Overview from a Recent UAF Grad

I am Bronwyn Harrod, a recent graduate from the Chemistry Department here at UAF, as well as an Honors Program alum. I attended UAF for 5 years, living with my parents for my first year of college, and moving to campus for the remaining period. I was simply a dorm resident for that second year of college life. For my final 3 years at UAF, however, I became a Residence Life Peer Mentor; for this position, I lived with, tutored, and gave advice to the freshmen of UAF. I will be the first to tell you that my time at UAF, in the Honors Program, and as a Fairbanks resident have really helped to set my life’s course, and set me up for graduate study at another major university.

UAF is a nationally ranked school for engineering and the sciences, and has given me the basis I needed to be ready to pursue my future in academia. The opportunities here are unlike those available in the vast majority of other schools, and for a price that is affordable to boot! I was involved in research here before I even graduated high school! This experience started my path that led to further one-on-one research with UAF faculty mentors, a couple of research internships at a national top tier school (Texas A&M University-College Station), three second-author publications in scientific journals, and ultimately to my acceptance to the Chemistry Ph.D. program at the University of California-Davis.

Being in the Honors Program accelerated my progress; it gave me the chance to be creative, independent, and self-motivated, all the while providing the resources and guidance that I needed. The friends I made through the Honors Program were by no means the least of the benefits. We took several classes together, and would help to push each other through our rough spots and hard times, with respect to both school and life. It was so nice to have a group of people to count on, right from the start. We used the Honors House – our own program facility – for everything from a study area for our all-nighters together, to a movie night relaxation spot, to a dinner party venue, to a haven for sound advice. Without these aids, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today, nor have the success that I have experienced.

Of course, one also has to at least like the area in which one is living for the years of college; I found Fairbanks to be perfect for me. The people here (fondly referred to as “Fairbanksans” or “Fairbanksians”, depending on to whom you talk) are friendly and helpful. This is a town of people who are simultaneously dependent on one-another and independently self-sufficient. For example, many Fairbanksians live in dry cabins, driving their own water to their house, hunting or catching their own meat, growing their own vegetables, etc. However, as soon as their car dies, or their heater cuts out for no reason in the middle of a 20 to 40 below winter, or they find themselves without a sponsor for a big school program, someone is always there to help at the drop of a hat. And yes, I am completely speaking from experience… Besides, where else can you take a photo of yourself in shorts and a tank top in front of the university temperature sign, which is reading -38 degrees?? Or ride an ice sculpture of a polar bear, or “Nanook”, in the dead of winter? Or have 20 hours of daylight as you are studying for Spring semester finals? This town, this campus, this environment…. all so unique! Or should we say UNIQUELY AWESOME! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at blharrod@alaska.edu. I would be more than happy to help in any way I can!

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