Many students are nervous or anxious before starting college but not Jaden Ulroan. Involved with ANSEP since middle school, he feels excited and prepared to start his freshman year at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he will study civil engineering.
Jaden, who recalls having an interest in math and science classes from the time he was little, first became involved with ANSEP through Middle School Academy. Being surrounded by other students who have a passion for STEM inspired him to continue through the ANSEP pipeline from there.
“I made great friends who were also passionate about STEM while earning college credit through ANSEP Acceleration Academy,” said Jaden. “Working with my peers and instructors who loved math and science as much as I do made it really fun.”
After graduating from high school in May 2017, Jaden didn’t take the summer off. Instead, he spent his summer preparing for college as part of ANSEP’s Summer Bridge component. He completed a paid internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service while earning college math credits and living on the UAA campus. Through his internship, he gained hands-on experience collecting data on creek temperatures, water flow and fish counts.
“It is really cool to see how this stuff actually works. I knew that scientists tested the environment and collected this information, but I never knew how they actually did it. Seeing it come to life and learning about the importance of protecting the refuge made everything we learn in the classroom more applicable,” said Jaden.
As part of Summer Bridge, students also have “family dinners” every Friday, and Jaden said this helped him build a strong support group with other students. Although Jaden has enjoyed the classes and STEM opportunities, his favorite thing about ANSEP is the people. Each summer he looks forward to reconnecting with his friends, instructors and youth peer mentors who are such a positive influence in his life.
He believes that ANSEP has helped prepare him for his college and professional career by providing a support network to encourage and propel him through his STEM studies. Referring to the ANSEP building as a home away from home, Jaden is confident going to college where he already has friends studying similar fields and mentors he can turn to if he needs advice.
“ANSEP helps more then people ever know. In addition to providing strength and support, ANSEP connects you with friends who share the common goal of investing in themselves to graduate with a STEM degree and better their futures,” said Jaden.
Thanks to the generous support from ANSEP strategic partners like the Association of Village Council Presidents, more students from the Yukon-Kuskowim Delta like Jaden are being exposed to ANSEP’s proven educational methods which allow students from the area to arrive academically and socially prepared for college and their careers.