Student Spotlight – Simon Aina and Alison Bankston

This month we are incredibly pleased to announce TWO Student Spotlights, second-year students, Simon Aina and Alison Bankston!

Simon

(Simon performing at the 2013 ‘Barrow’s Got Talent’ Show)

Simon, Iḷisaġvik’s Residential Advisor in the student dormitories as well as a support worker in our Student Success Center, has long demonstrated commitment towards his future goals and pride for the college. Simon, who is instrumental in coordinating fun and positive activities for students, strives for excellence in his studies first and foremost. Simon keeps extremely busy with his extra-curricular activities as well. While currently on the nomination roster for the office of Vice President of Iḷisaġvik’s Student Government Association, Simon also recently accepted a position in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress Northwest/Pacific — its first representative from the North Slope! We are extremely proud of Simon’s achievements and know he is on to great things. Simon tells us more about himself here:

Where are you from?

I’m from San Diego, California

What are you studying at Iḷisaġvik College?

I’m in the field of Allied Health, with an emphasis in Human Services.

What made you decide to enroll in classes at Iḷisaġvik?

I Joined Iḷisaġvik College because I wanted to stop working dead-end jobs and make something of myself. I know I had the potential to do something better then flipping tacos or selling memberships at some store, so Iḷisaġvik gave me the opportunity to show my potential.

What are your educational goals?

My educational goals are to finish up, meaning next go for my B.A., on to my Master’s, and ultimately to my goal as a certified Social Worker.

What are your hobbies when you aren’t studying or working?

Playing video games with my brothers, watching “New Girl” and “Black Sails” (TV Series), Singing, Cooking, and coming up with and participating in student activities.

What advice do you have for people thinking about signing up for classes?

My one piece advice to all students is surround yourself with people that have the same mind set as yourself. For instance,  I have by my side Mr. Norman L. Edwards (Student Wellness Coordinator). Anytime I feel like I’m going nowhere, Norman is there to remind me that nothing in life is easy, nothing in life is there for the taking, we as people need to go and take it. We always say to each other “You have to be Hungry to want it.” Just keep in mind the only reason why people are stuck in their ways and say that they can’t do it, is because they surround themselves with bad influences! I started with my G.E.D here at Iḷisaġvik, then told myself ‘don’t stop, keep it going now!” Currently, I’m down to my last semester, getting ready to graduate in April! So the only way you’re going to do that is by having faith in yourself and by surrounding yourself with great people. I’d like to say thank you to Mr. Norman L. Edwards, Gloria Burnett, Sarah Martinsen, Saga Aina, Hina Kilioni, Jamie Smith, Laura Nicolai, April Phillips, Adam Burnett , Albert Aina, Mama Danner, and my home girl Khan for believing in me when I didn’t,  and just by having these people behind me I know my future now looks great! So be HUNGRY FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND TAKE IT!

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Alison

(Alison [center] and her young siblings)

We are equally proud to offer this month’s Student Spotlight to Alison, who was also recently selected as Iḷisaġvik College’s awardee for the AIHEC Student of the Year scholarship! Alison, who keeps incredibly busy as the eldest of 10 siblings, a full-time worker at SSMH dental clinic, and a volunteer with the Barrow High School Cheerleading squad, is able to maintain a high GPA and lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Alison is a warm-hearted, enthusiastic and hard-working student and we see a very bright future coming her way. Alison shares more on herself here:

Where are you from?

I was born and raised right here in Barrow, AK.

What are you studying at Iḷisaġvik College?

I am in the Allied Health program, going for my Associate of Science degree.

What made you decide to enroll in classes at Iḷisaġvik?

I just thought it would be great to be able to go to school and work at the same time, especially in my own community.

What are your educational goals?

My educational goals are to graduate with an Associate of Science degree here in April, transfer to UAF and work towards earning my Bachelor of Science degree, and I’ve been looking into different Dental Hygiene Programs that I’d like to attend. Dental school is a possibility, but I’m not too sure at the moment… :)

What are your hobbies when you aren’t studying or working?

This semester has been a little hectic for me. I work every day of the week from 8:30am to 5pm (at Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital Dental Clinic), then class from 5:30pm-8:30pm and 9am-12pm on Saturdays. With what little time I have to do other things, I love spending it with my siblings the most. I also volunteer to help coach the high school cheerleading team, exercise to become more fit and healthy, and I also read for leisure!

What advice do you have for people thinking about signing up for classes?

I would say go for it! I highly recommend signing up for classes here at Iḷisaġvik and here’s why: it’s a great way to get a head start in earning college credits for high school students who take dual-credit courses, for employees that want to reach a higher career goal or earn a degree while you work, also a great place  for students who will be graduating and don’t want to leave home right away or go too far for their first couple of years in college. Iḷisaġvik is very welcoming to every new student and it’s a heart-warming experience to be involved and getting to know other students who are beginning their journey to reaching higher educational goals. I must say, the North Slope is extremely lucky to have a community college so that you don’t have to go far to further your education.

MANY CONGRATULATIONS to our Student Spotlights! Keep up the great work!