Intern-To-Intern 2015: Samantha Ruppert

The ninth in a series. Communications intern Kally Greene-Gudmundson interviews our 2015 summer interns.


Meet Samantha Ruppert, Contract Closeout Intern, AKIMA.

What is your Iñupiaq name? Who were you named after?

My Iñupiaq name is Quyanaq, which means “thank you.” I was named after my grandmother, Edna Cross.

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Anchorage and lived there until I was six, but I was mainly raised in North Carolina. I lived in Washington State for a few years in between.

What are your family ties to NANA?

My mother’s side of the family are all shareholders. My grandma, originally from Deering is full-Iñupiaq. My late grandfather, on my mother’s side, comes from the Barr family, originally from Deering as well, but he later moved to Kotzebue.

Who has inspired you? What is your favorite memory of this person?

My mother, Loretta Ruppert, is the most inspiring person in my life. Ever since I can remember, she has always been the most positive, hard-working individual and a fantastic role-model for me and those around her. She taught me that you are entitled to nothing, and that everything you want in life you have to work for. She’s an incredibly strong woman, and I feel fortunate to have been raised by such a powerful female figure, with leadership skills I one day hope to inherit.

My favorite memory of my mother is one that shows her incredibly caring side. We were driving back down to North Carolina from a weekend at our lake house in Virginia, and we drove past two stray dogs on a bridge in the middle of the highway. It was a Great Dane mother and her puppy, and they were extremely malnourished and looked quite terrified. My mom whipped her car to the side of the road, and did not for one second stop and think about whether or not we should help bring these dogs to safety. She threw the massive Great Dane and puppy in the back of her car (with already three people in it) and drove to the nearest dog shelter, where we bought food and water for these dogs and waited until a member of the Great Dane Club of Central North Carolina (that we contacted) came and picked up the dogs. They eventually found them a spot at their shelter. This was one of the fondest memories of my mother, because it showed the lengths she would go to in order to put others first, dogs included!

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I have a 401K. You can never start (saving) too early!

Where are you going to school?

I attend East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina.

What are you studying?


What year of school will you be coming into this fall?

I’m starting my final semester of my undergraduate degree. I will begin my one-year master’s program in accounting, at ECU, in January 2016.

What was your first experience with NANA?

My first experience with NANA was in the summer of 2012. I worked for Qivliq in the Anchorage office. The interns had a meeting at NANA my first day, so I headed over to that office to meet the rest of the interns and those who lead the shareholder internship program.  

All I can remember was how welcome they made me feel, even though I had no idea what an atikłuk (parka cover) was, and I didn’t exactly go for seconds of maktak (whale blubber). From the moment I walked in, I felt like I belonged. A huge part of it was knowing that, even though I was not from around the area, the people knew my family, which made it that much easier to connect with them on a personal level.

Have you interned with NANA before and if so, what was your position?

This is my fourth summer working for the NANA family of companies. My first internship was in the summer of 2012 working for Qivliq in their Anchorage office as a payroll specialist intern. The summer after that, I began working in the Herndon office for Akima as a marketing and communications intern. The summer of 2014, I worked for Akima again in the Herndon office as a corporate development intern for half of the summer, and as an accounting intern for the other half. This summer, I am working for Akima in the Herndon office. I started off as a project controls intern and half-way through switched roles to my current position, contract closeout intern. I switched positions to gain experience working in the many different functional areas of the business.

What were your job responsibilities this summer?

In my current position, I’m responsible for consolidating all contracts ever executed by the Akima family of companies, to make sure correct amounts were billed to the government and to guarantee that there are no financial loose ends, so that we can ensure we are compliant and later do not incur any fees in a DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) audit. 

Who introduced you to the idea to work for NANA to you?

Four years ago, I received a NANA postcard. From that, I learned about the shareholder summer internship program.

What goals do you hope to accomplish through your internship?

My main goal of these past four years of internships was to gain experience in every functional unit of a business. I’ve bounced around to a handful of departments over the years, because I believe it’s important to have a little bit of knowledge about everything. I’m very curious to keep learning, and I like to be fully aware of all the gears that are turning in order for a company to operate.

“NANA will improve the quality of life for our people”

NANA internships give students the opportunity to:

  • Gain valuable applied experience.
  • Promote personal development.
  • Develop interpersonal and professional skills.

For more information visit the shareholder employment & development page.