Skyler Kern recently graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a double minor in electrical engineering and Spanish. His ANSEP story began when he was a freshman at West High School in Anchorage and his geometry teacher recommended he participate in an ANSEP Computer Build.
“A big part of my decision to major in mechanical engineering came from ANSEP when I did the computer build in ninth grade,” Skyler recalled. “From then on it was a matter of keeping up with sciences classes. There was a lot of support in my family to go in that direction – both of my parents saw the benefits of an engineering degree. I went with the mechanical aspect because it was broad and I didn’t want to limit myself.”
Enamored with the program from the start, Skyler continued with ANSEP by participating in Acceleration Academy and Summer Bridge. During Acceleration Academy, Skyler began to form a close group of ANSEP friends.
“We became really close during Acceleration Academy,” Skyler said. “From then on they motivated me through my senior year of high school and into Summer Bridge. The people and the sense of community made it really easy to get into engineering and stay with ANSEP.”
With Summer Bridge, Skyler began to build connections in the STEM industry and network with industry professionals. His Summer Bridge internship with BP developed into two more summer internships with the company, and even led to an internship with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory located in Berkeley, Calif., and a summer at the University of Colorado SMART Program (Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training).
“ANSEP helped me along the way with all of these internship opportunities,” Skyler said. “One opportunity led to another, and it all started with that initial ANSEP experience.”
Skyler already has another internship lined up for the spring at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado while he waits to hear back from graduate schools. He is thankful for his ANSEP experience and ANSEP family who helped him get to where he is today.
“I would recommend ANSEP to anyone,” Skyler said. “The biggest thing is forming a community and support network, and it was important to me to have people around who I trusted. Freshman year of college is difficult enough and the connections ANSEP gives you before even stepping foot on campus is really important.”