Math. A four-letter word typically followed by a sigh and the first dreadful thought in a high school student’s mind each morning. Just how do you use sine, cosine and tangent to calculate the side length of a right triangle? If you ask Tamija Woods, she’ll tell you that she used to think the same way. When she first heard about ANSEP summer components, the thought of taking math during her time off was not one that excited her. However, if you ask her about math today, she leads with a different four-letter word: love.
“I love math. It really gets me thinking. The higher classes you take, the more difficult the problem gets and the more you have to think about each problem as you work through it. That’s what I like. I love pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”
Tamija Woods, Yup’ik, is one of six Mt. Edgecumbe High School graduates currently participating in ANSEP Summer Bridge. Tamija completed her first computer build with ANSEP her sophomore year of high school, then came to Acceleration Academy the following summer. After that, she was hooked on engineering. That’s because at ANSEP, students with similar interests, hopes and dreams surround her. Together, they push one another to succeed in the classroom knowing that some day, they may be working alongside one another.
“I love the math class, and it’s definitely one of the bigger parts of ANSEP. But, it’s not only the class itself; it’s the relationships and friendships you build with the other students. I truly value them. Here, I meet people from all over Alaska with similar interests – we all want to achieve greatness and lead a successful life. That’s why we are here. And, you develop lifelong friendships with unique people, each with their own story and personality.”
Not only is Tamija taking college algebra this summer, she’s also getting paid internship experience working with the National Park Service in Katmai National Park and Preserve. This summer, she’ll learn the agency’s responsibilities for protecting cultural and natural resources in the area.
“I’m really excited about my internship. I’m not much of an outdoor girl and haven’t camped much, but I know it will push me outside of my comfort zone,” said Tamija. “I also heard I’ll be dealing with brown bears and fish, which I’m excited about. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to learn something new.”
Katmai National Park and Preserve is an active volcanic landscape containing 9,000 years of cultural history that provides a home for salmon as well as the thousands of brown bears that feed on them. During the internship, Tamija will spend one week in Brooks Camp providing visitors the opportunity to see and enjoy wildlife while learning about the history of the park.
“Growing up, I had weaknesses, and there were times when I didn’t think I would make it here. But my dad always told me, ‘Tamija, if your mind can believe it and your heart can conceive it, you can achieve it.’ That quote has stuck with me to this day. Since then, my weaknesses have become my strengths, and I’ve never given up on my goals.”
A University of Alaska Anchorage student this fall, Tamija already has eight college credits under her belt. While her dad always pushed her to turn her weakness into strengths, she also says she wouldn’t be where she is today without the help of ANSEP.
“ANSEP tells us that our success is based on ‘determination, effort and approach.’ I truly believe that all students should live by this. It’s what I tell myself all the time. It sounds ridiculous, but if you remember those three words when you are having a hard time, it really helps. It’s the little things. If you want to make something of yourself, take risks and push yourself.”