2014 Shareholder Employment and Development College Support Program: Janelle Sharp

39501406328077Janelle.jpgMeet Janelle Sharp, an environmental technician with WHPacific, in Anchorage, AK. We talked about her teacher in high school giving her hands-on experience with chemistry, succeeding in college with challenges and how “you really can do whatever you want; you just need to apply yourself.”

Janelle is in school at the University of Alaska Anchorage and will be graduating this year with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in math. Her parents are Timothy and Susan (formerly Mendenhall) Sharp, and her grandparents are Ida and the late Isaac Curtis from Kotzebue. After college she hopes to work for WHPacific.

During her internship, she is helping to write data analysis and validation reports from lab results of samples from different sites. Also, she is learning how to respond to comments on rough drafts of their client data analysis reports, and tracking samples as they move from the sample location to the lab to make sure everything is received in good order and can be analyzed by the lab. 

 “I don’t excel in chemistry; I don’t get straight A’s,” she said about college. “But I’m doing it. Some people don’t want try it, because they think chemistry is too hard. But anyone can do it; you just have to learn how. You just have to go through the courses.” Janelle’s interest in chemistry was sparked at South High School in Anchorage. “My favorite class in high school was chemistry, and I had a really awesome chemistry teacher. She did really cool things—a lot of hands-on stuff”.

Making the transition from high school to college level classes didn’t happen by itself. She talked about the importance of teaching ourselves to first learn-how-to-learn. “It took me a while to figure out how to study,” she said about starting college. “When I was a young student, I was just trying to get by on what I knew, and I wasn’t focusing a lot of time on studying. I think figuring out how to sit down and actively study and learn your information, as soon as you can, is probably where I would have started. That’s something I would have changed, if I could.”

Figuring out a study routine that worked for her was especially important after her son, Elias “Inunilaq”, was born. “The summer I first had Elias, I took and passed my calculus II course online, and then I went on the next semester to do quantitative analysis, and organic chemistry, and calculus III. I ended up not passing quan’ or organic, but I passed calc’, thank God. From there my struggle was figuring out how to be a mom and how to get my studies in, because my classes were getting really hard.”

As the classes got harder, her study habits began to pay off. “The hardest class that I’ve taken thus far was instrumental analysis with Dr. Kennish, and it’s also the one that I learned the most in.” The learning came from the challenges. “It’s fun to understand what’s going on. You can look at a data analysis report and know what the limits are on the contaminants and what all that they were using. Or if there’s a flag on an analyte (chemical substance) then you have to figure out whether or not it’s significant. Like if you find toluene (a clear liquid) in the water, is the amount significant to contamination?”

Besides learning how to study, Janelle recommends choosing to meet challenges as a way of finding success in school. “And challenging yourself too, is really good, because, when you challenge yourself, you can kind of find your niche. There will be people who are better at some things than you, but then you’ll also be able to find… not only will you learn from them, but you’ll be able to find what you are good at comparatively to other people. Because in the end you’ll all be working together, right? You can find your contributions.”

Employing shareholders is a central goal of NANA. Its summer internship program is for NANA shareholders, spouses, and their descendants.

WHPacific is a NANA company who's integrated professional services deliver excellent solutions to clients in transportation, water and environment, development/facilities, energy, construction/project management, and surveying services. 

For more information: http://www.whpacific.com/