AK College & Career Advising Corps

Alaska College and Career Advising Corps

 
Currently, fewer than 50% of Alaska high school graduates promptly pursue education beyond high school. Whether this is due to a: belief it is unnecessary, perception it is out of reach, or lack of encouragement and assistance, many young Alaskans never pursue the many high skilled careers which require postsecondary education and training.


The Alaska College & Career Advising Corps (ACAC) can bridge these gaps. ACAC places committed recent college graduates in high schools as near-peer mentors. ACAC guides work with counselors and school staff to get students on track for entry into college and career training pathways. In classroom presentations, group workshops, and one-on-one, guides engage students in candid conversations about their future. They help them:

  • Explore careers and develop a career plan
  • Research and apply to college and postsecondary institutions
  • Apply for financial aid including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarships
  • Register for appropriate tests including the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ACCUPLACER

 

Fresh from their own college experiences, Alaska’s College & Career Guides can easily connect with students interested in skilled careers but who otherwise might fall through the cracks. The guides’ intensive training and orientation program focuses on college access, admissions, financial aid, student services, diversity, community service, and professionalism.

ACAC, an initiative of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education funded by a federal College Access Challenge Grant, is one of 19 state-based programs of the National College Advising Corps. The program began in the spring of 2009 when ACPE placed the first College & Career Guides in Anchorage’s Robert Service High School. The program expanded to Bartlett High School in 2010 and Bethel Regional High School in 2011. In 2012 the program expanded to five new schools including; Kodiak High School, Lathrop High School, Nikiski High School, North Pole High School, and Skyview High School. The Kodiak guide also works students in the seven village schools around Kodiak Island.

In 2013, in addition to adding East High School (Anchorage), Kenai Central High School, and Soldotna High School, the “Distance College & Career Guide” was piloted with Seward High School. The distance program leverages limited in person time with students at their school with ongoing web based support through Skype, Google Hangouts and social media platforms. In 2014, Delta Junction High School joined the distance pilot, and a partnership with the STEM of VTE Consortium, an Alaska Native Education Equity Grant program lead by the Chugach School District brought distance based services to students in the 25 schools from five School Districts that are members of the consortium (Chugach, Iditarod Area School District, Kenai Peninsula School Districts’s Project Grad, Kuspuck School District, and Yupiit School District).

In 2015 through a partnership with local funders, an ACAC College & Career Guide was placed at Nome-Beltz High School. Most recently, a partnership with a second Alaska Native Education Equity Grant will bring a College & Career Guide to work with students in the North West Arctic Borough School District (based in Kotzebue) in Spring 2016 and the Bering Strait School District (based in Nome) in Fall 2016.

For more information on the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps contact Greg Monrad, ACAC Program Manager at (907) 269-7971 or greg.monrad@alaska.gov.

Guide Profiles

  • Bartlett
  • Bethel
  • East
  • Kenai/Nikiski
  • Kodiak
  • Lathrop
  • Nome-Beltz
  • North Pole
  • NWABSD/Kotzebue
  • Service
  • Seward/Delta Junction
  • Soldotna
  • STEM-VTE Program

Bartlett

Aneliese Palmer

Aneliese Palmer

Hometown/High school: Eagle River, Alaska / Chugiak High School

My College/Degree: Harvard University / Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Study of Religion, minor in Neuroscience

Phone/Email: 907-742-1852 / aneliese.palmer@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I wanted to go to college because I have always been obsessed with learning. I couldn't wait to continue to grow intellectually and personally. My parents are strong supporters of education, and gave me the inspiration I needed to reach high and the courage I needed to move to Boston.

My favorite part about college, by far, was surrounding myself with people I know will be with me the rest of my life. My university nurtured a strong sense of community and an incredible sense of belonging. Freshmen year, I loved sitting in the dining hall until the wee hours of the night, whether we were doing homework, debating personal philosophies, or gossiping about boys (okay, that was most of the time).

For me, the scariest thing about college was the immediacy of important decisions--which major to choose? Which job to pick? Where am I going to move after I graduate? It seemed that time was running out to nail down a "career." I couldn't settle on a path; I was consumed by an anxiety to decide. I eventually chose to study what I loved, and am happy for it. These decisions can seem a daunting hurdle, but easing into them became one of the most rewarding aspects of a postsecondary education.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I wanted to become an ACAC Guide because I cannot imagine how my life would differ had I not chosen to go to college-- and I realize I am very privileged in being able to make this choice. However, access to a postsecondary education should not be a privilege, but a right. I believe, perhaps a little too fervently, that accessibility to continued education can better an individual and their community in a profound way. I am excited to help make this choice an easier one for students while examining the specific challenges that face Alaskan students.

 

Bethel

Chuck Arrsauyaq Herman

Chuck Arrsauyaq Herman

Hometown/High school: Bethel, Alaska / Bethel Regional High School

My College/Degree: Pomona College / Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Analysis - Sociology

Phone/Email: 907-543-3957 x2613 / Charles.Herman2@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

College allowed me to grow as a person and advanced my career goals. From a young age, I knew I wanted to go to college, though I could not have imagined the myriad ways it has contributed to and shaped my life. Moving from Bethel to southern California exposed me to an entirely different place (a key difference being the wonders of sunshine in the winter) and the academic challenges I had to overcome instilled in me the confidence to tackle any challenge. I met and made a number of friends I plan on keeping for the rest of my life and was able to truly explore what interests me and what I want to do. Going to college is, quite possibly, the best choice I have ever made.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

Bethel is full of hardworking, intelligent, and wonderful people, but sadly, we continuously struggle to find leaders who have grown up in the community to take charge. With an understanding of the postsecondary options available, the students currently at Bethel Regional High School are capable of taking the reins in Bethel. From maintenance worker to mayor and tribal governors to teachers, the hardworking, intelligent, and wonderful Bethelites have the ability to take charge if they are able to access the educational resources they need.

While postsecondary education will benefit the community, it is only able to do so because it allows individuals to develop an understanding of who they are and gives them the toolkit to pursue their dreams. It is imperative that BRHS students understand their options for both the betterment of the community and their own personal development.

I see this position as a crucial component of making postsecondary training, whether college or technical, happen and I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to work with my fellow Warriors on figuring out their postsecondary plans.

 

East

Esther Sperry

Esther Sperry

Hometown/High school: Yakutat, Alaska / Yakutat High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Anchorage / Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Phone/Email: 907-742-2283 / Esther.Sperry@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

Going to college prepared me to be successful both professionally and personally. In high school, I realized that in order to get a stable and well-paying job I needed an education after high school. Now as a college graduate I can see the multiple opportunities that are available because of my degree. Going to college also allowed me to explore my interests and grow personally. I learned to think critically and ask questions. While a degree requires dedication and hard work, the results are well worth the effort.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

There was no College & Career Guide at my high school. I had to figure out how to get to, and pay for, college on my own. I want to be a College & Career Guide so I can help students who need assistance navigating the college enrollment and financial aid process.

 

Kenai/Nikiski

Jordan Brown

Jordan Brown

Hometown/High school: Soldotna, Alaska / Soldotna High School

My College/Degree: Boise State University / Bachelor of Science in Health Science Studies

Phone/Email: Kenai 907-283-2172 Nikiski 907-776-9460 jordan.brown@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I went to college because it was an opportunity for me to go into a career I was passionate about. I knew from the beginning what I wanted to be and did not let anything get in my way of accomplishing my goals. It was a way for me to experience life outside of Alaska and learn from my endeavors. Furthering my education after high school was the best decision I have ever made.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I wanted to be a College and Career Guide because it gives me the opportunity to get back and give back to the community I grew up in. A program like this was not in the high schools when I was a student; I know that if it was I would have utilized it. Now that this opportunity is there for the students I am pleased I can be the person they can go to for postsecondary education help.

 

Kodiak

Corrisa Heyes

Corrisa Heyes

Hometown/High school: Kodiak, Alaska / Kodiak High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Fairbanks / Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics

Phone/Email: 907-486-7551 / corrisa.heyes@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I was studious in high school; I loved the math and science classes, specifically calculus, physics, and statistics. I went to college because that was the next step for me, it was expected. I knew the jobs that I was interested in would require a college degree and I wasn't willing to settle for something less. I went to UAF and studied Applied Mathematics because I realized that the math courses were what I enjoyed the most.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

As a recent college graduate, I look back and see that there is so much that I wish I'd have known before I went. I feel like I have so much advice to give students interested in any form of Post-Secondary Education: be it a certificate program at KOC or a Master's degree at an ivy-league university. I believe in the College & Career Guide program; there is a shroud of mystery surrounding the idea of education after high school and piercing that veil can be daunting. I know I'll be able to make a difference in the lives of the students I come in contact with, and that is the best job I could ask for.

 

Lathrop

Cassandra Sanborn

Cassandra Sanborn

Hometown/High school: Fairbanks, Alaska / West Valley High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Fairbanks / Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, minor in Art

Phone/Email: 907-456-7794 x17531 / cassandra.sanborn@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

The practical reason I went to college was to avoid getting kicked off of my parent’s insurance. The deeper reason, however, was that I did not want to be idle. Being a first-generation college student and the youngest of eight kids meant that I had certain unique struggles. I thrive in adversity. Before attending my first semester as a freshman, my hair dresser asked me how I was going to manage paying for school. I answered “Instant noodles for all my meals and proudly scraping by!” He thought I was crazy. I wanted the true “college experience” even though I wasn’t even sure what that was. (I did not have to live off instant noodles and two part-time jobs minimized scraping!) I am the type of person who truly respects education and understands that higher education should be a right, that it is a privilege, and was an option that I feel blessed to have had and chosen!

I started out with no clue what I wanted to achieve – but sometimes the journey is better than the destination! Even now, I see so many opportunities out there; it is hard to pick just one. Don’t let uncertainty stop you.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

In high school, I had zero guidance for my options for after graduation. I took the ACT because my friends were doing it, not really understanding I needed it for college until after I had even registered. I was one of the students that vanished inside the monotony. No one asked me what my plans were.

The mission of the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps resonated with me. Although my degree is in biological sciences, my job pathways have been toward service. My working background included leading a teen youth group, office reception, and running a program at UAF to facilitate study groups for my peers. I felt extremely called!

With the combination of that poor experience in high school and the opportunity to serve students for the purpose to see them grow in ways they might not otherwise, I am really looking forward to helping Alaskan students succeed and become knowledgeable about their postsecondary options. I firmly believe that by doing so we can impact the Alaskan community in a powerful and positive way.

 

Nome-Beltz

Caroline Proulx

Caroline Proulx

Hometown/High school: Overland Park, Kansas / Blue Valley High School

My College/Degree: Saint Mary's College (Notre Dame, Indiana) / Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and History

Phone/Email: 907-488-3761 x19407 / caroline.proulx@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I always knew I wanted to continue my education after high school. I wanted to study topics in more depth and make my own choices about what subjects I studied. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, but I knew a bachelor’s degree would give me the knowledge and experience I needed to pursue a variety of careers.

I also wanted to prove to myself that I could be independent and live hundreds of miles away from my parents. College was an incredible time of personal growth for me as I learned important life skills like organization, time management, making new friends, learning to stand up for myself, and being able to bounce back from my mistakes. Most importantly, it gave me the self-confidence to move to Alaska after graduating. This beautiful state has been my home for the last two and a half years, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

My college search was a stressful, confusing experience. I couldn’t have navigated the process without the help of my parents, older brothers, and teachers. I want to give back and be one of the guiding people in lives of my students. I believe everyone can be successful in college if given the right tools. I believe every student should feel like they have options for pursuing education after high school. I want to make sure lack of knowledge about resources or fear of high costs are not keeping our young people from achieving their potential.

 

North Pole

Kelly Kohler

Kelly Kohler

Hometown/High school: Fairbanks, Alaska / Lathrop High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Fairbanks / Bachelor of Arts in History, minor in Secondary Education

Phone/Email: 907-488-3761 x19407 / kelly.kohler@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

College was always the next step for me, though I never had a clear plan for what to shoot for with my education- just that I needed an education to do well in the ‘adult world’. Early on, my parents instilled in me the importance of an education through their own lives and how it affected me. But they also instilled in me the importance of the experiences derived from going to college and how important it was to be a part of everything I could.

Because I didn’t have a plan right off the bat, I was able to absorb many kinds of classes and meetings with people to figure out what kind of college student (and eventual adult) I wanted to be. My plans changed several times during my time on campus. My experiences in classes, meeting new people to inspire me, and working several interesting jobs helped guide me towards goals I would be unable to fathom as something possible for me prior to college.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I find the position of College and Career Guide to be a necessary one, especially in the current employment environment where education has become the deciding factor. I, personally, could’ve used the help of a guide to show me how many scholarship opportunities were actually out there for me to reach out and take. I hope to help and empower students in their journey for the path they want to take after they walk across that stage.

In college, I worked as a Resident Assistant in the freshmen residence halls. At first, it was a way to help pay for my living situation on campus. Then, it became a passion- to be able to get to know first year students and help with their struggles navigating the college environment. Being a resident assistant was a temporary thing, but the industry of helping students reach their potential was out there and I found that very interesting.

 

NWABSD/Kotzebue

Vacant

Hometown/High School: Vacant

My College/Degree: Vacant

Phone/Email:

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

 

 

Service

Cierra Mickens

Cierra Mickens

Hometown/High school: Eagle River, Alaska / Eagle River High School

My College/Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Washington State University

Phone/Email: 907-742-8168 / cierra.mickens@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I never considered college to be optional. From a young age I knew what I wanted my career to look like and after high school; college was simply "the next step". However, when I arrived, I discovered the experience embodied more than just a box I would have to check off, it was the beginning of a journey to academic and personal discovery. I learned more about myself and the rest of the world in my four years at WSU than I had in the previous eighteen years of my life. In college I had the opportunity to meet new people and try new things: it is a chance to be whoever you want to be.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to be a College & Career Guide because I wanted to be a positive influence on the future of the State of Alaska. I have a lot to offer students in the way of experience, guidance, and a listening ear. Like majority of the students I will be working with, I know what it is like to grow up and be a student here. Our experience is unlike any other. There is something to be said for someone who has hiked to the top of a mountain, touched a glacier, or seen a full grown moose crossing the street. I have so much to learn from these students and hopefully they will learn a thing or two from me. I am only one version of the future that these students could have, and hopefully, in my time as a College & Career Guide, I can help them find theirs.

 

Seward/Delta Junction

Keriann Shine

Keriann Shine

Hometown/High school: Anchorage, Alaska / A.J. Dimond High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Anchorage / Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Associate of Arts in General Program

Phone/Email: 907-269-7978 / keriann.shine@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

College was my plan since elementary school. Neither of my parents completed college and I always felt that I had a disadvantage to my peers with parents that did have postsecondary education. I knew that to live the life that I wanted I would need a degree. There were a lot of things that were scary about it because it was the first time in my life no one was telling me what to do or when to be somewhere. I suddenly had all this responsibility and choices to make about things I knew next to nothing about. It forced me to grow very quickly in a short amount of time. College allowed me to grow academically, professionally and personally. I learned things about myself and had experiences that I don’t think I would have been able to outside of college and met people that will forever have an impact on my life.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to be an ACAC College & Career Guide because I want to impact young lives. Improving people’s lives is what I found (in college) drives me. Going to a large high school in Anchorage, I watched people pursue every avenue for postsecondary education and see the mistakes and triumphs that were made. I want to share the wealth of knowledge I have learned about my experiences and encourage the upcoming generations to learn from those before them to ensure their success and happiness, and maybe change their lives forever.

 

Soldotna

Emily Knight

Emily Knight

Hometown/High School: Costa Mesa, California / Costa Mesa High School

My College/Degree: Vanguard University of Southern California / Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

Phone/Email: Soldotna 907-260-7083 / emily.knight@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

I wanted to go to college because both of my older sisters had gone before me and I knew that a college degree was the path I needed to take to find a fulfilling career in teaching secondary education.

The scariest/most challenging thing about college was moving away from home, so I chose to go to a school that would challenge me academically but that was also in close proximity to my family.

If I could do it all over, something I would do differently is live on campus my freshman year to help me build strong, personal relationships with my college peers.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I wanted to be an ACAC Guide because I want to help students make a post-secondary education plan that will help them pave the way to a challenging and rewarding career.

 

STEM of VTE Program (Chugach SD, Iditarod Area SD, Kenai Peninsula SD/Project Grad, Kuspuk SD, and Yupiit SD)


Melissa Sales

Melissa Sales

Hometown/High School: Kalihi, Hawai'i/Farrington High School

My College/Degree: Alaska Pacific University/Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Studies, concentration in Marine Biology; Honolulu Community College/Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, minor in Marine Biology

Phone/Email: 907-269-7995 / melissa.sales@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

Growing up my parents told my sisters, and I that we had 3 options: 1. Get a job and pay rent, 2. Join the Military, or 3. Go to college. So I always knew I would go to college, I just didn’t know how I would get there. Of course when it all happened I ended up working and attending college at the same time. At the age of 16, I was obsessed with the ocean. I was at the beach 6 out of 7 days of the week. I knew I wanted to study Marine Biology, and I knew I had to go to school for it. School in general didn’t come as easy to me as some of my friends, however Marine Biology was my passion, and I was going to work as hard as I had to until I got that degree.

Leaving home (Hawai’i) was not an option for me (at first) as my first priority before school, or work, or anything else, was my family. I have 4 sisters, and I am the 2nd oldest so I had to help out at home. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I actually left Hawai’i. I had been going to college fulltime since 2007, and after getting my AA degree at a community college, I moved onto a university that was huge. It had classrooms with 200 seats in them, and it was hard. I discovered I needed a smaller community, and teachers that knew me by name who helped guide me to succeed. That’s what I got when I moved to Alaska. I enrolled at Alaska Pacific University, and left home. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I left my family; my community, my friends, my home, and at times I almost gave up, but then stuck with it and graduated two years later. Even though it was the hardest thing I could do, to leave my home, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made because along with the education, I also gained something that I can take back home, and help my family, and community in a way I couldn’t before.

College was hard. It’s supposed to be challenging. However, it is also super rewarding. When you finish, get your degree, and gain skills to contribute to your community and family, it’s a pretty powerful thing. You now hold the potential to change many people’s lives, and that is ultimately what pushed me to keep working, and to get my degree. I found something I was passionate about.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to be a College and Career Guide because I didn’t have someone like that for me. I was a first generation student from a low-income community, with a graduating class of around 850 people. The college prep classes were reserved for students who showed higher potential. I had to figure everything out on my own; even up until the day I was turning in my graduation application (which I didn’t know I had to do). So I want to change that. I really believe anyone who wants to attend any kind of postsecondary education, should be allowed to, but should also get the same type of support as the “students who excel academically”.

 

Vacant

Hometown/High School: Vacant

My College/Degree: Vacant

Phone/Email:

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide: