Contributed by Melissa Keefe
Five Alaska high school students will head off to college this fall with some extra funds in their bank accounts, thanks to the Alaska State Fair scholarship fund. The students, who are from across Alaska, received scholarship awards totaling $4,250 this spring. Every student who completed an application also received two free admissions to the 2016 Fair.
Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Alaska State Fair scholarship recipients, including:
First place, $1,500: Victoria Cizek of Soldotna, Alaska. Cizek, a senior at Cook Inlet Academy, will attend Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon this fall to study music technology/industry.
Second place, $1,000: Michelle Eliassen of Eagle River, Alaska. Eliassen, a senior at Chugiak High School, will attend the University of Alaska Anchorage this fall. A graduate of her school’s Spanish immersion program, Eliassen plans to minor in Spanish.
Third place, $750: Nathaniel Savel of Palmer, Alaska. Savel, a senior at Palmer High School, has been accepted to both the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He plans to pursue an associate’s degree in paramedic/fire science, as well as a bachelor’s degree in science.
Fourth place, $500: Catherine Currier of Wasilla, Alaska. Currier, a senior at Wasilla High School, has been accepted into the medical laboratory science program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Fifth place, $500: Kimberly Pikok of Barrow, Alaska. Pikok, a senior at Barrow High School, will attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks this fall, with a goal to receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration or environmental policy and return to live and work in rural Alaska.
The Fair scholarship application process is unique in that it asks students to submit an essay or creative project addressing one of four topics including: How the Fair can be of greater benefit to the state, ideas for a new “Free with Fair admission” event, how the Fair can improve its educational programming; and how the student would use a 12-foot by 12-foot booth at the Fair.
“Every year, we are impressed with the creative ideas generated by our scholarship applicants. We are always working to improve the Fair and the fairgoer experience, and appreciate the fresh perspectives shared by these students,” said Jerome Hertel, Fair general manager.
For example, Catherine Currier created a video explaining her idea to develop an educational scavenger hunt throughout the fairgrounds to better involve and educate young Alaskans. “With doing this, we will educate the next generation, and therefore educate all generations after them,” Currier said.
Victoria Cizek would draw from her passion for music and her future music degree to open a “Make Your Own Music Video” booth at the Fair. “There is almost nothing more fun than goofing off with your friends and loved ones, especially at the Alaska State Fair. This could be an enjoyable way for people to have an awesome video to remember the experience by,” Cizek said.
Michelle Eliassen would open a food booth called “Like Your Granny Makes It,” which would serve homemade pie milkshakes, along with other old-fashioned food items at an affordable price. “I know, coming from a family of five, that the Fair can be expensive, so making it affordable for families is a huge deal to me,” Eliassen said.
One of Nathaniel Savel’s ideas for improving the fairgoer experience was developing themes for each of the Fair trails. For example, the “Dairy Trail” would feature vendors and activities that support the theme. “When you leave Dairy Trail, you should feel like you have just spent the last 20 years as a farmer yourself,” Savel said.
Kimberly Pikok shared her idea for displaying the culture, diversity and rich history of Alaska at the Fair by hosting a stage dedicated to cultural performances. “There is no better way to educate fairgoers, citizens and visitors about cultures than to put on a live performance,” Pikok said.
The Fair scholarship program is open to all Alaska junior and senior high school students who plan to attend college or vocational school. A total of 43 students submitted applications for a Fair scholarship this spring.
Even more students will benefit from the Fair scholarship program in 2017. An additional $2,500 was raised for scholarships at the Fair’s Concert Kick-Off Party in April. The event unveiled the entertainment line-up for the Fair’s 2016 concert series, while raising money for the Fair scholarship fund.
For more information, visit alaskastatefair.org or Dean Phipps, Fair director of marketing and communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org 907.746.7153.