JUNEAU, Alaska — A new Coast Guard scholarship program that gives undergraduates a full salary and benefits will be implemented at the University of Alaska Southeast next fall.
Students accepted into the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative will become active-duty enlisted members of the Coast Guard, will receive full salaries and benefits and will start a track to become fully commissioned officers upon graduation, KTOO-FM reported Monday.
The students will also receive up to two years' full tuition.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael McAllister said the partnership opens up an "exchange of knowledge" between the campus and the Coast Guard.
"It's a great opportunity for the many, many Coast Guard men and women in Alaska, but particularly Southeast Alaska, to get engaged back in the classroom, whether they're as students, as mentors, or even guest instructors from time to time," McAllister said. "It's an opportunity for students here at UAS to get out and learn about some of the things the Coast Guard does in terms of marine environmental protection, in terms of fisheries enforcement, in terms of search and rescue and give them experiential learning out in the field."
Students must be full-time sophomores or juniors to apply. But university Chancellor Rick Caulfield said the campus has plans to create a scholarship for freshmen and sophomore students who plan to enroll in the program.
"Juneau has a great marine industry, and the more we can educate young people about all aspects of the maritime industry here, whether it's joining the Coast Guard or getting involved with the fishing industry or marine repair," Caulfield said. "It gives students an idea of how they can make a living in this beautiful setting that we're in and how important maritime industry is to our economy here in Juneau."
Lt. Junior Grade Collin McClelland graduated from the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program at Norfolk State University more than a year ago and is now assigned to Juneau.
"Being a part of the Coast Guard in an area like this is something to be proud of and something that definitely makes you go home, go to sleep at night and you feel like you did something," McClelland said.
Applications for the program's first class are due in January.