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
  • Elim
  • Gambell
  • Golovin
  • Koyuk
  • Little Diomede
  • Savoonga
  • Shaktoolik
  • St. Michaels
  • Stebbins
  • Teller
  • Unalaska
  • Wales
  • White Mountain


Chugach School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)

  • Chenega Bay
  • FOCUS Homeschool
  • Tatitlek
  • Voyage to Excellence Residential Program
  • Whittier

Iditarod Area School District (STEM-VTE Distance Program)

  • Anvik
  • Distance Learning Center
  • Grayling
  • Holy Cross
  • McGrath
  • Nicolai
  • Takotna


Kodiak Island Borough School District

  • Akhiok
  • Chiniak
  • Danger Bay
  • Karluk
  • Kodiak
  • Larsen Bay
  • Old Harbor
  • Ouzinkie
  • Port Lions


Lower Kuskokwim School District

  • Bethel


Nome Public Schools

  • Nome


North Slope Borough School District

  • Anaktuvuk Pass
  • Atqasuk
  • Barrow
    • Barrow High
    • Kiita Alternative
  • Kaktovik
  • Nunamuit
  • Point Hope
  • Point Lay
  • Wainwright


Northwest Arctic Borough School District

  • Ambler
  • Buckland
  • Deering
  • Kiana
  • Kivalina
  • Kobuk
  • Kotzebue
    • Kotzebue High
    • Star of the Northwest
  • Noatak
  • Noorvik
  • Selawik
  • Stebbins
  • Shugnak


For more information on the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps, including how ACAC can come to your community, contact Joie Millett, ACAC Program Manager at (907) 269-7971 or joie.millett@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)


Heather Rand Johnson

Hometown/High School: Whittier High School

My College/Degree: University of Alaska, Anchorage; BA in Anthropology with a minor in History

Phone/Email: 907-269-7995 / heather.randjohnson@alaska.gov

Personal Biography:

Why I chose to go to college:

In high school, I studied abroad. Ever since then, I've loved travelling, and wanted to be able to live and work abroad. Even in countries where a college degree isn't outright required to get a standard work visa, it makes you much more competitive. Thus, a college degree was a necessity.

Why I chose to be a College & Career Guide:

I was a first-generation college student, and struggled through a lot of processes because no one in my family really knew how the whole college thing worked. In the end, I paid a lot more than I should've, changed my major too many times, took 40 extra random credits, and spent way too long in school. Having someone who knew the ins-and-outs of college would've helped me avoid a lot of those pitfalls. Then my husband, who ended up doing a certificate program at a trade school later in life, went from there into an amazing career he loves. His complaint was always that he wished someone had offered more post-secondary options than 'go to college, get a four-year degree'. So, having learned all (or, at least, a lot of) the lessons, I wanted to offer those lessons up to other students who are facing life after high school and wondering '...so what now?'.