Ketchikan High School freshmen Minh-Thu Vo and Gisele Noble have been accepted to the 2023 Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program that is set to be held for five weeks on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus from May 27 through June 30.

The ANSEP program, according to information at, offers college credits to participants, as well as the opportunity to experience life at a university. The program also aims to build self-esteem, determination and study skills, to offer practice working in teams, to allow the experience of living away from home, to have fun doing hands-on science and engineering projects and coursework, and to introduce the experience of earning a college degree.

Noble and Vo sat down with the Daily News on Thursday in the Kayhi Commons to talk about the program and what they expect to gain from their participation in it.

Noble said that the program is free for participants, including the travel expenses.

“To apply for the program, it was kind of a difficult process, because we had to get signed up with the university, and then take this math quiz, and then write an essay, and then we had to wait a long time to get results back,” Vo said.

Noble added that they also had to gather recommendation letters and transcripts to submit to the program.

“We’re still going through the process right now of trying to finish all of our applications,” Noble said.

Noble added that the program isn’t looking for specific types of students, but they want students who are motivated to learn what is offered.

Vo agreed, and said that although the name of the program would suggest differently, the program is open to all Alaska students. Noble and Vo said they are not of Native Alaskan heritage.

Vo said that the topic they were given to base their essays on was, “What would you do for the future of Alaska, and why are you ready for this program?”

She said that in her essay, she explained that her plan to improve the future of Alaska is to work in engineering on improving infrastructure. She also explained in her essay that she is prepared for the rigors of the science and engineering classes, because she has completed higher-level math already and earned high grades.

Vo added, “I want to get some experience in engineering, because that’s one of the career fields I’m interested in, and I’m kind of undecided between engineering technologies and medical fields, so I’m trying to use that as an introduction to see if I would like it, and then I’m actually taking classes when I get back on more medically related stuff.”

She explained that the program offers an array of classes in science, technology, mathematics and engineering, and she and Noble were provided with surveys they filled out to choose which classes they were most interested in. Participants are required to take one math course, but then can choose an elective from an array of offerings.

Vo said, “I’m so excited because they let us, on the surveys” request a roommate, so she and Noble requested each other, and are set to room together on the UAA campus.

“Another cool thing,” Vo said, “you can actually use the credits that you get and put them back into your school, and you get to keep the college credits while also having a high school credit.”

With that benefit, they expect to be able to skip the math classes they would have otherwise been required to take at Kayhi, and move straight to more advanced classes.

Noble said that her essay outlined her plan to work in a science field, possibly with a medical focus.

Also, she said she noted in her essay that she wants to “help the younger generations find these opportunities to do these college programs and these courses so they’re able to be ahead.”

Vo said another benefit of being in the program is that they expect to also receive advice on applying for scholarships and living on a college campus.

She added, “I don’t think I would have been able to apply if it was — if you had to pay for it, because it’s a five-week trip and you’d have to pay for the college classes and the dorm — it’s expensive.”

Noble added that books would be another expense that would add up.

They added that room and board as well as the travel expenses also are completely covered by the program.

Another service offered is tutoring for the students, Vo said.

Vo added that there also is planned a Memorial Day cruise at the beginning of the program.

To arrive at the program on time, Vo said that they will have a time crunch to take their finals early, and make arrangements with their teachers to finish up all of their classes early.

Vo said, “I just really want to be in the program because it’s a really good opportunity.”