Alex Johnson

by Vicki Heisser  |   

PWSC: Hello, Alex. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. Would you
tell me a bit about yourself and what brought you to Prince William Sound College?  

Alex: I grew up in Eagle River, Alaska. After high school, I attended the University of Alaska Anchorage
(UAA) where I received an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) in Culinary Arts. I spent the following
four years living and cooking in Homer, Alaska. I enjoy cooking and am glad to have that skill and
background, but found myself wanting something more rewarding and impactful which lead to my
current pursuit of an AAS in Outdoor Leadership. I looked at several schools in Alaska, and I decided I
would like it here in Valdez. Valdez has great accessibility to Alaska’s amazing wilderness and I like the
fact that PWSC is a small school.

PWSC: We are about a month into the spring semester. How is your semester going so far?

Alex: This semester is going well. I am much busier than last semester. It has been hard to find a balance
for work, school, and a personal life, so far, as I am taking 15 credits (full-time) this semester and
working 30 or more hours a week.

PWSC: What classes are you taking this semester?

Alex: I am taking Leadership in Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Recreation Program Planning
and Evaluation, Wilderness First Responder, Winter Camping Alaska, Avalanche Theory II, Beginning
Yoga, and Weight Lifting.

PWSC: As a PWSC student, what does a week in your life look like?

Alex: It is a lot of going back and forth between classes, work, and keeping up with my school
assignments. It is typical for me to go to class, then work, then back to class, and then back to work all in
a day. Juggling this schedule can be tough, but I was so lucky to find my two jobs that allow me to be
able to go to school full time and pay my bills.

PWSC: Tell me about your jobs.

Alex: I have two jobs; I work for the Valdez Avalanche Center and do weather observations three times
per week. I go out to Blueberry Weather Station and record the precipitation, temperature, etc. Local
avalanche forecasters use this data collected to provide the public with information that can be used for
planning backcountry trips. I also work for the City of Valdez (COV) Parks and Recreation Department. I do many different things for
them. I am a supervisor at the rock wall. I facilitate various gym activities like basketball and pickle ball. I
work at the Salmonberry Ski Hill doing the lift operations. I oversee set up, take down, and provide
safety and guidance while at my job. Some of the interesting things that COV Parks and Rec puts on for the community that I get to be involved with that are upcoming include snowshoeing and hiking events, dog mushing events, and a bonfire
sledding event. These jobs provide the flexibility I need for my classes and they also give me hands-on experience; the
ability to put into practice what I am studying in school. 

PWSC: Sometimes being a college student can be financially challenging. Do you have any advice or
know of any resources available for students looking for assistance paying for college and other

Alex: Apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible. I received the UA completion grant, which
was great. I have found some great outdoor gear deals at the local thrift store, garage/estate sales, and on
Facebook. Look at buying used instead of new. If you look hard enough, you can find some great deals for cheap
and sometimes, even free. Take advantage of the student-housing discount. The more credits you take the cheaper it is. I am taking
the 1-credit weight lifting class so I can take advantage of the housing discount. You have to be willing to be flexible. Network and see what is going on in the community, look for those jobs, be patient, and be tenacious.  I worked hard and I feel fortunate to have found these jobs. They work with my school schedule and they make me happy. 


PWSC: How have you been able to address and meet your own financial needs as a college student?

Alex: Scholarships, grants, working 30 hours a week have helped and being able to balance it all. In
addition, I have a fantastic support system - my family and friends, school staff and faculty, and my work
associates. From my work endeavors, I have been offered a summer position with COV Parks and Rec. that directly
relates to my field of study and will allow me to take what I am studying and apply it to real-world