Kodiak woman graduates from Hawaii Pacific
Carissa Larson, a graduate of Kodiak High School, left Alaska to go to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated this past December with a bachelor's degree in International Studies, focusing on sustainability and development.
The Sounder spoke with Carissa about her experience in Hawaii, leaving Alaska, and why she now wants to come back.
Q: What made you decide to leave Alaska for college?
A: I knew since beginning high school that I would leave the state for college, I just wasn't sure where. When I started looking at colleges my mom had told me I was going to end up going to Hawaii. Though Hawaii wasn't my first choice, I ended getting a scholarship for the dance team here at HPU and accepted the offer, and I'm really glad I did! My mom has good instincts.
Q: Are you planning on returning to Alaska?
A: Right now, I'm very homesick, so I do plan on coming back to Alaska; I'm just waiting for the right time now?
Q: How do people react when they find out you're from rural Alaska?
A: Everyone is always very interested when I tell them where I'm from and that I'm Alaska Native. Most of them assume I'm Eskimo. It's fun to tell people more about Alaska and different tribes, because most people have no idea.
Q: Do you plan to go back to school?
A: I hope to go back to school in the next couple years. I'd like to earn my master's in Public Administration?
Q: What do you want to do with your degree?
A: Throughout earning my bachelor's degree I've become really interested in finding ways to get involved with eradicating poverty. I'd like to get involved with community programs that help people seek and prepare for employment opportunities.
Q: How did your upbringing impact your experience in school?
A: I think that growing up with younger siblings and family members has encouraged me to continue striving for a higher education to set an example for them. I've always had tremendous support from my family and that pushes me to set new goals.
I would like to encourage younger students to pursue higher education. After living outside of Alaska and meeting people from all over the world, I realize that Alaska does so well in providing opportunities for scholarships and programs that help you with your desired career path. There is always someone willing to help.