Christina Campbell, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

No one said it was going to easy - especially in a state bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined.  But facing big challenges is something Joie Millett is ready to face head-on. Millett is the new Program Manager of the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps (ACAC). Having grown up in rural Alaska, Millett is familiar with the difficulties students wishing to pursue college and career training face.

The ACAC program is a chapter of the national College Advising Corps, operated by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. It engages recent college graduates to serve in high schools as College & Career Guides. Guides work with counselors, school staff, families and communities to encourage and assist students with the planning process for entry into college and career training pathways. In a state with some of the lowest college-going rates in the nation, this work is critical.

Due to the vast size of Alaska, some Guides are housed in so-called “hub” communities. These Guides work with students from their community and with students from nearby villages via video teleconference (VTC).  When there is no road access, VTC has been used for everything from FAFSA completion to college fairs. Millett also encourages creativity when it comes to travel, saying that “in one case a Guide, partnering with Native organizations, volunteered to act as a basketball referee in exchange for small plane rides to surrounding villages.” The Guide was able to work with local students in-person on college access before and after the games.  

Millett’s vision is to empower her Guides to help every graduating senior, served by the program, develop a plan for after high school, and to expand the ACAC program to additional locations. “We’re looking for partners in communities that see the benefit of investing in a well trained work force and can help us make that happen.”