Pete Traxler is the executive dean of Career Education at University of Alaska Southeast. (University of Alaska Southeast | Courtesy Photo)

Pete Traxler is the executive dean of Career Education at University of Alaska Southeast. (University of Alaska Southeast | Courtesy Photo)

UAS Career Education program teaches real skills

Ever thought that college wasn’t for you?

I have. I come from a quaint little farming town in the Midwest — you know the one that every country western star has ever sung about — with the dusty boots and neighbors that go out of their way to help you. The kind of place where your word means more than any piece of paper. The kind of place that is so small it doesn’t even show up on a map.

When I was growing up, the people in that place rarely told a young man that he should go to college. They were more likely the type of people that cared about how many touchdowns you scored on a Friday night, or the kind of tractor your daddy drove.

I learned morality and values from these folks. I also learned that to survive in this world you need skills. I’m talking about the kind of skills that are taught by someone who has “been there, done that.” Like fixing a broke-down truck, welding a cattle gate, building a grain shed or caring for an elderly family member.

Today I’m Dean of Career Education at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), and my job is to help young people develop these skills to make a better life for themselves and their families. This is where I found my passion and my purpose: through teaching and learning new skills, and helping others learn those skills. I’m lucky enough to get to do this at UAS.

Learning these skills over a long and successful life comes with a cost. A cost of time. A wise man said to me once, “time is our most valuable commodity in life. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.” I am happy to say that all of the instructors that teach skill courses at UAS — in mechanics, nursing, construction and welding — know that life is short and we can all stand to learn a little more each day.

Officially our school is called Career Education, but you would better recognize us as mariners, fishermen, welders, miners, mechanics, nurses, EMTs and nurse aides. All of these are taught right here in Juneau at the UAS Technical Education Center. Maybe it’s not what you might think of when you think about college, right? But we teach real skills leading to good paying jobs that are in high demand and are valuable both in the workplace and at home.

Right now there is no better time to enroll in one of our UAS Career Education programs. We’ve just cut the cost of tuition by 25 percent for all classes associated with a trade-based endorsement, making it even more affordable to gain skills in accounting, healthcare, construction, mine mechanics, welding and more.

If you ever thought college wasn’t for you, then you’ll fit right in with us. We are a group of people who have become experts in our fields from the School of Hard Knocks. We teach others based on our own experience and mistakes. So whether you are looking to make a career change, to build a house or fix some of your belongings, or care for a loved one who is sick, you can learn about it at UAS. You’ll learn from folks who value you as person more than your title or position — just like those folks in my home town.

We’d welcome a chance to give you a tour of the UAS Technical Education Center, located on Egan Drive right across from Juneau-Douglas High School. You can meet our faculty and talk with an advisor who can help in choosing classes or a career path. Give me a call at 796-6139 and we can set that up. Or, check out our website at This is the time!

• Pete Traxler is the executive dean of Career Education at University of Alaska Southeast. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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