Shamariah Hale considers herself a true small-town Alaskan. A 23-year-old Athabascan from Fairbanks, she is the oldest of three girls and just graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with her bachelor’s degree from the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Shamariah is one of the first in her family to earn a college degree, however her sisters – who she has helped guide along the way – are not far behind her!
With an ongoing desire to work in the natural resources field, Shamariah wants to help preserve the marine wildlife that has helped sustain Alaska Natives for centuries. Growing up with this dream, she was unaware that programs like ANSEP existed to help jumpstart her education as well as her career. It wasn’t until Shamariah’s high school mentor told her about ANSEP that she learned it could help her earn money for college and provide her the tools she needed to be successful in math and science.
“I couldn’t believe that there was a program that wanted to help students like me get a degree. The ANSEP team made it so easy for me to join the program. One day I was sophomore at West Valley High School, and the next I found myself in Anchorage on the UAA campus participating in ANSEP Acceleration Academy. I loved it so much, I even encouraged my sisters to join the program,” Shamariah said.
While it was easy to face her studies head on with ANSEP, she does not hesitate to admit that math and science did not come easy to her. However, her mom’s advice to take things day by day paired with her support group at ANSEP, Shamariah was able to learn the material and eventually excel in those areas.
“I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without ANSEP. There were times when I didn’t think I could do it, but my friends and teachers at ANSEP helped me through the tough times. Eventually I got to know everyone at the program, and that made learning math and science a blast!”
When she graduated high school, Shamariah decided to continue with ANSEP and participate in the Summer Bridge component before becoming a full-time student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks,
“The best part about ANSEP is the internships you have available to you. Most of the fisheries experience I have today stemmed from Summer Bridge. I worked at the Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program, U.S. Geological Survey and Alaska Department of Fish and Game. I learned something different at each and had a great time doing it.”
Now that she has her degree, Shamariah plans to take a well-deserved vacation before jumping into job applications. While her dream job is to work at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or study Alaska’s freshwater fish, she will take any opportunity that comes her way that provides her an opportunity to contribute to the natural resources field.
“I’m not sure where I’ll be in five years, but I know I’ll be doing something in the fisheries industry. Right now, I’m following my mom’s advice: focusing on what’s in front of me and taking everything one day at a time. My advice for students like me is to not let opportunities pass you by. If you see something you want that’s right for you, go for it!”