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The 2020 Rural Alaska Honors Institute, or RAHI, will host an online graduation Friday after holding its first totally online RAHI program, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 36 high school juniors and seniors from 23 communities around the state include one student from Nenana and three students from the Denali Borough.

RAHI students usually spend the summer living at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Troth Yeddha’ campus and taking classes there in person. This year was not a normal year. The entire curriculum was online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Nevertheless, students worked for six weeks, earning as many as 10 UAF credits in subjects that included Alaska Native language, biomedical research, business, chemistry, education, library science, process technology, study skills and writing. In addition, they managed to make new friends, develop self-discipline, become comfortable with asking for help, and dedicated themselves to the pursuit of knowledge.

Nearly 1,800 students have gone through this program since it began in 1983. RAHI students have gone on to earn more than 1,100 degrees in higher education from the University of Alaska and also places such as Harvard, Yale, and Brown Universities, Dartmouth College and the University of Notre Dame. The list of alumni is notable.

The virtual graduation ceremony can be viewed online on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at bit.ly/2020RAHIgrad. An award ceremony will follow at 1:30-3 p.m., at bit.ly/2020RAHIawards. Students made their research presentations earlier this week.

The 2020 RAHI participants included Agnik “Shylah” Schaeffer, Kotzebue; Aleutia Peters, Unalaska; Alyssa Nayokpuk, Fairbanks; Andrea Storer, Anchorage; Autumn Madison, Kotzebue; Benjamin “Ben” Brown, Denali Park; Bladmher “Blad” Mondina, Unalaska; Brianna Ivanoff, Unalakleet; Carlee Merriner, Galena; Devin Ticket, Selawik; Ermelina Gonzalez, Anchorage; Iris Paul, Kipnuk; Jacob Cook, Healy; Jade Balansag, Wrangell; Jenna Alkhabi, Ketchikan; Julia Kaltenekker, Tok; Kevin Tran, Unalaska; Kirsten “Breezy” McLain, Galena; Kylie Rose-Wooton, Kake; Lauryn Garnie, Teller; Leena Robinson, Nenana; Lizzie Tran, Unalaska; Lucas Parker, Kodiak; Macey Witrosky, Nome; Marinolle Acoba, Unalaska; Marjorie Hingsbergen, Selawik; Meagan Johnson, Nome; Payton Commack, Unalakleet; Reagan Young, Sitka; Rebecca “Becki” Basile, Healy; Shayla Fuller, Dillingham; Taylor Vantrease, Kake; Terra Hoyt, Wrangell; Tia Patkotak, Anchorage; Vivian Nguyen, Unalaska; and William Sallison, Saint Marys.

RAHI students apply to be a part of the program. Those who are selected participate at no cost due to strong support from these groups: University of Alaska, the UAF College of Rural and Community Development, and the UAF Biomedical Learning and Student Training program. Sponsors include Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., ConocoPhillips, First National Bank of Alaska, Wells Fargo, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and private donors.

Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.