Alaska Christian College (ACC) has been on quite a journey since Dr. Keith Hamilton first arrived and turned off K-Beach Rd. onto E. Poppy Lane then off Poppy onto a very rough Royal Pl. the end of which was only an old homestead house. On a very similar rainy day in September Hamilton addressed a crowd of over 100 including local officials and former Governor Sean Parnell and his wife Sandy at a banquet in the ACC community event center. Hamilton recalled that first year and remarking to the college’s first class of 18 students that the college “didn’t even have a paperclip to its name.” At the first graduation when he was awarding diplomas Hamilton said each student gave him a paperclip. He then held up a ring of 18 paper clips linked together and said he keeps them on the wall of his office as a reminder, “That ACC has been built on the backs of many people that love Alaska, who love young people especially young Alaskan native people and have given sacrificially here. Many come and work as volunteers from the lower 48 on work teams that make this happen,” said Hamilton. Today ACC is an accredited two-year college with 17 buildings on its 27.5 acre campus with a class of 81 native students earning Associate of Arts degrees. Hamilton took the opportunity to recognize the only original staff member who is still with ACC. Jeff Siemers is the only other founding staff member who is still at the college other than Hamilton and his wife.
After being treated to some traditional Yup’ik songs and entertainment by some of the students the group went outside to join the dignitaries who donned hard hats for a ceremonial ground breaking of a new dormitory to be called Taikuu, Inupiaq for “Thank You.” “It will add 34 beds making us available for 110 students to show up on our campus next fall. It’s an amazing capital project of about $1.7 million dollar project and about $700,000 of that will be through in-kind giving and the rest through private funding. We had to turn students away this fall because we did not have enough beds,” said Hamilton. Sen. Peter Micciche was on hand for the ground breaking and said he was proud of the work ACC and done in Alaska, “ACC programs have redirected many lives and has been instrumental in breaking the cycle of abuse and addiction that is so common in many places around the state,” he said.
Hamilton describes ACC as a bridge for native Alaskans, “We’ll continue to grow our AA degree because we believe that students that come from rural Alaska don’t do well at a four year university when they go there directly from the village so we are bridge to get them from village Alaska into a good higher educational system then off to the University. Our vision is also to reach out to our local community, to meet its conference needs or housing needs, we are open and serving our community just last week 34 of our students were over volunteering at the Food Bank to help them prepare for their soup supper event. It’s an amazing thing to watch God work here. People said it couldn’t be done, but 15 years later the results speak for themselves and yes I got chocked up today as I shared some of our students successes, so I’m excited knowing what’s happening here, ” added Hamilton. For more information about opportunities at ACC log on to alaskachristiancollege.com.