Campus Closeup: Christi Etelamaki
Christi Etelamaki has been the senior secretary for the Center for Native American Studies for only two years, but she’s been involved with NMU for much longer.
Originally from Suomi location in Negaunee, Etelamaki first came to NMU as a student.
“I liked that it was close to my family,” she said. “Northern also has a very welcoming atmosphere, not only for students who live in the area but also for those who come from farther away.”
For three years, Etelamaki was a student employee in printing services. After receiving her associate of business degree in office information systems, Etelamaki worked part-time in the Center for Native American Studies and then moved on to full-time positions in financial aid, orientation, and diversity student services. While working at diversity student services, she received the “Spirit of Diversity” Award, which stands out as her most memorable work experience.
“I was on stage with Karen Reese, the previous associate provost for student affairs, and former dean of students Sandra Michaels. It was an honor being in between them; they’re well-respected women.”
One of Etelamaki’s favorite things about her job is the laid-back atmosphere.
“I can’t say that I ever have days where I’m pulling my hair out. It gets hectic for bigger events like the annual pow-wow, but other than that it’s nice. Students love to come here and do their homework or just hang out and chit-chat.”
She also enjoys the learning experience she gets working with the Native American Student Association and Upper Peninsula tribes. “It’s great being part of a staff that wants to make a difference and bring cultural awareness to campus,” she said.
Etelamaki’s hobbies include sewing, volunteering at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, being a member of the V.F.W. Lady’s Auxiliary in Negaunee, being outdoors, and spending time with her family. “Sewing is the one thing I really make time for. My husband and I are expecting our first child in October, so that will become my number one hobby soon.”
Etelamaki also holds a black stripe in karate, which is one below a black belt. “My dad got my sister and me into it when we were quite young, and we both kept advancing throughout middle and high school. Then school sports became a higher priority to us. Maybe someday I’ll finish it.”
If she could have any other job, Etelamaki said that she’d opt for a teaching career. “If I were to do anything, I would teach little kids. It’s something that I really didn’t have in my heart when I left high school, but I feel that I’m in a position where I can still do anything that I want,” she said. “Nursing would be another good profession; something where I’d be completely, ultimately making a difference in people’s lives.”