When Sara Oomittuk, an Inupiaq from Palmer, was in elementary school, she hated math and science classes because the subject matter didn’t make sense to her. In sixth grade, Sara attended ANSEP Middle School Academy and realized how exciting STEM education could be. For the first time, she met students from other schools and towns who had shared her struggles with math and science. Together, with the help of ANSEP, they learned how to use problem solving and teamwork to find solutions.
Before ANSEP, Sara had never really considered college. ANSEP applications, modeled after the college application process, showed Sara what it would be like to apply to college and that she was capable of filling these applications out as early middle school. At Middle School Academy, where students live on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus for two weeks, she experienced college life for the first time.
After attending Middle School Academy, Sara was hooked on ANSEP and attended STEM Career Exploration before starting high school. Currently a sophomore at Palmer High School, Sara has also completed two Acceleration Academy sessions, during which she even earned college credits.
“Growing up, I really thought I was just bad at math,” said Sara. “ANSEP helped me realize that I just needed the proper support and instruction. Now, math is my favorite subject, and I am actually two years ahead of most of my peers!”
Although Sara loves her upper-level STEM classes, she says her favorite part about ANSEP is the life skills she has learned. Through the guidance and support of her fellow students, mentors and professors, she now feels more confident, social and able to step outside of her comfort zone.
“Acceleration Academy was my favorite ANSEP component so far,” said Sara. “The higher-level math classes were challenging but helped me prepare for college. I now feel ready and confident to start my college application process and know I will be successful as a college student.”
Although Sara is only in high school, she has big dreams for her future. She wants to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage or the University of Maryland before going to medical school. One day, she plans to become either a surgeon or OB-GYN. With the support of her ANSEP family, Sara is on track to become the future Dr. Oomittuk!