Trisha grew up in Napakiak, a rural village of 350 people on the Kuskokwim River in southwestern Alaska. She grew up with her parents and 3 siblings, practicing and living a subsistence lifestyle; fishing, hunting and gathering off of the land.
Growing up in rural Alaska, Trisha and her community didn’t have full access to a regular healthcare or dental provider and frequently had to travel by a small boat or a snow mobile to get the medical care and dental treatment they needed. She recalls seeing a dentist 2-3 times a year for problem focused needs but was fortunate to have parents that stayed on top of her oral hygiene habits.
Trisha and her family relocated to Bethel, Alaska where her father took a job with the State of Alaska.
Trisha and her older sister Shawna attended a boarding school called the Mt. Edgecumbe high school in Sitka (Southeast) Alaska to strive for a better high school education. She completed her high school credits half a year early and returned to Bethel to complete high school with college credits where she then graduated.
After high school, she learned of the Dental Health Aide Therapy (DHAT) program through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Being in the medical field was always an interest for Trisha but she wasn’t sure which field interested her until she learned of the program. She got accepted into the program for the 4th cohort of the 2010-2011 school year. She was sponsored by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation and graduated from the DHAT Program in December of 2011.
Upon completion of the program Trisha began her career with the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation as a DHAT for about 4 years. She was stationed in the village of Toksook Bay providing basic and preventative dental services for the community and she traveled to 5 other surrounding villages for 2.5 years.
A new job opportunity became available with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium called Dental Health Aide Therapist Instructor/ Practitioner with the DHAT Training Program. This fascinated Trisha so she applied and got the position which is the 1st of its kind. Trisha now works with students that go through the program, helps run the clinic and continues to practice as a DHA. Trisha also resumed her schooling and hopes to obtain a degree in Public Health.