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Across Alaska, 25 ANSEP students are preparing for college and careers with paid internships in the field

July 15, 2021

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – This summer 25 of Alaska’s best and brightest are participating in the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program’s Summer Bridge opportunity, which develops recent high school graduates socially and professionally for college and future STEM careers by placing them in summer internships with ANSEP strategic partners. 

Over the course of nine weeks, students are participating in paid summer internships in engineering, science or business. Students enrolled in this year’s Summer Bridge component represent 12 Alaska communities including Anchorage, Denali Park, Kongiganak, Kotzebue, Glennallen, Homer, Nome, Palmer, Soldotna, Wasilla and Utqiagvik. 

In the northern part of the state, an internship with the National Park Service is giving Cassandra Brown of Kongiganak and Chelonia Jones of Bethel a chance to participate in scientific surveys of small mammals in Denali National Park and snowshoe hares in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. These students will also complete a video project on peregrine falcon recovery and the invasive species sweet clover. Farther north, Austin Bergerson of Anchorage, an intern with the United States Geological Survey, is spending time on the North Slope deploying GPS tags on loons and installing nest cameras.  

In Southcentral Alaska, Alexandria Burks-Dakutak of Wasilla and Kaitlyn Hanson of Anchorage are interning with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. They are in Kodiak studying the relationship between berries and brown bears as well as a highly invasive plant species and banding birds. At ConocoPhillips Alaska and Oil Search Alaska’s offices in Anchorage, four students are getting hands-on experience with engineering and business projects. Ethan Sundown of Bethel and Anna Chanar of Anchorage are interning at ConocoPhillips Alaska’s headquarters, where they are gaining engineering and business experience with exploration, production, integrated analytics, sustainability and planning as well as visiting the North Slope to explore various divisions of ConocoPhillips.

In Southwest Alaska, an internship with Bristol Bay Native Association will take Ashlyn Christensen of Anchorage to Round Island to count walrus haulouts and research sockeye salmon ecosystems.

In western Alaska, Ayiana Browning of Kotzebue is interning with the National Park Service at the Western Arctic National Parklands Bering Land Bridge conducting community interviews.  In Emmonak, Sam Larson, from Homer, is working with the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association focusing on juvenile salmon escapements in the Yukon River.

Students participating in ANSEP’s 2021 Summer Bridge program are:

Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Nome: Gabriel Blanco (Anchorage) 

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium: Brock Grant (Wasilla)

Bristol Bay Native Association, Dillingham: Ashlyn Christensen (Anchorage)

Bureau of Land Management: Anand Egan (Wasilla)

ConocoPhillips Alaska: Anna “Rosie” Chanar (Anchorage) and Ethan Sundown (Bethel)

National Park Service: Ayiana Browning (Kotzebue), Benjamin Brown (Denali Park), Cassandra Brown (Kongiganak) and Chelonia Jones (Bethel)

Oil Search Alaska: Clifton Terwilliger (Palmer) and David “Reese” Bahnke (Nome)

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Brennan Garcia (Glennallen), Alexandria Burks-Dakutak (Wasilla) and Kaitlyn Hanson (Anchorage)

Tanana Chiefs Conference: Archer Bowles (Palmer)

United States Forest Service: Maya Wall (Bethel)

United States Geological Survey: Brenden Boehme (Soldotna), Austin Bergerson (Anchorage)

University of Alaska Anchorage College of Engineering: Angelo Massimo Nikolic (Anchorage), Johnathan Andrews (Wasilla), Kai Iverson (Palmer) and Marcus Louise Santos (Utqiagvik)

University of Rhode Island: Eric Rangel Jr. (Anchorage)

Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Associations: Samuel Larson (Homer)

Students who successfully complete the 2021 Summer Bridge component are eligible for scholarship funding to attend the University of Alaska this fall. Many of the students have already earned dozens of credits toward a degree at the University of Alaska as a result of previous coursework completed in ANSEP’s Acceleration Academy. Some students have more than 100 credits earned through Acceleration Academy and require less than one year on campus to earn their BS degree.

“Summer Bridge is a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in a STEM field and make valuable career connections before attending college,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Schroeder. 

Elementary, middle and high school students across Alaska who are interested in participating in ANSEP can apply for other opportunities including the K-5 STEM Connect, STEM Career Explorations, Middle School Academy, full-time Acceleration Academy and Incoming University Freshman components. To learn more about ANSEP and the opportunities available for Alaskan students, visit