Kelsy Panruk is proud of her Yup’ik heritage and dreams of becoming a civil engineer. Her goal is to improve the quality of life in her hometown of Chefornak, Alaska, and it is also a priority for her that she keep her family’s traditions alive for many years to come. With support and guidance from the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program, Kelsy’s dreams have quickly taken shape.
This summer, Kelsy spent 10 weeks participating in ANSEP’s residential Summer Bridge component. She prepared for college by living on campus at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she is now a full-time student. Over the summer she made lifelong friends while completing a paid internship and earning credit toward her degree. According to Kelsy, ANSEP inspired her to stay true to her heritage and follow her passion for giving back.
“I have always loved math and science, and I am passionate about my Yup’ik heritage. Through ANSEP, I’m following my dreams of becoming a civil engineer alongside peers and mentors who share my passion for STEM and continuing our cultural traditions,” said Kelsy.
During her internship with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, she gained hands-on biological experience that opened her eyes to real issues that are impacting her hometown, such as climate change and lack of proper water facilities. Kelsy takes pride in her culture and wants to help preserve it for future generations, specifically the traditional language, dances and hunting methods passed down by her Yup’ik ancestors. Kelsy says that, over the years, she has seen first hand the impact of climate change in Chefornak and has therefore witnessed the dire need for improved infrastructure. By earning her civil engineering degree then working to improve Chefornak’s local water and sewage systems, Kelsy will be helping to build a community where her native culture can thrive.
Thanks to ANSEP and her Summer Bridge experience, Kelsy is prepared and eager to be successful as a full-time student at UAA, where she will study civil engineering. Summer Bridge was Kelsy’s first ANSEP component, and she looks forward to getting further involved with ANSEP and pursuing a STEM career in Alaska. Students like Kelsy have access to ANSEP’s proven educational model thanks to ANSEP’s strategic partners, such as the Association of Village Council Presidents, a nonprofit organization that works to effect positive change in their region, which includes Kelsy’s hometown of Chefornak.