Christian Douglas, who lives in Anchorage, is a 14-year-old Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yupik. He loves playing sports – his favorites are wrestling, track and basketball. His favorite subject in school? Alaska history. In many ways, Christian sounds like an average Mears Middle School eighth grader, but, with the help of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, he is already on the fast track to a STEM career.
Christian comes from a big family. Two of his cousins, Troy Walker and Aatem Cooke, who previously attended ANSEP Middle School Academy and STEM Career Exploration components, recommended that Christian get involved with ANSEP.
“Middle School Academy was just as exciting as my cousins promised,” said Christian. “Aatem loved ANSEP so much he enrolled full-time at Acceleration Academy (UAA), and now I’m interested in following in his footsteps.”
Christian said his favorite part about Middle School Academy was building the computer. Although some parts were challenging, he found it surprisingly easy to complete.
“I am very interested in technology and computers,” said Christian. “I’d never done anything like this before, and it was amazing to see all the different parts and learn how they all come together to make a working machine.”
Another aspect of ANSEP Christian enjoyed was the community. Throughout the two-week, residential component, Christian and the other students chosen to participate in last summer’s Middle School Academy, held in partnership with Anchorage School District, had an authentic college experience living on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
“Living in the dorms was a really interesting experience, and I felt like a real college student,” said Christian. “I made a lot of friends and realized that ANSEP is just a large community of peers who like math and science and want to support each other.”
Christian attended Middle School Academy over the summer, but he feels that his experience continues to benefit him during the school year.
“ANSEP got me thinking about education earlier than normal and helped me start the school year in the right academic mindset,” Christian said. “I am also able to use the computer I built to study and do homework. Thanks to ANSEP, I’m currently excelling at Algebra 1 and my other STEM classes.”
Although Christian isn’t sure what his dream career is, he does plan to stay involved with ANSEP and hopes to attend Acceleration Academy (Summer) next year.
“I’m still figuring my STEM career goals, but I’m sure career development opportunities at ANSEP components like Acceleration Academy will help me decide,” said Christian.
Thanks to ANSEP, students across Alaska like Christian are on track for bright futures with successful STEM careers!