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JSF Grant Supports Alaska Native STEM Students

Dedicated to fostering academic opportunity and excellence for students across Alaska, the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) is reshaping education for students in kindergarten all the way through to the Ph.D level. A grant partnership between ANSEP and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation will support these academic opportunities over the next three years through the Acceleration Academy, Summer Bridge, and University Success components.

Serving as an exemplary education model for students across the nation, the Acceleration Academy is improving the lives of high school students and their families by providing access to quality education, reducing costs for families and government, and eliminating chronic remediation. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation grant supports 20 students each year in this component, allowing them to graduate from high school with over 100 college credits that count towards BS degree programs and go from eighth grade to a BS degree in just five years.

Not only do the ANSEP Acceleration Academy students have an 80% completion rate of university courses, they are also among the top students in the nation and 95% advance one level or more in math or science each semester.

ANSEP’s Summer Bridge opportunity gives high school graduates the opportunity to gain first-hand experience as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or business field professional through a paid summer internship. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation is supporting 10 students each year, which will prepare the students academically, professionally and socially for college and careers. This summer, 20 students – most of whom have been involved with ANSEP precollege components for years – are participating in internships available across Alaska. These recent high school graduates are getting experience doing everything from studying walrus habitats and behaviors to researching permafrost and biodiversity in the field.

The ANSEP University Success component supports college students by providing them with a community on campus, small-group study sessions, professional mentorship, research projects, internships, housing, scholarships and student activities. Over 75% of ANSEP University students who have participated have graduated or are currently enrolled and go on to work in leadership positions in Alaska’s workforce. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation grant provides college students with the community and resources they need to not only succeed academically and socially, but to also freely and comfortably embrace their heritage in the presence of like-minded individuals.

Katherine Sakeagak

JSF Scholarship recipient Katherine Sakeagak (Inupiaq) was familiar with ANSEP before ever joining the program. Her father was one of the very first ANSEP students. Sakeagak has participated in several components, including Acceleration Academy and now University Success. She first became involved with ANSEP seven years ago through the Middle School Academy and now she will be graduating in the fall of 2023 from University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Mathematics.

For Sakeagak, ANSEP has helped in a multitude of ways including making connections with peers and professionals.

“Taking college courses in high school helped me be able to connect with peers in my classes at UAA,” said Sakeagak. “I was a pretty shy person, but with all of the opportunities ANSEP has provided me, like our weekly team-building meetings with STEM professionals, faculty, staff and other students in attendance, it’s been really helpful for me to get out of my shell and make connections.”

With the support of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, ANSEP and the work it does to power systemic change for Alaska Natives will continue to expand and provide students across the state with access to a quality education. This three-year, $450,000 grant will give students the opportunity to attend ANSEP’s award-winning Acceleration Academy, Summer Bridge, and University Success components and have access to academic support, internships and research opportunities that deliver intensive training for university academics and industry involvement.

To learn more about the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program, visit www.ANSEP.net.


Allison Heaslet is Social Media and Marketing Director for the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program at the University of Alaska.