Native Student Services hosted a welcome back potluck Sept. 17 that offered free food, fun and advice for University of Alaska students.
The event featured cameos from highly regarded people, tons of free food and an assortment of individuals from around Alaska and as far away as Oklahoma. The potluck was mainly for new students but Willy Templeton, director of NSS, emphasized that it was open to everyone.
“It’s a nice little thing, like an icebreaker for the year,” said Kyle Mortenson, a first-year student and receptionist for NSS.
The event wasn’t only meant to feed the hungry but to provide a chance for people to get to know each other and establish a good circle of friends, Templeton said.
“Peer groups lead to success, and this event provides students an opportunity to meet various people and give them a sense of belongingness,” Templeton said.
During the start of the potluck everyone was introduced and told a little bit about themselves. This gave shy students a chance to be a little more social, Templeton said.
UAA students and staff members were not the only ones to make an appearance at the potluck. Lee Stephan, CEO and 2nd Chief for the Eklutna village, was also present. He was there to offer advice to students and encouraged them to keep on working even though “things within our reach may be priced above our grasp.”
Templeton also said the event was used to “emphasize the chancellor’s initiative” to get 100 percent of students and faculty registered to vote.
A spokesperson for an organization encouraging Natives to vote was present to talk to individuals about registering. Buttons supporting voting were also handed out.
Although NSS is geared toward those of Alaska Native and Native American descent, they do not discourage other people from attending their functions, Mortenson said.
“Two hundred to 225 first-time freshmen were called and invited,” Templeton said. “We want to make them feel welcome.”
The NSS has been holding these functions for about 20 years, Templeton said.
“Usually we hold this potluck within the first couple of weeks. The next one will be in November, which is Native Heritage month,” Templeton said.