ANCHORAGE -

For some future scientists and engineers in Anchorage this month, this summer doesn't appear much different than the regular school year.

In the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program's Summer Bridge courses, offered by the University of Alaska, 26 students are working on university-level advanced math classes before heading out to complete internships in different parts of the state.

ANSEP's chief operating officer, Michael Bourdukofsky, says it's a way to give students a head start on college.

"We're always looking to improve the academic performance and ultimately professional performance of students from rural Alaska," Bourdukofsky said.

Three of the 26 students are from Barrow: Nathaniel Olemaun, Amy Leavitt and Stephanie Nelson.

Olemaun says he hopes to one day become an engineer in Prudhoe Bay, so he is taking advantage of every opportunity he can to get prepared.

"We're taking college math course every morning from 8 to 10:30 and I have a high amount of homework, so over here we learn to manage our time to do our homework," Olemaun said.

For Nelson, the summer class is a chance to prepare for earning a degree in civil engineering.

"Just being exposed to the campus and I was going to do ANSEP come fall, so I thought joining ANSEP would give me that -- that nervousness would dwindle," Nelson said.

Leavitt says she's pursuing a bachelor's degree in natural sciences.

"I actually got into science during middle school and it was really interesting to me," Leavitt said. "I took as many science classes as I could during high school."

More than 70 percent of all ANSEP students graduate, once they begin earning a bachelor of science degree in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Olemaun and Leavitt will both soon work in the North Slope Borough, with Olemaun taking an internship next month while Leavitt will work with the borough's health department. Nelson will intern with the federal Bureau of Land Management, conducting surveys along the Yukon River.

For Olemaun, the opportunities ANSEP offers extend beyond him personally.

"It makes me happy because it motivates other Alaska Natives how college is important so we can be successful in life," Olemaun said.