Yosty Storms

    Wednesday, December 02, 2015

    Unalakleet, Alaska

    “In general, education is something that you obtain that no one can take away from you,” wisely states Shaylyn Storms. Shaylyn, more commonly known as Yosty, will be the first in her family to graduate with a college education, thanks to the loving support from her immediate family, as well as her ANSEP community.

    Yosty’s academic journey started in her small village of Unalakleet. Then she set out to pursue her education and nestled into her temporary home away from home, at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska. It was here that Yosty was first introduced to what would become her forever home, ANSEP. In 2010, during her junior year, Yosty participated in the computer build program, which she still has fond memories of to this day. She also distinctly remembers Mike Nabers, affectionately referred to as “Big Mike” (ANSEP Alum and former employee), visiting her classroom and advocating student involvement in ANSEP. Both of these events combined, accelerated her toward becoming an avid member and supporter of ANSEP and ultimately joining the ANSEP family.

    At the end of her junior year, Yosty participated in and successfully completed Acceleration Academy, earning university credits over the summer. She then transitioned into the Summer Bridge program her senior year. Yosty considers ANSEP as a “pathway” for her since high school. “In high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated; ANSEP really encouraged me to pursue a degree in STEM.” Having more clarity and feeling more equipped than ever, Yosty entered the university and immediately became an ANSEP University Success Student her freshman year, studying Natural Sciences.

    During her time as a university student, she overcame many obstacles with the avid support of her ANSEP community. One of those obstacles was mathematics. Yosty expressed, “I never liked math because I thought I was not very good at it. Through ANSEP, I learned how to appreciate it and even do well in it.” Even though Calculus I is the uppermost math requirement for her major, she surpassed that requirement by taking and passing Calculus II.

    “I find it not only interesting, but inspirational how ANSEP has given the opportunity for Alaskan Natives to succeed in STEM.” ANSEP has specifically helped Yosty succeed in the STEM field and profession by providing her with an internship for two summers in Barrow, Alaska. She had the opportunity to work closely with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management as a wildlife biological technician. Yosty worked on a variety of tasks from working closely with mentors, interacting within the communities to data entry and examination.

    During a weekly Friday ANSEP meeting, she became acquainted with some employees of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which is one of ANSEP’s many strategic partners. This face-to-face introduction encouraged her to apply for a summer internship with USGS. Yosty was hired and worked for USGS this past summer as a biological science technician. Once her internship ended, she was quickly offered a position working as a career pathways graduate student this upcoming January, which is a position she fully intends to accept.

    Being Alaskan Native herself, more specifically Iñupiaq, Yosty has always had a heart for her people, cultural values and the traditional way of life. In five years, she endeavors to have her graduate degree in Marine Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. With that degree under her belt, Yosty hopes to get her dream job as a Marine Biologist. She wants to use this career path to work closely with the people in coastal communities and affect change. Yosty realizes the importance of subsistence for her people and how crucial it is to protect their way of life. She grew up on the coast and, traditionally, all of her food came from the ocean. Yosty wants to ensure that if there are changes with marine life, that her people know about it and can appropriately adapt to those changes.

    Now 22 years old, Yosty will be the first in her family to graduate with a college degree. Yosty will graduate this month with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Being the fourth oldest in her family of eight siblings, she desires to be an example for her younger sisters and brothers. Over the years, Yosty’s mother showed incredible work ethic and self-sacrifice. Her mother’s hard work empowered Yosty all the more to give back by undertaking and accomplishing a college education; as Yosty selflessly stated, “It’s the least I could do.” Yosty’s family is, without a doubt, her central motivation to succeed and excel in her education and, furthermore, in life.

    Though Yosty will be walking across the Alaska Airlines Center stage at the December commencement ceremony and no longer frequenting places on campus, she has some great advice to leave behind:

    “If you are passionate about earning your STEM degree, don’t give up on it. Always stay positive and reach out to others.”

    If anyone is a perfect example of that, it’s Yosty Storms.