The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program held its 24th annual celebration on Jan. 18.
This year’s theme was “Beyond the Stratosphere.” The celebration included close to 100 ANSEP students from all over the state, ANSEP founder and vice provost Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder and special guest NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr.
The event began with a traditional Alaska Native performance and invitational dances.
Select students were recognized and presented scholarships for their commitment to ANSEP’s primary goals: determination, effort and approach.
ANSEP is composed of more than 100 corporations, philanthropic organizations, state and federal agencies, universities, high schools and middle schools.
The organization was started in 1995 as a scholarship program and has since evolved into a comprehensive support network for students from sixth grade through to Ph.D. completion.
Harris, the first African American astronaut to perform a spacewalk, discussed the hurdles he experienced growing up in a time of great civil rights change.
He spoke with students about his experiences in space and how the education he received paved the way for his success in life.
“I believe each and every one of you has the potential to do anything you want to do in life,” Harris said.
Students asked Harris what motivated him to become an astronaut, what medical procedures he performed in space and what continues to inspire him.
“The new ideas that are going to push us forward are right here in this room, inside one of you. The things in which you’re doing, the awards I’ve witnessed, are so important to your future,” Harris said.
The afternoon event was followed by an evening celebration “Beyond the Stratosphere.”