More than 50 Lower Kuskokwim School District students take first steps toward college & career preparedness at ANSEP Middle School Academy


ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Last month the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program welcomed a cohort of 54 students from Southwest Alaska to participate in the program’s Middle School Academy. This was made possible with support from the Lower Kuskokwim School District and the Association of Village Council Presidents.

Middle School Academy introduces students to the exciting world of higher education and potential careers at an early age. Establishing a sense of familiarity with college campuses and building relationships with like-minded peers are a few ways ANSEP helps prepare students for college academically and socially.

Team-building activities, campus tours and cultural enrichment are all part of the two-week, residential component’s hands-on approach that gives students their first taste of the college life. Admission to the all-inclusive component even involves a collegiate-style application process. Students had the opportunity to live in dorms on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, attend a Seawolf basketball game and work alongside ANSEP University Success students and professionals from a variety of STEM industries.

Projects like the balsa wood bridge build and windmill challenge teach the fundamentals of engineering, while activities like the computer build focus on technology and programming. By interacting with scientists at the Alaska SeaLife Center, engineering professors from the University of Alaska Anchorage and other STEM professionals, the students are exposed to a wide variety of career possibilities.

Middle School Academy is the first opportunity in a linear program that encourages students to explore career paths while becoming hyper-prepared for college. This February, 54 students from 16 Alaska communities completed the component, including:

  • Bethel: Ashlie Atseriak, Mason Berlin, Abigail Bobo, Madison Davenport, Rosemarie Dyment, Cadence Evon, Bradley Judy, Rhea Kanuk, Hank Karr, Hannah Leinberger, James McMillen, Alyssa Misner, Jeremiah Samuelson and Sterling White
  • Chefornak: Brayden Abraham, Jordan Jimmy and Albertina Tunuchuk
  • Eek: Summer Agwiak, Andrea Hawk and Shanella Kashatok
  • Goodnews Bay: Josh Martin, Tristan Martin and Jodi Merritt
  • Kasigluk: Claire Schneider, Mariah Tinker and Montel Waska
  • Kipnuk: Terry Anaruk II and Dyane Pavila
  • Kogiganak: Kenneth Charlie
  • Kwethluk: Layla Charlie and Abraham Fisher
  • Kwigllingok: James Brink and Jacob St. Denis
  • Napakiak: Torian Dull, Tiffany Laraux, Tanya Nelson and Drew Roland
  • Napaskiak: Alexie Amik and Sophia Fisher
  • Netwok: Lola Andy, Glennesha Carl, Larry Charles and Nevaeh George
  • Oscarville: Lawrence Stevens
  • Platinum: Justine Erickson-Bradney and Aidan Ramirez
  • Toksook Bay: Joanne Alexie, Anna Asuluk, Caleb John, Connor Julius, Johnny Nicholai and Mary Pitka
  • Tuntutuliak: Jaden Aguchak and Emma Friendly

After Middle School Academy, students return to their schools with a new level of confidence about their academic potential and renewed confidence about achieving their goals. They also have this incentive: students who successfully completed the component and remain on track to complete Algebra 1 before high school can keep the computers they built to study for homework.

“Achieving academic success at an early age builds confidence and inspires students to envision a future where they can be anything they want. Our goal is to change the mindset for students in rural areas of Alaska from considering college as an abstract thought to viewing higher education as their logical next step,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Schroeder.

With ANSEP students having already earned more than 800 undergraduate STEM degrees and 2,500 other Alaskans in the ANSEP pipeline, the program is creating change for students from across Alaska and creating a more empowered workforce for the future of communities around the state.

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