MEKORYUK, AK (May 18, 2017) – Even though Jayne Hanna attends a high school with just 11 students in this remote village of 200 people, she has been named one of only four National ACT Student Readiness Exemplars for the 2016-2017 ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign.
According to the organization, the award highlights the exceptional achievements of students, schools, and employers in the United States who champion college and career readiness in their communities. Hanna received a $4,000 scholarship. She is the daughter of Sandra and Nathan Hanna, who serves as pastor of Mekoryuk Covenant Church.
Hanna was selected by a national committee of education and workforce based on her strong academic success in addition to her heavy involvement in extracurricular programs and student leadership.
She has volunteered at activities at the church, the village, and sometimes far from the village, including delivering needed goods by bush plane. In addition to participating in sports, speech, and poetry competitions, she also has participated on a robotics team—where she used teleconferencing resources to update code and collaborate with her teammate, who lives 150 miles away in Bethel. They met while Hanna spent a semester taking advanced classes in Bethel. If that weren’t enough, she also participated in special academies that included taking classes in journalism for which she wrote a story about the Nunivak Island Jubilee sponsored by Mekoryuk Covenant Church.
“It was a huge, unexpected honor,” said Hanna, who applied for the scholarship but figured the odds of winning it were long. “It’s been very humbling.”
Hanna said she hopes the honor will inspire others in the village on Nunivak Island as well as students in rural areas everywhere. “It shows people that they can succeed.”
“Striving for academic success with a diligent work ethic is only one variable contributing to college and career readiness,” said Hanna, who had been earning college credit through dual enrollment since she was a sophomore.
“It’s vital to take advantage of every available opportunity—especially the ones that stretch your comfort zone,” she said in a story published by the Lower Kuskokwim School District. “Additionally, weaving together cultural heritage and personal values with modern-day education establishes confidence that prepares you well for success after high school.”
Walt Betz, principal of Nuniwarmiut School, said, “She embodies the school mission statement which challenges students to become the very best academically while retaining Cup’ik culture and language.”
The village is thrilled for Hanna. “I’m overcome by the community support,” she said. “My parents have always taught me to serve humbly and that’s what I try to do.”
Hanna plans to attend Biola University in California, where she will major in math with a concentration in secondary education. She hopes to bring those skills back to Mekoryuk and teach high school—and prepare others for college.