Commencement is December 11. Before the big day, get to know a few members of the Class of 2021
Join the virtual Commencement celebration on Facebook and Youtube at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Bachelor’s of Business Administration
Class of 2021
When Kikkan Randall graduated from East High in 2001, she figured she’d train for the Olympics for a year before heading to an NCAA school. But then she spent that winter training with APU’s elite ski team.
“After that first year I realized, wait a minute, this is definitely what I want to do,” she said. “I want to try to be successful internationally, and I can get my education at the same time.”
Kikkan competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics, as well as the next four. She won Team USA’s first gold medal in cross country skiing in 2018, alongside teammate Jessie Diggins. Along the way, she enrolled in APU business classes that were flexible, enjoyable, and instantly applicable.
Marketing courses taught her how to promote to sponsors. Classes in board management, grant writing, and fundraising are now directly relevant to her role as executive director of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. “It’s amazing how actionable and convenient these classes have been,” she said of her time as a business student.
“What stands out to me is APU can really adapt to you as an individual,” she said. As a small university, faculty and staff can accommodate each student individually. “I love that part about it. It really is a community.” APU, she added, is an “amazing resource” for Alaskans.
“It’s been an incredible experience for me.”
Bachelor’s of Environmental Public Health
Class of 2021
Public health students love statistics, so here’s one: 100% of APU’s environmental public health graduates have a job lined up at graduation.
True, there’s only one graduate so far, but their story is impressive. James Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in August and was hired the next day by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) thanks to his experience at APU.
James was already attending APU when the university launched its public health degree. He switched majors and became one of the program’s first students. That meant access to opportunities, like a student internship at ANTHC. Originally he signed up to assist the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center with a report on cancer statistics, but the department kept providing opportunities. He went from part-time intern to full-time intern and, as soon as he graduated, became a full-time public health specialist. “I couldn’t have picked a better employer,” he said of ANTHC. “I don’t see why I would want to work anywhere else”
James now has a degree from APU, as well as several mentors. Environmental public health professors often work in the subjects they teach, like air quality, water treatment, or toxicology. Through his coursework and his internship, he made connections with public health professionals across the state.
“Any time I needed something, faculty were there for me,” he said. “They are so supportive of students.”
“I found it to be a really rewarding experience,” he said of his time at APU. “It’s a fantastic school.”
Master of Arts
Class of 2021
When Camp Kellogg launched this past summer, it expanded school-age programming at the Kellogg Campus year-round. It also helped its camp director – an APU graduate student – reach her own education goal.
Shannon O’Laughlin is the FIELD School Coordinator at the Kellogg Campus. During the spring and fall, she organizes semester-long academic programming for homeschool kids age 5-14 at FIELD School. Camp Kellogg fills a similar role, providing youth age 5-17 with educational summer programming at the campus farm. The summer camp also doubled as Shannon’s graduate project in the Master of Arts program (MAP) at APU.
MAP is a unique offering that allows for flexibility and creativity. Students take a few core courses, but mostly work on a self-directed study plan built around their specific interests. Shannon focused her MAP degree on educational leadership, and built Camp Kellogg as her graduate project. Prior to launch, she researched place-based pedagogy and looked into similar camp programs. She’s now writing a research narrative to complete her degree.
In the MAP Program, she said, “I got to completely design [the degree] around what I really wanted to be learning and how I wanted to advance my education and my professional career.”
Though she’s graduating this fall, Camp Kellogg was more than just a student project. The summer camp will return to Kellogg in 2022. Learn more: https://kelloggfieldschool.org/camp-kellogg/