Thursday, March 31, 2016

Alaska to Italy: Study Abroad Prep

Hi my name is Agnes and I’m going to have a crazy awesome May. Three days after finals I’ll be flying from Fairbanks to Florence, Italy! I’ll be staying there for 3 weeks and taking an art class while I’m there. When I walked into the Study Abroad office last semester I didn’t think studying abroad was going to be possible for me. Then after working with Erica, I am now heading to Italy. I had a lot of questions and plenty of forms to fill out and the study abroad office has helped me to make the process as easy as possible.
So after talking to Erica, here are some frequent answers to various questions (including personal commentary):
  • For the most part, financial aid used to go to school at UAF can be used away (APS, UA Scholar, federal loans, Pell Grant, etc.). Pell Grant is need-based: and Gilman Award is for  first-generation students (meaning your parents did not complete a secondary education degree).
  • There are a lot of scholarships that students can apply for, so don’t give up! The UAF FInancial Aid office can help you to find scholarships that apply to what you’ll be doing when you study away.
  • If you’re trying to raise money, I recommend using gofundme, crowdfunding, and  asking extended family to meet the space between scholarships, work savings, and loans.
  • If you are an Alaskan resident, you can remain eligible for PFD if you do go away.
  • Every credit and every grade that a student earns away will follow him/her back to UAF. The default is that the class will appear on the UAF transcript as electives, but if a course taken away is close enough in content to a course taught at UAF, the course might appear as that specific UAF course (world history class abroad might come back as HIST F100X).

  • UAF doesn't approve programs with current U.S. State Department Travel Warnings. Want to know if the place you’re interested in is okayed? You can contact the study abroad office.
  • If something happens, we deal with it on a case-by-case basis
    • Our office reaches out to each student in the area via many different services like email, Facebook, and Skype.
    • They send a letter reminding students of emergency plans, etc.
    • Insurance is recommended to be purchased before travel for health, medical and evacuation.
Experiential Learning (academic/credit-bearing)
  • There are a lot of options for experiential learning available.
    • International internships
    • Volunteer/service learning abroad
    • Field-based programs
    • Research
Noah has studied abroad already, and I am preparing. Feel free to email us from the Student Ambassador page

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Word on the Street: UA Scholars

Lately I have been very interested in the opinions of other students and faculty. This blog series is a recording of that. This interview was done in a digital response format.
Amy Bristor is the Student Admissions COunselor for UA Scholar students. This is a big job that she loves to do.

What is your name?
Amy Bristor
What’s your favorite game or TV series?
What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
Treat school like a job.
What’s the coolest thing about UAF?
The community of individuals.
How did you feel at UAF on your first day here?
Very confused and in a daze. I wish that I had attended orientation, which wasn't mandatory when I came here.
What can you not live without at UAF?
Wood Center
Where are you from?
What do you think about the new Tobacco Free policy?
Conflicted - I don't want to walk through a cloud of smoke like the next person, but I think we could've compromised to have a designated smoking area.
Where is a place you want to visit?
Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand
What's your favorite thing you’ve done at UAF?
Help students discover all UAF has to offer.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fun at Skiland

I thought when I came from Montana to Fairbanks, downhill skiing would be entirely traded for cross country skiing. There aren't any mountains close by, I thought. There is no way skiing up here, with such a lack of double black diamond runs, would be a good way to pass my time. I couldn't have been more wrong!

I visited Skiland one Saturday in mid February with my friend. She wanted to try out her snowboard and I figured it would be good to visit the place since I've never been before and the sun was shining brighter than any other day of the winter.
We left campus on a sunny day. The temperatures were above 40 degrees Fahrenheit!

We packed our things and drove up. Skiland is about 40 minutes away from Fairbanks, which is extremely convenient for those wanting to get out of town, but don't have all weekend to drive. The parking area and lodge are situated on top of  Cleary Summit. I've never been to a ski area where you ski down first, and then ride the chairlift. The views were stunning!

Here is the view from the parking lot. Off to the left is the rental house.
 I was able to rent gear and purchase my ticket for under $70, which is much cheaper than many large resorts. A discount is offered for anyone with a UAF Polar Express Card as well.
The view from the rental house is awesome.
I was ready for ice coated slopes and chattering skis, but the snow conditions were smooth and much softer than I had expected . We had fun skiing and boarding into the bowl after warming up on the many flatter runs. This ski area is great for freshening up at the beginning of the season, but offers a bit of tree skiing and rocky areas for those who have more aerobatic skill than myself. I got back into the swing of things after a season away from skiing in no time. Whether a beginner or expert, Skiland has a variety of terrains to offer you.
Skiland has the "farthest north chairlift in America"! The lift was also fairly windy that day.
At lunch time, we went into the cozy cafeteria area and ordered delicious hot sandwiches and chili. They also have tea, coffee, and a variety of sweets and snacks. I enjoyed the cozy cabin feel of the place. It was very unique and down to earth.
I posed like a cool cat.
 We hit the slopes until about about 5 P.M. Skiland is open until the sun sets, so there is plenty of time for a full or half day of runs. I had a fantastic time out on the slopes with my friend. The owners and employees were very nice, and the ski area itself is unique due to it's atmosphere and setup.

If you want to learn more about Skiland, visit their website here. I might see you out on the slopes the next time I visit Skiland!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Word On Campus: Gaming Edition

Lately I have been very interested in the opinions of other students and faculty. This blog series is a recording of that. This first interview was done in a digital response format. Future posts will either feature a digital response or a video recording.

What is your name?
My name is Steven McGraw.

What is the name of your club?
UAF E-sport Gaming Club.
What’s your favorite color?
What’s your favorite game or TV series?
The Warcraft Genre.
If Lois Lane wasn’t a journalist, what would she be?
Lois Lane would probably be crazy environmentalist woman who ties herself to a tree.
What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
Don't let your parents decide your major.
What is your favorite movie or video game?
The Master of Disguise
Are there any causes you are passionate about?
What do you do at home on a rainy/ snowy day?
I would sit in my room and play video games, like I always do
What’s the coolest thing about UAF?
What’s your kryptonite?
Ice Cream
Who is your favorite band?
Nickelback and Linkin park are tied for my heart.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
What is the first website you visit in the morning?
How did you feel at UAF on your first day here? {Just a little side note by Agnes: Student Orientation is now required to prevent this feeling.}
What is your favorite subject?
You can have any 3 books and/ or video games on a desert island, what would they be?
Warcraft 3, Tropico 3,Day of the Dragon.
What can you not live without at UAF?
The Pub
Do you have a favorite app?
I have a tracfone...
Where are you from?
Fairbanks, Alaska
What’s the hardest thing at UAF?
Late Night Lab Classes.
What's your perfect road trip?
What do you think about the new Tobacco Free policy?
I think it's a good idea simply because the majority of people that smoke on campus [did] so by vents that lead into the building causing me to have repeated asthma attacks during class. I understand people's problems with it but at the same time it's hard for me to deal with the smoke caused by it.
Where is a place you want to visit?
Japan and yell, "I WILL BE THE HOKAGE!" Then hide for the rest of the trip.
What are you most excited for these days?
Is your club on Facebook or Twitter?
We are on Facebook but not Twitter.

What do you do at your club?
We play Video Games.
What's your favorite thing you’ve done at UAF?
Starvation Gulch was fun.

Are there any other student clubs I should interview? What about faculty members?  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fairbanks is Pretty Dope in the Winter

Serene wintry environment with pastel splashed skies

New Years fireworks that remind me of vector fields from Calculus III last semester

More New Years fireworks 

Massive snowbanks from all the plowing
I think Fairbanks is called Fairbanks because all the snowbanks are of fair size,  but the trends seem to be for bigger snowbanks.  That's just my opinion of course.

Ski trails and a frozen lake

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Let's Learn about URSA!

     URSA is more than an acronym for Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity. Those words represent opportunity and discovery, open to every undergraduate student. As their slogan says, “don’t just gain knowledge—create it.”

     I spoke with URSA Coordinator, Kate Pendleton, and URSA Co-Director, Dr. Trent Sutton, to learn more. The information provided beneath each topic is paraphrased from each of their interviews.

What is URSA?

Sutton: At least 41 percent of undergraduates are already involved in research at UAF.

Pendleton: Each semester, more students apply for URSA grants. URSA is open to every undergraduate.

Who is eligible?

Sutton: URSA promotes research and scholarly activity.

Pendleton: “You don’t have to be at the top of your class or the most motivated student.” Any undergraduate can apply and reapply for URSA grants each semester. Students at all UA campuses, including rural sites, can apply too. “URSA is trying very hard to make sure anyone in any discipline has access to research.”

What can my project be?

Sutton: Anything a student wants to do, not just hard science, is eligible. Directing a play or creating a sculpture are examples of quality scholarly activities we encourage as well.

Pendleton: Students pick a project based off what they are interested in, or dig deeper into research they do as a student employee. Projects have included creating bowls, researching the effects of the drug spice, studying lampreys, and displaying art and writing. “Whatever it is that a student is interested in, they get funding to do that.”

What does it take to apply?

Once a student has an idea, they need to find a mentor. The mentor will help with the application and guide the student through their project.

Pendleton: Finding a graduate student or faculty member with similar interests is the easiest way to get a mentor.

Then, the student will apply for an URSA grant by way of an online application.

Sutton: There were thirty-eight submissions for the spring 2016 grant.

After, the applications are reviewed and grant recipients are contacted.

What is the application review process like?

Sutton: The URSA Co-directors, Dr. Trent Sutton and Dr. Barbara Taylor, review each proposal. Faculty representing the sciences and arts also review applications. Each proposal is reviewed by 3-4 faculty members. Then, the proposals are ranked by score on a spreadsheet and the prize money cut-off is determined.

What can I use the money for?

Pendleton: There are five awards each year, including two for projects, two for travel, and one $5000 summer research award. Faculty can also get mentoring funds. The awards are a stipend so that students can do research instead of having to get a job.  

Travel grants can pay for travel to the research site or help people attend a conference they couldn’t otherwise afford, either to present a paper or just attend and learn more.

Sutton: We gave out over $3000 in 2015.

What if I get the award?
Pendleton: If students receive a grant, they present at Research Day at the end of April. Students from each college compete and present their research.

What if I don’t get the award?

Even if a person doesn’t get a grant, URSA is helpful.

Pendleton: Students may do a masters project based on their URSA project. URSA is a learning process that people can use as a model when applying for larger grants.

Sutton: URSA work can help students build a resume and is a good primer for what grad school will be like. Hands-on learning is where students can reinforce what they learn in class. The book part comes to action. Furthermore, students learn to communicate their data to give it meaning, even for people who don’t have background with their project.

If you are interested in research, scholarly activity, or attending a conference, contact URSA!

Sutton: They can place you with a faculty member, find funding for you, and help you gain new experience

Pendleton: “There is something to be learned by all of it.”

Visit URSA in room 301 of the Bunnell Building
Call URSA at 907-450-8772
Visit their website at

Monday, December 7, 2015

All about the Alaska Legislative Internship Program

It was just over a year ago that I was sitting in my Intro to Natural Resource Management class when a visitor came in bearing brochures and asked to briefly talk about the University of Alaska Legislative Internship Program. This program accepts students from UAF (Fairbanks), UAA (Anchorage), and UAS (Juneau) to move to Juneau during the spring session to work for a senator or representative as an intern. This isn’t your typical internship where you might spend three months getting you boss coffee every morning. 
Instead, you are treated as a full-time staff member and have the opportunity to participate in research, tracking and moving legislation, communicating with constituents, meeting with lobbyists and other staff, and possibly drafting and managing your own piece of legislation. As an added bonus, there are often stipends awarded as well as relocation allowances. 

I was very interested, but, being a Rural Development student with very little knowledge of politics, thought it highly unlikely that I would have a chance at being selected. Despite this, I went ahead and applied in October, hoping for the best. The application was relatively simple and required a cover letter, resume, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a short research paper proposal idea. 
A few weeks later I was notified that I had been accepted into the program! Ever since I received that exciting email, it has been a crazy few weeks of phone interviews with senators and representatives who are all eagerly searching for interns. There are only nine students, and 23 offices who are hoping to bring on an intern. Because of this, I was receiving 5-10 phone calls a day for about two weeks until I made my decision. 
I finally picked the office that I believe will best fit my passions and interests, and will be headed to Juneau for the Spring 2016 semester where I will receive 12 credits that will transfer back to UAF when I complete the program. I am thrilled that I have an opportunity such as this to gain first-hand experience and utilize what I have been studying for the past five semesters.

I share this experience with you to let you know that if you are looking for a school with unique opportunities that will prepare you for a career after college, then UAF may just be the school for you! There are opportunities here that you may not get anywhere else, and doors may open that you never thought would be possible. 

For some more info about the University of Alaska Legislative Internship Program, visit their website: