Imagine boarding a plane in your home village, landing in Fairbanks or Anchorage, navigating your way by taxi or public bus to a giant university populated by people you don’t know, figuring out how to enroll in and pick courses, and finally, ending up in a classroom of hundreds of other students.
Many rural Alaskans have gone through this tricky transition from village to college and while it’s certainly doable, it’s not always easy.
“Socially, a lot of the students from very small villages aren’t used to being in a class at the university that has 200 students in it—that’s more than they have in their entire village, so that’s overwhelming,” said Denise Wartes, director of the Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI).
Since 1983, the institute has provided a bridge for students making that transition through an intensive six-week summer program in which they attend college classes and earn transferable credits at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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