From outer space to Anchorage

The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program held its 24th annual celebration on Jan. 18.

Dr. Harris speaks to students about the importance of education and determination. Photos by Chase Burnett.
Dr. Harris speaks to students about the importance of education and determination. Photos by Chase Burnett.

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.

Students gather for an invitational dance.
Students gather for an invitational dance.
A traditional Alaska Native dance performance kicked off the event.
A traditional Alaska Native dance performance kicked off the event.

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.

Michael Bourdukofsky, ANSEP’s Chief Operations Officer speaks to ANSEP students from across the state.
Michael Bourdukofsky, ANSEP’s Chief Operations Officer speaks to ANSEP students from across the state.
Dr. Herb Schroeder, ANSEP vice provost and founder explains the importance of showing an “ANSEP greeting” to guest speakers to make them feel welcome.
Dr. Herb Schroeder, ANSEP vice provost and founder explains the importance of showing an “ANSEP greeting” to guest speakers to make them feel welcome.

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.

Dr. Harris uses a Capri Sun to discuss space technology.
Dr. Harris uses a Capri Sun to discuss space technology.

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.

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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.”

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