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Chukchi College recognizes educational achievement

April 5th, 2013 | Susan B. Andrews & John Creed Print this article   Email this article  

As a junior at Kotzebue High School, every school day Kelson Phillips walked just across the street to the University of Alaska's Chukchi College, where he and other motivated high school students studied college writing as a participant in the Chukchi Honors Program.

"That program helped prepare me for my English classes in college, and for writing papers for other classes," said Phillips, a star high school athlete who went off to college in the Lower 48 with a goal of becoming a nationally ranked wrestler.

Phillips did join the wrestling team at Central Oklahoma University. But after a knee injury knocked him out of competition, he transferred to a school in Colorado to take advantage of scholarship opportunities there.

In 2012, Phillips was awarded a bachelor's of science degree from Colorado Mesa University, where he studied kinesiology, or the scientific study of human movement, a degree that can lead to careers such as personal trainer, physical therapist, physical education teacher, sports and recreation manager, and sports coach.

Phillips, 25, has returned to Kotzebue, where he recently joined Chukchi College's support staff. He took the job with an eye on part-time coaching at the local school and to advise and assist students in achieving their post-secondary educational goals.

Chukchi College plans to recognize Phillips' educational achievements at Chukchi's annual graduation ceremony, this year scheduled at 1 p.m. on May 10, in Kotzebue.

In addition to Kelson, Chukchi seeks to honor as many other students from this region as possible who have succeeded in their post-secondary goals in Alaska, the Lower 48, or anywhere else.

Phillips says he would never have sought out such an acknowledgement for personal gain or to draw attention to himself.

"But if it can help other students and especially young people establish goals, then I'm fine with it," he said.

This is an opportunity to receive local recognition before friends, family, and elders in a public ceremony not otherwise available to Kotzebue and village residents who have earned degrees and certificates outside the region.

Chukchi wants to model the value of post-secondary education so as to inspire others who might say, "If he or she can do it, so can I."

Chukchi seeks to identify families from surrounding villages including Noatak, Kivalina, Pt. Hope, Kobuk, Shungnak, Ambler, Kiana, Noorvik, Buckland, Deering, and Selawik.

Many local organizations have provided scholarship assistance to post-secondary students, including Lion's Club, Maniilaq Association, NANA Regional Corp., City of Kotzebue, Kotzebue Electric Association, and the Northwest Arctic Borough. Local scholarship sponsors assist individuals and families to achieve their educational dreams.

Over the years Chukchi College, a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has served college-bound high school students both in Kotzebue and in the Northwest Arctic region's surrounding villages through the Chukchi Honors Program.

Chukchi's bridge program for preparing high school students for college has been growing in the math and science arena this school year, after Josh Ruk and Andy Pandya joined the Chukchi faculty. Already, Ruk has recruited and is teaching dozens of math students in Kotzebue and the surrounding villages. Pandya will be offering science classes in the region beginning this fall.

This can only mean regional students will have even more opportunities to prepare for post-secondary education and training through the Chukchi Honors Program. After high school, Chukchi Honors students have gone on to attend UAF, UA-Anchorage, and UA-Southeast in Alaska as well as universities in Washington state, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Oregon, California, and other states.

Chukchi Honors students have graduated from some of the nation's most respected schools, including Dartmouth, Northeastern, Yale, Stanford, and other academically rigorous institutions.

In addition to its own former students, Chukchi also seeks to honor any academic achievement by a regional resident, whether that individual has ever attended Chukchi or any other part of the University of Alaska.

If you would like to be recognized or have a son, daughter, mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin or friend you would like to see recognized at Chukchi's graduation on May 10 for some educational achievement, then please contact Mary Booth-Barger at Chukchi College: 907-442-3400 ext. 114. Or 1-800-478-3402.

Susan Andrews and John Creed have taught in the humanities at Chukchi College since the late 1980s.


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