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.

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
  • North Pole
  • Service
  • Seward
  • Soldotna/Skyview

Bartlett

Aneliese Palmer

Aneliese Palmer

Hometown/High school: Eagle River, Alaska. High school: Chugiak HS

My College/Degree: Harvard University / 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

High school: I graduated from Bethel Regional High School

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

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, Yakutat High School

My College/Degree:Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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, Soldotna High School

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

Phone/Email: 907-283-2397 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, Kodiak High School

My College/Degree: Bachelor's of Science in Applied Mathematics from UAF

Phone/Email: 907-481-2524 / 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

Kendra Tibbs

Kendra Tibbs

Hometown/High school: Fairbanks, Lathrop High School

My College/Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from UAF

Phone/Email: 907-456-7794 x17531 / kendra.tibbs@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

At a young age, I was able to experience the difference that going to college could make. Because of this, I was expected to go to college so that I could be a successful, contributing member of society. For the longest time, I didn't know what I wanted to do once I got to college. However, my experiences at the beginning of my college career soon turned into a desire to teach. For me, going to college was about giving myself the tools and experiences I needed to provide myself with opportunities.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

Shortly after graduating high school, I worked for the UAF program Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI) teaching a swimming class to rural Alaskan high school students. After a short six week course, I had students reflect on their experience in the class. The successes that they shared with me motivated me to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. From my experiences as a RAHI instructor and an undergraduate student, I knew I wanted serve the community that I grew up in, and help others to succeed. I also learned from my own experiences that college can make a huge difference in a person's life. So, my desire to serve the community, coupled with my excitement about encouraging others to go to college and my desire to help them succeed, made being a College and Career Guide a perfect fit.

 

North Pole

Jesse Manchester

Jesse Manchester

Hometown/High school: South San Francisco, CA / Wasilla High School, 2007

My College/Degree: University of Alaska Fairbanks / BA Political Science 2010, BA Foreign Language 2011 & M.Ed Secondary Education (in progress)

Phone/Email: 907-488-3761 x19403 / jesse.manchester@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I chose to go to college because I wanted a better life for myself then anything my family would have ever dreamed. All of my family worked hard for a paycheck; I wanted to make sure that was not what my life was about. For me, getting to college was not as easy as it sounds; and I did not have any support on any front—no parents, counselors or the like. But through hard work, perseverance and learning to become what many refer to as a “self-advocate”—I succeeding in becoming the first in my family to go and graduate from college.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to become an ACAC guide because of the extreme roadblocks that came into my way while walking through the college-going process (and also the challenges I faced when I arrived at college). As a low-income, 1st generation and minority student, I want to make sure that everyone who has a desire to move on into postsecondary education, is empowered with the knowledge to do so.

 

Service

Cierra Mickens

Cierra Mickens

Hometown/High school: Eagle River, 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

Kurt Simonsen

Kurt Simonsen

Hometown/High school: Anchorage, East Anchorage High School

My College/Degree: Salisbury University, Bachelor's in Environmental Studies and a minor in Public Relations.

Phone/Email: 907-269-7978 / kurt.simonsen@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

The reason I wanted to go to college was because I wanted to give myself a real challenge. High-school and I never fully agreed with one another, so the opportunity to continue to post-secondary education made a world of difference to the way I thought about education. I was searching for validation from my family, friends, and most important internally. I could not believe how inspiring it was to attend college. Not only did I want to learn while I was in the class or doing homework, it also inspired me to continue to explore everything I was curious about.

One of the hardest things about college was going so far away. Salisbury University is on the coast of Maryland in a small farm community. I had to make a completely new set of friends, but this helped me develop as a person. Post-secondary education was well worth my time and effort because I feel like I've become more worldly and a respected member of the community. I have a better grasp on how the world turns now, and after receiving my education I will never cease to achieve more education.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I wanted to become an ACAC guide because I want to help other students realize how life-changing a post-secondary education can be. I've seen the difference between my life now, and my friends' lives that have not completed any form of post-secondary education. I feel that I can handle any challenge now, so I want to spread the love and passion I've developed for education to other students. Everybody deserves a chance, and everybody deserves an education.

 

Soldotna/Skyview

Emily Cotton

Emily Knight

Hometown and high school: Costa Mesa, CA/ Costa Mesa High School

My College/Degree:Vanguard University of Southern California / B.S. in Mathematics

Phone/Email: Soldotna 907-260-7083 & Skyview 907-260-2397 / emily.cotton@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.