Alyssa“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation”


An undergraduate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) scheduled to graduate with an associate degree in process technology in May 2020, Alyssa Sommer is the daughter of Fred Sommer, Jr. and Diane Evans-Sommer of Fairbanks. Alyssa’s maternal grandparents are Lily and Alfred “Dick” Evans of Galena. Her paternal grandparents are Dorothy and the late Fred Sommer, Sr. of Nulato.

Alyssa’s hometown is Fairbanks. She attends UAF with support from a Doyon Foundation competitive scholarship.

Among Alyssa’s lifelong ambitions has been to help run the Fort Wainwright power plant, where she has worked as a coal operator since August 2019. The plant is one of three units owned and operated since 2007 by Doyon Utilities LLC and supplying service to military sites in Alaska. Fairbanks-based Fort Wainwright is home to an electrical distribution system, a central heat and power plant, and a heat distribution system, among other services operated by Doyon Utilities.

Alyssa’s plans after graduation include advancing to boiler operations and controls at the power plant. Fort Wainwright is an Army installation that includes some 1,400 on-post housing units. Its civilian and military population totals about 11,000.

“I’m looking forward to learning and progressing,” says Alyssa, who enjoys tracing various boiler system components to gain greater insight into the unit overall. Daily tasks include unloading coal from rail cars; directing coal through the plant system; and inspecting equipment and hauling ash to the landfill. “From the first time I saw process technicians in action in 2011, I knew that was the job I wanted,” Alyssa says. She values the chance to work close to home and among welcoming coworkers.

“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation,” Alyssa says. “Doyon Foundation has helped me start the journey in my desired lifelong field.” In 2016 she earned a certificate in welding from UAF and an associate degree in diesel mechanics from the University of Alaska Southeast. In each semester she was awarded Doyon Foundation scholarships.

Attending school full-time while working a physically demanding full-time job has Alyssa managing a hectic schedule. “It’s quite important to me to get in family time whenever I can,” she says. Going for long drives, taking walks, swimming, cooking and going to the movies are among ways that she manages stress while enjoying family and friends.

“Time has its challenges,” she says. “I never quite feel prepared at times. But I push forward. I try not to beat myself up if I don’t get the grade I want or if I find I need to take a break for a day.”

Her advice to other students: Remember that stress can undermine focus that’s needed to do well in school. “Try not to stress,” Alyssa says. “Take a day to relax when needed.”

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