Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Riding off into the sunset. NOT!

Wonder Lake, Denali National Park at sunset, by UAA's Brett Frazer.
I was searching for just the perfect cliche sunset picture to end our back-to-campus blog. I was going to make a joke about cowboys and sunsets and the truth is, the beginning of the semester may have ended, but folks, we've only just begun!

Instead, I found this AWESOME shot of the sun playing on Wonder Lake and Denali at Denali National Park. And it was taken by UAA's own Brett Frazer.

Many of you will recall Brett as a champion debater who anchored the UAA team with Drew Cason when they went up against the mighty, mighty Stanford debaters here at UAA in that amazing exhibition debate last spring. The Anchorage Daily News photographer Marc Lester captured some great images of it on their Focal Point blog. We live-blogged that event, and did a pre-debate interview with Brett that to this day is still worth a listen.

Brett's story is a good one to reconsider at the beginning of the academic year. In the interview, he talks about dropping out as a freshman, but when he came back, he was ready! His skills on the debate floor, and as a Truman Scholar for UAA, are inspiring indeed.

So as you start your college academic career here at UAA, or continue on your path, take Brett's lessons in. He squeezed as much out of UAA as he could, and you should do the same thing!

With that, let me thank our fearless and delightful bloggers this year  -- hoots, whisles, foot stomps!--to the amazing:
  • Theresa Cho
  • Joe Selmont
  • Shawn Eby
  • Stacie Meisner
  • Jolene Almendarez
  • Fabian Philipp
  • Kristi Powell
  • Bette Fenn
  • Georgia DeKeyser
  • Linda Morgan
  • Glenna Muncy
  • Jenna!
  • John Faunce
  • Alejandra Buitrago 
 A special thanks to Ted Kincaid, Advancement's new graphic artist, who created sketches to accompany the whims and wiles of fictional character Lamont Harpe and his tumble into love with charmer Emmy.

We broke 5,000 hits during these first few weeks on campus. Thank you for reading!  We hope you found some decent life hacks here to help you navigate and succeed at UAA. Have a great semester and a great year.

We'll be back with a Homecoming blog, so stay tuned!

The Prez has the last word....for now!

How incredibly fast the semester has gotten started, and I already feel like it's half over (one of my professors mentioned a midterm in two weeks!).

After surviving the windstorms, and playing catch up to make up for a lost day of meetings and interviews, I am pleased to announce that USUAA has a new Public Relations Director! Evelyn Castillo is a graduate of East High school and is very excited to start working with us, and we can't wait to get started!

This past week I also had the privilege of sitting down with UAA Chancellor Tom Case to talk about different issues affecting students. We discussed everything from improving the locations of Emergency Call stations around campus, to possibly starting a Chancellor Facebook page where he can better communicate with students and share information more easily. In fact, the Chancellor
gave me a quote for this post. He's got our back: “It’s great to see our student government so engaged. I encourage you to get involved!” Don't worry, Chancellor, we WILL!

Here we are at our retreat; on the wall are many ideas to engage!
Lastly I also had the opportunity to attend this years Gold Pan Awards hosted by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce with the Chancellor and got to watch UAA's Flight Crew club give a performance at the event.

Over this past weekend, USUAA had their semi-annual retreat where we focused on team building, goal setting, and learning our different personality strengths. I could not be more proud of the group of women and men that are on the Assembly this year. Each of them holds vast potential to do great things for their University, and I get to work with each and every one of them!

Kickoff seems like AGES ago!
However the work that we do as representatives of the student body would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our advisor and administrative assistants, Paula Fish and Anita Bradbury. Both of these women have children and families of their own, however they work and treat us as if we are just as much a part of their lives as their own family members. I don't think I could say thank you enough for everything Paula and Anita do for myself as well as for the Assembly. Their continuous support and encouragement is what keeps this organization going. Paula was also selected to be a part of the I am UAA campaign, and although she still wears her orange and blue proudly, she is a Seawolf at heart, through and through.

Once again, I could not be more proud of the position I am in, and the organization that I am a part of.

-- Alejandra Buitrago
USUAA Student Body President

Monday, September 17, 2012

Episode 6: Lamont & Emmy. Awwwwwwww....

Fiction, by Joe Selmont.
As I stared at the texturized ceiling above my bed, I could not concentrate on any single item. So many ideas, emotions, images and even smells jumped around inside my head, riding waves of electrical impulses upon the squishy substance of my brain.

Somewhere in the real world my ears picked up the sound of voices from the students in the MACS above me. A moth fluttered creepily around the fluorescent bulb protruding from the ceiling, light reflecting ever so slightly off its dull wings, almost like fairy dust. Then my thoughts went to Peter Pan, and then to Wendy, and then back to her, to Emmy, as if by some unexplained magnetic field my mind was endlessly attracted to her. We went on a date, thought I, a real date. Then off ran my thoughts in distant and digressive directions.

I’m Lamont Harpe, if you don’t know me. I work at UAA, live at UAA, and study at UAA. My semester to date had gone something like this: my mom helped me move back into the dorms, which was a disagreeable experience; I barely managed to scrape together the stuff necessary for a

Werewolves, zombies and vampires, oh my!

A new hybrid has been prowling UAA, and it doesn’t involve seamless gas to electric conversions or vampire/werewolf combos. These hybrids can magically transform from one mode to the other right before your eyes, and in one blink they have changed. If you happen to cross its path, though, you might not even be able to tell which form the hybrid has taken.

What is this anomaly? Should we notify UPD? Is this “hybrid” a concern for the community?

Do not fear, students of UAA, because unlike loyal vampire/werewolf hybrids that might drain you of blood and tear you limb from limb, the hybrids here run on coffee, composition pedagogy, reading, writing, and grading. You could probably consider them more friend than foe. These hybrids are your English 111 TAs.

Embrace your inner geek

Dr. Yoky Matsuoka was UAA's 2012 Freshman Convocation Keynote Speaker.

The link below is about how Dr. Yoky Matsuoka grew up with an identity crisis. She was popular, a rising star athlete, and an in-closet scholar. Dr. Matsuoka fully blossomed into a pioneer of neurobiotics (among many other things) upon embracing her inner geek.

So, if you've not been open to all your talents, then you might be inspired to change your approach after seeing this video of how Yoky navigated that territory. It has paid off in an exciting career and work that she loves.

An approximately 12-minute video of Dr. Yoky Matsuoka’s brief biography can be found here.

The good, the bad and the free in campus parking

As students begin to settle in to their schedules, drop some of those 8 a.m. classes that sounded like a great idea when registration occurred eight months ago, and begin to “figure it all out”, the parking woes begin to mellow as well…just in time for snow. As a final piece of advice from the parking services team, I encourage you to always park between the lines, even when you can’t see them.
 UAA's student-centered parking is unusual

Parking is a struggle on any campus—so much so that there is a model used to manage parking on many campuses called Transportation Demand Management that encourages pricing parking at a rate that only the top 20 percent can afford it. This reduces the demand for parking spaces because students, and many staff and faculty, simply can’t afford to drive so they are forced to find alternative ways to campus. Some schools limit who may bring a car to campus—either restricting freshmen from having cars on campus, or only allowing students to park in off-campus commuter park & ride lots and take a bus to campus.
Hope this parking photo brings a smile. (liquidnight CC Flckr)

Still yet, there are some schools that don’t charge at all for parking, or that figure in the cost of transportation to the total charges for the year. While you may save the cost of parking your car, often you will spend upwards of $40,000 per year in tuition at some of these schools, and you are told which lot you may park in, usually on the outskirts of campus. I guarantee the cost of managing those parking lots is paid by students in the long run.

The parking management system we have at

Friday, September 14, 2012

Theresa Cho: Cheap, easy, fast and delicious

In high school, I had a friend who lived by herself and regularly ate cauliflower and ketchup…but we won’t go there.

One of my previous posts states that a good, delicious meal is one of my top-most life refreshers. With creativity, eating well doesn’t mean spending a fortune or your entire day preparing one meal! Based on what my friends and I normally have in our kitchens, here are some quick, easy, cheap, and (most importantly) yummy recipes you can happily sink your teeth into.

Mac & Cheese + Prego
Prepare Mac & Cheese as you normally would and add Prego! If you have left over meat from another meal, feel free to throw that in. This dish is really a blank slate for anything. Melting in left over cheeses also adds another layer of yum.
A blank slate: Add leftovers for an extra layer of yum!