37 Sitka Campus students celebrate commencement

After graduating high school in 1998 and struggling through a couple of college courses, Heather Albertson didn’t feel quite ready for higher education. She took a 10-year break from schooling before reconsidering, she said. 

Since then, she’s worked as the Sitka Campus student accounts technician while also raising a family and taking one course per semester. On May 3, Albertson gathered in the Student Success Center with 36 other Sitka Campus graduates, readying to walk the stage for the University of Alaska Southeast’s 48th commencement ceremony.

“It was exciting getting ready, and seeing all the students in the SSC, all trying to get our caps on and stay on. Everyone was friendly and happy,” Albertson recalled. She received an Associates Degree in Business Administration and an Accounting Technician Certification.

“Sometimes you took classes, and you don’t do so well. I worked through the discouragement, worked through the issues, and I finished,” Albertson said, applauding her family for their constant support. “It’s achievable —working, having a family— to even just take one class a semester. Eventually you will get there, like I did. I’m glad that I stuck with it and did it.”

Albertson was one of UAS’ 177 graduates, which included students as far away  as Scammon Bay, Alaska and Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. She will begin pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration through UAS this fall.

“Maybe one day it’ll help me get a better job, maybe it won’t. But it just feels good to have,” she said.

Alongside Albertson were colleagues Emy Roles and Crystal Duncan. Roles completed her AAS in Business Administration, her third associate’s degree. The first two included an AAS in Computer Information and Office Systems and a general AA. 

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” said Roles. She shifted tracks from counseling to computers to business administration before finding her way. “I love learning new things. I have just about all the associates and endorsements that Sitka Campus offers,” laughed Roles. She plans to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources and a certificate in small business management in Spring 2020.  

Crystal Duncan received her Master’s Degree of Business Administration through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Sitka Campus Director Leslie Gordon welcomed students from Kenai to Ketchikan during the May 3 celebration, as well as local veterinarian Burgess Bauder. Bauder was awarded for meritorious service. 

Thirty years from now, you’ll remember that I wore pink, joked Bauder. 

Also visiting for the celebration were Richard Caulfield, chancellor; Karen Carey, provost; Jeffrey Lofthus , professor for the Alaska College of Education; Paul Layer, University of Alaska vice president of Academics, Students, and Research; Cody Bennett, manager of IT Help Desk; and Trisha Lee, registrar. 

Sitka Campus’ class of 2019 included 89 occupational endorsement completions, 26 certificates, 19 associate’s degrees, seven bachelor’s degrees, and nine master’s degrees. 

The Ketchikan and Juneau campuses celebrated commencement on May 4 and 5, respectively.

Visit UAS Sitka Campus on Facebook for photos from commencement. Email Angie Hilsman (aehilsman@alaska.edu) for original photos.