Shannon Williams, a Yup’ik from Anchorage, has dreamed of becoming a paleontologist since she was five years old. Last year, a friend told Shannon about an opportunity to jumpstart her STEM career, and that’s when she became involved with the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. Even though she just completed the eighth grade, as a full-time student at ANSEP’s Acceleration Academy High School, Shannon is already earning credits towards her college degree.
Next year, Shannon is transferring to ANSEP’s newest high school component, the full-time Acceleration Academy (UAA), where she will attend classes and earn college credits as a student on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
“I’m excited to attend school on the UAA campus. And, with ANSEP, I have access to more advanced classes that will give me a taste of the college lifestyle. I can’t wait to be surrounded by college students and work alongside actual college professors,” said Shannon.
Last year Shannon completed geology; and, as a high school freshman, she will be taking college-level English and math classes. She’s looking forward to starting college-level science courses, too.
“My grandfather is a paleontologist and works at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s Museum of the North. He took me on my first archaeological dig when I was just five years old,” said Shannon.“I found ammonite but didn’t really know what it was. In my geology class, I learned how the rocks are formed and how they impact our environment. I am excited to learn more about natural science.”
Although Shannon is on track to graduate early from high school, she wants to stay at Acceleration Academy (UAA) through her senior year to earn more college credits and spend more time with her friends.
“I was a little nervous about transferring to a new school. However, I quickly realized how warm and welcoming the ANSEP community is. The students are very tight-knit, and the teachers are incredibly supportive. The team-based environment makes it easy to succeed, even in the more challenging courses,” Shannon said.
Because of ANSEP, Shannon feels that she is a stronger writer and has learned new study skills. Even though she is only 14, she’s confident and feels prepared to succeed in college. Shannon hopes to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps, attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks and eventually become a paleontologist or archaeologist.
Click here to learn more about how ANSEP is promoting college readiness for high school students from across Alaska through its full-time Acceleration Academy High School and Acceleration Academy (UAA) components.