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Kodiak College’s Class of 2024 to contribute to various sectors of local workforce

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell welcomed the Kodiak College's Class of 2024 during this year's commencement on May 10.
Davis Hovey/KMXT
UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell congratulated the Kodiak College's Class of 2024 during this year's commencement on May 10.

More than two dozen students from Kodiak College, an offshoot of the University of Alaska Anchorage, were recognized at the college’s commencement Friday night, May 10. This graduating class features a mix of nurses, teachers, and marine service workers who could benefit the island’s workforce.

Students wore robes of black or silver/white and cords of a variety of colors as they processed into the Gerald C. Wilson auditorium at the Kodiak High School on the evening of May 10; much like the vibrant colors found in sea glass along Kodiak’s beaches, which graduate Bralyn Nixon highlighted during her commencement address.

“In my life, sea glass stands as a reminder that the harsh waves and tumbling rocks of our daily lives are not always bad. They are actually refining us. Sea glass also stands as a reminder that no matter our appearance, we are uniquely beautiful,” Nixon said.

Nixon plans to become an elementary school teacher and have a positive impact on local children. She also received a showcase in excellence award for her work in Alaska Native Studies fine arts. She is one of over forty local college graduates this year, representing the University of Alaska Southeast, UAA, and Kodiak College, who can help fill essential jobs in the community.

Teachers were just one group of graduates during Friday night’s commencement. Another nine students earning occupational endorsement certificates were adorning silver robes. This cohort includes the Marine Service Technology program graduates, who can now enter into the maritime industry, work as service technicians, and repair marine equipment like outboard motors.

The program was offered through Prince William Sound College but available for students locally in Kodiak. It provides students with an occupational endorsement certificate that prepares them to get technician-level jobs at local businesses like Kodiak Powersports & Marine or even start their own business.

The director of Kodiak College, Jacelyn Keys said this group of graduates started the 16-credit-hour program back in January alongside a four prospective nurses who are also 2024 graduates.

“We had a nursing cohort that was a very close nursing cohort. And then our occupational endorsement certificate with our marine services technician, all of those students have been in class every night since January together, so they are particularly close,” Keys explained.

Keys has been the director since 2020 and first connected with many of this year’s graduating class the same year they started their degree programs. She said she hopes all of the 2024 grads will join the local workforce.

“And that’s certainly something that Rich [Gonzalez], our Maritime Workforce Coordinator, and then Lorraine [Stewart], our overall workforce coordinator, is committed to doing; is providing opportunities for folks to get that training and then stay here in Kodiak,” Keys said.

Rich Gonzalez, the Maritime Workforce Coordinator at Kodiak College, told KMXT that one of the Marine Service Technology program’s 2024 grads is starting his own business doing electrical work in Kodiak. At least one college graduate Keys spoke to was already interviewing for a job in Kodiak as of Monday, May 13.

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