Category: Features

June 12, 2017 Brenda Craig

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Down and Derby, a roller disco party company, is making an appearance in Anchorage on Saturday, June 17 to start off the summer solstice with a bang. This event will be located in the Alaska Aviation Heritage museum, in the Odom Hangar from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Down and Derby is the coolest roller skating party since roller-skating was cool,” Jake Miles, co-owner of Alaska’s First Party on Wheels event, said. “Our goal is to put wheels on a whole new generation of skaters across the country.”

Down and Derby started in 2006 and quickly grew popular in Las Vegas, where they held events twice a month at the Gold Spike Hotel and Casino. Miles and his partner decided to expand the party throughout the U.S. and now are making their first appearance in Anchorage on June 17.

“My partner, Richard and I were doing roller skating parties across the entire city of Las Vegas, skating in night clubs to downtown Las Vegas at the Beauty Bar and Gold Spike Casino,” Miles said. “We saw an opportunity to show people a good time in a unique way, so we capitalized on something that had never been done before, essentially skating where you never thought you’d be able to skate at.”

After spending years hosting Down and Derby events, Miles moved back to Alaska and wanted to bring the good times with.

“It’s been a great ride… all the way up, to Alaska! There’s been a good amount of retro-themed parties in Anchorage and Girdwood. I’ve always wanted to bring DD up to Alaska since the day I moved back up here, determined to give back to Alaska and make my mark, for all that she’s done for me,” Miles said.

It took time to convince venues to hold this event, but after many rejections, the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum agreed and will be having four Down and Derby events throughout the summer ending in August.

“I’ve been to the location in Las Vegas at the Gold Spike and I grew up roller-skating in Alaska. This is a dream come true for me personally to incorporate a live DJ-ing with roller-skating for adults,” Chris Covington, known as DJ Covy, said.

During the event, there will be a classic limbo contest, with prizes given away throughout the span of the night. Music will be provided by DJ Covy and Joe Bradly to spice up the night and keep the party going. There will be pizza provided by Great Alaska Pizza Company and Redbull will be having an official Alaskan summer edition launch with two new drink additions, Acai Berry and Grapefruit Twist.

“My favorite things about DD is that I get to see all my friends and family’s beautiful faces have a good time, while being active during the summer: all congregating for a drink, skating and a piece of pizza. I’m ecstatic that I get to call this event a grown-up roller-skating party and Alaska’s first party on wheels,” Miles said. “This goes out to all my fellow Alaskans — don’t miss out on the coolest grown-up roller skating party, you won’t be disappointed.”

When many think of rollerskating, they thing of their childhood days at birthday parties at the local Skateland. Down and Derby is giving adults a chance to relieve those party days and let loose.

“I am looking most forward to reliving the glory days of Skateland but with alcohol, I feel like even if you don’t want to skate this is going to be a unique event where many people can experiment with roller skates without judgement,” Paige Daugherty, Anchorage resident, said. “I sure hope this event is successful being a local bartender I’m so tired of the same crappy downtown bar scene. Same bars with the same bad drinks and the same DJs every weekend.”

Tickets can be purchased online before the event for $15 or for $20 at the door. This is a 21 and over event, taking place on June 17 at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Although this is Alaska’s first party on wheels, it will not be the last.

June 12, 2017 Chance Townsend
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Alumni Chris Bryant looking over old team photos of UAA's 2007-08 men's basketball season. Bryant, a Bob Zundel Memorial Award recipient, had a career high of 26 points as the third leading scorer of the team. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

When you look through the halls of UAA’s men’s basketball program from recent years, one team in particular stands out. That team is the 2007-08 men’s basketball team. Coached by current head coach Rusty Osborne and led by seniors Carl Arts, Chris Bryant, Luke Cooper and McCade Olsen, the Seawolves won a school record of 29 games, and advanced to the NCAA Division II semi-finals for the first time since 1988.

The ’07 Seawolves were defensive juggernauts, only allowing 60.1 points per game, and were the top ranked scoring defense in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Their solid defense helped make up for their low scoring offense, which averaged 73.1 points per game, ranking in the bottom-half of the GNAC, above Alaska-Fairbanks and MSU-Billings.

Senior and Seawolves legend Carl Arts led the team with an average of 18.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 0.5 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. In addition, GNAC All-American Luke Cooper led the team in assists with an average of 8.9 per game.

McCade Olsen: 2006-2008

McCade Olsen was the team’s second leading scorer and re-bounder at the end of the ’07 season. He was also the hero in the Seawolves Sweet 16 win against Seattle Pacific University.

“Hitting game-winning free-throws to beat SPU [Seattle Pacific University] in the second round of the western conference tournament…is a memorable moment,” Olsen said.

Teammate and fellow starter Luke Cooper was also very fond of this particular game.

“I still refer to this game as the McCade Olsen game,” Cooper said, “down one [point] on the last possession, [Olsen] got fouled with about two seconds left, calmly went to the free-throw line and knocked both in. We won by [one] point.”

Olsen still resides in Anchorage with his wife and two kids. He is now a supervisor at the McLaughlin Youth Center.

Luke Cooper: 2005-2008

Cooper finished his college career at UAA, ranking fourth on the all-time NCAA Division II assists list with 880 total, and was a two time GNAC first team selection.

Cooper still has fond memories of his time in Alaska.

‘We ended up meeting the team that started our streak, BYU Hawaii, in the elite eight and ended up winning by six or so [points] to send us to Springfield. Having my parents fly over from Australia to witness it was the most special part of it all,” Cooper said.

Now that he is gone, Cooper has fond memories of the state.

“I still regularly think about my college days,” Cooper said. “[I] am so thankful I chose such a beautiful place like Alaska to go to college. I met some of the most amazing people there who I still keep in touch with to this day.”

Cooper now plays professional basketball in his home country of Australia for the Sydney Kings. In his free time, he takes the opportunity to coach youth basketball.

“I’m really driven by trying to create a pathway for kids with college aspirations, to get the chance that I got, hopefully they get to experience it somewhere as beautiful as I did,” Cooper said.

Kevin White: 2007-2010

White was the team’s top backcourt reserve player in 2007, and led the freshman in three point field goal percentage (3FG%). Although White didn’t have a major impact on the team his freshman season, he was pivotal in the success of the Seawolves later in his career.

Before the team went on their 16-game hot streak there was tension early on in the season.

“It was the start of a very jam packed season and we were training. Karl Arts who is no doubt known around UAA as one of the greats, missed a box out, and gave up an offensive rebound and [the starters] lost to the bench squad,” White said. “Coop’s gave his team a spray that I’ll remember for my life, it ended with Karl and Coop arguing about it for a solid 30 seconds to the outcome of if we ever give up an offensive rebound and we lose Coops ‘I’ll punch you straight in the mouth and knock your head off.’ These two were our leaders, our captains!”

“We went on to win about 16 games straight from that moment and really established a mentality that was tougher than any team I’ve ever played on,” White said.

White now plays basketball in his home country of Australia for the Illawarra Hawks. White has been playing professionally for the NBL since he left UAA in 2010.

Chris Bryant: 2007-2008

Bryant was the team’s third leading scorer in 2007 and was the Bob Zundel Memorial Trophy winner for exemplary qualities towards teammates, coaches, media, fans and referees.

Bryant scored a career high 26 points against BYU-Hawaii on their home court, which he describes as a standout moment to him and a testament to all the hard work his team put in.

“Playing and winning an exciting overtime against BYU-Hawaii was amazing,” Bryant said. “It was a career high for me, and really validated that I can really contribute to our team.”

Bryant is now a health coach/fitness entrepreneur for Southcentral Foundation, an innovative health services company in Anchorage.

Many of the players from the ’07 season team still try to keep in touch with each other, but not as much as some of them would like.

Cooper frequently stays in contact with his former teammates and even helps out the coaches with their recruiting efforts.

“I’m still best mates with Kevin White, and also his brother Steven who went to UAA after I left,” Cooper said. “We all live in Sydney right now, I still keep in contact with Chris Bryant, Cam Burney, and talk regularly with Coach Rinner and Weakley and help them when they’re recruiting kids from Australia. [I] also talk regularly with Jane Brown who still works in the athletic department, she was my favorite.”

Bryant and Olsen have busy lives, but still try to keep in touch with their former teammates as much as they can. Both men still live in Anchorage and try their best to make it to basketball games.

June 12, 2017 Ammon Swenson
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Elissa Brown, owner of Wild Scoops, holds pints of ice cream as she stands in her new storefront in downtown Anchorage on June 9, 2017. Brown has been experimenting with different local ingredients to produce some of the company's more interesting flavors like Alaska Honeycomb and Snowy Birch. Photo credit: Young Kim

No one was screaming for ice cream downtown on the overcast evening of May 26, but people were eagerly lined up down the block from Wild Scoops’ new ice cream shop. It was the grand opening and despite the less-than-ideal weather, the waiting customers seemed ready to indulge their collective sweet tooth.

The company, which has a penchant for locally sourced ingredients and unique flavors, had a sign out front listing the day’s flavors. Names like: Blueberry Balsamic, Yukon Gold, Turnagain Mudflats, Redoubts Revenge, Alaska Honeycomb and Snowy Birch.

Owner of Wild Scoops, Ellissa Brown walked up and down the line offering samples. For her, opening a shop had been just a “vague, lofty dream.” She’s been experimenting with ice cream flavors for years, but her background isn’t in the culinary arts.

Originally from California, Brown went to went to school on the East Coast for education and environmental studies. She’s traveled all over for experiential teaching opportunities and eventually moved to Alaska with her fiance. She loved the state’s enthusiasm for local products and there seemed to be a void ready to be filled with homegrown ice cream.

“It’s just fun to make a product that brings a smile to people’s faces and also helps instill this sense of state pride and excitement over what we have here,” Brown said.

The company was founded in 2015 and after navigating the “labyrinth” of legal requirements to get the business up and running, Wild Scoops started off small. They rented kitchen space from Mad Myrna’s and sold their ice cream at farmers markets and pop-up events. Eventually they outgrew their setup and opened a test kitchen at the end of last year where they make all their products that aren’t sourced from other local businesses.

“Sourcing things locally was one of our priorities from the start,” Brown said. “And I think we started the business knowing that it was important for us to find as many local ingredients as possible and it’s been nice because it’s guided our growth.”

Brown figures Wild Scoops has partnered with over 50 different small companies to make their ever-evolving flavor offerings. They’ve used local ingredients ranging from birch syrup and rhubarb to cookies and beer.

“It’s really exciting to produce a product that really cultivates a sense of place through its ingredients,” Brown said.

In addition to cultivating a sense of place through flavor, Brown wants to cultivate a sense of community through Wild Scoops — whether that’s interacting with customers at farmers markets or having people stop by the shop. At the test kitchen they have tastings every Thursday so people can stop by and see what new flavors are being developed.

Word of mouth and several thousand social media followers seem to have gone a long way in helping to build and maintain their customer base.

Anessa Feero, a recent high school graduate and friend of some Wild Scoops employees, walked out of the shop on a recent Friday afternoon carrying a Baked Alaska cone. She never made it to any of the farmers markets or pop ups Wild Scoops was a part of before the shop opened, but after seeing a video on Instagram of them making ice cream, she knew she had to come to check it out.

“They have a very, shall I say, fiery social media platform,” Feero said.

Feero appreciates the locally sourced ingredients, and after being introduced to them in ice cream form, said she’d be more likely to check out the products of Wild Scoops’ partners.

“The fact that they went out of their way to find locally made products to use in their own locally made products – it’s nice,” Feero said.

Leah Knight just started her third week working for Wild Scoops. It’s her first job working at an ice cream shop, but she likes it so far. Her first day was the grand opening and said employees were scooping for five straight hours. Despite the potential drudgery of serving ice cream to the endless masses, Knight said she wants to give every customer a good experience.

“We try to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. I mean, we want to make people happy. We’re giving them ice cream,” Knight said.

Wild Scoops’ new shop is located at 429 E Street and is open from Noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

June 12, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

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Jacob Shercliffe, a senior and double major in political science and economics, was accepted as a Truman Scholar earlier this year. Shercliffe is one of 62 recipients of the 2017 Truman Scholarship, which was created in 1975 in honor of President Harry S. Truman. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

Cheyenne Mathews is a member of the UAA Seawolf Debate team.

Jacob Shercliffe’s first job was in high school bagging groceries at Carrs; the summer after that he was a pizza boy at Papa Johns. Now Shercliffe, a double major in economics and political science, is heading into his final year of college as a newly minted, nationally recognized Truman Scholar. On his journey from pizza boy to Truman Scholar was debate.

“The one thing I’ve formed my foundation around as a person is knowing how to talk,” Shercliffe said.

Ask any of his mentors and they will you tell you Shercliffe has a talent for articulating his ideas. Steve Johnson, director of the Seawolf Debate program, recruited Shercliffe straight out of high school for UAA’s team, which Shercliffe has been a member of for the past three years.

“I thought that Jacob had a presence well beyond his years,” Johnson said. “He understood how to grab an audience and direct them where he wanted them to go. I was impressed to see this in a high school senior and knew that he had potential to develop this talent even further. He’s proved me right.”

Another one of his mentors, political science professor James Muller, worked closely with Shercliffe in his Truman Scholar application. In the process of applying for the award, Muller said he familiarized himself with Shercliffe’s character, and he describes Shercliffe as humorous, well-read and talented at public speaking.

“He’s very self critical and modest,” Muller said. “He doesn’t have a kind of false modesty of somebody who is just pretending that he has a lower opinion of himself than he really does, nor does he have a very low opinion of himself that keeps him from trying hard or trying to improve himself. He seems to compare himself to a very high standard of what a human being could be and therefore naturally, at his age or at any age, he falls short of that. He knows that he he has a ways to go.”

While Shercliffe might compare himself to a high standard, he himself has set the bar high for many UAA students. Shercliffe is very involved on campus; he is currently serving on a Title IX committee, he has worked as an assistant for the Green Fee Board, and he was the Public Relations Director at USUAA. Outside all of these jobs, Shercliffe lists the two activities he is most passionate about as competitive debate and Model United Nations. By all accounts Shercliffe is excelling in both activities; he was an octofinalist at the U.S. Universities Debating Championship in Denver this year and he is currently serving as the Alaska Model United Nations Secretary-General. Shercliffe said his desire to be involved on campus boiled down to three big motivators.

“I think somebody needs to do it, and if I can do a good job and I have the time to do it, part of my responsibility as a person is to give back,” Shercliffe said. “The second reason is they open up a lot of opportunities.”

Some of these opportunities include traveling around the world with the debate team and getting to coach middle school students, high school students, and even local candidates on public speaking.

“The last reason is sometimes you just get roped into them, and I never really figured out how to say no until I was a sophomore,” Shercliffe said.

While he thinks he’s better at saying no, Shercliffe is still always willing to help fellow students. In his interview he added that anyone interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship should not be afraid to reach out to him and seek his advice on the application. Muller said this attitude is typical from Shercliffe.

“He’s very smart, he’s already accomplished, he’s shown his ability to be a leader in a variety of ways, both on the debate team and in the initiative and enterprise he’s used in the public service activities that he’s already undertaken,” Muller said. “In his case, though he has a variety of things he’s been busy in…his public service is especially passing on the excitement and the skills he’s developed in debating to younger students through helping with students in high school and even junior high or middle school. And that’s been a pretty serious and longstanding activity on his part.”

Shercliffe has been on the Chancellor’s List or Dean’s List since he enrolled at UAA, but it’s not just his high grade point average that makes him stand out among his peers. Johnson said Shercliffe’s enthusiasm and willingness to work hard make him a role model to other members of the Debate team.

“I’m most proud of Jacob’s willingness to go above and beyond for the benefit of the Seawolf Debate Program and debating in general,” Johnson said. “Whether volunteering his time to coach at an area middle school or arranging additional, optional practice debates, Jacob is a natural leader who backs up his professed passion for debating with the hard work that provides others access to its benefits.”

Shercliffe plans to attend graduate school, that is the purpose of the Truman Scholarship, but he will take some time away from school before he pursues his masters of public affairs, which he hopes to receive from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

“It’s really important, at least for me, to spend some time getting real world experience, and learning about myself, and learning about the world and trying to give back,” Shercliffe said. “One of the things about being 20 is that my whole life has been made up of being a student, and I’m pretty good at being a student now, but I don’t know what it is like to be a person.”

Shercliffe said he is still figuring out exactly what career he wants, but his main goal is to become the bridge between academia and politics so that the nation’s leaders know what the nation’s academics know by using Shercliffe – the middleman who can synthesize that information.

Long before Shercliffe was born, Harry Truman was recorded talking about the kind of person Shercliffe has a reputation for being. Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

If you would like to recognize Shercliffe for his accomplishments, or if you want advice about the Truman Scholarship, Shercliffe will be on campus for his senior year, and he has a hard time saying no.

June 12, 2017 Mariah Dejesus-Remaklus
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The tram at Alyeska Resort runs nearly all year round, and offers an easier way to get to the top of the mountain. From there, people can hike, mountain bike or enjoy the scenery from one of the resort's many eateries during the summer. Photo credit: Young Kim

Now that it is summer break, many people are looking forward to a well-deserved vacation of some kind to celebrate the end of a school year or simply just to have fun. Visiting abroad can often be one of the more ideal kinds of excursions, but it isn’t always possible.

Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of alternatives in the state of Alaska. The outdoor adventures that Alaska has to offer make great plans for a “staycation,” or a stay at home vacation.

1. Get the bike out. There are over 120 miles of paved trails in Anchorage alone. Many will take you from one end of the city to the other, such as the Tony Knowles Coastal trail. At 11 miles long, this popular path can take you from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park while providing views of the water at the edge of the city. For more urban sights through neighborhoods, the Campbell Creek trail connects the lake on UAA’s campus and Dimond Boulevard.

2. For those who may prefer a more leisurely type of pace, taking a walk is always an option. A majority of the trails in Anchorage are multi-use and are open to bikers, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, etc. The choice is up to you — but don’t forget to follow trail rules, which can be found on the Anchorage Municipality’s website.

3. Take a hike. Considering the mountainous terrain of Alaska, it’s hardly a surprise that there are numerous destinations for hiking adventures. Whether you prefer the wild, scenic views from a high mountain or the stretches of woods within the city, there are plenty of places to visit. Flattop Mountain bears an American flag at its peak, coaxing climbers to make the steep 1.5 miles, and Lekisch Loop in Kincaid Park is very hilly.

4. Try zip lining. Alaska Zipline Adventures is located on Douglas Island in Juneau and they offer a variety of tours. Guests can visit the Eaglecrest Ski Area or visit Mendenhall Glacier. In Talkeetna, the Denali Zipline Tours show off many views of the Alaska Range and other features, including valleys and forests.

5. Visit the museum. The Anchorage Museum holds multiple exhibits that showcase the beauty and history of Alaska, and they even have programs that range from workshops to guest lectures. People of all ages can visit the Thomas Planetarium and learn about the solar system that we live in.

Another great option for both state locals and tourists is a visit to the Denali National Park and Preserve. Alaska is home to North America’s highest mountain peak and it serves as a spectacle for residents and out-of-state visitors alike.

Vanessa Jusczak, the director of the Denali Chamber of Commerce, shared many recommendations that would suit all kinds of people. From tour buses to ATV tours, there is something available that caters to the various age groups and interests of all visitors. There are also multiple ways to view Denali, including the drive on the highway and even a plane or helicopter ride.

“Of course, the flyover just brings it to a whole new level… a new appreciation that you can’t get anywhere else,” Jusczak said.

Jusczak encourages people to stop and visit, especially if they have lived in Alaska their entire lives and haven’t experienced the park. While some are often passing through Healy on their way to Fairbanks or Anchorage, they aren’t seeing the real beauty of what the state offers, Jusczak says.

“You know, you’ll have dall sheep that walk right next to a tour bus or you’ll have bears that’ll lay right in the road…” Jusczak said. “So even if you see a bear once or twice a year or you see sheep way up on the side of a mountain… the closeness of the experience that you have in the park itself can’t really be matched anywhere else.”

For Alex Nanez, there is adventure waiting at every corner. The 22-year-old local loves taking spontaneous road trips to places outside of Anchorage, finding new areas of Alaska to explore or simply stopping to get pizza and ice cream.

Though Nanez appreciates random destinations, he does have his favorites to visit.

His top recommendation for someone looking for a weekend trip is camping on the Homer spit. Not only is the view amazing, but also the community, food and other activities add to the experience, he says.

“You get to park your car right behind, like, the fire pit and you put your tent so you’re facing out towards the water,” Nanez said. “In the morning, you just get to see that crazy, cool view of the water and just the sand between you and there.”

Despite his travels to other places in the world outside of Alaska, Nanez has found that the last frontier rarely compares to what he has seen elsewhere. He has no plans of leaving anytime soon and wants to continue discovering the land that has always been his home.

“It’s unlike any place you’ve been to and I’ve been to a lot of places in the U.S. So I’ve seen the crowdedness of L.A… the pollution of Mexico,” Nanez said. “And up here it’s just literally a breath of fresh air.”

A unique thing about Alaska is that its adventures are enjoyable all year round. The Alyeska Resort sits at the bottom of Mount Alyeska, which is a popular destination during the ski season. In the summer, its features can still be experienced such as the tram that travels from the hotel to the top of the mountain, and sea kayaking in Prince William Sound.

Within the city, the summer season also opens doors for more events in the downtown area. Among them is the opportunity to listen to live music every Wednesday afternoon in Peratrovich Park. Admission is free and the event goes until September 1. It’s one of the number of activities occurring this year and the internet is a great place to find more.

And although it is still “home,” a vacation within the city only brings a better opportunity for people to enjoy and appreciate where they live. According to Nanez, the long stretches of wilderness and nature show that it is just the beginning.

“I mean, you can literally explore one side to the other side,” Nanez said, “and it would take multiple lifetimes to get done.”

Whether you relish the outdoors and are up for backpacking across a mountain or prefer to visit the urban festivities in the city, there is something for everyone in Alaska this summer. Being closer to home for a “staycation” means no airfare, rental car fees, or other financial hassles that put stress in a typical vacation.

June 12, 2017 Brenda Craig
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Photo credit: Adam Dean Phillips

As a kid, seeing a tree with perfect branches made climbing irresistible. This urge to climb stuck with biology major, Gus Barber, who picked up rock climbing three years ago.

After spontaneously going by the rock gym with his father, Barber describes the moment he realized he should start rock climbing as an “epiphanous moment.” At the rock gym, there was a climbing competition called the Frigid Flash, which put Barber in awe and influenced him to start climbing.

“I just watched as people scaled the walls of the gym with an intricate and tenuous grace, the like of which I had never seen, I stayed in the gym for the next three hours,” Barber said. “When I watched the finalists on the wave wall — a sixty foot artificial cave that extended horizontally over the ceiling for twenty-five feet- I saw one of the employees execute move after move with a perfection that made my jaw drop and my eyes go wide, I said then that this is what I want to do, and I did.”

Rock climbing provides Barber with multiple beneficial factors that motivates him to continue with the hobby such as accomplishing personal goals, exploration and friendships.

“For different aspects, I like different things. Sometimes it’s just the pure feeling of moving over rock, sometimes it’s the feeling of success after I have tried a route over and over again, sometimes it’s the beautiful places climbing takes me,” Barber said. “Most of the time though, it’s the people I meet and get to share the great moments with.”

During the winter, along with school, work and skiing, Barber trains for rock climbing three to four days a week for three hours a session. Training with different exercises is an important part of becoming an all around efficient climber.

“I aspire to be a well rounded climber, so my training varies greatly. In the gym, I train bouldering and roped climbing, as well as a lot of climbing specific exercises and general fitness exercises,” Barber said. “When I am at home or working away from Anchorage, I train on a home built crack training machine — which I use to simulate crack climbing outside — as well as a variety of other climbing specific and general fitness exercises.”

Rock climbing has allowed Barber to travel and climb a variety of places. Some of these places include an unclimbed 1500-foot wall in the Talkeetnas, the Red Rocks in Nevada called the Crimson Chrysalis and the most recent climbing El Captain on a route called the Free Rider. Before the spring 2017 semester at UAA ended, Barber has been planning a trip for this summer to travel from Arizona to Alaska in his van. During this five week trip, Barber plans on climbing most of the major destinations in between.

“The trip I am on currently is driving the van from Arizona all the way home to Alaska. I am taking five weeks to climb at most of the major climbing destinations between Arizona and Alaska,” Barber said.

Since rock climbing has done so much for Barber, it is important for him to give back through his job and volunteer work in the rock climbing community.

“Beyond myself, I feel a deep need to give back to the climbing community that helped me into this lifestyle, so one of my jobs at the Alaska rock gym is teaching the lead clinic, I volunteer periodically at climbing festivals around Alaska and I try to climb outside with beginning climbers, with the idea of teaching them safe climbing practices and taking them to the better spots in Alaska,” Barber said. “For me, the ideas of being an ambassador to the sport and teaching those who want to climb are just as important as climbing hard on my own.”

Barber is working on his biology degree with a focus on micro and bio chemistry at UAA and plans to further his education through the WAMMI medical educational program at UAA. However, he hopes to take a year off to climb and travel before pursuing his career.

“Eventually I want to become an ER doctor, I volunteered at the ANMC ER the past winter and found a place I could work with exceptional people,” Barber said. “Beyond that I have a capacity for calm, consequential decision making that fits well with the job.”

Despite the dangers of rock climbing, Barbers mother, Fran Wilson, is supportive of her son’s passion and is looking forward for his return from his current climbing trip.

“I am quite pleased, mostly about his ability to remain alive and safe, and secondarily that he has found his passion and chosen to pursue it so thoroughly while he is young and supple,” Wilson said. “It’s wonderful to see his photos and his ever deepening grin, with many old and new friends. I must say however that I am looking forward to his return to indentured servitude at Halibut Cove, building our cabin on the cliff, don’t want to waste that strength and talent on just fun.”

Barber is currently trekking his way through the states and rock climbing on his way back home, to Alaska. Climbing has allowed Barber to travel through many different places and he is excited about where it might take him in the future.

June 12, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
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Fintan Nakada races down the mountain in the 2015 Mount Marathon. Photo credit: Todd List

Starting out over 100 years ago, the Mouth Marathon Race became an official organized event that challenged racers to climb a mile and a half up the mountain to get to the 3,022 foot summit and then get back down as fast as possible.

It wasn’t until 1985 that women were officially included as a category in the race, the first year that 54 women were able to compete and finish. The juniors category emerged in 1994.

In 2005, as the crowds and participation began to expand for the race, the “staggered start” was initiated for the adult races.

To get a glimpse into the what the actual race is like, seven-time race finisher Fintan Nakada shared his experience about the rigorous preparation it took to compete and prepare, as well as the extreme parts of the race.

“I’ve competed in the race for a long time. I began it starting out way back in sixth grade. and now, every year since then. I basically get an automatic spot in it when I compete every year,” Nakada said.

Despite Nakada getting an automatic spot every year, the majority of racers are put through a lottery process that is done months in advance to be able to compete.

Nakada is an active member of the Anchorage running and hiking community. He competed in cross country and track for the entire duration of his high school career. In addition, he competes in many road and trail races outside of his high school.

Being a former distance member of The Alaska Running Academy, Nakada was well prepared for the rigorous mountain race every summer.

“[The race] takes a lot of preparation, although I ran cross country, did skiing and competed for track, I still spent my early summer training. Mental visualization is an important aspect of the race, but obviously also a lot of weight training and mountain running,” Nakada said.

Nakada grew up being an active hiker during the summer, but he always stepped it up a notch when Mount Marathon was approaching.

In order to train effectively and efficiently, Nakada spent most of his time training on mountains and trails in the Anchorage area such Little O’Malley up to Black Lake, Government Peak, Peak two and three behind Flattop and then, of course, Flattop itself.

When there is time to spare, Nakada would head to Seward and train on the mountain of the race.

“It’s important to know the course really well, you need to run on it several times to actually get a feel for what the race will be like. Also, it’s especially important to train on it when there’s bad conditions — you don’t know what it will be like on actual race day,” he said.

Even after months of training and preparing, Nakada said that as grueling and painful as the whole race is, it’s definitely worth it in the end. The satisfaction of completing, arguably, Alaska’s most difficult mountain race and racing for a personal record from the previous year made it an worthwhile experience.

“My favorite part of the race is near the end, when you start running down the face of the cliff and everyone can see you, it gets loud with cheering and clapping and gives you motivation to run the final stretch,” he said.

Despite having an exhilarating end to the race, the vast majority of it isn’t as easy. Nakada explained that the most difficult part is right after he reaches the top of the mountain, and when he turns around to come back down his legs are often so fatigued from the uphill that it’s a challenge to make it down.

This year, Nakada will not be competing, instead spending his time preparing for the Air Force Academy. However, the traditional Mount Marathon will still be held on Fourth of July in Seward.

June 12, 2017 Sarah Tangog
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Photo credit: Chad Copelin

This June, the Big Lake Lion’s Club in Wasilla is celebrating 30 years of the annual Mud Volleyball Tournament.

“It’s a fundraiser,” Bill Haller, project coordinator at Big Lake Lion’s Recreation Center, said. “It has grown immensely since. It started out with one pit and five or six teams. Over the years it just got bigger and bigger… last year, we [had] 57 teams and two pits.”

With the growth, this year they have decided to add a third pit to accommodate the estimated 60 or more teams attending.

“We have sponsors that sponsor the pits and the event,” Haller said.

“This is the first year we’ve done sponsorships,” Jaine Estes, event director, said. “Everything we earn from mud volleyball goes right back to the Big Lake community, so this is the first year we’ve gone after sponsorships.”

Her first year as event director, Estes had played mud volleyball before.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie that come along with it, even if you are playing against another team. It’s fun banter, it’s not like, hard-core competitive,” Estes said.

In addition to regular volleyball rules, mud volleyball is personalized similarly to beach volleyball. The rules include only underhand serves, 10-person teams with eight players on court, two alternates and two members of opposite sex on the court at all times.

“It’s a coed event,” Haller said. “I mean, yes, people want to win it, but it’s not what I would say ‘highly competitive.’ It’s more of a mixed social event.”

Though there is no other celebration to honor mud volleyball’s 30 years, this year will be the first to feature a DJ and a food truck during the duration of the event. Haller is hoping the event will be able to run smoothly and quicker than previous years.

“We’re hoping it gets done a little earlier… there’s been times it didn’t get done until 10:30 at night. So we’re hoping we’ll get done at a reasonable hour,” Haller said.

Check-in for the event starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 17. The games begin at 10 a.m. Admission is $250 for each team, due by Wednesday, June 14. Players must be 18 years old or older to play.

June 12, 2017 Brenda Craig
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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

To commemorate the June 19, 1865 announcement that ended slavery in Texas and emancipated African Americans in the south, UAA will be holding a Juneteenth celebration on June 14 and 15. This event is free for students with a valid UAA ID, $5 for staff and faculty and $8 for general public. During the span of two days, there will be live music, speakers, food, movie showings, art activities and outdoor games.

UAA’s Juneteenth is presented by Student Activities and Commuter Programs, Black Student Union and Student Life and Leadership. Jennifer Spencer, social work major and Student Activities and Commuter Programs team member, has attended Juneteenth events at UAA the last three years and has been a part of the planning process. Spencer emphasizes the importance of educating those eager to learn about various cultures histories to grow as a community.

“The reason UAA should keep putting on events like Juneteenth is because we have many faces and different backgrounds on our campus and it’s important to lean about others historical events,” Spencer said. “In order for people to understand cultural sensitivity we as an education and public institution, have to introduce curtain characteristics of one’s culture so others know how to rightful show respect and allow individuals of that culture to show homage.”

UAA’s Juneteenth is kicking off on June 14 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Cuddy Quad celebrating over food by Smoke House food truck and live music by Robert Arms Jazz Ensemble. There will be tie-dyeing, face painting and basketball. Later that day, at 7 p.m. a showing of the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” by James Baldwin will be playing at the Wendy Williamson auditorium. The movie is free for everyone to watch.

“The movie was chosen because it tells an amazing story about who and what the leaders did during the civil rights movement and what obstacles that stood in our way and how we over came that, to be where we are today as a country,” Spencer said.

The most anticipated portion of Juneteenth is taking place on June 15 in the Wendy Williamson auditorium at 7 p.m. with guest speaker Marc Lamont Hill, an African American journalist, scholar, author and activist.

“I saw that Dr. Hill was going to be speaking at UAA and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. He has offered some sound discussion on race relations in America on several channels, and I always come away impressed,” Nick Tabaczka, double major in mathematics and political science, said. “If for no other reason than he really listens to his interviewer and fellow panelists, and then intersects with the topic at hand, not some preset agenda. I look forward to hearing him speak beyond the 1 to 5 minute answers he is allowed on television.”

For those, celebrating Juneteenth is an important reminder of the past and what the future will hold.

“Juneteenth to me means celebrating a part of our history that often gets overlooked. As an African American woman, it is extremely important to me that our history be celebrated as a reminder of how far we’ve come as a country and yet another reminder of how far we have to achieve moving forward in the world and especially around the U.S.,” Lauren Lampkin, Anchorage resident, said.

Celebrating Juneteenth in a university setting can help expose this history to those who may not know of this important date in the past.

“Furthermore it is absolutely critical that we have these discussions in a university setting because I strongly believe that young people are some of the most passionate minds we have our nation and with that, it’s up to us to learn, apply and teach others so that this lack of knowledge of an event to be proud of is no more,” Lampkin said. “I am thrilled and I hope that the university continues to celebrate other historical events such as this in the future.”

UAA will be celebrating Juneteenth over a span of two days on June 14 and 15. Enjoy a fun, tasty and educational event at UAA to commemorate this important part of history in the U.S.

June 12, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

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This spring semester art major Hannah Paulston’s typography class was cancelled. When she received an email about her class cancellation, Paulston’s first thought was “crap.”

“It was shorter notice than I’m comfortable with,” Paulston said. “I usually like to get my classes set up right then, immediately, like right when it opens and I get it set up…. That gives me time to figure out other things in between the semesters, so when it came late it was really frustrating. What do I do now… this is in my plan? It was just like, well I’ve got to figure out what classes I can supplement this with because as a graphic design major classes are only given on certain semesters. It’s not like you can take them every semester.”

Paulston is not the only UAA student to receive a notification about a class cancellation, but each college has certain procedures in place for when to cancel a class.

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, John Stalvey, said that before cancelling classes, the college calculates how many classes, sections and seats to offer based on historic demand, estimates of how many students have the prerequisites to take a course and the availability of similar elective or required courses.

“Despite our best efforts to predict accurately the demand for a course, sometimes we overestimate the need for seats or sections for a given course and need to cancel a course or section,” Stalvey wrote in an email. “Generally this is about one percent of all the sections and courses offered in a semester.”

As soon as registration opens, the individual colleges begin to monitor the rates at which courses fill. The biggest disparity between the colleges, when it comes to class cancellation, is how high the enrollment needs to be for the class to be economical and fit scheduling concerns.

The College of Business and Public Policy closely monitors courses where the number of students enrolled is lower than 15 in undergraduate courses and less than 8-10 in graduate courses. The Community and Technical College would like an enrollment no less than 12. The College of Education’s 100-200 level course should have no fewer than 12 students, 300-400 level should have no less than 10 and 600 level course should have no less than six.

“We start looking at a graduate level 600 courses for possible cancellation if it appears the enrollment won’t reach five, an upper division course 300 and 400 level class if it won’t reach 10, and a lower division course 100 and 200 level if it won’t reach 20,” Stalvey said. “We try to make the decision to cancel a class soon enough so students have a chance to find a suitable alternative–often it is another section of the same course that has seats open–without cancelling too early and causing students to have to look for an alternative.”

The College of Business and Public Policy will notify students of a cancellation a minimum of two weeks to a month before the start of classes. The Community and Technical College has a policy of cancelling at least one week before class begins. The College of Education will cancel up to two weeks before classes start, but according to Dean Paul Deputy, cancellation for the College of Education is a rare practice.

“We did not have to cancel classes during the fall 2016, spring 2017 semesters,” Deputy wrote in an email. “We did cancel two summer courses this summer due to low enrollment. The students registered for these courses were contacted and we helped them find another course to register for.”

Dean of the University Honors College, John Mouracade, said there are three factors that he considers when cancelling a class.

“The first is whether or not students need this particular section to be offered in order to make progress in the curriculum,” Mouracade wrote in an email. “Second is the need for a critical number of students in order to generate a meaningful learning experience. Some classes just can’t be successful with three to four people, regardless of other factors. Finally, there are budget issues. Classes cost different amounts based on who is teaching them: adjunct, assistant professor or full professor, and so they require a different number of students before they can be self supporting.”

Another factor that contributes to class availability is room assignments, according to Interim Associate Dean of Business and Public Policy, Lynn Koshiyama.

“It is easier in our opinion to cancel a course then try to add it, mainly because once you’ve put in the courses, you’ve locked in pretty much your faculty workload, what they’re teaching, the room assignments, [it] makes it a little more difficult to rearrange that,” Koshiyama said.

If a required course for graduation does get cancelled, Koshiyama said the College of Business and Public Policy can still offer students some alternatives.

“We can’t run a class with one or two students. Therefore the other option would be to cancel the class and request that the faculty member do a directed study with the students,” Koshiyama said. “Or are there other classes that we can allow the student to replace in their degree program?”

Koshiyama estimates that no more than a dozen classes are cancelled in a semester.

Denise Runge, dean of the Community and Technical College, said only a small number of classes are cancelled each semester but that enrolled students are offered assistances in those circumstances.

“To be honest, we only have to cancel a small handful of classes each semester,” Runge wrote in an email. “Also, we practice strategic enrollment management–one of the tenets of this approach is to watch enrollment continuously and make adjustments as we go. So we fairly regularly will have a class fill up early–which then signals us to open a new section of that course to allow more students the chance to take it.”

In a circumstance where a student close to graduating has a required course cancelled, depending on the college there may be alternative courses offered like directed study or substitute courses.

June 12, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

Foraging season in Alaska begins in full force come springtime. With fiddleheads and elusive morels on everyone’s to-pick list, the abundant spruce tips are an easy and quick springtime snack that can go overlooked.

Look for the bright green shoots that are growing out of the branches. They will pick right off when you grab them. Go for the small ones and avoid picking from the top of young trees, as to avoid stunting the tree’s growth.

Enjoy these spring shoots as a syrup. It can be used on pancakes or even in cocktails. It’s a fresh, light flavor that tastes well in gin.

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of spruce tips

Directions:

1. Bring the sugar and the water to a boil in a lidded pot. Stir continually.

2. When water begins to boil, turn off the heat and stir in the spruce tips and lemon juice. Cover the pot and leave to cool.

3. Let the spruce tips steep in the syrup. The longer they steep, the stronger the spruce tip flavor will be. Steeping over night is recommended.

4. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and pour in to a sealable bottle. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three months.

May 30, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

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UAA is home to many students, events and degree programs. To showcase all of these activities are numerous department-run Instagram accounts. From the Alaska Airlines Center to the UAA Bookstore, there are dozens of university-related Instagram accounts that share upcoming events and student life.

  1. uaaphotos – This is the official Instagram account of UAA and is run by Social Media Specialist, Kendra Doshier. Doshier describes the account as the “central hub of what’s going on” at UAA. Students who follow this account can expect re-grams from other useful Instagrams about upcoming events as well as fun pictures of UAA’s mascot, Spirit.

  2. uaa_student_activities – This account is run by Student Activities, and it details how student fees are being used to help students. This account posts before Student Activities sponsored events including the Monday and Tuesday summer barbecues.

  3. uaaconcertboard – This student run account shows how the student fee based organization, Concert Board, uses fees to bring up different comedic and musical acts. Recent posts on this account inform students about events like The Onion’s Scott Dikkers coming to UAA.

  4. hughmcpeckgallery – The Hugh McPeck Gallery is based in the Student Union, and displays student artwork throughout the year. This account, run by Student Life and Leadership, showcases different gallery openings as well as individual art pieces.

  5. uaa_life – Another Instagram run by Student Life and Leadership, UAA Life, posts about USUAA meetings, the bike share program and other student organizations. Annie Route, director of Student Life and Leadership, said she tries to post event reminders while also trying to brighten student’s days.

  6. uaa_scgl – Run by Mercy Rains, student assistant at Student Clubs and Greek Life, uaa_scgl tries to promote student clubs with this account while also giving students an insight to behind the scenes of UAA’s clubs and Greek organizations. Rains also said that some of the goals of the Instagram account are to show what student involvement is like and to show a positive “splash of fun” about clubs. A recent post from uaa_scgl showed cool swag students could grab at the office of SCGL.

  7. uaastudentunion – The Student Union is the physical hub of activity at UAA, and this account, run by Student Life and Leadership, posts about the students and events that take place at the Student Union. When not posting about events, the account features inspirational messages like a recent post that said, “Rise up and attack the day with enthusiasm.”

  8. uaa_seawolves – This account is the official Instagram of UAA athletics. The account regularly posts about awards and championships athletes are competing in, as well as the dates and time of upcoming sporting events.

  9. kruafm – KRUA 88.1 FM The Edge is the student-run radio station at UAA. The student staff at KRUA often post about concerts KRUA is hosting as well as staff picks on new music releases.

  10. tnl_updates – This would not be a legitimate list without the inclusion of the student-run paper, The Northern Light. Posts on this account feature stories written by student staff, while also showcasing different events on campus through a news perspective.

May 30, 2017 Mariah Dejesus-Remaklus
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After having graduated in May, Sierra Afoa plans to take advantage of her newfound freedom to explore Alaska and spend more time outdoors. Photo credit: Young Kim

One of the most common questions anyone will hear before graduating is: “What are you going to do now?” For some graduates, there isn’t an answer, but finding work in their field doesn’t have to be the only goal in their future.

Dustin Mendoza, a UAA graduate with a double major in electrical engineering and computer systems engineering, considers himself one of the lucky students that found a job before graduating.

After having applied to multiple places since November of last year, Mendoza is happy to say that he will begin working for technology giant Intel this summer as a technical support engineer.

“Out of all of them, this one was the one that was most in line with what I wanted to do because one of my long-term goals is to start my own company doing robotic solutions,” Mendoza said.

Many students are anxious about their plans for after college graduation, and not all of them know exactly what they want to do. The pressure to find a decent job or even pursue more education can be overwhelming, but it hasn’t stopped Mendoza from chasing after his ambitions.

Part of his plans for the future includes eventually going back to school for a master’s degree or doctorate in robotics and mechatronics, a scientific field that combines electrical and mechanical engineering as well as programming. Until then, he has been enjoying the newfound freedom that comes with graduation and a new, steady job.

Along with taking a trip to California, Mendoza has been able to invest more time into anime, robotics and video games. He says that while others may enjoy outdoor activities as a hobby, he prefers programming his own video games.

While a new job and no longer having class can be exciting, there are other aspects of being graduated that are not as appealing to Mendoza.

“I feel like any person who’s literally starting their life… I’m not prepared, I have no idea what’s going on,” Mendoza said. “Nobody taught me any of these things. I’m learning about the 401k plan and, you know, like life insurance, health insurance… It’s like, you know, you get prepared for your job, but you’re not prepared for life itself.”

Jennifer Merly shares similar concerns after having graduated this spring. Although she does not yet have a job lined up, her time has still been taken up with what she refers to as “getting life together.”

“It’s just been kind of a catch-up on bills and house stuff and social life,” Merly said.

Now that she has earned her bachelor’s degree in justice with a minor in communications, Merly finds it hard to believe that her college years are over. She says that after nearly 19 years of school — from kindergarten to college — her feelings range from excitement to anxiety.

“I don’t know, it’s mixed feelings… I can just do whatever I want pretty much. But it’s also terrifying that you’ve got to figure out what you want to do,” Merly said.

Her position with her church as a temporary youth pastor’s assistant ends in less than a month, but Merly has plans to focus on enjoying her summer. They include taking a road trip through the states to visit family and possibly volunteering at camps.

As far as education, Merly hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree in justice or even attend law school. Her main goal revolves around helping youth, and she sees the McLaughlin Youth Center as a potential career choice.

“I like working with kids and teenagers. I’ve always volunteered in some aspect. So I would love to work with children or youth in the justice field… whether it’s in the court systems, whether it’s in the correctional facilities,” Merly said.

Although many graduates may feel overwhelmed and that they need to start their lives sooner than later, she is accepting the stress as a good thing. Merly is the first person in her immediate family to graduate — let alone attend — college and now she says that she is being expected to pursue more education or find a good job.

“The pressure is definitely there and I think it’ll always be there, especially from family… But I think some pressure is good ‘cause I think it kind of keeps you grounded, kind of keeps you focused,” Merly said.

Similar to Merly, Sierra Afoa has taken interest in helping out the youth and working at McLaughlin. With a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in justice, she says that the community gave so much to her and she would want to return the favor. Afoa has spent her time working with the Special Olympics and doing an internship with the youth center. She also played on the UAA women’s basketball team during all four years of college.

Before trying to find a full-time job and consider continuing school, Afoa wants to take advantage of the free time she has now during the summer. Years of playing basketball while going to school have taken away being able to hang out with friends and family. Now she has the opportunity and appreciates it.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to do that in quite some time. Basketball and school have always come first, especially the last four years,” Afoa said. “Even during my summers I was training for basketball or had to work part-time jobs to pay for school.”

So far, her family has taken a trip to the East Coast to visit her twin brother, who has also graduated. Unlike him, someone who would like to travel, Afoa says that she would much rather stay in Alaska because she loves it here. If there are any trips that she will be taking this year, they will be to places like Seward or Homer.

Afoa also sees herself possibly coaching basketball and volunteering, but has no desire to pursue the sport in terms of playing. Athletics run in the family since her parents and older siblings played sports, but she says that they have been patient when it comes to her decision against continuing.

“My family is super accepting and like, my brother only played a year and then he was done with athletics,” Afoa said. “My parents 100 percent supported him in that.”

It is important to find people that can be a support system, she says. Even if it isn’t family, there are others that will be there for you in whatever you choose to do.

“Kind of like, following what you want to do and then finding people that support that… I’d definitely say ‘do you,’” Afoa said.

Despite the hassles of being newly graduated, Mendoza and Merly also have some insight and advice for those who will soon be in their shoes.

“Figure out what you want,” Mendoza said. “It doesn’t even have to be like, your life passions… Step two: make a plan, and step three: do something every single day towards that.”

For Merly, she wants to remind others that it’s possible to be free of stress.

“Whatever is going to come is going to come. I’m not stressed out as I was during graduation season,” Merly said. “And if you get a job and love it, great. If not, you keep trying and, you know, you just live life.”

May 30, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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Available to anyone who is currently paying the $3 Green Fee and provides their own helmet, the bike share program presents an opportunity for students to be more mobile on UAA's campus. Photo credit: Young Kim

The Information Desk in the Student Union commenced the Green Fee sponsored annual bike share program on May 22. The bike share is open to any student from spring or summer 2017 who has paid the $3 Green Fee. Bikes are free for students to rent all summer in one month intervals. Student Boards Coordinator and Media Adviser, Zac Clark, helps administer the program, and he said the bikes help students enjoy campus in the summer.

“I would like to think that one of the sort of hidden benefits of the program, and I wasn’t around during it’s inception, but the campus is so beautiful in the summer,” Clark said. “Any way for the students to go out and experience it, not from their car or not from a busy street, is a way for student to feel more connected to campus.”

The bikes are single gear, cruiser bikes, and in past years Clark said around 25 bikes were rented throughout the summer. To rent the bike, students have to bring a helmet to the information desk, and in exchange students will receive a key to unlock the yellow bikes.

“Any student who wants to rent a bike needs to bring their Wolfcard or have their I.D. number, they physically need to have their own helmet. They check to make sure you are paying the fee,” Clark said.

Clark said that the bike share also helps sustainability efforts on campus by replacing cars with bikes. Another benefit of the bike share is to help students exercise.

“Exercise of course is always good, and on these fixed gear bikes every time you go up a hill you are going to get your exercise for it just because you can’t shift out,” Clark said.

Devan Hawkins, social work major, lives on campus and was one of the first students to sign the paperwork to rent her bike. Hawkins said having a bike helps her get around campus, especially since she doesn’t have a car of her own.

“It’s nice to have available to students because walking can get kind of tiring and the quickness of everything,” Hawkins said. “It just makes more sense for me to have a bike that I can keep at my dorm and just ride to classes and stuff.”

Joshua O’Leary, accounting major, does not plan to participate in the bike share, but he appreciates this type of program on campus.

“I have my own bicycle that I ride in the summer, but that’s a good idea for people who don’t,” O’Leary said. He also believes the bike share will be good at keeping “traffic down around UAA, it keeps people outside.”

The Student Union Information Desk is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on the weekends.

May 30, 2017 Victoria Petersen

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Spring is here and that means fiddleheads are ripe. There’s a very short window of time where the fiddleheads are ripe to pick. They are short, furled up and have a thin, brown casing on them. Pick from the bottom and gather up a few, and you have yourself a fancy foraged side dish, best served alongside pasta or even on top of pizza.

Directions:

1. Clean the brown casing off the plant. You can do this with your hands under the faucet just fine.

2. Boil the ferns in water and salt for about fifteen minutes.

3. Place the ferns in a frying pan of hot oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Fry them up for roughly five minutes and they are ready to be served.

The fiddleheads are no longer good to eat after they have begun to unfurl. Reference online or text resources for foraging to make sure the fiddleheads you’re finding are good to be picked.

May 4, 2017 Brenda Craig
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Kally Greene-Gudmundson, left, strikes a pose at her bodybuilding competition in October 2016. Greene-Gudmundson placed first in her class of 11 and second overall in three classes. Photo credit: Kally Greene-Gudmundson

After four years, Kally Greene-Gudmundson, double major in marketing and business management, will be graduating from UAA this spring. Throughout high school, Greene-Gudmundson was active in sports and once she started college, she had to find a new outlet for fitness. Greene-Gudmundson started going to the gym regularly, grew interested in bodybuilding and eventually began training for competitions.

“At first, it was just something to keep me in shape and occupied until I started meeting people who competed,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “After watching them compete, it really enticed me and made me feel like it was something I could do.”

Greene has been bodybuilding for a year and a half now and has participated in two competitions, one in April of 2016 and the second last October. In her first competition, Greene-Gudmundson placed seventh out of eleven and didn’t do as well as she thought, this pushed her to work even harder for the next competition.

“I was not nearly as prepared as I could have been, I approached it with the ‘It’s not that hard’ mindset and I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “I began training for the October show in June, pushing myself significantly harder than before and practicing my posing everyday.”

Greene-Gudmundson’s training paid off for her competition in October. She placed first in her class of 11 and second over all three classes. She plans on competing again this year.

“I’ll compete again within the next year at the state level and based on my performance there. I’ll consider a national show; I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like feeling like I’m not the best I can be, so I’m very anxious to work my way up as far as my abilities will allow. It’s honestly so amazing what the human body can do and just in the short time I’ve been training, the changes that have taken place keep me motivated to see how far I can push myself,” Greene-Gudmundson said.

Watching her body transition through training is what keeps Greene-Gudmundson motivated to push even harder. Sometimes she is surprised by what her body can do compared to where she was a year and a half ago with training.

“My favorite thing about bodybuilding has got to be the high you get when you hit a new PR, it’s honestly the most gratifying feeling,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “When I first started training, I was excited to even be pushing half of my body weight, now after 18 months, I’m pushing almost double, sometimes triple my body weight and just the concept of knowing you’re physically capable of doing that blows my mind.”

Most people dread going to the gym, but this is not the case for Greene-Gudmudson. Not only was it a stress reliever through busy times, but it was a way for her to escape.

“The gym has become my favorite part of the day, whether it’s been a good or bad day once you get there and put your headphones in, you’re in your own world and knowing you can move that kind of weight makes you almost feel invincible, it’s my outlet for everything,” Greene-Gudmundson said.

Like many students starting college, Greene-Gudmundson was unsure of the direction she wanted to go in school. She was drawn to marketing because she knew business would give her a decent foundation for future careers. During her junior year, she was advised by a friend to double major in marketing and management, which only has a difference of seven classes. Taking on school full time, she is able to graduate in four years.

“I went into it with the mindset that I’d be set back a semester, but after weighing in a full course load during the summer time and 21 credits per term I was able to graduate on time,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “I wasn’t at all expecting to enjoy my classes as much as I have and a big part of that goes to some of the amazing professors the college of business has, overall I know this was a perfect choice for a career field for me.”

To celebrate her achievement, Greene-Gudmundson has a trip planned after graduation and will come home to a full-time job.

“I leave the day after graduation for Costa Rica, I’ve never been outside of the country aside from Canada so I’m really looking forward to it,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “When I get back, I’ll start full time at NANA Development Corporation where I’ve been for the last two school years.”

Through the dieting, training and taking on 21 credits per semester, Greene is proud of her achievements and is looking forward to being a part of commencement. At this spring graduation, Greene will be doing a different kind of walk down the stage, striking a pose in her cap and gown.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
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Vincent Gregory, English major, has taken eight years to reach graduation after the culture shock of moving to Anchorage from Kalskag. Gregory hopes to pursue graduate school in the future. Photo credit: Young Kim

Most people believe that it takes four years to graduate college, but the reality is that many students don’t graduate in that four-year time frame. For many UAA students, the path to graduation can be much longer.

Vincent Gregory is a graduating senior majoring in English. Vincent has been at UAA since the spring semester of 2009. When Gregory started college, he felt he wasn’t prepared.

“No one showed me the ropes… I didn’t know what advisers were, GER’s, DegreeWorks,” Gregory said. “[I] was completely in the dark about everything.”

Gregory is a product of the poor college readiness in the villages of Alaska, and the poor outreach given to remote locations. Gregory is an Alaska Native student hailing from Kalskag, a small village near Bethel, where outreach isn’t the best.

“It took me about a year to find my footing,” Gregory said.

Gregory talked in length about the culture shock of moving to the city, and the help he received to get back on track. The main problem is that the university struggles to recruit native students, but when they do enroll, UAA struggles on how to keep students on the right track to graduate.

Gregory wants to enroll into a master’s program or get another degree involving his native heritage, and one day carve over 10,000 rings.

“If I took everything I knew now and put it back in my freshman year… I would’ve graduated now,” Gregory said. “You shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured in school… I say start school when you’re ready and at a pace you feel comfortable with, otherwise you might as well be chased by wolves.”

Chris Richardson has been at UAA since January of 2010. Richardson fell off track due to personal issues, but believes that straying off the beaten path is a part of life.

“I was originally a computer science major, and then after I found out I had to take calculus… the week after that, I was an English major,” Richardson said.

Richardson also aspires to be a famous author. His poem book, “Taking Back the Romantic” is finished, and Richardson has been talking with publishers to get it printed.

“I want to become a well-known author…like James Patterson, like that well-known…that would be amazing,” Richardson said. “It doesn’t matter if it takes four years or seven years. As long as you get there..that’s the whole point.”

While Gregory and Richardson get ready for commencement, Stone Sibbett is getting ready for another semester attending UAA.

Sibbett has been at UAA for about four years now, and he doesn’t really know when he’ll be finished. He is currently majoring in social work but is trying to change to a custom major in therapeutic recreation with a minor in outdoor leadership.

Like Richardson, Sibbett’s long tenure at UAA can be contributed to him changing majors.

“I originally got an associates degree in human services, then switched to the bachelor’s degree and then switched to social work,” Sibbett said. “And then I decided I rather do something outside in the recreation therapy side of things. it would be something I would enjoy.”

Sibbett has also run into a roadblock in terms of when he is going to graduate.

“If I wanted to pursue something in the outdoor field, I need more time outside. So I have to get outdoor experience, and that doesn’t mater if I have the degree or not… So I’m not super gung-ho on finishing,” Sibbett said. “I can’t really make money in that field either unless I go out and work for somebody at a low-wage job for quite a long time.”

For now, Sibbett and his roommates have started trying to make laundry soap and cargo bike frames to sell to people in parts of the world without bikes.

“I guess my degree has become more of a hobby. ‘Cause with manufacturing it’s something I can make money with now, where I can’t make money with [my degree], instead I want to pursue my degree and do something with it eventually to benefit,” Sibbett said. “I would encourage anyone that is considering taking longer time to get their degree [to] really consider what they want out [of] their degree… one thing that helped me in my education is I started taking classes in things I would enjoy and enrich my life,” Sibbett said.

There are a multitude of reasons why someone won’t graduate on time, be it personal reasons, lack of college readiness or even just trying to find the right career path. Everybody in life takes shortcuts, not everyone can stay on the same road. For these UAA students, they just took the long way around.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
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Geser Bat-Erdene Alec Burris pose for a picture for their USUAA campaign. Photo credit: Alec Burris and Geser Bat-Erdene

The USUAA elections are over, and Alec Burris and Geser Bat-Erdene have won the positions of president and vice president for the 2017-18 academic year. This election also turned out to be highly successful, as it had higher voter turnout than the last three USUAA elections.

Burris is a freshman majoring in biology and has always had a deep interest in student government.

“I would travel the 45 to 1 hour drive from Wasilla to Anchorage so I could go to their bi-weekly meetings to see what their student government is like,” Burris said. “Once I learned that the current president wasn’t going to run, I felt that somebody needed to step up and run the organization, and that I knew it well enough to run.”

His running mate, Bat-Erdene is a foreign exchange student from Mongolia majoring in finance, and has been a USUAA senator for over a year.

“The opportunity to work with people who truly care about the university and work hard to achieve mutual goals is why I ran for vice president,” Bat-Erdene said. “Becoming a [vice president] is a great honor for me. I was truly happy that the students of UAA are very open-minded, and the fact that an international student was elected for a USUAA leadership tells how diversity is welcomed on the campus.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene are both deeply involved with student government around campus and are excited to start their new positions.

“I’m very excited to start delivering on the promises we made during our campaign,” Burris said. “We are going to try to start working on the issues with security cameras, working with the administration about Title IX, and looking at assessing fees.”

Sam Erickson, USUAA president for the 2016-17 academic year, believes that the two successors will learn by seeing him and vice president, Johanna Richter, in action.

“There is a relatively well-established process for transitioning leadership in USUAA, but in this case it’s made even easier since Alec has significant experience in the organization already… I’ll begin having him shadow me in USUAA meetings, introducing him at events, meeting administrative, faculty and staff leaders, and bringing him up to date on the projects I’m currently working on,” Erickson said. “Johanna will be doing the same for Geser, and the goal is to be able to completely turn over the organization. Obviously, I will still be around and able to give advice for the next year, but I am confident that Alec will be able to pick right up where Johanna and I left off.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene both look forward to serving the students of UAA.

“You can definitely [be] looking for student government to be active on campus,” Burris said. “Oftentimes we are in the background doing a lot of work that the students don’t see. I think looking forward you’re going to see us in the forefront, because we really care about students seeing that their student fees are being used to best of their ability. That’s what we are going to do for the student government.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene’s term as USUAA president and vice president began on April 28 and will continue through the 2017-18 academic year.

May 4, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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While spending time in Nepal, economics professor Jim Murphy met another student who showed him he could evaluate environmental policy issues using economics. Photo credit: Young Kim

Before economics professor Jim Murphy knew about economics, he was working in the San Francisco bay area. A recession hit the company he was working at, and he decided to go trekking in Nepal.

“The company laid me off and they gave me a six-month severance package, so I took the money and went trekking in Nepal,” Murphy said. “I wouldn’t say I went on a soul-searching expedition — it was really just that I was 25 — and I had six months of money in my pocket, so I went to Nepal. I met a guy who was an environmental economics student… Before that time I wasn’t aware that economics could be used to understand environmental policy issues.”

The environmental economics student Murphy met introduced him to an economic approach to solving environmental problems. At Villanova University, Murphy switched majors frequently, starting off as a business major, before realizing that he wanted a broader education and switched to German. As a German major he didn’t realize he needed to learn two languages to meet major requirements, and he didn’t have enough time for that, so he switched to the Honors Program. Very few of the honors classes interested him, so he decided not to focus on that either.

“I graduated as general arts [major] which is kind of code for undeclared humanities major,” Murphy said. “But I collected a lot of minors; I wound up with a business minor, a German minor, and an honors. Indirectly I wound up with a pretty well-rounded education but no real focus.”

It wasn’t until that mountaintop in Nepal that Murphy realized his academic calling was in economics, so he went to the University of California Davis to pursue a master’s, and later a Ph.D., in agricultural and resource economics.

While a graduate student, Murphy became acquainted with Vernon Smith, a 2002 Nobel laureate in Economics. Smith also served as UAA’s first visiting UAA Rasmuson Chair of Economics. After Smith’s term in the position ended, he recommended Murphy for the job. In 2006, Murphy moved from a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to Anchorage to become the next chair.

“I knew I wanted to get into academics because I like teaching and I like research. I wanted to find a job that let me do both well,” Murphy said. “I love my research, but I don’t want a job where all I do is research and not teach because I also enjoy working with students.”

At UAA, Murphy continued to conduct research, and many of his research projects led him too far corners of the world. He is currently working on the last year of a four-year project about fisheries in Chile that is funded by FONDECYT, which is the Chilean National Science Foundation. His past research projects also focus on natural resources, like fieldwork he conducted in Colombia studying rural management of natural resources, and field experiments in Western Alaska and Far East Russia. When he is not researching, he is teaching at UAA or at a partner university in China as the Chairman of Nankai University Vernon L. Smith Experimental Economics Lab.

“Every summer I go there for a few weeks and work with them, I teach a class to their graduate students,” Murphy said, “I advise their faculty on the projects they’re working on, I try and help them think about, if they get a program started, what would it look like. Here’s what we did, here’s what you can do.”

Nankai University in China is a good example of how UAA’s experimental economics program has gained international recognition, Murphy said. The experimental economics program is now ranked in the top 10 percent of programs internationally, and the department has even broken UAA faculty application records.

“Before Elmer Rasmuson donated the funds to endow the Chair when a faculty position in the economics department opened up, the average amount of applicants was 20 to 30 people.The most recent faculty position we just hired for the job…we had almost 300 applications,” Murphy said. “It’s a university record for the most applications for any full-time job on campus, and we got our top candidate. We had a huge pool of people, and we got who we thought was the best person, which was awesome.”

In the future, Murphy hopes to continue growing the experimental economics program while minimizing the harm budget cuts might have on it. He plans to continue researching, as well as spend time outdoors doing activities he loves like hiking, biking, skiing and fishing.

May 4, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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Stephen Kranich, a North Hall resident and staff, giving a speech during the North Hall Graduation. The graduation serves to recognize and celebrate the completion of North Hall resident's first year in college.

The first year experience hall, North Hall, held its annual graduation ceremony for freshman students who have completed their first year of college on April 29.

Jennifer Edens is the residence coordinator at North Hall and said events such as the North Hall freshman graduation recognize the work it takes to successfully finish the first year of college.

“The purpose [of the graduation] to celebrate the completion of the first year of college for our residents here,” Edens said. “The first year is often the most challenging in many ways; you feel homesick, people have a hard time transitioning and adjusting [and] often acclimating. They need to learn how to manage their time, how to manage their finances, how to study for college, because studying for college is different than studying for high school, and they get a taste of adulting.”

Makayla Newman is a North Hall resident adviser who helped Edens plan the event. Newman said her first-year graduation was a great experience, and that events like North Hall graduation build a supportive community.

“It is a lot easier to stay in the university once you’ve been here longer than a year. Looking back at my freshman year, it wasn’t quite as difficult as this year, but I felt more inclined to go home because I was homesick, and less stable here,” Newman said. “Just celebrating that they’ve made it through not the most challenging year, but the most challenging as far as being homesick and lonely and not having a lot of friends, because after the first year they’re more stable and they can handle things that make them want to go home.”

Edens said that students are more likely to stay in college if they finish their first year, and as the first year coordinator, she said her goal is to get higher retention of first year students from semester to semester.

“The longer students stay, the more likely they are to graduate,” Edens said. “[Retention is] on par — it’s been normal. We would like to see it fewer. It would be ideal to see 100 percent of students who come in the fall remain throughout the whole year, but that’s not where we are right now.”

Newman said that there are a lot of factors that influence a student leaving the university in their first year, but that it is important to celebrate those who do complete the year.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of factors that play into whether or not we retain students like some students get like a semester or two in and realize they can’t afford it or they’re not completely dedicated to their studies, or something terrible happens and they have to go home,” Newman said. “There’s just a lot of different things that can happen, but it’s just hard to retain them. We’re trying to do programs and stuff so they won’t be homesick and go home because that’s something that is a little more fixable than financial and academic or family issues.”

One of the speakers at the North Hall graduation ceremony was Residence Hall Association president, Nathan Burns.

“It’s a good thing to recognize that getting past the biggest hump is an important accomplishment and it only gets easier from here, and it’s a nice little get together to thank everybody here,” Burns said. “It does feel, especially for those living on campus, they get more of college experience than if they lived at home or commuted in.”

At the graduation, first-year students were handed certificates with their name congratulating them on completing their first year of college.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend

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The National Student Exchange is a study-away experience that fits into university initiatives for globalization, diversity and engagement. NSE provides study-away opportunities to students enrolled at its 170 member colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Established in 1968, NSE has provided exchange opportunities to more than 110,000 students. For many students, the chance to explore new environments are experiences that wouldn’t be possible without NSE.

Kaliegh Hayes, from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, describes coming to Alaska as “something different.”

Hayes had a rather slim chance of traveling through the program.

“I walked into the NSE coordinator’s office, and was like, ‘Hey I want to go to Alaska,’” Hayes said. “She told me that wasn’t going to happen, she said I had a 10 percent chance, because I did the application in September and it was supposed to be in by March.”

Now that she is here, Hayes has a fondness for the state.

“It’s very different up here,” Hayes said. “I like the mountains… I like the scenery, the environment, I like that it’s different than anything else in the world, but I miss Dunkin Donuts.”

One of Hayes’ friends from NSE is Nathalie Trow-McDonald, who is from the University of the Virgin Islands. The university is only a five-minute walk to the beach.

“I’m not used to having to wear pants every day, and not wear flip flops… For a long time I missed the feeling of the sun on my skin,” Trow-McDonald said. “I think there are certain things on campus that I miss, ’cause I was really involved in certain things and they keep happening when you’re gone… I miss my radio station.”

What Trow-McDonald likes the most about UAA and Alaska is its proximity to the mountains and trails.

“I like that you’re in a city, but you can drive 20 minutes and be hiking up a mountain,” Trow-McDonald said. “The views are really nice, and I enjoy the ice-skating.”

Rachel Barclay is another participant in the NSE from the University of South Dakota. Barclay has been to 49 of the 50 states and that was a big reason on why she decided to come to UAA.

“It’s not as flat… and I like seeing the random moose,” Barclay said. “It’s a lot prettier here, and I like the mountains.”

The three women have since become friends since they met, and have done everything from going UAA basketball games and participating in nature excursions.

“I went whale-watching in Seward with Kaliegh, that was fun,” Barclay said. “I can’t remember everything we’ve done, we’ve done a lot… so much fun, so little time.”

Adventures aside, NSE does serve as a large time commitment.

“I miss my family a lot,” Hayes said. “I think that any prospective student that wants to take the NSE program has to consider how long they’re going be away from home. But it’s a great experience all students should consider. I highly recommend NSE if you want to expand your horizons and try something new… and you can open doors to new places.”

UAA also provides the opportunity for students to participate in NSE and travel to one of over 200 colleges in the U.S. Applications are due in February.

May 4, 2017 Brenda Craig

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On May 17, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation will be providing a job training titled From College to Career: How to get a great first job. This event will be located at Bear Tooth Theater-pub from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. with a $3 entry fee. This will be one of AEDC’s “Job Skills Boot Camps” that will be put on throughout Anchorage to help prepare recent graduates apply and interview for their first jobs. At this event, individuals will learn how to build a noticeable resume, find jobs that aren’t advertised and how to network.

“The College to Career event is geared specifically to recent college graduates to help them find a job right out of college that helps fulfill their career goals,” Moira Sullivan, Live. Work. Play. director at AEDC, said. “We’ve been putting together a curriculum specific to college graduates and lining up presenters from the business community, many of whom are hiring managers or HR directors and can speak directly to what they look for in candidates.”

Many graduates have the technical skills that they have learned throughout college. However, the College to Career training will focus on soft skills and professionalism. They will not only help individuals to pursue a job but be successful in that job.

“There will be five different modules, presented by business leaders in Anchorage, covering everything from effective networking, how to use your LinkedIn profile to get you interviews and jobs, best practices for resume writing that will get you past an automated screen, interview etiquette, and tips to impress your boss and colleagues in your first weeks on the job, putting you in place to be successful and get promotions and raises,” Sullivan said.

When Sullivan graduated college, she faced many problems when looking for a job. She was given the same excuse most jobs give, that they were looking for three to five years of experience. This inspired her to start these trainings for graduates.

“As LWP Director, I wanted AEDC to put on this College to Career event this year so that other Anchorage grads would have advantages in entering the job market that allows them to get jobs they might otherwise be turned down for, and learn about opportunities that they might not know about. I don’t want our recent grads to have the same experience I did in job hunting here in Anchorage,” Sullivan said.

The College to Career training hopes to help these graduates find a job in town to prevent discouraged individuals from leaving the state.

“When college grads like me feel defeated looking for jobs in Anchorage, they’re likely to leave the state and find a job elsewhere — and as a city, we simply can’t continue to ship out our brightest young people to the Lower 48 where they create economic opportunities for other communities and not ours. Helping graduates find the jobs they want after college is critical to reducing brain drain,” Sullivan said.

Students are eager to attend this event and excited to take away what they will learn from the training and apply it in the future. Many students do not have the experience in searching for a career and are often intimidated about what comes after college.

“My whole life I’ve been a student, so I feel like when I graduate I am not going to know what to do next,” Madi Burgess, health science major, said. “I think this is an awesome event because hopefully it will show students that there are things future employers are looking for and that it doesn’t have to be as scary as we think it’s going to be.”

Many of the skills that will be taught at this event are ones that employers look for in applicants. With fresh minds out of college, they believe this training will go hand in hand with their hunger to succeed.

“This training would benefit students by helping to equip them with some of the soft skills that employers say that potential employees often lack,” Sean Carpenter, communications director at AEDC, said. “Because there is no one stop resource for this type of training and searching online can provide mixed results, we thought that offering this training would help compliment the knowledge that students come away with when they graduate.”

This event highlights the fact that there are various job opportunities, it’s just a matter of how they are approached.

“I think the most important thing students and graduates will take away from this event is that there are great jobs in Anchorage for recent graduates, and that while the system for finding those job leads, getting interviews and offers at great companies can be complicated and sometimes unfair, there are ways to play the game to give yourself maximum advantage,” Sullivan said.

From College to Career is part of AEDC’s push to offer free and inexpensive job skills seminars for Anchorage community members. College graduates are encouraged to attend, but the training is open to the public.

May 4, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

Summer is upon us, and fresh salmon will be running soon. Make room in your freezer and use up last year’s salmon haul with this tasty recipe from a 2017 graduate. For a simple and delicious preparation, my friend, and geology graduate, Sasha Peterson bakes the salmon with just two other ingredients. The savory sun-dried tomato and citrus flavors of the lemon pepper make for a decadent meal, and a tasty way to get your Omega-3 fatty acids. Add a side of sauteed kale and some rice or quinoa.

This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes. Sasha used the refrigerated kind that is in a jar. This allows the tomatoes to be saturated in oil, adding to the flavor of the salmon. Sprinkle with capers for added decadence.

Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet

1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon pepper

Directions:

1. Place salmon fillet on a sheet of foil.

2. Sprinkle the lemon pepper evenly over the salmon fillet.

3. With a spoon, drizzle the sun-dried tomatoes and oil over the fillet until the fillet is covered.

4. Fold the foil inwards creating a cocoon for the salmon to cook in.

5. Allow the salmon to cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the salmon flakes against a fork brushing the center of the fillet.

6. Optionally garnish with lemon and capers.

May 4, 2017 Sarah Tangog
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Nina Lee follows in the shoes of 2016 fall commencement speaker, Sophie Leshan, another graduate of the early childhood education program. Photo credit: Sarah Tangog

This year’s commencement speech will be given by Nina Lee, early childhood major. Though she started going to college in San Diego, she eventually dropped out and decided to come to UAA instead.

“I started classes at UAA in 2010. I did not do well then either, I didn’t finish any of the classes that I started,” Lee said. “I began my undergrad in spring 2015 with 13 credits from San Diego, and finished my undergrad in two years.”

Because of her story, Lee was compelled to apply as the commencement speaker the moment she started her undergraduate education.

“I feel my story and how I got here is very relatable, and that UAA’s community is very unique in that it houses both traditional students, but also non-traditional students. That’s me,” Lee said.

The commencement speaker is ultimately chosen by Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz.

“In selecting the student commencement speaker, I consider the totality of the process and rely heavily on the evaluations of the students who served on the committee that reviews, evaluates and recommends finalists to me,” Schultz said. “Drawing on the recommendation of the evaluation committee, I make the final selection for student commencement speaker.”

The committee itself is usually composed of at least one faculty member, the Faculty Senate President, and several graduating students. Paula Fish from Student Life and Leadership provides assistance for the committee.

“My role with the commencement speaker is just coordinating and helping the selection committee or the review committee, in selecting or providing advisement to the Vice Chancellor on who to select,” Fish said. “The Vice Chancellor looks at a student from the pool of students who really exemplifies UAA.”

The student chosen is picked not only for their academic and community involvement, but also for the uniqueness of their story.

“We want students to feel like it’s not something that can’t be attained,” Fish said.

Though the role of the commencement speaker is chosen from a pool of applicants, the applicants can be any student with any background story.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to communicate my journey,” Lee said. “The most important role of a commencement speaker, I feel, is to communicate the challenges that we all face as students, and just relating to each other in a unifying way so that we can all accomplish a common goal of graduating. You’re capable of anything. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve it. Coming from someone who didn’t think I would ever graduate college, how I got to this point was with the support of my friends and my family.”

Lee believes that a great contributor to her success is the help she’s had along the way. She encourages students to seek friendships with peers and build relationships with professors and mentors, as it can help along the way.

April 23, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
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Paul Stoklos joins in a group huddle with his gymnastics team. After 33 years of coaching, Stoklos hopes to continue to build healthy, winning teams. Photo credit: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

With an average of 15 athletes on the UAA gymnastics team and now 33 years of coaching, head coach Paul Stoklos has overseen the collegiate career of over 100 different gymnasts at UAA alone.

Stoklos is the only gymnastics coach that UAA has ever had, an impressive comparison that no other sport at UAA can boast.

Gymnastics has always been a part of Stoklos’ life. From out of high school until now, he has been coaching.

Stoklos originally started off as an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. First he began as a volunteer assistant coach, until moving his way up to paid assistant coach. The seven years he spent there prepared him for the opportunity to start the collegiate program in Alaska and build it from scratch.

“When I came to UAA for the job interview in 1984, I knew that this was where I wanted to stay… why still at UAA? I like to say I married UAA when I came here. This campus and athletes have been my family for 33 years,” Stoklos said.

In the time Stoklos has spent at UAA, he has made many tremendous accomplishments with the athletes he has coached.

Originally the program started out as Division II, but nearly 15 years ago it transitioned into a Division I program that made the largest difference in the progress of the gymnasts.

Since then, Stoklos’ athletes have been able to reach 31 program records. He’s been able to qualify 15 gymnasts for the NCAA West Regional all-around competition, as well as securing 10 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation event titles.

With many accomplishments, Stoklos has admitted that it isn’t as easy as it may seem.

“The most challenging part — two [actually], is keeping the student athletes from being distracted by all that is going on around them. The other is to get student athletes to want to come to Alaska when there used to be so much disinformation about this place we call home, he said.

Despite the difficulties Stoklos may run into, his gymnasts have preformed exceptionally well in academics. After becoming a part of the MPSF in 2003, the team has managed to average nearly six all-academic honors per season.

The fact that the gymnasts can excel in both athletics and academics is what makes coaching worth it for Stoklos.

“The most rewarding part of coaching is the see young athletes mature into adults as they purse a greater education while training and competing in a sport that we all love,” Stoklos said.

With the commencement of the 2017 season, Stoklos oversaw six of his athletes make it onto the all-academic list, meeting the yearly average.

After the 2016 and 2017 seasons ended, Stoklos saw the departure of many of his most talented athletes. With that, he hopes to see some positive changes in store for the 2018 season.

“Next season, I see an increased squad size. We needed more numbers to survive some of the loses of team members. I think the increased depth and strength will allow us to have a more successful season,” Stoklos said.

Regardless of size, Stoklos ultimately wants to have healthy athletes.

“We had two injuries that ended the season for two of our athletes. Like all coaches, I would like to see a season with no injures,” he said.

Stoklos only wants the best for his athletes, whether it’s seeing them excel at the sport he’s coaching, their academics or their health.

April 23, 2017 Brenda Craig
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Salina Harwood sits at a stoplight during a ride through Anchorage. Harwood is eager to get back on the road with her motorcycle this summer. Photo credit: Cyrus Powers

The combination of sunny skies and clear roads is the perfect recipe for motorcyclists to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Salina Harwood, journalism and public communication major with a concentration on strategic communications, is eager to get out and ride her bike after being cooped up all winter. This June will be Harwood’s fifth year riding motorcycles and she plans on many more years to come.

“I don’t know what there’s not to love about biking honestly, initially it was the adrenaline that I craved, but it turned into a lot more than that. Now it kind of evolved into a stress release,” Harwood said. “Just something about not being inside a car and being outside in the sun on two wheels that makes a really mundane drive seem like an adventure.”

Harwood enjoys the feeling of being exposed to her surroundings when she is on her bike. It has opened her perception on the environment, down to every detail.

“You notice so much more when you’re exposed to everything on the road, every dip and bump, people talking, music playing, smell from a restaurant or bakery and people next to you laughing in their cars,” Harwood said. “You’re closed off from all those things when you’re alone in your car and in your own world. It’s awesome taking it all in. It’s like seeing a town you know every inch of with new eyes or something.”

Riding motorcycles reminds Harwood to appreciate being alive and how precious life is.

“When I’m riding I’m constantly aware that this life is fleeting and that every decision you make could impact the outcome of your life,” Harwood said.

Although the ratio of men to women that ride motorcycles is higher, Harwood enjoys seeing other women challenging the standards.

“I do wish more women were out there riding, it’s always awesome to see ladies that are doing it for themselves, being independent and adventurous. Besides, why let the guys have all the fun?” Harwood said.

Along with the adrenaline rush and scenic routes, motorcycles require regular maintenance. After Harwood learned how to perform her own tune-ups, it became another part of her love for motorcycles.

“Every little tremor, knock, clicking sound or quirk should be something you can identify whether it’s a problem or not. Familiarizing yourself with your bike in that way I think is crucial,” Harwood said. “Plus, it feels amazing not needing a guy to fix my things for me, to know I’m just as capable at handling my bike as they are. Besides, I would just feel like a fraud if I bought a bike and had someone else put in all the work into it.”

Once spring hits, Harwood takes any chance she can to take her bike out for a ride. Because riding motorcycles has essentially became a part of who she is, Harwood doesn’t plan on quitting, but may lessen the amount of time riding.

“I think riding bikes can shape and change who you are as a person. When it becomes a formative part of your life I think that’s when it changes from a hobby to a lifestyle,” Harwood said. “I don’t have any intentions on stopping, I think maybe some day I might ride less but I don’t think I could ever quit completely.”

Harwood chose to specialize in strategic communications to further her abilities in her current job and to apply it to her future career, whatever it may be.

“My line of work involves a lot of promotions and advertising and I’m utilizing everything I’m learning about communications and media to support what I’m doing now with my job, I find it pretty useful,” Harwood said. “I don’t have a particular job in mind, but I know when I find it my degree will be applicable.”

With all the fun Harwood has with motorcycling, she wants to emphasize the importance of safety for both drivers and motorcycle riders.

“It seems like every year there are a few deaths and accidents in the spring before people wake up and realize its bike season, that goes for riders as well,” Harwood said. “We can get caught up in how much fun we’re having. We stop paying attention to things like how close we’re riding to the car in front of us. [I] just really would love to see less accidents on the road this summer. No accidents would be ideal.”

If you see a biker on the road with long blonde hair, it will most likely be Harwood. As summer approaches, watch for motorcycles and take precautions on the road.

April 23, 2017 Sarah Tangog
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Earlier this month, the Student Union Art Gallery was renamed the Hugh McPeck Art Gallery. McPeck was the head of the sculpting department as an associate professor and served on the advisory board for the gallery for many years at UAA. Photo credit: Young Kim

UAA’s Student Union Art Gallery has been renamed to honor the late Hugh McPeck, an associate professor of sculpting from 1996 to 2014. The widely viewed gallery now displays pieces of a legacy as well as art.

“Hugh was a longstanding faculty in the art department, and he served on our advisory board for the gallery for many years,” Annie Route, UAA’s Student Life and Leadership Director, said. “It was very sad when he passed away.”

Last spring, Route brought up the idea of renaming the gallery to the Gallery Advisory Board, which consists of mostly faculty from the art department as well as several student managers of the gallery.

Though the proposal was given many positive reviews, it still took a while to get everything ready.

“Everyone was thrilled! You know, it’s hard when someone passes away, you go through the grief and the sadness, and I think we’re still feeling that. However, I think this is a way to celebrate,” Route said. “It took longer, because of summer, and the faculty was gone. Then it was the fall semester, and we had shows… we probably could’ve accomplished it in a much shorter time, but it’s been about a year.”

Route contacted many people, including the art department, UAA facilities and planning and even McPeck’s family.

“Nothing really happened until last spring,” Ann McPeck Gabler, McPeck’s wife, said. “I think Hugh would have been very humbled and very honored with the renaming of the gallery.”

The name of the gallery was officially changed during the Juried Student Art Show earlier this month.

“It’s always good to have a name that means something besides just a location,” Route said.

As an assistant professor of art, McPeck was the head of the sculpture department.

“In the window, the front window, there’s this raven made of iron. Hugh did that, and it’s one of his pieces,” Route said. Instead of displaying McPeck’s portrait in the gallery, Route decided the raven statue would be a better memorial plaque.

“He worked maybe 15 years with the students… and he loved it,” Gabler said. “He really expected excellence from his students, of himself and of his students, and it shows in the work of the gallery.”

The Hugh McPeck Gallery is open for any and all students. It now stands as a symbol of honor to a well-known professor who gave his time for his students, his family and friends and his art.

April 23, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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James Muller pursued political science after first being exposed to the subject in college. Muller has been to all 50 state capitol buildings and 150 national parks. Photo credit: Young Kim

In many ways, James Muller is similar to Richard Gilmore from the popular TV show Gilmore Girls. He has an Ivy League education from Harvard, his daughter is finishing her MFA at Yale and he has traveled all over the world. But, unlike Richard Gilmore, Muller has an established career in academia as a professor of political science at UAA. It wasn’t until college that Muller had his first exposure to a politics class, but he was the kind of student who had enough interest in the subject, that he was able to write a 70-page paper on the expansion of the powers of the presidency. In high school, he took so many AP courses that he started as a sophomore at Harvard and had to choose his major right away. Politics runs in his blood; his grandfather was a mayor, and Muller has made a career out of political science.

Despite his political experience, Muller found his home in Anchorage as a professor. As a child, he moved from coast to coast; he lived in California, then the suburbs of Washington D.C; he was in Tennessee for a short stint, then in Germany, Maryland, California again, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts for 11 years in college and graduate school. His daughter Helen was also educated in a coast-to-coast fashion when she was in sixth grade after her mother, Judith, completed cancer treatment.

“When [Judith] was sitting there doing chemotherapy, I think she was thinking about what she wanted to do after she didn’t have to go through her cancer treatment anymore…and she said she didn’t want to wait till she was retired to get a motor home and go around the country,” Muller said. “When you are sick with cancer you wonder how long you’ll have.”

Instead of waiting for retirement, all three Mullers, with their Welsh corgi, packed up, bought a motor home and decided to tour the country. In seven months’ time, they visited presidential houses, 150 national park sites and around 30 Civil War battlefields.

“What [Judith] wanted to do was sell our house, quit her job, she got me to take a sabbatical, and we bought a motor home. I’d never even been in one… and we went to all 50 states that year in 2004,” Muller said. “We went to all 50 state capitol buildings.”

Instead of being a professor of political science that year, Muller motor home-schooled Helen by taking her to Junior Ranger programs all over the nation. She became nationally renowned for visiting so many of the parks in one year, that Laura Bush the first lady, wrote her a letter congratulating her on her achievement.

“After the 100th Junior Ranger award she had won that year, the parks started making a fuss over her,” Muller said. “They would radio ahead to the next park and say this amazing kid is coming. She’s done a hundred Junior Ranger programs in one year! The rangers would say aren’t you the girl who’s on the national park website this morning? She learned that if you do something that’s really amazing, and a lot of work, and different from what most people do, people will notice.”

Before he toured the nation for the second time, he toured the world as a White House Fellow. During one two-week period, the fellows toured the Middle East; they went to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Israel and Egypt and did exotic activities like drive tanks and rappel out of helicopters.

“Saudi Arabia was a revelation too because it is such a strange country,” Muller said. “Very few people except those who have jobs there visit…We went to a camel race, and other kinds of things, we met all of these princes. I had to be a presiding fellow at a dinner where one of the dishes was the famous dish of the Nejd, which is the province where the capital Riyadh is. It didn’t taste very good, and I asked someone what it was and they said it was fermented camel’s yogurt with some kind of grain in it.”

After his tenure serving as a White House Fellow, he came back to Anchorage to teach political science. At the time, he said he was excited to come back to Anchorage and explore Alaska.

“After a whole year of writing speeches for the Secretary [of Education] and the Undersecretary, and not having my books, I felt as if I had used up what I knew, even though I learned a lot that year from seeing things up close, I’m sure,” Muller said. “I was really ready to come back and start reading again and be a professor, having students, being able to have discussions about political philosophy, and I was getting really interested in [Winston] Churchill.”

Muller has been teaching in Anchorage for 34 years and he is hoping to finish a book on Churchill’s writings next year. He’s also working on a book on P.G. Wodehouse.

April 23, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

This Spanish dish is vibrant, filling and perfect for big groups. My friends and I cooked this dish to kick off backyard-barbecue season. Inherently, this dish is expensive with the use of saffron and fresh seafood, but if each friend provides a couple ingredients, together you can make an amazing meal. We set up a fire in the fire pit, placed a large cast-iron skillet over the fire and cooked the paella from there. This is a traditional recipe, feel free to change the proteins. We added chopped pancetta to our recipe, which gave it a boost of flavor.

Ingredients:

Herbs

1 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Paella and Protein

1 cup water

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 (16-ounce) cans chicken broth

8 unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 1/2 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 skinned, boned chicken thighs, cut in half

2 links Spanish chorizo sausage (about 6 1/2 ounces)

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 large garlic cloves, minced

3 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice

1 cup frozen green peas

8 mussels, scrubbed and debearded

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

Prepare herb blend by combining all the herb ingredients. Set mixture aside.

Combine water, oil, saffron and broth in a large cast-iron skillet and bring to simmer, keep warm over medium heat.

Add chicken, sausage and shrimp. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion and bell pepper, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, paprika and three garlic cloves. Let cook for about three minutes.

Add rice; cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in herb blend. Bring to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mussels to pan, nestling them into rice mixture.

Cook for minutes or until mussel shells open. Arrange shrimp, heads down, in rice mixture and cook five minutes or until shrimp are done. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

April 18, 2017 Sarah Tangog
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In addition to a full course load at UAA, business administration and accounting major Niurguiana Lukovtceva was also enrolled online at Technical University of Moscow for a total of 14 classes last semester. Photo credit: Young Kim

For Niurguiana Lukovtceva, a double major in business administration and accounting, her difficulties were increased twofold last semester as she was enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage and online at Technical University of Moscow.

“In May, last year, I got a letter from UAA saying like, ‘Congratulations, you’re attending UAA!’ I was so happy for this,” Lukovtceva said. Growing up in Siberian Russia, she had been fascinated with life in America.

“If I have an opportunity like that, if my parents helped me with financial aid… It was a huge decision for me,” Lukovtceva said. “My uncle told me about the program, UAA, in Alaska – in America! It’s kind of a different part of the world, and I was interested.”

Her excitement about coming to UAA wasn’t deterred by the tasks she needed to do to come here, no matter how challenging they were.

“Half a year I was preparing for this, because of exams for English and a visa. It was kind of hard, and really tough,” Lukovteceva said.

Because she wasn’t just attending college for the first time, but also a college in a different country, her father suggested a backup plan just in case her plans at UAA didn’t work out.

“He told me, ‘You can go to the Russian University.’ There’s distance education, no attendance, just on a computer online. You can speak to a professor through Skype, it was really good,” Lukovteceva said. “It’s really cheap, this distance education. It’s really cheap in Russia.”

For her first semester in college, Lukovtceva faced many obstacles, especially juggling between the Russian education system and the American education system.

“It was really hard for the first semester when I came because the education system in America is so different, starting with grades and then finals week,” Lukovtceva said.

The overall semester in Russia is longer, as it usually lasts about five to six months rather than 15 weeks. Furthermore, finals week is expanded into a month of exams and tests. Last semester, Lukovtceva was taking a total of 14 classes: nine online through Russia and five at UAA.

“This was necessary. We can’t pick the classes, like ‘I want this, this and this.’ There’s classes you have to take,” Lukovtceva said.

Technical University of Moscow allows an online education similar to the UAA system by also using Blackboard. However, the choices of a major are limited, and certain classes are required to pass to advance to a sophomore status.

“The first two months was kind of easy for me,” Lukovtceva said. “Weekends were free, and that’s how I got organization, like time management skills. The first part of the week, I was in UAA and the second I was in Russia.”

However, the routine became exhausting. On top of her studies, she was experiencing social difficulties as well.

“First of all, language. When I came here, I was scared about this because my English skills were so bad,” Lukovtceva said. “I can write grammar, easy, but talking with each other was tough for me. And with teachers, it was awful the first time.”

Lukovtceva decided to take a break from the classes in Russia for the spring semester of 2017. She realized she wasn’t enjoying her experience in Alaska enough because of her workload, and that taking classes at UAA would allow her to breathe.

Lukovtceva still doesn’t know what’s to come, but she has high hopes about the future.

“I love everything in UAA,” Lukovtceva said.

She hopes to join clubs and be more involved in her Alaskan experience by the next semester.