Author: Megan Marquis

October 11, 2013 Megan Marquis

The slogan, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of Tootsie Pop?” takes a much more morbid turn when asked in reference to caffeine — how many energy drinks does it take to die?

A website called Energy Fiend gives consumers this information on a platter. All one has to do is type in his or her weight, and find which energy drink he or she would like to test.

After several deaths reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, caffeine in energy drinks may have put some teenagers to go into cardiac arrest.

The Monster Energy company was sued after 14-year-old Anais Fournier’s heart stopped beating in 2011 after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy. According to NBC4 Washington, she received quick medical attention and was put into an induced coma to keep her brain alive. She died six days later on Christmas Eve.

The FDA publicized a list of reports for two more energy drinks November 2012. Monster Energy was linked to 40 illnesses and five deaths, while 13 illnesses and two lasting disabilities were linked to Rockstar Energy.

Following those reports, the FDA posted new information linking 92 illnesses and 13 deaths to 5-Hour Energy shots.

With this knowledge at hand, members of the medical field, such as doctors and medical researchers, are protesting energy drinks in the United States because of the high amount of caffeine aimed at a young audience.

On March 19 a group of doctors, scholars and public health officials sent a joint letter to the FDA commissioner, urging the FDA to make changes to the regulation of energy drinks. In its letter, the group explained there is a “robust correlation between the caffeine levels in energy drinks and adverse health and safety consequences,” especially toward youth.

Compared to drip coffee, which has 145 grams of caffeine, Hyper Shot has 500 milligrams of caffeine. That equates to nearly three and a half 8-ounce servings of drip coffee. The consequences of an energy drink overdose can lead to niacin rush and possibly even cardiac arrest, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Criminal Justice major Maryann Liugata says she enjoys energy drinks on a daily basis.

She says, “Depending on how tired I am, I just drink them down like water, and they work faster than coffee. Sometimes I push myself so far, where you stay up forever and you have to go to class at eight.”

She says she has felt sick from energy drinks.

“It makes you want to throw up, you feel nauseated, and it’s the worst feeling,” she said.

Psychology major Tessa Indies says, “Caffeine, in large, quantities is not necessarily good for you.” She also said, “I don’t see how possible FDA regulations on the amount of this ingredient can be a bad thing.”

There are currently no ingredient regulations set in place for energy drinks. Since they are made with herbs among other chemicals, these types of drinks are often considered to be conventional foods or dietary supplements. By these categories, they also follow the same guidelines of chewing gum and vitamins.

October 9, 2013 Megan Marquis

As fond memories of Chinese culture embrace the Alaskan community, curious people from all from over celebrate the traditions and legends of the Chinese Moon Festival.

Throughout September, the UAA Confucius collaborated with the Alaskan Chinese Association in order to celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival throughout the state of Alaska. Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, these celebrations often coincide with the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. As one of the most important festivals in the Asian culture, it was eventually introduced to Anchorage when the Chinese population began to grow in the area.

Robyn Lin, an instructor at Begich Middle School remembers the moon festival fondly as she recalls late evening picnics with her grandmother and strolling along the fields with candle-lit Chinese lanterns. Sometimes, she would play games with her siblings, to see how many times they could twirl the lanterns without catching fire. Yet after one spin, the flames usually started to flicker through the paper. In which case, they had to stomp it out with their feet.

Another, tradition is the sharing the mooncake, which represents unity and family. Mooncake is a dessert is often made as a pastry, and the center is traditionally made with the yolk from a duck egg.

This pastry is what Music Education major David Chen remembers most about celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival.

However, not everyone remembers the food fondly.

“I think the reason why some people don’t like it is because of the egg yolk,” Chen said. “I don’t think I know any of the desserts here that put the egg yolk in it.”

UAA Confucius Institute Director Annie Ping Zeng said bakers often hide a coin in one of the pieces of more elaborate mooncakes.

“Whoever gets the piece with the coin will be the lucky one,” Zeng said.

The mooncake is often shared between family members and relatives. The size of the mooncake usually depends on the size of the family.

According to Chinese folklore, the legend of the Chinese Moon Festival changes with the ages. Like most stories, there are many variations that can be told.

It is one of the most recognized legends of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Feng Chen, a volunteer teacher at the Confucius Institute, told the story at Barlett High School’s Chinese Moon Festival celebration.

The legend begins in an ancient dynasty, a time where 10 suns sat comfortably in the sky, scorching the earth and boiling the seas. As each heat wave came after another, the emperor called upon a heroic archer named Hou Yi to shoot them out of the sky.

Hou Yi climbed to the top of a mountain and shot down nine of the 10 suns with his arrows, saving the people on Earth. As a reward, he was given an elixir that would grant him immortality.

He arrived home and gave the elixir to his wife, Chang’e, to put away for safekeeping. Yet, for some mysterious reason, she decided to try some of this magical potion for herself. As she tilted the bottle to her mouth, the tonic came down too fast for her to stop the flow, and she ended up taking too much.

The consequences of this overdose started to take effect, and soon her body began to rise in midair. She continued to rise and called out for her husband to help her down. However, when Hou Yi finally saw her, she was too high for anyone to bring her down. He thought he could help by using his archery skills, but he couldn’t stomach the thought of shooting an arrow at the woman he loved.

Chang’e started to float into the atmosphere and soon came to the moon, where she’s been ever since. Legend has it that this “Lady in the Moon” is still there today, trying to find a way back home.

September 24, 2013 Megan Marquis

UAA’s Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence hosted a workshop Sept. 11 that aimed to encourage student creativity inside the classroom. There, faculty members had the chance to embrace their inner creativities while playing games related to this concept.

Guest lecturer Suzanne Burgoyne said a movement is afoot that encourages teachers to educate in a more innovative light.

Education professor Kyung Hee Kim measured creativity from a test called the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. These exams were given to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade over the course of several decades.

According to Psychology Today magazine, the scores on these tests at all grade levels began to decline somewhere between 1984 and 1990, and they have continued to decline ever since. The drops in scores are statistically significant, and in some cases very large.

Kim says this data indicates “children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing and less likely to see things from a different angle.”

Peter Gray, research professor at Boston College, said, “Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today. In the real world few questions have one right answer. Few problems have one right solution. That’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world.”

This linear style of thinking leads teachers to only focus on the goal at hand, teaching to the test, rather than incorporating lessons their students can actually apply to their professional careers.

Creativity expert Sir Kenneth Robinson believes schools often squander the innate creativity of children.

“You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid — things you liked — on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that: ‘Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician. Don’t do art, you won’t be an artist,’” Robinson said. “Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken.”

It’s no secret that diversity is key to success. Yet, if educators teach only the ladder of mathematics, reading and writing — which emphasizes linear, convergent thinking — how diverse will every student truly become in terms of creativity?


September 19, 2013 Megan Marquis

More often than not, there’s friction between the Democrats and the Republicans. Yet, when the season ends, these two adversaries must make amends and bury the hatchet in order to accomplish a similar goal of maintaining political interest among UAA students.

TNL interviewed Jonathan Taylor and Joe Samaniego, representatives from UAA College Republicans and UAA College Democrats, respectively. See those interviews here.

September 10, 2013 Megan Marquis

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Pjae Naiima, better known as the elusive “Butt Sketcher,” comes to UAA every year to draw the derrieres of countless students.

The legacy began when Naiima’s boss, Krandel Lee Newton, was painting a picture of someone. In the middle of painting, he left to go get something. Someone came by and asked to purchase his unfinished work. Over the years his friends suggested he start up his business as a butt sketcher.

September 10, 2013 Megan Marquis

In previous centuries, the mentally ill have faced ridicule, torture and have been burned alive by religious figures who believed evil spirits possessed their minds. But over the years, these beliefs have changed because of scientific research and education about the brain. Despite this, discrimination has yet to fade entirely.

August 27, 2013 Megan Marquis

Unlike other creatures that sniff butts, fan feathers or call out for mates, mankind has redefined a new, innovative way to meet others. Called “speed friending,” this new social gathering encourages people to meet as many other individuals as possible within an allotted timeframe.

July 25, 2013 Megan Marquis

While often stereotyped by archaic bonnets, hand plows and simple living, the Mennonites have long separated from their Amish counterparts. As Mennonites progressed with the ages, they accepted change and let it transform their image.

July 24, 2013 Megan Marquis

On Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, there was a gatekeeper training for the University of Alaska- Integrated Suicide Prevention Initiative conducted by graduate students Jaime Spatrisano & Lace Louden.

Their preamble at the training states that “No universal standards will prevent suicide” and “the Purpose of this training is to prepare you to provide help to someone at risk” Using the example of a responder to the scene of a heart attack, gatekeeper friends can only help as much as they can before the professionals arrive to the scene. Unfortunately “there is no guarantee that suicide can be prevented” in every possible way.

July 24, 2013 Megan Marquis

Ladies, Gents, Circus performers in all forms, colors, and sizes,

-Huddle up and lend me your ears!

Today is the beginning of a new era.  A day where advice, street smarts and the thirst for knowledge are just around the corner. The Northern Light will now host an advice column for advice-seekers, mission inquirers, and University of Alaska students alike.  No matter the issue, sex, relationships, financial, school…etc., I am all ears.

As common sense knows, Advice takes a great heart of compassion and a patient soul. According to friends, family, and some strangers on the street, those are some of my two best qualities.

So give me your pickles and problems, your awkward moments, or questions you’re too afraid to ask.  I will hear them all and for those lucky few, I will write back to them, in the next issue. My email is [email protected].

Now, without further delay, I bid you adieu.


The Red Feather

July 10, 2013 Megan Marquis

What is faith? Is it hope? Is it simply believing without seeing? Or is there concrete evidence that faith exists, only in different forms?

Deacon Mick Fornelli of Saint Patrick’s Parish believes faith is evident in Alaska.

July 10, 2013 Megan Marquis

While students explore their sexuality with multiple partners and unsafe sex, a health journal from PubMed Central says college has become the perfect place for HIV to fester.

College students have always been at medical risk. Whether it’s sexually transmitted diseases or the lack of health insurance, college students can’t afford to care for their health.