ANCHORAGE, ALASKA– This summer, 22 recent high school graduates from across Alaska had the opportunity to gain professional experience and earn college credit through Summer Bridge, a component of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP). Working paid internships this summer before becoming full-time students at University of Alaska campuses this fall, Summer Bridge participants got hands-on experience working in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) career fields, in addition to completing a college math course.
Summer Bridge, like all ANSEP components, strives to promote STEM while encouraging historically underrepresented students to pursue careers in science and engineering at an early age. The component was adopted in 1998 as a way to mitigate problems indigenous students face due to poor math preparation as well as issues related to lack of career awareness and difficulty transitioning to the university from rural communities.
“As a former ANSEP student, graduate and the first engineer from my village, I can relate to these students on a personal level,” said ANSEP Regional Director Michael Ulroan. “It was a huge culture shock coming to the University of Alaska Anchorage from a small village in rural Alaska. ANSEP helps students navigate that transition so they can be successful.”
Summer Bridge is an eight-week component designed to close this gap by providing a transitional period for students that combines university-level coursework with paid internships. Internships are spread across Alaska and are geared toward each student’s field of interest, ranging from working alongside National Park Service aviation engineers in the Brooks Range to working for oil and gas companies in downtown Anchorage.
This year’s 22 Summer Bridge students were placed with ANSEP’s strategic partners across the state, including:
“Completing Summer Bridge is crucial for developing students academically, socially and professionally for college as well as for their careers. It plays a key role in providing Alaska with scientists and engineers who can provide valuable leadership and a connection to local communities,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder. “We’re incredibly grateful to our strategic partners across the state that make it possible for these students to learn, grow and excel in their academic and professional careers.”
Since 1995, nearly 400 Alaska Native students have graduated from the University of Alaska system with a STEM bachelor’s degree. With nearly 2,000 students in the ANSEP pipeline, the program’s proven model is systematically improving the hiring patterns of Alaska Natives in STEM fields in Alaska. To learn more about ANSEP and its components, visit www.ANSEP.net.