Student Success Stories
- Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Jackson ChurchRead More
When Jackson Church attended ANSEP’s January Middle School Academy, held in partnership with Anchorage School District, it was his first experience with the program. But you’d never know that when you hear how passionately Jackson talks about ANSEP.
“Middle School Academy is my first component, and basically everyone starts here,” he said. “It’s a really awesome experience, and I can’t wait to do STEM Career Exploration, Acceleration Academy and Summer Bridge.”
As a sixth grader at Rogers Park Elementary, he already has an idea of what he wants to do in terms of higher education and a career.
“I’m thinking about going into internal medicine or becoming an engineer,” Jackson said. “My dad is a doctor and my mom is a pharmacist, so they inspire me to look toward a medical degree. The engineering side came from ANSEP, but I’ve always loved designing things.”
As for his time at the Middle School Academy, Jackson says his favorite part about the component was the computer build and being able to keep the four-terabyte computer to use at home. Jackson also enjoyed the recent presentation from guest speaker Dr. Sylvia Earle during ANSEP Celebration.
“I used to be really interested in marine biology because I love marine life. I would spend my time researching marine biologists so I thought it was really interesting that there was a world-renowned marine biologist that I hadn’t heard of,” said Jackson. “ANSEP has kind of blown my mind already. Everything about it just blows my mind!”
- Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Ray DanielRead More
As a junior at Bethel Regional High School, Ray Daniel already has four ANSEP components under his belt and also has earned credit toward his undergraduate engineering degree through the University of Alaska. Ray is an alumnus of ANSEP’s Middle School Academy and Acceleration Academy, but he enjoyed his time in STEM Career Explorations most.
“STEM Career Explorations was probably my favorite because it was more hands on and more in depth into the engineering topic,” Ray said. “We are given class choices within science, technology, engineering and math, and ANSEP shows us how they are all connected.”
Ray has another year of high school to complete but began taking college-level courses during Acceleration Academy last summer. He feels prepared for college and the coursework that comes along with it.
“I wasn’t ready for college at all, but ANSEP helped me a lot with what to expect after high school and preparing me for what college classes really look like,” Ray said. “My college courses last summer gave me a good idea what the work load will look like, and my time in Middle School Academy made me comfortable with a college campus. It’s nice that ANSEP allows us to do those things early rather than finding out right out of high school.”
In addition to college readiness, Ray appreciates the comradery within the ANSEP community.
“I’ve made a lot of friends all over the state,” Ray said. “It’s nice because we are all into the same things so no one feels left out. Looking back, my favorite memory was spending weekends together with students and staff as a family.”
Ray plans to continue with ANSEP as long as possible. He recently applied for Acceleration Academy again and plans to apply for Summer Bridge once he graduates high school. He has plenty of time to finalize his major, but he is definitely on the right path for earning an engineering degree.
“I’m leaning toward civil or mechanical engineering,” Ray said. “I’m really into math – it’s my favorite and strongest subject. I know I want my career to have something to do with math and science, be hands on and probably outdoors.”
Ray’s advice for students looking to get started with ANSEP is to stay with the program as long as possible!
“I would suggest staying with ANSEP, especially if you’re looking in the STEM field because ANSEP will help you all the way through,” Ray said. “Not only do they help with the education side, but there are ANSEP alumni and staff to support you with anything you need.”
- Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Katelynn HouserRead More
As a first-time ANSEP student, Katelynn Houser soaked up every single second of her Middle School Academy experience earlier this year. From participating in STEM activities to making new friends and living on a college campus for the first time, Katelynn says she loved every moment.
“I like that there is always something going on. It’s also a great way to meet people and participate in new activities,” Katelynn said. “Middle School Academy helps us learn about different areas of science, engineering and math that we don’t get to learn about in school. Then, we go back to school and take all of this stuff with us to share with our classmates – it’s really cool.”
A sixth-grade student from College Gate Elementary in Anchorage, Katelynn is already finding her niche at ANSEP and using her experiences to shape a path for the future.
“The computer build was definitely my favorite activity, but testing drones was also fun because we got to play with the thermal camera,” she said. “I’m really interested in math, science and animals, so I’m thinking about becoming a marine biologist, veterinarian or mechanical engineer one day.”
Katelynn recalls the lunch presentation by Dr. Sylvia Earle during ANSEP Celebration in January, and she cites it as a source of inspiration for her potential future in marine biology.
“I remember when Dr. Sylvia talked about loving water when she was younger,” said Katelynn. “It was definitely relatable for me because I love animals, swimming and just being in the water.”
According to Katelynn, her time and experience at ANSEP are far from over, and she plans to apply for more components in the future.
- Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Victoria SheinRead More
Victoria Shein recently attended Middle School Academy, her first ANSEP component, and enjoyed her time so much that she is already encouraging her younger siblings to join the ANSEP family when they can. The eldest of five children, Victoria said one of her favorite parts about ANSEP was the moment at the end of the day when she could call home and tell her family about all that she’d done.
“I loved all the new experiences I had at Middle School Academy,” Victoria said. “My brothers and sisters were always excited to hear all about new activities each day and the fun things I did with my new friends. They like to follow what I’m doing, so by telling them about it maybe they will join ANSEP, which will help them get into college, too.”
After moving to Anchorage from Little Diomede by way of Nome, Victoria enjoyed the new things ANSEP exposed her to but also the familiar activities incorporated throughout the day, such as the Alaska Native dances she knows so well from back home. Though she was the only student at the January Middle School Academy from Turnagain Elementary, Victoria said she quickly began making new friends and adjusting to campus life.
“Living in the dorms was scary at first, but then you get used to it because everyone starts talking to each other and getting to know one another,” Victoria said. “One of my favorite parts about ANSEP is that you get to meet new friends and have new opportunities and experiences all at the same time.”
While this was just Victoria’s first experience at ANSEP, she already has plans to apply for STEM Career Explorations, the next component in ANSEP’s longitudinal model that carries students from middle school through the university and even into post-graduate programs, if they desire.
- Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Jules MermelsteinRead More
Manley Hot Springs, Alaska
When Jules Mermelstein graduated from West Valley High School in Fairbanks, he did so with 43 college credits already earned toward his degree. Now a University of Alaska Anchorage student double majoring in electrical and mechanical engineering, Jules was more than ready for college after participating in such ANSEP components as Middle School Academy, Acceleration Academy and Summer Bridge.
We caught up with Jules, who you may remember from his first Student Success Story debut last summer, to find out how his first year at UAA is going:
ANSEP: How was your first semester at UAA?
JULES: My first semester was busy to say the least. I had a heavy course load with a hectic, non-uniform schedule, which kept my days interesting. I took Spanish, ordinary differential equations, engineering graphics and chemistry, where I learned both new and challenging information. Overall, it was enjoyable.
ANSEP: What degree are you working toward, and when is your expected graduation date?
JULES: I’m double majoring in mechanical and electrical engineering with a minor in Spanish. My expected graduation date is Fall 2021.
ANSEP: How did the 43 credits you had toward your degree help you in your first year?
JULES: Those initial 43 credits were key in allowing me to pursue a double major as intensive as mine. A majority of those credits were in either math or general education requirement courses, which expedited my ability to really dig into my true engineering and science courses right away.
ANSEP: Do you have a dream career in mind or plans after college?
JULES: Ever since my junior year of high school and my third summer in ANSEP’s Acceleration Academy, I’ve wanted to work as an energy engineer – hopefully working on large, federal projects similar to the Hoover Dam, but with renewables. After college, I would love to travel or live in Australia, Germany and/or Denmark for a while, and then return to Alaska to live and work.
ANSEP: In our last blog feature on your successes, you said you felt really prepared for college. Did that feeling stay with you throughout your first semester?
JULES: Yes, and I still do have that feeling. I think most former high school students aren’t used to the college classroom environment or the freedom we’re given, which can really hurt or help depending on how fast you can adjust. The freedom to take on a large course load with a hectic schedule was tough, but I still knew what I was doing because I was well prepared for it.
ANSEP: How did ANSEP help you feel prepared for the university?
JULES: ANSEP helped make me feel confident in the ability to get help if I needed it. Having a couple hundred other engineering and science ANSEP students to confide in also really helps relieve a lot of worry.
ANSEP: What’s the most useful tool/tip you have for incoming students?
JULES: As a new university student, you should really sit down with some upper classmen in your major(s) and work out a real schedule from your first semester to graduation. They have a lot more experience with professors, classes, offerings, scholarships, credit load, scheduling, etc. than you do.
ANSEP: What’s one thing you couldn’t live without in college?
JULES: I could not live without my own computer and shelving in my dorm room to organize my things – dorm rooms can get messy with work and scholarship/internship applications.
ANSEP: Where is your favorite study spot?
JULES: My favorite study spot is my usual seat in the ANSEP building – it’s usually vacant, near my friends, open to the floor and near the kitchen.
ANSEP: What advice do you have for incoming ANSEP students at the university?
JULES: As a new ANSEP student, be active at Friday meetings and get to know the other students. You will be able to call on those people for help, and it’s where you will make new friends. Secondly, be at the ANSEP building as much as possible. You will find a lot of resources, computers and fellow students to work with – it is also probably less distracting than being at home or in your dorm room.
- Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Tvetene CarlsonRead More
Tvetene Carlson of Cantwell, Alaska, graduated high school in 2015 as a junior. He not only graduated a year early, but did so with 37 college credits, including all the math needed for his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. A longtime ANSEP student, Tvetene says one reason he was able to get ahead in his studies was through participation in the Middle School Academy, Acceleration Academy and Summer Bridge components.
Now a full-time student at the University of Alaska Anchorage and part of ANSEP’s University Success component, Tvetene is on track to graduate with his civil engineering degree in the fall of 2018. When he moved from the small community of Cantwell, which is home to only about 220 people, to the large city of Anchorage, Tvetene says it was definitely a bit of a culture shock.
“While it was tough at first, I was definitely prepared thanks to ANSEP,” Tvetene said. “I was completely prepared for college-level coursework, I was familiar with the campus and I had a bunch of credits. But, it still took some adjusting to go from my small, conservative hometown to a very large, diverse college campus.”
With the help of ANSEP and friends made through the program over the years, Tvetene broke out of his shell and already has his sights set on a master’s degree and a career.
“I know for sure I want to get my master’s degree after I finish my bachelor’s,” Tvetene said. “As for a dream job, I want to work in an industry where my degree applies – I’m thinking structural or water – but all that can change in one semester.”
For now, Tvetene is staying involved with the ANSEP community through University Success, and he has some advice for those who recently joined the program or just began their journey toward a STEM degree:
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find a community of people that allow you to ask them,” he said. “People understand if you don’t know the material right off the bat, so if something is confusing or doesn’t make sense, ask. The great thing about ANSEP is that we’ve all been there at some point, and it’s better to ask for help than be on your own trying to break through the barrier.”
- Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Greg SchmidtRead More
Twenty-two-year-old Greg Schmidt recently graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. He credits much of this accomplishment to four paid oil and gas internships and financial as well as academic support from the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. Greg’s path through the ANSEP pipeline began when he was a senior in high school and participated in a computer build – a hands-on activity now incorporated into every ANSEP Middle School Academy. With his curiosity about engineering already brewing, Greg says the computer build solidified his interest in electrical engineering and skyrocketed him toward becoming an engineer for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.
“I liked that the build was led by University Success students who were already going through the engineering program – the ones who helped me were actually electrical engineering students. It was such a cool and different way to learn about school and how it relates to building a computer. The experience really set the tone for what my future at ANSEP would be like,” Greg said.
After the computer build, Greg immediately applied for ANSEP Summer Bridge, a 10-week component that gives high school graduates the opportunity to live on the UAA campus while completing a college math course as well as a paid internship in a career field of their interest. Growing up in Wasilla, Alaska, Greg said he couldn’t believe he would have the opportunity to intern with an oil and gas company and knock out one of his college courses before he entered the university. According to Greg, taking college-level classes wasn’t an option for him in high school, despite his interest to do so.
“I was shocked to hear about other students who were earning college credits in high school because of ANSEP. Even though I didn’t have that much of a head start, it was super cool to get Calculus credits with Summer Bridge before I started at UAA,” Greg said. “I continued with University Success throughout college, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity. My friends helped me stay on track and prepare for tests, and ANSEP made sure I had support financially. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to just be able to focus on studies and not worry about how I was going to pay for things.”
Not only did Greg graduate with his degree in four years, he says he felt 100 percent prepared after college to begin his career as an electrical engineer. After spending the last three consecutive summers interning at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. as an ANSEP student, Greg has officially joined the team alongside 26 other ANSEP alumni at Alyeska, providing essential maintenance to 800 miles of pipe through the Last Frontier.
“The internships helped me develop professionally and learn what to expect in the workplace,” Greg said. “That’s one of the coolest things about ANSEP – the opportunity to take classroom learning and apply it to the real world. Today, it’s so important for young kids to learn the importance of education and applying yourself toward whatever field or direction you want to go in your career, and that’s where ANSEP helps.”
There are many students like Greg who do not have access to advanced curriculum in high school, and there are a great deal of others who take and pass advanced high-school courses but then arrive at the university underprepared. In fact, earlier this month, ANSEP, in conjunction with the University of Alaska and the State Department of Education and Early Development, released a transcript study that shows that more than 60 percent of Alaska students needed remedial coursework once they arrived at University of Alaska. ANSEP, University of Alaska and Alaska State Department of Education and Early Development will be partnering to change this trend. Read more about this issue here: ANSEP.net/TranscriptStudy.
- Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Trevor KamkoffRead More
Trevor Kamkoff is a 13-year-old student at Clark Middle School who was astounded and grateful to be selected as one of 53 students chosen to participate in ANSEP’s first Middle School Academy of 2017. Despite being his first ANSEP component, Trevor says he loves every aspect of the academy, especially the opportunity to make new friends.
“So far, my favorite part is being in such a friendly environment – everyone is so easy to get along with, and it’s cool having everyone who shares the same interests in one place, experiencing new things together,” he said.
For Trevor, Middle School Academy comes with several other first-time experiences, too, such as living on a college campus, building a computer, designing and constructing a bridge as well as thinking about a future career.
“I’ve never had a dream career in mind, but ANSEP got me thinking about what it might be,” Trevor said. “I like drawing, building and architecture. I’m really enjoying the bridge simulator software because it shows the stress levels an object has as it moves across a bridge – it’s really cool!”
Another first for Trevor was the opportunity to meet Dr. Sylvia Earle who gave a special presentation to ANSEP students and staff at the 2017 Celebration at the end of January.
“She really did inspire me,” Trevor said. “One thing she said that stuck with me was ‘you don’t have to be in the crowd doing the same thing, you can go out and do your own thing’ – that’s what I took away from her presentation, and it still gives me chills.”
Trevor is enjoying his ANSEP experience so much that he plans to apply for Acceleration Academy once he is in high school. “I can’t wait until high school and college now,” he said. “I just love school and learning new things.”
- Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Dr. Sylvia EarleRead More
Last week, world-renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle spoke to ANSEP students, staff and supporters at our 2017 Celebration. As an oceanographer, explorer, author and leader of the first female team of aquanauts, Earle’s words inspired and captivated the attention of those fortunate enough to hear her speak.
Earle’s success story began long before her debut at ANSEP. She recalls, at the age of three, becoming curious about the natural world that surrounded her. Her parents encouraged her to be hands on and ask questions.
“Kids are natural explorers, natural scientists. Kids do what explorers do, and that’s ask questions,” Earle said. “I was fortunate to have parents who said ‘go outside and play’ – they never told me to stop. My parents created a sense of empathy, to imagine the world through someone else’s eyes.”
Earle grew her passion for exploring into a career after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Duke University. Today, she has led more than 100 expeditions, logged more than 7,000 hours underwater and holds the record for solo diving at 1,000 meters. She is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc. and Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and she also serves as chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth.
With her impressive resume and lifetime of stories and experience comes a pioneering outlook.
“We are agents of change, so it’s up to us to do everything we can to take care of the natural world,” she said. “I’ve been a witness to the greatest era of change until now. Now, you are the witnesses to the greatest era of human change in all of civilization. We should all do everything we can to protect the natural world. Protect it like your life depends on it because it does.”
Earle emphasizes the importance of asking questions, to continue exploring and find a passion.
“Find something you love, polish it and make it your own. You don’t learn things and keep them to yourself, you learn them and pass them on,” Earle said.
- Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Skyler KernRead More
Skyler Kern recently graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a double minor in electrical engineering and Spanish. His ANSEP story began when he was a freshman at West High School in Anchorage and his geometry teacher recommended he participate in an ANSEP Computer Build.
“A big part of my decision to major in mechanical engineering came from ANSEP when I did the computer build in ninth grade,” Skyler recalled. “From then on it was a matter of keeping up with sciences classes. There was a lot of support in my family to go in that direction – both of my parents saw the benefits of an engineering degree. I went with the mechanical aspect because it was broad and I didn’t want to limit myself.”
Enamored with the program from the start, Skyler continued with ANSEP by participating in Acceleration Academy and Summer Bridge. During Acceleration Academy, Skyler began to form a close group of ANSEP friends.
“We became really close during Acceleration Academy,” Skyler said. “From then on they motivated me through my senior year of high school and into Summer Bridge. The people and the sense of community made it really easy to get into engineering and stay with ANSEP.”
With Summer Bridge, Skyler began to build connections in the STEM industry and network with industry professionals. His Summer Bridge internship with BP developed into two more summer internships with the company, and even led to an internship with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory located in Berkeley, Calif., and a summer at the University of Colorado SMART Program (Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training).
“ANSEP helped me along the way with all of these internship opportunities,” Skyler said. “One opportunity led to another, and it all started with that initial ANSEP experience.”
Skyler already has another internship lined up for the spring at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado while he waits to hear back from graduate schools. He is thankful for his ANSEP experience and ANSEP family who helped him get to where he is today.
“I would recommend ANSEP to anyone,” Skyler said. “The biggest thing is forming a community and support network, and it was important to me to have people around who I trusted. Freshman year of college is difficult enough and the connections ANSEP gives you before even stepping foot on campus is really important.”