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Work Ethic Scholarship Recipient: Elena Horner on the right path – Process Technology

elena-horner-1aElena Horner grew up 80 miles north of Juneau, Alaska in the small town of Haines. How small a town? Elena’s 2012 graduating class at Haines High School only had 25 students in it. That’s how small a town.

Elena comes from a family that appreciates the arts. Mom is a librarian, dad is a woodcarver and engraver, and her older brother majored in theater. Elena loved to play guitar and sing, so she thought for sure she would wind up in the arts as well. Then again, she also liked to weld, but that was just for fun. In high school Elena discovered a love of math and problem solving. She also loved the idea of helping others. Ultimately, a decision had to be made. She had to pick a path.

After graduating high school she set her mind to getting a four year degree in anthropology at the University of Alaska Southeast. In her second year, she participated in a college exchange, which allowed her to study anthropology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo but still pay in-state tuition at UAS. It was the first time Elena lived outside of Alaelena-horner-2ska. Hawaii was a different world. It opened her eyes to even more choices. She started to consider what sort of job market there would be waiting for her upon graduating with an anthropology degree. That’s when she began imagining a different career path, one that came with good and immediate job opportunities.

“I met a few people that worked as electricians and thought that it seemed like a really interesting field of work.”

Elena was intrigued at the idea of learning a skilled trade, and she altered her path to learn one. In 2014 she moved back to Alaska and attended AVTEC – Alaska’s Institute of Technology pursuing a Technician Certificate in Industrial Electricity. While there, an instructor told her that BP America was offering scholarships to pursue an AAS in Process Technology. Elena applied and was accepted. BP then offered a paid internship in the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Shore. She was 1 of only 6 interns from all of Alaska to specialize in Process Technology. She interned all summer, getting hands-on experience in facility operation and monitoring. Elena loved it. She finally found the right path – Process Technology.

Earlier this year a friend shared a post on Facebook by Mike Rowe regarding the skills gap. Mike mentioned the #mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Scholarship Program. Elena saw the post 4 days before the deadline. She quickly pulled everything she needed together and submitted it just in time.

Currently Elena is attending UAF Community & Technical College in Fairbanks, where she plans to graduate in May 2017. She’s simultaneously working two jobs; one in the school’s facility services HVAC department doing mostly sheet metal fabrication, and also at Ursa Major Distilling where she runs the mash for vodka, rum, and gin.

elena-horner-3With scholarships from mikeroweWORKS and BP, as well as the money she earns from her two jobs, Elena will graduate the best way possible – debt free. She’s hoping a Process Technology job at BP will be waiting when she does.


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