PUBLISHED: 6:01 PM on Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Fritz family members find their niche in college

Courtesy photos
  The Fritz family, from left: Bill, Andrew, Trevor, Catherine and Evan.
When Juneau resident Catherine Fritz sat down to budget her finances and pay this semester's tuition at the University of Alaska Southeast, she realized that every member in her family was currently enrolled.

Her youngest son, Evan, 16 and a junior at Juneau Douglas High School, recently completed a rock climbing class at UAS and looks forward to continuing the Outdoor Studies program.

Evan hopes to fulfill his few remaining high school requirements through UAS classes.

According to his mother, Evan's interests are in wilderness and outdoor studies, health science, fisheries and oceanography.

"The ODS certificate pulls together many interest areas that Evan has. It is wonderful that next year, as a high school senior, he'll have some real hands-on, experiential and personalized education in an interest area, because he's ready," Catherine said. "The public school system cannot provide that to most kids. I'm really glad we've made this discovery that UAS can offer Evan what he needs, so we're going for it."

  Evan Fritz conquers a climbing wall at UAS.
Catherine's and husband Bill's middle son, Trevor, was scheduled to graduate from high school last year, but for personal reasons, was not able. His mother felt that, despite his circumstances, Trevor was intellectually and socially ready for college life and college challenges.

After taking a freshman English class at UAS last spring semester, Trevor wrote an article for his high school student newspaper, the J-Bird, about the differences between UAS and JDHS from the perspective of student life. His mother expressed that this article held a great deal of meaning for Trevor. Writing it helped him realize he was ready to do something else.

After looking into a variety of options, Catherine and Trevor arranged a meeting with the UAS director of admissions. Together, they registered Trevor in the dual enrollment plan in which he takes classes at UAS that count toward both his high school diploma and college credits. He will graduate from JDHS with the class of 2006 and get a regular diploma, but he is entirely living the college life.

"UAS has been a great alternative for me. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the curriculum rather than going through the same old motions at JDHS," Trevor said. "It's been a great way for me to pursue my college interests and make up my high school requirements. I have a deep interest in medicine and plan to continue to pursue my interests here."

  Bill and Catherine Fritz take the floor in ballroom dancing class.
From the perspective of a parent, Catherine said she feels like it has been a very hard struggle to find the right educational fit for Trevor. Both she and her husband are very grateful that this option is available.

"Trevor has had many challenges and tough issues, but he's overcome them with the help of the UAS environment," Catherine said.

Andrew, 24, is the oldest son in the Fritz family. He originally left the state to attend college in 1999. Catherine admits that she and her husband pushed Andrew to enroll in a school outside of Juneau and Alaska.

"We were under the misconception that he needed an outside experience in order to be exposed to a spectrum of options," Catherine said. "We have since learned that is not true."

After three semesters south, Andrew came home to Juneau, finding opportunities to help him decide what he wanted to do.

While earning an associate's degree in construction technology, Andrew took a macroeconomics class with instructor Ashley Ahrens. He continued taking higher level economics classes with Ahrens and went on to become his teaching assistant.

Andrew's high grades at have earned him scholarship help, which Catherine said helped him to afford to fully support himself.

"Andrew has really blossomed," she said. "UAS has been good to him."

Now that their sons are older and she and her husband have a little more time in their lives, they are taking advantage of many opportunities.

This semester they have enrolled in a beginning ballroom dance class.

"I think UAS is an incredibly important part of Juneau in terms of its role as a capital city and a regional center. It's important to have an intellectual hub and that's what the UAS really offers here. It's part of what makes us cultured," Catherine said.