The road to graduation was 1,800 kilometres long for a recent NAIT alumnus.

Twenty-three year-old Tasha Tologanak grew up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The arctic community has a population of less than 2,000.

Tologanak chose to move to Edmonton three years ago to see what was else was in the world—and its grocery stores.

“I came here mostly for the experience to learn what's outside Cambridge Bay, and I've also always had a passion for cooking,” the grad told CTV News.

“We eat a lot of traditional food from the land. But more and more, we’re losing that tradition slowly.”

As well, Cambridge Bay has only two grocery stores. The freshest fruit sold in either store is often strawberries, Tologanak said, and even they have undergone several days of travel to get there.

As a NAIT student, Tologanak spent one year specializing in meat cutting, and two in a culinary arts program that introduced her to foods she had never heard of before.

She’ll plans to take the knowledge and experience back to Cambridge Bay.

“I do a lot of volunteering so I would do things like cooking classes or soup kitchens. And hopefully, one day, I want to open up my own catering business,” she said.

For that reason, Tologanak’s father, Jason, said her graduation was also a victory for the community that has stood behind her.

“I think she’s going to be a good example for other people as well… There’s younger people that are actually looking up to Tasha, and that impact is going to last longer than a two year program.”

With files from Regan Hasegawa