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Au Revoir Alex

“If you cultivate unyielding determination there is no obstacle that is a serious challenge to you.”—Alex Bogolepov

Alex on locationA young man who has become an integral member of the UAS community is returning to his home country. Alexey Bogolepov arrived in Juneau “full of uncertainty about life,” in the spring of 2003 at the age of 17. Now on the verge of his 23rd birthday, Alex is confident and committed to the goals he sets out for himself, whether riding a bicycle down the West Coast (as he did this past summer) or serving as campus photographer. Alex leaves Juneau for Seattle, and then St. Petersburg, Russia on December 14.

A close family friend and UAS Russian teacher, Jana Lelchuk, arranged for Alex to spend a semester at Juneau Douglas High School and to live with a host family as part of the sister city arrangement between Juneau and his home city of Kamchatka, Russia.

Alex had already finished high school in Russia and a semester of college studying world economics, “something my father wanted me to study,” he says. “I liked the world part, not the economics part. I felt like I had a more creative occupation waiting for me. I couldn’t verbalize it until I came here and took a photography class.” That class was with Dave Gellotte, in his first semester at UAS in the Fall of 2003. “I loved it so much. I spent countless hours at UAS in the dark room making pictures. Then he switched to digital photography. “Film is fun. Its just kind of anachronistic.”

Alex decided to stay at UAS and work here. (International students can only work on campus). His job as a Russian tutor in the Learning Center was the first of several positions that gave Alex confidence in his language skills and personal development.

He was next hired in Admissions where he worked on processing applications, at the front desk and as a telecounselor. “That was my least favorite part due to my accent and lack of English,” he recalls. “But as I took communications classes at UAS that really improved my communication skills.” Alex reached a turning point. “Then it got really fun.” And, he had his eye on another job that turned out to be a perfect fit.

Academic exchange and study abroad coordinator Marsha Squires was looking for a student worker who was interested in national and international exchanges. “The best part was meeting with incoming exchange students or students who wanted to go somewhere else. We had a motto: ‘Dare to Venture.’ It was about going outside of your comfort zone. Soaking in culture shocks.” In that spirit, Alex decided to venture from the rain forest to the desert.

“I started to look at my education in the US as an adventure and was realizing that UAS is not your typical school and wanted to see how it compared.”

He spent the Fall 2005 semester at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “It has like 30,000 students and does space and weapons research. It was amazing. Endless horizons. Natural wonders everywhere. So much sun that people tend to smile more. UNM was actually easier than UAS,” he recalls. “I had a great time but it persuaded me that a small school is a much better choice. You get a lot more personal attention.”

Upon return to UAS, he helped start the fair trade annual holiday art market exchange program fundraiser and served as co-president of the global connections club. In May of 2006, the French minor took Robin Walz’s French Culture and Society course, which included three weeks in Dordogne, France.

“That was a great experience. It wasn’t easy at all. We had to do homework all the time, read books for French history class. But we would read and then go into town and see what we read about. Weekends were off and they were free to travel. “I would ride 80 miles out. To castles, gardens no one knew about but that I had read about before,” recalls Alex with a mischievous smile. “I also walked all over Paris, went to lots of hidden museums and the biggest Gothic cathedral.” A retrospective of his black and white photographs of French cathedrals was displayed at the Jaded bar in downtown Juneau in the Spring of 2007. “Sort of a senior project,” he says.

Between his student worker employment and scholarships, Alex was able to support himself “pretty well” and save enough for a couple of visits back to Russia.

Alex embarked on another national exchange in the Fall of 2006 at Rhode Island College in Provincetown. He took courses like advanced photography, globalization, and history of western political thought. “The reason I really wanted to go to Rhode Island was to be close to New York City and places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’d study all week and go to New York City on weekends.” He returned to UAS for his senior year, Spring and Fall semesters 2007.

“I was a typical Marsha story. Start here. Take off for two years. Finish here. That is exactly what I did. It was great. It was more than a UAS education. It’s was an American and international education. Very well rounded.”

Without hesitation, he writes in his Why UAS? Questionnaire, Media Studies class with Jason Ohler was his favorite class. “We live in such an information-saturated world, that Media Studies should be a required class. I gained crucial knowledge about how to process and deconstruct the floods of information that we are constantly bombarded with.”

And he wrote of the UAS campus, “It’s the perfect place to discover your true self. On one hand, you have access to all human knowledge and can partake in global education opportunities. On the other, it’s very easy to get away from everything and spend some time in solitude, pondering the mountains and glaciers.”

Alex completed his Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Art with a minor in French degree in the Fall of 2007. “It was a great sense of achievement. It felt like 4.5 years of very hard work. College is a several year long project you have to finish.”

But he wasn’t quite done with UAS. Marsha Squires told him about an opportunity to extend his visa for one year if he engaged in optional practical training. Former vice chancellor for Student Services Richard Dent arranged for a 2008 internship with both student services and public relations and marketing. “I was most looking forward to getting photography experience and it’s been awesome,” he says.

Alex took everything from headshots for departments to scenic scenes of the new Auke Lake trail. Rather than walk, he opted to photograph the 2008 Graduation ceremony. He not only took, but dealt with literally thousands of pictures; sorting through and populating the UAS photo database that includes decades of photographs. Search 2008 photographs and 25 pages of photos by Alex Bogolepov come up.

“Alex has been a great addition to our office,” said UAS Chancellor John Pugh. “I appreciate his always positive attitude and willingness to help out. His photography has contributed to many departments around campus.”

Alex also updated and worked on several campus department websites and graphic arts projects including the Bubblebook and Bubblenet for incoming Freshmen and the Nuclear Awareness Conference in Spring 2008.

UAS Marketing and Public Relations director Katie Bausler notes his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. “This trait is perhaps best exemplified in his willingness to don a stuffy, heavy costume and serve as the UAS beloved mascot, Spike,” said Bausler. Alex was Spike at several events including the Juneau and Douglas July 4th parades.

Back at work, Alex documented recruiting and marketing joint meetings by taking minutes and distributing them to members via email. “Before I got this job I would have had colder feelings toward this line of work,” he reflects. “But I think knowing marketing and information science is pretty priceless if you want to broadcast a message to a wide variety of people. I am now interested in art not for arts sake but art for communications sake. This is why media and marketing are so interesting me. This job helped crystallize my views on public relations and media. I have much stronger opinions on things.”

Alex Bogolepov landed in Juneau five and half years ago a teenager with good English skills by Russian standards. But he says processing and mastering English was his biggest challenge. He returns to Russia, fluent in English and a college graduate with steadfast optimism. The most important thing he learned at UAS?

“If you cultivate unyielding determination there is no obstacle that is a serious challenge to you.”—Alex Bogolepov


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