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Returning to her roots: Oak Hills graduate Makayla Kameroff to pursue work in Alaska

Graduating from Oak Hills Christian College on May 7, Makayla Kameroff will soon return to her Alaskan roots.

Makayla Kameroff.jpg
Psychology student Makayla Kameroff will graduate as part of Oak Hills Christian College's class of 2022 on Saturday, May 7, in the college gymnasium.
Elizabeth Stark / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Graduating from Oak Hills Christian College on May 7, Makayla Kameroff will soon return to her Alaskan roots.

Once she snags her bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, she will take up a summer position for Covenant Youth of Alaska, a ministry that offers youth summer camp opportunities.

“It’s a summer camp where I get to hang out with kids every week, but it’s not a basic camp that you can just drive to. It’s definitely an Alaskan camp where you have to use a plane, a smaller plane and a boat to get there,” Kameroff said with a laugh.

As of April, Kameroff was also in the process of being interviewed by the Portland Rescue Mission, a ministry that focuses on helping people affected by homelessness, addiction and other plights.

“I would basically make myself available as an asset for people to work through their addictions, conduct Bible studies and whatever else they need me to do,” Kameroff added.

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Making the leap

A 2020 graduate of Alaska Christian College , Kameroff learned about Oak Hills from a recruiter who visited her community college.

“They talked about how OHCC was a small community feel with pretty small class sizes and a great student-to-teacher ratio,” Kameroff said. “It fit perfectly at the time.”

Not exactly knowing her field of study until her junior year, Kameroff settled on psychology after weighing it against a business degree and considering her hopes to help people in her future career.

“I’m incredibly indecisive, but I didn’t want to choose business so psychology was pretty much for me,” Kameroff said. “After taking the courses, I fell in love with the field. It worked out great because I’ve always wanted to help people, and I think psychology is one of the greatest ways to help someone else.”

In particular, Kameroff’s favorite class was Group Process as it gave the class a chance to conduct mock group therapy sessions and observe how close the students became from the beginning to the end of the class.

“At the beginning, no one really talked to each other and we were all in our own little bubbles,” Kameroff mentioned. “Then the last day of class, we were sharing our deepest, darkest secrets.”

Opening up was an initial struggle for Kameroff at the start of her time at Oak Hills, which coincided with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Leaving a place I was comfortable with along with my friends and family, then going to a place where I couldn’t make such great relationships because of social distancing and wearing masks made that first semester so hard,” Kameroff said. “I remember sitting on the floor weeping because it was just terrible.”

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She admitted to only talking to one other person outside of classes, somebody else from Alaska. This changed after the fall 2020 semester, however, with help from her personal mentor and OHCC’s Associate Dean of Student Life, Kierlyn Fritz.

“I reached out to Kierlyn, who made it so much easier for me to come out of my shell, do fun activities and be part of a team,” Kameroff added. “After that first semester, I just became completely comfortable introducing who I am to other people. It was just a really big learning curve for me coming down (to Minnesota) from Alaska. All of it was new.”

On a mission

Kameroff has since become active on campus, including playing volleyball for the Oak Hills Wolfpack, being a resident assistant and being part of the student activity leadership team last year.

Most recently, she took part in a March mission trip to Honduras as part of Operation Christmas Child, providing aid and supplies to churches across the country.

“I was part of the volunteer group last year and this year, I actually got to be a part of it in person,” Kameroff said. “Packing boxes, distributing them to churches across Honduras and visiting kids at local villages was really neat.”

On the off chance she has spare time, Kameroff enjoys searching for hiking trails and taking her hammock along for the journey. She also enjoys painting and drawing and describes herself as a coffee connoisseur.

“I came back from Honduras and grabbed, like, three bags of fresh coffee beans,” Kameroff said. “I absolutely love my coffee at a certain temperature, done with the right gauge, using different percolators or pour-overs or French press. All of that jazz.”

Despite her immediate plans of summer work for Covenant Youth of Alaska and other job interviews in the works, Kameroff isn’t rushing to find a permanent position and opts for a more laissez-faire approach in terms of finding the right opportunity.

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“I went into 2022 thinking I wasn’t going to make any long-term decisions and didn’t want to plan what’s going to happen the rest of this year,” Kameroff said. “Funnily enough, most everything has been working out that way. I’m figuring out what’s available and just flying by the seat of my pants.”

Oak Hills' commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, in the college gymnasium.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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