Collette Kawagley, Yup’ik, was born and raised in Anchorage, where she attended East High School and dove head first into ANSEP after graduation. Her journey began with Summer Bridge in 2014, when she interned at ExxonMobil. Encouragement from her father and twin sister Andrea, who is also an ANSEP student, led Collette to submit an application to ANSEP. Today, the support she received from the program has changed her future and given her numerous opportunities to gain professional experience as an engineer.
“My dad only did one semester of college and has always regretted it. So, he encourages my sister and I to keep working toward our degrees no matter how hard things get. He definitely pushes me along a bit,” she said.
Collette is currently an ANSEP University Success student at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Since her first Summer Bridge experience, Collette has participated in two additional internships with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). During her most recent internship, Collette worked with the Scattered Sites program, which provides on-site sanitation facilities to eligible homes in rural Alaska. Collette assisted with site visits, construction inspections and soil tests in addition to helping with design, operations and maintenance management of water systems.
Today, Collette continues to look to her sister and father for support and encouragement, but she finds comfort in the fact that she was also able to build a family with her ANSEP peers. She says that one of the best aspects of ANSEP is having a bunch of students in one place who are pursuing similar degrees. Collette says she’s forever thankful that she has her ANSEP family as a support system.