Whether it’s exercising his legs or his brain, Michael Ulroan of Chevak lives a fast-paced life that most people can’t even begin to keep up with. This civil engineering major at the University of Alaska Anchorage juggles his jam-packed course load, between leading an after-school Alaska Native engineering club and living his passion for fitness.
“Running teaches you mentally and physically how to keep going when it’s tough, you keep looking forward, never look back, even when you’re tired,” Michael said.
It’s that drive that keeps him pounding the pavement during long-distance runs and his head in the books. Engineering is a tough major and last semester he routinely studied from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. He is the former president of the UAA American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and at the 2012 National AISES conference in Las Vegas Michael received the prestigious “Outstanding Leader Award.”
“To meet students with the same goals from all over the country, it’s like being in a room full of executives,” Michael said.
Being recognized by his peers inspired Michael to encourage other Alaska Natives to pursue higher education. Michael’s parents and all four siblings attended college and he wants to show other Calista Region Youth seeking higher education is possible. He is the first engineering student from Chevak.
“I’m not getting this education for just myself, it’s to prove to rural students that they can seek this dream.”
Michael is set to graduate in May 2014. On the days when he begins to run on empty, he reminds himself that he’s forging an important path for others.