PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Alaska Travel Industry Association awards $27,000 in scholarships
The Alaska Travel Industry Association recently awarded 14 scholarships totaling $27,000 to Alaskan students pursuing careers in the visitor industry.

The program, funded through the nonprofit tourism marketing organization's foundation, is designed to offer assistance to promising Alaska residents with an interest in turning their tourism experience into a career.

"Tourism is Alaska's second largest private-sector employer," said Stefanie Gorder, chair of the AlaskaTIA foundation.

"By assisting these talented students today, we are helping develop Alaska's skilled work force for the future."

"This scholarship program exhibits tourism's investment in its future. The travel industry offers many excellent career opportunities and AlaskaTIA is committed to helping these students explore these opportunities and develop Alaska's future work force," said AlaskaTIA president and COO, Ron Peck.

Sean Hovik of Ketchikan received the largest scholarship, the ATIA Two-Year Scholarship worth $5,000.

Hovik hopes to pursue a degree in marine transportation at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Calif.

Hovik grew up on Pennock Island across from Ketchikan and has spent his entire life on the water. He intends to use his degree to become a sea pilot in Southeast Alaska.

The AlaskaTIA Rural Scholarship went to Jonathon Garrison of Wrangell. Garrison plans to use the $2,500 to attend the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., and obtain a degree in aeronautical science. Garrison has gained a broad knowledge of Alaska tourism from his family's charter-tour based company.

Garrison plans to follow a similar path using his passion for flight to begin a sightseeing company.

Mitchell Potter of Ketchikan was one of two recipients awarded The Kris Geldaker Memorial Scholarship worth $2,500.

Potter currently attends the California Maritime Academy where he pursues his longstanding dream to become a harbor pilot with the Alaska Marine Highway.

The second recipient, Asia Fisher of Wrangell was awarded $1,500 for the Princess Cruises & Tours Scholarship. She is currently pursuing a degree in recreation with an emphasis in tourism from Western Washington University.

Her experience working in Alaska tourism has driven her toward a desire to address challenges of the industry in her future career.

The Holland America Line Scholarship was awarded to Tram Anh Nguyen of Ketchikan. Nguyen will use her $1,000 to attend the University of Alaska, Anchorage to study accounting and hotel management.

She hopes to eventually become a hotel manager, and provide an atmosphere that will keep guests returning to Alaska.

Ty Nausid of Ketchikan was awarded the Alaska Travel Adventures Scholarship of $1,000. Nausid plans to attend the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Calif., where he will pursue a business degree.

Nausid's goal to become a maritime officer has stemmed from his many treasured experiences in Alaskan waters.

The Chuck West Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Gabrielle Vance of Juneau. Vance will use her $1,000 Scholarship to attend Whitman College and pursue a physics/environmental studies degree.

Throughout college, Vance intends to obtain backcountry skiing experience and one day own and operate her own heliskiing business in southeast Alaska.

AlaskaTIA is a statewide non-profit trade association and the ATIA Foundation selected the 14 scholarship winners from a pool of qualified applicants from across Alaska.

The selection criteria included academic achievement, tourism-orientated career goals, letters of reference and an essay each applicant wrote about their future plans.

The Alaska Travel Industry Association is the non-profit, member-based, visitor industry trade association that conducts marketing on behalf of the State of Alaska and that represents the industry in the policy arena.

AlaskaTIA's membership is comprised of more than 1,100 businesses - from small bed and breakfasts to cruise lines.

For more information about the association, please contact Dave Worrell at (907) 929-2842 or visit