UAS, A Supportive Community by Jennifer Thorsteinson (Loesch)
I graduated from Petersburg High School in 2000 as a UA Scholar, however I chose, like most of my classmates, to leave the State and tried to get as far away as possible. I went to Texas Christian University (TCU) in Forth Worth, Texas for a year but found I missed Alaska and felt lost in the "system" at TCU. I transferred to UAS in Juneau and immediately recognized all the benefits that I'd missed at TCU - small class sizes, one-on-one interaction with professors, and a great location close to home.
However, I soon met a handsome man in a military uniform (a UAF ROTC Grad) and we dated, got engaged, and married. He was pursuing a Master's Degree in Portland, Oregon so I moved down there where I worked full time to support us so he could go to school full time. The goal was to eventually move back to Juneau so I could finish my degree. That happened in January of 2006. After finishing one semester my husband was deployed with the Army National Guard so while he was away I took full advantage of having more time on my hands and took classes through the summer and graduated in May 2007. He wasn't able to attend the ceremony, but his support and that of our famlies and friends definitely helped me complete my degree.
The other thing that helped even before I left UAS to get married were the scholarships that I applied for and was given. Every single year I was in school I filled out the scholarship applications and was often successful in getting financial aid that way. All of these were local or state-wide scholarships (SE Conference, Mike Miller, etc) and really contributed to my belief that UAS is a community and there is a lot of support for our local University within the local communities and state. Following my graduation from UAS I worked several temporary jobs waiting for my husband to get home from his deployment.
Once he did we decided to make Juneau our permanent home - buying a house and settling into more permanent jobs. I went to work for the State, first with the Department of Administration, Division of Retirement & Benefits and finally with the job I have now, Legislative Finance Division where I am the Administrative Officer. I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree with emphasis in Communications and find that not only having a well-rounded education, but also brilliant communications professors has contributed to my success in my current position.