49 Voices: Kyra Dushkin of Kenai

Kyra Dushkin of Kenai. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Kyra Dushkin from Kenai. Dushkin is a student at the Kenai Peninsula College, hoping to become an OB nurse.

DUSHKIN: I really like getting to know more about my Native thing, very slowly through my grandma. But that’s the only relative that I’m close to on my Native side. I’m Aleut, so from the Aleutian Chain. Belkofski is where my grandma grew up. And I think most of the people in Belkofski moved to King Cove because there’s no jobs there. So I think I have a lot of family down in King Cove I’ve never met.

And some stranger recognized my dad as a Dushkin in a store up here, in a marine store. And he said, “Is your last name Dushkin?” And my dad’s like, “Yeah, but I don’t think I’ve ever met you.” He’s like, “Yeah, I wouldn’t expect you to. I used to work in King Cove, and you just look like them.” (laughs)

Just learning a lot about the history… my family doesn’t do much other than eating Native food like salmon, fish eggs, octopus, stuff like that. We don’t really do anything arts and crafts-y. I really wanna get in touch and learn more about what my family was like.

Ever since I was younger I really liked working with babies. I have 20 cousins under me that I’ve been really close to ever since they were little and I was younger. And just taking care of them and interacting with them has always been really interesting to me. And then once I couldn’t have any little siblings and got a little older, I thought I could make a career out of this.

My, Nama (sic) is what I call her, is a chiropractor. She always had stethoscopes and blood pressure cuff and tongue depressors and I always loved messing with that when I was a kid and I’d go to her office. But helping people, healing people and bringing life into the world, I just think that would be such a cool experience.

Obviously it has its downs, like you might get a stillborn or something. That’s the really depressing part where people really need to realize it’s not always all happy like, “I slapped a band-aid on their little knee, and now they’re fine.” No, it’s gonna be sad. You’re gonna lose patients, so trying to realize that. My friend’s mom is a midwife. She told me they lost a baby recently, and… man, it’s so sad, but it’s just a part of life. It happens everywhere. But I wanna be there and be the best nurse I can be to prevent that from happening.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.