Hip Hop and Higher Education are two terms that normally do not go together. But that’s exactly what Stephen Grantier has done. Since 2007, he has used the strengths of these two worlds to place Chugach shareholders and descendants on the path to success.
If you have ever applied for a Chugach Heritage Foundation (CHF) scholarship, there is a good chance you already know who Stephen is. In his role as the CHF Program Manager, Stephen works with scholarship applicants and connects them with CHF’s college and vocational funding.
He started as an intern with CHF and quickly rose to his current position, and for more than 11 years, he has processed nearly all of the applications that have passed through CHF. While he finds this accomplishment rewarding, Stephen’s favorite part of the job is the interaction with students.
“It’s amazing to see the growth of the recipients,” Stephen said. “From when they first come in, to four to six years later when they end up with a degree. Just being able to stay in touch with them throughout the process and see their progress makes it all worthwhile.”
Grantier says that Chugach’s Core Behaviors are the driving force behind his work, especially leaving things better than you found them. “When I had the opportunity to step into this role, I knew the scholarship program was something I could definitely contribute to, knowing that our programs lift people up and help them reach their full potential and better themselves.”
This is where hip hop also comes into play. Stephen started dancing around the turn of the century, and since 2000, it has grown to be an important part of his life. “It started out as a hobby, but now it’s become part of who I am.”
Similar to his rise from intern to manager, Stephen rose from novice to teacher as a member of Anchorage’s Underground Dance Company. With his increased ability, he’s been able to compete all over the world—from Hawaii, Florida, and Georgia, to Las Vegas and London.
Through his travels, Stephen has found that dancing helps him connect with communities. “Wherever I land, whether for work or dance, the first thing I do is find a studio and get to know the people.”
More importantly, for Stephen, hip hop gives him the freedom to express himself. “The music simply takes over, and you truly get to figure out who you are.”
All of this comes full circle. Stephen takes the expression that he’s found for himself and the ability to connect with diverse communities, and he puts it all to work for the students he serves. “That’s what we’re all trying to do—just find ourselves and connect. Whether it’s dance or English or computer science or a vocational profession, I want to help our applicants figure out who they are and make it easier for them to find their way.”
Be sure to connect with Stephen and the Chugach Heritage Foundation, and check out the new CHF Scholarship Portal for all of your scholarship needs. It takes less than five minutes to sign up, and you can access it anywhere, even on your smartphone. CHF funding is available to Chugach shareholders and direct lineal descendants. Through CHF’s new, easy-to-use online platform, you can apply for scholarships, and check on the status of your application and funding.
If you need any help or have any questions, be sure to give Stephen a call. He will be more than happy to show you some moves, and pop and lock your future.