On September 20, 2012, Congressman Don Young stood before congress and read a statement that honored a man who holds a special place in the history of Chugach Alaska Corporation (Chugach). “I rise today to pay tribute to a great American and a great Alaskan. Barney Uhart, a devoted father and President Emeritus of Chugach, passed away on Saturday, September 8th after a lengthy battle with cancer.”

As Young spoke, he touched on Uhart’s accomplishments, and how, during his career with Chugach, the corporation’s annual review rose from $19 million to more than $1 billion. Young also touched on what this rise meant for the corporation and its shareholders. “Chugach has become a shining example of an Alaskan Native Corporation that has succeeded and thrived, and one that has provided tremendous benefits to its Native Shareholders and employees. Barney deserves his full share of credit for this success.”

Young concluded his tribute with Barney’s own words: “How has Chugach gotten to where it is today? The reason is simple—the people. All the people associated with Chugach are responsible for its success.” Barney’s words and how he believed everyone contributed to Chugach’s success, especially its shareholders, are at the heart of why the Barney Uhart Memorial Scholarship was established – to better position Chugach shareholders and descendants on career paths.

This competitive scholarship is available to Chugach shareholders and descendants who are a college senior at the undergraduate level or enrolled in a graduate program. Students who are approved for this award participate in a paid summer internship and receive $10,000 in scholarship funding. The scholarship supports one individual per year, but due to COVID-19 concerns, a scholarship recipient was unable to be selected in 2020. To make up for that shortfall, two members of Chugach’s shareholder community were recipients of this prestigious opportunity in 2021.

Barney Uhart Scholarship Recipient and Chugach Descendant Randy White is studying toward an MBA at College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and his summer internship will be spent in Anchorage. “I have the distinct honor of working with Melanie Osborne and her fantastic team on a couple of different projects,” Randy says. “We are looking at revamping the onboarding process. More specifically, we’ll be analyzing the process from recruitment to onboarding and the retention process in the post-COVID world. Additionally, we are working on a project that will compile data to ensure that Chugach has the best privacy practices in place.”

Melanie Osborne serves as Chugach’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, and she oversees Chugach’s Legal, Risk Management, Human Resources and Facilities departments, with Randy’s summer work specially supporting Chugach’s Human Resources.

Randy is thrilled to hit the ground running with some meaningful work, and he’s very grateful to have the opportunity that Barney Uhart Scholarship affords. “Receiving the scholarship has been a tremendous honor,” Randy says. “I still can’t believe that I am a recipient. Having talked with Sheri Buretta and Dan Fenza about the kind of guy that Barney was truly brought a new perspective and appreciation of receiving this award.”

For Randy, the honor of receiving the scholarship is just one side of being a Uhart scholarship recipient. “It has also provided a huge sense of relief with the financial burden lifted, allowing me to focus on my studies,” Randy says. “I could not be more grateful both personally and professionally.”

Randy wants to make sure that all those who are eligible within the Chugach community take advantage of the opportunities that the corporation provides. “I strongly encourage all shareholder and descendant students to take a moment and apply for Chugach’s apprenticeships, scholarships, and internships. At first, I hesitated, but I am so glad that I applied. You never know what can happen until you try. It can literally change your life, as it has mine.”

Chugach Descendant Jordan Betschart was also selected as a 2021 Barney Uhart Scholarship recipient. Like Randy White, Jordan is hitting the ground running and lending support to some major projects for Chugach. “I am a Project Analyst for Angie Astle’s team,” Jordan says. Angie Astle serves as one of Chugach’s Executive Vice Presidents and as Chief Financial Officer. “I will be analyzing multiple aspects of different projects in this role. Currently we are updating the Summary Investment Analysis for the Prince William Sound Granite Quarry project.”

Jordan went on to describe the other projects he will support during his internship. “We will be looking at the economies of where Chugach does business like Chicago and Hawaii to track trends on what is occurring in those regions. In addition, we will be reviewing forward-looking indications of what is happening in those markets which will be provided to the business leaders as Chugach plans for 2022 and beyond. I am also exploring other avenues with Chris Hamilton regarding the back-end of databases using SQL and eventually coding with Python.” Chris Hamilton serves as Chugach’s Digital Strategies Executive.

Working with Chugach’s finance and I.T. teams align perfectly with Jordan’s academic pursues as his two fields of study are Economics and Computer Information Technology, and being able to apply his college studies in a real world environment has surpassed his expectations for his internship. “My Uhart Scholarship experience so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’ve gotten exposure to board meetings, to databases and coding, and to how Chugach’s executives and professionals interact.”

While a large portion of Jordan’s summer will be spent in the Anchorage headquarters, he will be paying visits throughout the Chugach region. “Eventually I will be traveling to Palmer, Valdez and Seward to get more experience and exposure to how Alaska Native Corporations conduct themselves and what they are involved in.”

Along with Randy White, Jordan would encourage other eligible shareholders and descendants to apply for the Uhart Scholarship. “I would say that this scholarship is a magnificent opportunity to gain experience in how a business operates,” Jordan says. “It exposes you to so many different aspects of the business world. It has been refreshing to see people working as a team and meeting deadlines regarding their respective projects. I would encourage any shareholder or descendant who has the opportunity to apply for this scholarship as it will give you loads of experience for your future career endeavors.”

Jordan concluded his comments on the most satisfying aspect of his internship. “The Uhart scholarship has helped me gain direction in what I want to do career-wise, boosted my growth as a person inside and outside the workplace, and has allowed me to achieve worthwhile involvement in Chugach and how they strategically increase shareholder value.”

Angie Astle shared her excitement at having a Uhart recipient support her team. “It is a real honor to work with Jordan and to be part of his experience at Chugach. He is eager, intelligent, engaged and his project this summer will provide him the opportunity to learn more about Chugach’s business while providing valuable information during his research.”

“I want thank the finance team, and all of our corporate staff, for taking the time to share their knowledge with Jordan to make him feel welcome,” Angie says. “Each minute spent with our Uhart recipients is connecting Chugach’s next generation of shareholders and descendants with their company and culture and helping to shape the future leaders of the Chugach community.”

To learn more about the Barney Uhart Memorial Scholarship and all of the educational funding available to Chugach shareholders and descendants, go to www.chugachheritagefoundation.org.

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Director Randi Jo Gause

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