Meet Charlee Korthuis, an eighth-grade student from Bethel, Alaska. Charlee considers herself a typical Alaska girl with Yup’ik roots – she loves sharing her culture with others through traditional dance, trying new things and making friends. And one day, she wants to become a geologist.
“I fell in love with rocks at Girl Scouts one year when the instructor brought in all different kinds and showed us that they all have different stories. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to become a geologist. I love ANSEP because it’s helping me learn more about all the opportunities out there in STEM and geology,” said Charlee.
Charlee realized after her first Middle School Academy, where she built her own computer and “landed a spacecraft on Mars,” that ANSEP can help bring her dreams within reach. Since she entered the ANSEP pipeline just two years ago, Charlee has completed the maximum number of ANSEP components for a middle school student – she attended the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp as well as three STEM Career Exploration components, including ANSEP’s first session held during the school year.
“I love learning about all the different areas of STEM, but I think my favorite part of ANSEP is making new friends from across Alaska,” Charlee said. “When you come here, everyone is really shy at first, but by the time you leave everyone is like family. We work together, practice teamwork and get to do really fun things that I can’t do at home like building and racing boats.”
Charlee has her sights set on college and knows ANSEP will help her get there. She is eager to participate in Acceleration Academy next summer, and she is already looking forward to Summer Bridge, too.
“You really don’t realize all the opportunities ANSEP offers until you get here,” said Charlee. “It’s like fun practice for the next school year. And, since you’re on a real college campus, you also learn social skills that can help in high school and even when you get to college.”
ANSEP’s goal is to keep students like Charlee on track for STEM degrees and careers. ANSEP has traditionally hosted four STEM Career Exploration sessions each summer. However, to meet growing demand in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, ANSEP hosted an additional session for students from the area this winter. Thanks to the increased support of the Association of Village Council Presidents, more students like Charlee will be exposed to ANSEP’s proven educational methods and will arrive academically and socially prepared for college and their careers.