UA Scholars Program celebrates 20th anniversary and Alaskan academic achievement

Leona Long

This month, the UA Scholars Program celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since the program’s inception, the program has benefited 8,900 UA Scholars, including an estimated 3,000 Scholars who were the first in their families to attend college.

The UA Scholars Program has transformed higher education in Alaska by rewarding academic achievement and attracting top Alaskan students to the University of Alaska,” said Lael Oldmixon, director of the UA Scholars Program. “Before the program was created, only about 10 percent of the state’s top high school graduates choose to attend the University of Alaska. The average is now 41 percent.”

The UA Scholars Program is a merit-based scholarship program, established in 1999 by former UA President Mark Hamilton. Students ranked in the top 10 percent of their qualified Alaska high school receive a total of $12,000, which may be used to attend any of the University of Alaska’s 16 campuses. The Award encourages students throughout Alaska to attend and graduate from the University of Alaska. Funding is provided by revenue from the university’s Land Grant Trust Fund.

The UA Scholars Program has been successful at attracting students from rural communities. The opportunity to attend college prepares them to become leaders in their home communities and Scholars serve as ambassadors between their communities and the university.

Recently, the Alaska Legislature passed a citation that recognized the success and impact of the UA Scholars program.