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 engages committed recent college graduates to work in high schools as near-peer mentors. ACAC guides work with counselors, school staff, families and communities 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 is an initiative of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education is one of 24 programs of the College Advising Corps. The creation of the ACAC program was made possible through the federal College Access Challenge Grant. The program has now transitioned to a partnership funding model that engages ACPE, the national College Advising Corps, and local contributors to support the placement of each guide.

Since inception, ACAC has served students in many Alaskan schools and districts and assisted students in developing plans and taking positive action towards the education, training and career goals. ACAC has developed multiple delivery models to increase reach to a variety of communities. Program sites for the 2016-17 year are:


Bering Strait School District (Nome-based Guide)
  • Brevig Mission School
  • Elim School
  • Gambell School
  • Golovin School
  • Koyuk School
  • Little Diomede
  • Savoonga School
  • Shaktoolik School
  • Shishmaref School
  • St. Michaels School
  • Stebbins School
  • Teller School
  • Unalaska School
  • Wales School
  • White Mountain School

Kodiak Island Borough School District
  • Kodiak High School
  • Akhiok School
  • Chiniak School
  • Danger Bay School
  • Karluk School
  • Larsen Bay School
  • Old Harbor School
  • Ouzinkie School
  • Port Lions School
Kuspuk School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)
  • Aniak Jr/.Senior High School
  • Crow Village Sam School
  • George Morgan Sr. High School
  • Gusty Michael School
  • Jack Egnaty School
  • Johnnie John Sr. School
Lower Kuskokwim School District
  • Bethel Regional High School
Nome Public Schools
  • Nome-Beltz High School

Chugach School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)
  • Chenega Bay Community School
  • FOCUS Home School
  • Tatitlek Community School
  • Voyage to Excellence School
  • Whittier Community School
Iditarod Area School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)
  • Blackwell School
  • David Louis Memorial School
  • Distance Learning Center
  • Holy Cross School
  • Innoko River School
  • McGrath School
  • Takotna School
  • Top of the Kuskokwim School

North Slope Borough School District
  • Alak School
  • Barrow High School
  • Kavelook School
  • Kali School
  • KIITA
  • Meade River School
  • Nuiqsut Trapper School
  • Nunamuit School
  • Tikigaq School
Northwest Arctic Borough School District
  • Ambler School
  • Buckland School
  • Deering School
  • Kiana School
  • Kivalina School
  • Kobuk School
  • Kotzebue High School
  • Noatak School
  • Noorvik School
  • Selawik School
  • Stebbins School
  • Shugnak School
  • Star of the Northwest
Yupiit School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)
  • Akiak School
  • Akiachak School
  • Tuluksak School


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


Guide Profiles

  • Bethel
  • Bering Strait School District
  • NSBSD/Barrow
  • Kodiak
  • Nome-Beltz
  • NWABSD/Kotzebue
  • STEM-VTE Program

Bethel

Roxanne Girdlestone

Roxanne Girdlestone

Hometown/High school:

My College/Degree:

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

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

I went to college because I knew that to be a competitive candidate for a job that paid well, I would have to have a degree. I was also excited to move away from my hometown and experience life more independently. In reflection, attending college was the most important decision I’ve made. It wasn’t easy and there were frustrations, but the experience taught me to address challenges with a positive attitude and remain motivated despite the setbacks.

 

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

Students shouldn’t feel like they have to navigate the post-secondary process alone. There are a lot of options to consider– traditional colleges, vocational schools, certification programs, and apprenticeships. Even when you figure out what you’re interested in, you’ve got to consider where you’d like to go and how much it’s going cost. I chose to be a college and career guide because I want to help make that experience less mystifying. I also want to break the myth that scholarships are inaccessible. (There’s a lot of funding opportunities available out there!)

 

 

Bering Strait School District

Mariah Morgan

Mariah Morgan

Hometown/High School: Nome, Alaska / Olympia, Washington / Olympia High School

My College/Degree: Western Washington University / Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

Phone/Email: 907-443-8415 / mariah.morgan@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

I watched my mom struggle between two jobs, raising two children as a single parent, and taking college classes to better our future. I knew that if I wanted a degree as my foundation in a career, I needed to go after it when it was most convenient and easiest for me. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t exactly sure college was for me but my parents, teachers, and fellow classmates planted the seed that more and more jobs are requiring some form of degree to even be considered for the position. I knew that if I wanted to be independent and make a good income, I would need to attend college.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to become a College & Career Guide because I wish I had someone like me at the end of my high school career. Exploring different interests, occupations, colleges, scholarships, etc. is extremely valuable before actually attending college. Although my environment in high school implemented a college going culture, I didn’t learn about my interests and the different occupations until I was actually in college. I could have better prepared myself and took time in deciding what I wanted to study, had I known beforehand. I want to help students reach this understanding so that they can further enjoy their college experience and build that foundation for their future.

 

 

NSBSD/Barrow

Taylor Masterson

Taylor Masterson

Hometown/High School: Barrow, Alaska / Barrow High School

My College/Degree: Muskingum University / Bachelor of Arts in Health Administration, Health and Fitness

Phone/Email:

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

I always had the urge to go to college but I just wasn’t quite sure how, when, or for what. I went through many phases trying to determine which career path and what types of programs would be the right fit for me. I had only one goal coming out of high school and that was to go anywhere else but home. So I began my journey searching schools and planning out what type of jobs and programs suited my skills and interests. I was a very active student playing multiple sports including hockey, basketball, and football. I later on determined that I wanted to find a school that would provide me with the opportunity to continue competing in sports while completing a degree. I played a year football then transitioned over to lacrosse for my last two years. Overall I am appreciative of all that I have learned through the last few years and will continue to promote postsecondary opportunities and how they can impact your future.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I chose to be a college and career guide in order to return to my community and help out the students of the North Slope. I felt that this position was a great opportunity to impact the schools and help promote a college going culture. Being the first to graduate from my class and family, I knew this was the perfect choice for me and my path to beginning a career in education.

 

 

Kodiak

Corissa Heyes

Corissa Heyes

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

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

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

Personal Biography:

Why I went to college:

Attending college was a given for the friend-group that I had in high school; however, it wasn’t until I actually got there that I realized it what it meant. It was a very impactful experience for me and I am excited to say that after my term with ACAC is complete, I intend to pursue my Master’s degree and work in my field.

 

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

Looking back at my own high school experiences, I know that if I’d known then what I know now, I would’ve applied to much more selective schools and paid a lot less money for my bachelor’s degree. There are so many students that just don’t know about the amazing opportunities that are out there waiting for them. I want to be part of the team that helps them discover those opportunities and achieve their goals.

 

 

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: 907-443-6218 / 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.

 

NWABSD/Kotzebue

 

Yet to be hired

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:

 

 

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”.