A science, technology, engineering, and math program geared towards Alaska Native students has guided one Kodiak local through both middle school and high school. And now, he’s off to college.
The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, encourages its students to enter STEM careers.
Kris Hill-McLaughlin says his own ambitions fall on the engineering side. He says he’s been with ANSEP since 6th grade. He’s now 19.
This summer he participated alongside 26 other recent high school graduates in ANSEP’s Bridge program on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
While there, he interned with the ExxonMobil Corporation and took a college-level trigonometry course.
“The classes themselves are pretty intense because they’re condensing a whole semester class into three weeks, so you have to be really motivated and focused to accomplish that class.”
He says while in Anchorage, he had the chance to talk with current UAA students.
“They’re youth mentors if you will. They help you out with classes, they help you out with college life in general. You can also ask them questions, and you learn a lot from just talking to them.”
The program offers students the chance to live on campus and meet others with similar interests. Hill-McLaughlin appreciated the chance to hang out and interact with other students. He says he’s a little shy and not used to being social.
“Some of the other students in the program had that problem as well. Mainly because where they go they’re usually isolated too. There’s not a lot of people in a small area for some places around Alaska.”
Other students in the program come from communities like Bethel, Palmer, Dillingham, and Unalakleet.
The next time Hill-McLaughlin stays on the Anchorage campus, it’ll be as a student. He says he’s enrolling at UAA to study mechanical engineering.
He says ANSEP continues to offer its students support through their college years.