Two Locals Win Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarships

Screen grabs from Pancho Valladolid and Becky Polum submission videos. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Seven aspiring teachers joined a video conference last week to find out who among them had won a $12,000 scholarship from the University of Alaska.

2017 is the first year of the Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship, which provides financial awards to those who want to study to be a teacher.


A committee of judges selected the seven finalists out of 21 applicants from across the state.

Those seven include Kodiak’s Becky Polum, a paraprofessional at Main Elementary, and Pancho Valladolid, a Marine veteran and avid runner.

All applicants submitted short videos to explain why they want to get a degree in education and what they want to achieve as teachers.

In his video, Valladolid stands on top of a cliff wearing full running gear, a water bottle tucked into the strap of his backpack.

“Reasons why I want to become a teacher is because I keep finding myself helping other students understand their homework and ensuring that their homework is completed on time, and I also try to influence them to become better and continue to push through college so they can be successful later on.”

Valladolid says he wants to get his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Kodiak College.

In her video, Polum says she wants to form positive relationships with students and, through that, inspire them to enjoy their education.

“Because even at a young age, kids have this mentality that school is boring and hard, which at some points it is, but my goal is to take those moments and create engaging learning opportunities.”

Polum says she’d like to get her bachelor’s in elementary education and hopes to start school in the fall.

On Friday, Polum and Valladolid joined the other finalists to hear UA President Jim Johnsen reveal the winner of the scholarship.

“The committee made one final recommendation, and it was that I award the scholarship to all of you, and so I am incredibly pleased and proud to announce that all of you, because of the excellent presentations you made, will receive a $12,000 Teach for Alaska scholarship to attend the University of Alaska.”

The other winners are from Angoon, Galena, Nome, and Kenny Lake.

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