Category: Features

December 11, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

UAA’s Fall Commencement 2016 will be held Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. Fall commencement is a smaller ceremony than spring, according to special events manager and chair of the commencement committee, Bridgett Dyson.

“The winter ceremony allows more students to participate in commencement,” Dyson said. “Prior to December 2014, very few summer and fall graduates were participating in commencement at all. Fortunately, the completion of the Alaska Airlines Center allowed us to host this second ceremony on our own campus.”

In Dec. 2014, UAA reintroduced fall graduation for the first time since the last fall ceremony was held in 1986.

“The ceremonies are virtually the same,” Dyson said. “The difference is the number of participants. The winter ceremony is about half the size of the spring ceremony. This allows us to open the ceremony to the public and makes it possible for students to invite family members and friends without a restriction on the number. In the spring, we must ticket the ceremony to assure that every graduate can invite someone to celebrate with and that no one is turned away at the door.”

Another big difference between the fall and spring semester graduation ceremonies has to do with size and the number of students who graduate.

“The winter ceremony has been growing, and we expect about 400 students to participate on Dec. 18,” Dyson said. “About 750 students walk in the spring ceremony.”

While the fall commencement may seem like a non-traditional aspect of UAA, but in reality, it is just in outlet for student graduation.

“Winter commencements are very common [in other schools] and a way to touch more of our students by providing the graduation experience,” Dyson said. “There are both winter and spring commencement ceremonies. The spring ceremony is held the Sunday following finals week of the spring semester.”

The fall commencement graduation hooding ceremony will be held Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium.

December 11, 2016 Richard Han

Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and Matt Damon are just a few of the big-name celebrities who have been commencement speakers this year. Many colleges pay thousands of dollars to get these people to speak at their graduation. UAA does not follow this type of commencement-style. UAA has an open invitation for graduating seniors to have the chance to be the commencement speaker.

According to the Boston Globe, three schools in Massachusetts paid $25,000 to $35,000 for their commencement speaker. That’s more than a year’s tuition for a UAA graduating student.

For UAA, a student is selected by the Student Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee, who is appointed by the dean of students. The committee consists of two faculty members and three graduating students not applying for the honor. The student speaker has the opportunity to reflect on the last few years and motivate the students for the future. Not just anyone can apply. To be eligible, students must be graduating in the semester of application. They must be enrolled in at least three credits at UAA and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the time of application.

The committee meets the applicants and listens to their speeches and each committee member scores them individually. Then they come together to review each applicant’s strengths and challenges than from there, their recommendation is submitted to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Bruce Schultz, who makes the final decision.

For the 2016 Fall commencement ceremony, Sophie Leshan, an early childhood education major, was chosen by the committee to lead the commencement ceremony.

There are a lot mixed feelings about commencement for many students.

“I think for a lot of students they are excited about commencement, but they’re not real sure what’s this whole thing going to be. ‘I’m doing this for my family.’ ‘I’m not sure I really want to but my mom wants me to go,’ so there’s that group. Then there’s students that are just like, ‘Yay, I’m so excited,’ but I think in the back of a lot of peoples’ mind is, ‘Is this going to take forever?’” Annie Route, director of Student Life and Leadership, said.

Some students are disappointed in the fact that UAA doesn’t try to bring a celebrity or successful person to speak.

“I could care less what a fellow student has to say, but I’m not surprised that UAA didn’t reach out and bring someone cool or inspiring,” Anthony Picasso, who is graduating with a degree in criminal justice with a minor in anthropology, said.

On the other hand, many students believe having a student speaker is better than having a famous actor or celebrity.

“I feel like using a student rather than some big shot is a great idea. They went through our journey or they are going through it so it makes it more meaningful. Everyone is also very excited about graduation in the first place so I personally wouldn’t be concerned about who is going to be speaking at the commencement. I’m just excited to graduate,” Crystal Goeth said, who is graduating with a degree in small business administration.

Graduation is a special time for students and their loved ones to reflect on their academic success. Regardless of who the speaker is, as long as they are able to instill a sense of purpose and achievement, the commencement can be a lasting memory for every graduate.

The commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center.

December 11, 2016 Brenda Craig

Seniors graduating in 2017 explain struggles throughout the last semesters of their academic career

December 11, 2016 Young Kim

Meet Sophie Leshan, the commencement speaker for UAA’s fall 2016 graduation ceremony. After transplanting here from Michigan before starting at UAA, she attributes the campus’s strong sense of community as the backbone of her successful college career. Graduating with a degree in early childhood education, she hopes to teach here in the state of Alaska….

December 11, 2016 Lee Piltz

December is that time of year when people are thinking about what they want to accomplish in the next year. Most people have pretty standard New Years resolutions, and our culture sometimes mocks the more cliche ones. A lot of people strive to lose weight in the coming year, to try to save money better…

December 11, 2016 Lee Piltz

When first walking into UAA’s Meditation and Wellness Club, the first thing I noticed was a very restful, quiet atmosphere. The act of making too much noise in their meeting room verged on the forbidden. There was some soothing music playing quietly in the room and my entrance was met with warm smiles. The meeting…

December 11, 2016 Brenda Craig

In the moment of graduation, students are not thinking about the origins of the cap and gown. It seems funny to wear a robe at a traditional event celebrating one’s success in academics. According to the UAA commencement document, there is a legend about an ancient Greek teacher who is responsible for potentially starting the…

December 11, 2016 Victoria Petersen

The holidays don’t have to put a dent in your wallet. Try these easy and inexpensive gifts that will wow and impress any gift recipient you encounter. These gifts will be tasty, useful and show you care. Homemade infused vodka Gift this to your favorite party animal or your local cocktail lover. They can use…

December 11, 2016 Richard Han

Graduating means a lot of things. It’s an end of one chapter of life and the start of another. Students spend years to reach this point, so what does one do after graduation? There is no clear cut answer, and no one person has the same path. Each person with an occupation and a degree…

December 5, 2016 Victoria Petersen

Tucked away in the Social Sciences Building is room 156. What was once a classroom has been transformed into a Japanese cultural and ceremonial center. The Monty Dickson Center tea ceremony room is the first of it’s kind on campus and opened its doors Nov. 28. The center is named in honor of Montgomery Dickson,…

December 5, 2016 Lee Piltz

Generation Action is a club at UAA that is dedicated to raising awareness on reproductive freedom, sexual violence, Planned Parenthood and other related topics. They also host events such at Take Back the Night, and work to educate women and men on healthy sexuality and relationships. One of the main reasons that people join Generation…

December 5, 2016 Brenda Craig

Starting in the spring of 1991, Late Nights has been catering to UAA students during the last two weeks of each semester. Student Activities and Commuter Programs understands the amount of stress students face during finals week and they came up with a way to relieve some of the pressure. Late Nights takes place the…

December 5, 2016 Victoria Petersen

Make use of your frozen summer berry bounty with some delicious warm baked blueberry pie bars.

December 4, 2016 Richard Han

December has arrived and students all over UAA will be preparing for finals this week in various different ways. Three of the most important factors that many students begin thinking about in preparation for finals week include: knowing what’s going on in your classes, prioritizing your time and being in an atmosphere where effective studying can take place.

Although knowing the actual content is important, knowing what specific content will be tested on is also vital. Utilizing resources given by the instructor whether it be a study guide or practice test material is very helpful. Knowing if the final is on a specific section or accumulative is useful information so no time is wasted reviewing untested material.

Knowing what grade you have prior to taking your finals is very important. Senior natural science major Bora Yoon takes her time to assess how she must perform.

“I try to free my schedule and prioritize my time to focus on school work. Also, I have a clear idea of what my course grades are throughout the semester, so when it’s time for final exams I can calculate what I need to do and what to get done in order to get the grade I want in the course,” Yoon said.

Finals week is a week where most students lose a lot of sleep and have poor diets. It is important to note that getting an adequate amount of sleep is important in maximizing your study potential. Avoid eating unhealthy junk food and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Students may also have a hard time concentrating when it comes to studying. It is important to find an environment where you can be focused and productive. Although study groups may be fun, sometimes studying quietly in a room alone can be beneficial.

Junior computer science major Chris Mahan has a specific setup he has to maximize his study.

“I like to get any kind of energy drink, whether it’s a red bull or coffee as well as some water. I also bring a snack like trail mix and find a quiet spot in the library. Usually, I like to listen to relaxing music, but not too loud so it isn’t distracting,” Mahan said.

Throughout the week stress can build up. Finding a stress reliever in between studying and testing is a good way to keep your sanity throughout the dreadful week. Activities such as running, boxing and doing yoga help students to relieve their stress.

Many students have jobs and commitments outside of school and it can quickly become overwhelming during finals week. Requesting some time off prior to set aside time to study is not a bad idea.

In the case where taking time off isn’t an option, prioritizing your time is huge. Mark Villasin, a full-time student with a full-time job, organizes his week so he knows what exactly he needs to do throughout the week.

“I am a full-time student and a full-time employee at GCI which means I have little time to study. This is why it is important to manage my time wisely because I don’t have much room for comfort to be slacking off. Typically when I study, I tend to study at night or right after class since those are my most open time slots. Regularly, I find myself looking for time but you make with what you got,” Villasin said.

Whether studying means raising or maintaining a grade, finals week can be harsh. Time is precious and finding ways to best utilize that time is key.

December 4, 2016 Brenda Craig

Since the opening of AK Alchemist in 2013, this hybrid between a coffee shop and a Tex-Mex food destination has grown more popular amongst Alaskans. Not only do they serve some of the best coffee Alaska has to offer, but also a great selection of lunch items such as fish tacos, burgers, Alaskan burritos, reindeer…

December 4, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

When Megan Hoover walks from the dorms to classes on campus, she always makes sure to carry her pepper spray. For Hoover, a health sciences major living in East Hall, safety while walking back and forth from campuses is something she likes to take into her own hands. “I carry pepper spray, and I keep…

December 4, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

With finals week approaching, students will be forced to study and find study spots. For students who favor the Consortium Library as a study spot, there are certain things students need to do to ensure having a study room during finals week.

“Definitely book [study rooms] far in advance,” Keelin Baughmin, library technician said. “If you try to come in frequently during finals there’s about a wait of about two or three hours on average.”

Baughmin recommends different parts of the library for students who prefer complete quiet versus ambient noise.

“Depends on how you like to study,” Baughmin said. “Some people like dead silence and so the best place would be the second floor of the library. Some people need kind of ambient noise, so Kaladi’s or the first floor is usually best because you get those rustling noises.”

For students really interested in studying during finals week, after hours will again be open for the period of time leading up to and during finals.

“We are open for finals [for late night] starting the seventh, the Wednesday before finals,” Baughmin said. “During that, we’re going to be open till 2 a.m. like we used to be during other finals. It’s just during the regular semester that we can’t.”

Baughmin attended UAA and majored in German when she was a student. During her finals weeks, she liked to utilize empty classes all over campus for studying.

“There’s a lot of classrooms they just leave unlocked and you could kind of just walk in, and that’s what I would do,” Baughmin said. “I usually just go to the [Social Sciences Building] because usually the shuttles would take me straight from the dorms to here so it would just be easy…So like Beatrice McDonald, Gordon Hartlieb, a couple of those around there, no one ever goes in so you can just sit down, and they’re usually pretty quiet.”

Mark Simon, a political science major, is working on his fifth year at UAA, and he prefers last minute cram studying for finals on the SSB fourth floor.

“As for my personal preferences is quiet study places there’s actually a fourth floor to the SSB,” Simon said. “That staircase in the middle goes all the way up to the roof, and no one ever goes up there. So if you are just looking for a quiet place to sit on the floor and not have anyone bother you, top of the staircase. I know that’s a weird one, but it’s funny, and I’ve gone up there once or twice during finals weeks to hammer out a paper that I need to work on or catch a couple of minutes of sleep. No one ever goes up there.”

Outside of the SSB fourth floor, Simon also recommends students try to find and utilize the designated study rooms for specific colleges at UAA.

“If it gets a little later, I go to the political science lab,” Simon said. “I know a couple different programs have labs in their respective offices, it’s usually free to print in there, which is good if you are running low on printing dollars.”

When Simon lived in student housing, he preferred to use the library over the study rooms available in the dorms because those rooms tended to be full and noisy.

“My go to [study spot] is in the ARLIS [Alaska Resources Library and Information Services] library. There’s that kind of courtyard area under the glass and you can just sit there, it’s a quiet study area, they’ve got like eight seats there, internet’s good there, they’ve got powerstrips there so it’s a good place to set up a laptop and be there for eight hours,” Simon said.

Jasson Leatham, aviation administration major likes to study on campus, even though he lives off campus, because it helps hims stay focused.

“The problem is at home I have a lot of distractions. It is nice to study at home because I am comfortable, but I also find myself falling asleep a lot easier, too,” Leatham said. “I like to study in the library because it’s quiet and you can sometimes reserve a room and have a group study… Also if I just have a small assignment that I want to refresh on before I get to class, I study right here in the Union. It’s all about preference I would say — if you are trying to be warm, if you’re trying to have a group around you, or if you are trying to socialize while you study.”

Finals are right around the corner, and reservations for library rooms fill up fast. If library study rooms run out, students can always do what Simon and Leatham do and utilize their college’s specific study rooms.

November 21, 2016 Victoria Petersen

If you’ve been asked to help out with Thanksgiving or you’re hosting your own, these recipes will help round out the menu.

Slow Cooker Cranberry BBQ Meatballs


50-60 frozen meatballs

One 14 oz can whole cranberry sauce

One 12 oz jar cocktail sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1 cup barbecue sauce

Finely chopped green onions for garnish


1. Use cooking spray to spray the bottom a slow cooker. Pour in all the meatballs.

2. In a bowl, mix the cranberry sauce, cocktail sauce, brown sugar, water and BBQ sauce. Once the sauce is mixed well, pour over the meatballs.

3. Cook the meatballs on low for 5 hours. and then on high for 2 hours. Serve warm and garnish with green onions.

Cream Corn


20-30 ounces of frozen corn

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper


1. In a slow cooker, add all the ingredients and cook on high for 2 to 4 hours. Stir all the ingredients after the first hour.

Pumpkin Spice White Russian


4 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur

3 tablespoons pumpkin spice liquid coffee creamer

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla vodka

2 to 3 teaspoons canned pumpkin puree

Sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice


1. In a drink mixer, add all the ingredients and shake until thoroughly combined.

2. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.

November 21, 2016 Lee Piltz

Do you like Dungeons and Dragons? Magic the Gathering? Board games? How about Cards Against Humanity? If you said yes to one or more of these things, then Game Club at UAA is the place for you. When I first heard of the game club, I thought it was solely going to be about video…