeniality, Miss Photogenic, Most Cultural, and tied for Most Talented.
During her reign as Miss WEIO, Kelsey has participated in many events across the State of Alaska, including volunteering at Festival of Native Arts, the Cama-i Festival in Bethel, Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, as well as many visits to Senior Centers, Schools, and other organizations.
In April 2012, Kelsey represented her Yup’ik people as well as all Alaska Native tribes at the Miss Indian World competition in Albuqueque, New Mexico. She received the Most Traditional Performance trophy and was well recieved by the audience which included many people for the Y-K Delta. It was so well recieved that she was the only contestent to receive TWO standing ovations for her performance in which she shared the stage with her Mom, Cingarkaq Sheila Wallace.
Kelsey credits her achievements to self-motivation to achieve her personal best and active involvement on issues important to her.