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Leaders from the Region
Carlene (Liskey) Liesch, Alaska EXCEL Instructor
Storyknife, Mar./Apr. 2020 edition
Carlene (Liskey) Liesch of Tuluksak grew up fishing, hunting and berry picking with her family. One lesson from her mother and father that always stuck with her over the years is the need to work for what you want.
“If you don’t work for the things you want, you’ll never have anything, my parents told me. They would make an example of people who had to buy dry fish from us in the winter because they didn’t work hard enough over the summer months,” Carlene says. “That always stuck in my mind when it seemed to get too hard.”
Carlene is currently the Lead Instructor for Foundational Sessions at Alaska EXCEL. She’s also the Emergency Trauma Technician and CPR instructor and a State of Alaska EMT-1. Carlene pushes her students to further their education and pursue their own path in life.
“School teacher turnover in the villages makes the education out there poor and inconsistent. When I was in high school, we had a new teacher every year, and it felt like we ended up learning the same thing every year,” Carlene says. “A lot of what I do is motivating and coaching them to build confidence in themselves, because I know where they come from.”
Carlene began to pursue her career in 11th grade through an emergency trauma technician session in Aniak. She became inspired to obtain an Associates of Applied Science in Paramedicine through the University of Alaska Fairbanks and work in the medical field.
Carlene gained her EMT-1 certification from Alaska EXCEL, then completed her AAS degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in two years. She even interned out of state in Utah as a lead paramedic.
“It feels rewarding to have completed my education goals, and it’s a confidence booster,” Carlene says. “It was very tough going through these programs coming from a small village, and the challenges we had to go through and overcome.”
“If you don’t work for the things you want, you’ll never have anything, my parents told me. They would make an example of people who had to buy dry fish from us in the winter because they didn’t work hard enough over the summer months.” – Carlene (Liskey) Liesch, Alaska EXCEL Instructor
Carlene is now a champion for the programs Alaska EXCEL has to offer. She says Alaska EXCEL is beneficial for students—especially those from rural Alaska—because it exposes them to different training and career paths outside of college.
“College isn’t for everyone,” Carlene says. “To advance in your career, you have more options than just college. You can pursue vocational training like AVTEC or Job Corps.”
Alaska EXCEL works to make students employable right out of the program with certifications.
“There are many options we expose the students to,” Carlene says. “We show them the opportunities they have at their fingertips to help them be successful in not only Anchorage or Fairbanks, but within their own communities. This provides them with a great opportunity to gain employable skills and learn to be leaders in their own village.”