The deadline is just around the corner for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Honors Institute summer program, also known as RAHI. The college prep program for rural and Alaska Native students has many prominent RAHI program alumni, including Col. Wayne Don from Mekoryuk who gave a keynote address at last years Alaska Federation of Natives conference.
Don says that it’s an opportunity that rural Alaskan youth should not pass up. He was already leaning toward college when he got the scoop on UAF’s RAHI program from his elder brother, who had gone to Fairbanks under the program the year before.
“I thought it was a unique opportunity,” said Don. “My brother spoke pretty highly of it; had a great time.”
The tradition has stayed in the family. and his younger brother and eldest daughter have also done RAHI. They all had to meet the requirements, but once in the program all expenses, including air travel, tuition, room and board, textbooks, and supplies, were covered; an equivalent value of $8,500.
Don serves full time as a brigade commander for the Army National Guard and grew up on Nunivak Island – one of four students in his graduating class. He attended RAHI back in 1989 and says that the program was just what he needed to jumpstart his career.
“If you’re interested in college and you meet the criteria to go to a university environment and be exposed to the academic rigor associated with college,” Don said.
High school students need to know that college is a big step up, Don says, and RAHI will quickly show them. But for him, that challenge made it all the more worthwhile and he remains in touch with most of his former classmates to this day.
“I’m an active member of the alumni program because I believe highly in the mission and what the outcomes are,” said Don.
Don also serves as a board member for his village corporation in addition to his position with the National Guard, and he received the Marshall Memorial Fellowship.
Other RAHI alumni from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta include Bethel's Larissa Strunk and Elena Jacobs who were both named Salutatorian in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Applicants must be high school juniors or seniors and have a cumulative 3.0 Grade Point Average.
The deadline to apply for the six week RAHI summer program, which runs from the end of May through the middle of July, is March 1.