More than 300 UA Scholars graduate from UA each year and pursue exciting careers. Here are a few success stories.
Jaedon Avey isn’t so sure he would have even attended college without the University of Alaska Scholars program. “My family is not well off. The UA Scholars program provided me an opportunity,” explains Avey, a 25-year-old student in the joint UAF-UAA Ph.D. Program in Clinical-Community Psychology. “With assistantships and payment plans, I’ve been able to make it through, so far, without any student loans.” A West High School graduate from Anchorage, Avey had the grades to get into a number of prestigious colleges. Back then, he wanted to be an engineer. But even with scholarships and grants, those schools would have been much more expensive than attending his public university right here in Alaska. The UA Scholars program offers an $11,000 scholarship to the top 10 percent of graduating seniors at every Alaska high school.
Avey took the UA Scholars award and attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, enrolling in the engineering program. He ended up switching majors because he was intrigued by the field of psychology—an enthusiasm that hasn’t waned in the years since earning his bachelor’s degree in 2005.
“There is such a need for psychologists in our state,” Avey notes. “And if psychology is going to be relevant, it has to be culturally aware.” Avey isn’t so sure where life would have taken him had he not taken advantage of his UA Scholar award. “What I can say is that…I’m happy with where I am.”
After graduating from Dillingham High School, Jordan Baumgartner studied science for a year at Eastern Oregon University and ran for the cross-country team. He liked the school well enough, but the UA Scholars Program and the lure of being closer to family brought him back to Alaska. Baumgartner attended the University of Alaska Anchorage and used his UA Scholars award to study geology in New Zealand through a study abroad program. Additional scholarships and summer earnings, along with his Scholars award, allowed the 23-year-old to graduate debt free with a degree in natural science. “Everything was covered,” he said. “That helped me a lot.” Baumgartner is one of many success stories. He received his master’s from the University of Alaska Southeast in Sitka and was a student teacher at Mount Edgecumbe High School. Baumgartner, a Tlingit who was raised in a Yupik community, likes the mix of cultures at the boarding school. He has worked with middle-school students for several years and hopes to teach in Alaska.
Knowing that she would be named a UA Scholar helped Angel Holbrook decide whether to go to college. “I went from wondering if I was going to go, to being sure I was going,” she says. Holbrook graduated from high school in Coffman Cove, on Prince of Wales Island, in a senior class of three. She attended terms at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau and at UAA before settling on the UAS Ketchikan campus for its fisheries program. In addition to her Scholars award, other scholarships helped her pay for college. Holbrook earned an associate of applied science degree, as well as a certificate in fisheries technology. She continued her studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Ketchikan. She worked as a fisheries/hydrology technician with the U.S. Forest Service. She also spent a summer on a Bristol Bay fishing boat which convinced her of the necessity of managing the fisheries. “It’s important and I’m glad to be a part of it,” she says. She definitely plans on staying in Alaska. “I want to live here forever,” she says.