Denali Whiting of Kotzebue, Alaska is enrolled at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as an Alaska Native Studies major and will be beginning her junior year this fall. This winter she will acquire her first college degree in American Sign Language while also beginning a 5-credit Inupiaq language course. Whiting began at UAF in the fall semester of 2010 with the UA Scholars Scholarship she received by graduating in the top 10% of her high school class. Whiting has since then been academically successful and recognized by the Dean's List in Fall 2010 and Spring 2012.
The foundation of Whiting's success began in 2005 when she joined the Sivulliq Youth Media group. This group had taught her leadership and self expression skills through photography, videography, and journalism. In high school, Whiting competed in the Alaska State Science Fair where she placed 1st in her category of Marine Biology and 2nd overall which led her to the International Science and Engineering fair in Atlanta, Georgia. Her project was based on the antibacterial properties of seal oil and beluga whale where she tested the traditional medicine with modern science. Whiting has participated in student government for all 4 years of high school as a representative, Secretary, and Vice President. She has also been a part of the KHS National Honor Society as a Vice President and was the President of her class as a Junior. The Kotzebue chapter of Youth Leaders had first begun in the 2008-2009 school year in which she'd participated as the captain of. Participating in these leadership programs, she was given the opportunities to visit New York, Washington D.C., Georgia, and Hawaii.
In 2007, she participated in her first high school sport of cheerleading which led her to a 3-year captain spot and 4 team trophies to take home. She led the squad with 2 regional all tournament medals and was formally recognized by the coaches for her spirit and enthusiasm. Whiting committed herself and her leadership skills to building the reputation of KHS Cheer to something to be proud of. As a senior, Whiting and her team obtained their first champion trophy at the Top of the World cheer and dance competition. A month later, they received the State Runner Up title and were also awarded the State Academic trophy for holding the highest team grade point average. The KHS Cheer team has since then won their first Regional and State championship trophies for the two consecutive years following.
Using her performance skills learned through the cheer team, Whiting went on to participate in four Alaskan pageants. In 2008 she received the Miss Teen Arctic Circle title which inspired her to go on to compete in the 2009 Miss Alaska Teen USA pageant. She placed as the 1st runner up in 2009 then returned to win the title in 2011. In the summer of 2011, Whiting competed in her first nationwide pageant against 49 other girls for the Miss Teen USA title. This year, she was crowned as the new Miss Arctic Circle and placed as the 1st runner up for Miss WEIO. Along with these accomplishments, she was also awarded 3 times as the Most Traditional contestant, twice for Most Photogenic, once for her talent, and even voted as Miss Congeniality for the 2011 Miss Alaska Teen USA pageant. Whiting says that the Miss Congeniality title is one she is most proud of because it is voted on by her fellow competitors.
Aside from programs she's participated in, Whiting spends a vast amount of time connecting to her cultural hobbies like camping, hunting, harvesting, and sewing. Out at Sisaulik camp, she learned her values, morals, and beliefs through the eyes of her ancestors. "The Inupiaq people are a migrating people and that tradition continues today in my family," Whiting states. "We rotate between camps and Kotzebue (our "home base") to follow the seasons of the plants and berries we gather and migrations of the animals we harvest." Whiting says that she grew up going to camp to be taught how to support her family with harvested food and natural medicine collected to keep year-round. She says that she's learned many lessons through the fun, family bonding, and cultural activities. These activities include: cutting and hanging fish to dry, hauling well and wash water to the cabin, picking and packing berries, sewing, butchering caribou and seals, cutting strips of blubber for seal oil, tanning skins for clothing, and much more.
Whiting is a well rounded 20-year old who is strengthened from learning to live off of land resources to competing in nation-wide pageants to receiving post-secondary education and learning 2 new languages. She is a camp girl. She is a pageant girl. She is a leader. She is an inspiration. Whiting is currently the Tour Guide for NANA Management Services in Kotzebue and plans to continue after receiving her ASL and ANS degrees onto a culinary arts school out of state. Whiting states that her main goal is to come back to Kotzebue to apply her knowledge to the benefits of her home community.
MISS Quote of the Week
"When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." - Audre Lorde, Caribbean-American writer and Activist
MISS Song of the Week
A Woman's Worth - Alicia Keys
She walks the mile, makes you smile all the while being true
Don't take for granted the passions that she has for you
You will lose if you choose to refuse to put her first
She will and she can find a man who knows her worth