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A Selection of UAS Graduate Testimonials

At the 2010 Juneau Commencement, Chancellor Pugh told some student stories but did not mention names. Here are some 2010 Graduate stories, the identity of the tellers revealed.

Sean O'NeilSean O'Neil
B.S. Mathematics,
Minor, Creative Writing

I’ve lived a full life in the last decade, having fought in two wars, had more than one career, and getting married to a truly wonderful woman, a true angel in disguise. I’ve had my fair share of troubles, living on our own and still finding a way to pay rent and get food while living well below the poverty line. If it wasn’t for the GI bill, and my wife’s perseverance I don’t think we would have made it. But because we knuckled down and did what we had to do I am now the first college graduate of my family in this generation. UAS and Juneau have healed me more than I care to admit. The atmosphere of being laid back, and yet still holding the line to ensure that everyone is still accountable helped to heal me from my time in the military. When I came to UAS I didn’t know how to laugh or smile. Now, I’m always smiling. I’ve learned to look for the good things in life, because those are always the most important.

Erin HaywardErin Hayward
B.A. Elementary Education

I am from Metlakatla. I attended UAS in Juneau for the last 6 years. The PITAAS and Trio programs helped me succeed in receiving my degree. My family, friends, and relatives were encouraging supporters throughout college. I really enjoyed going to UAS because it not only teaches valuable information in the classrooms but also hands on outside of the classrooms. My educational courses in these last two years of college have really helped me gain great insight into what it means to become a teacher. I did my Student Teaching in my hometown and will possibly have a teaching job lined up for me next year. I am very honored to be a college graduate from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Kari DammermanKari Dammerman
B.S. Marine Biology

While I feel lucky to have traveled so much as an exchange student in South Carolina and Norway my favorite part of UAS has actually been the research. After my summer in South Carolina, I got started on a genetic and behavior study on small amphidromous fish called Coastrange sculpin (Cottus aleuticus). That same semester, I got awarded an undergraduate research grant from Alaska EPSCoR to pay for my research and to fund a trip to Portland, Oregon to present my research. In July of 2009, I gave a talk at a professional meeting and am pretty sure my whole body was shaking the entire time even though there were only about 15 people in the room. The research also took me to Anchorage, helped me get an additional grant this past semester, will take me to Fairbanks this summer, and may even be published in the near future. Looking back at it all, I can’t even begin to explain the ways that this little freshwater fish has changed my life. I’m now nearing the end of my final semester, the end of a chapter in my life. This fall, I’ll be saying goodbye and heading off to graduate school in Michigan to study the population ecology of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens).

Katerina Kuntz-TaddaKaterina Kuntz-Tadda
B.S. Biology, B.A. Art

I began my college career fourteen years ago as a biology major working towards physical therapy. I’ve always been surrounded by nature, and UAS fostered that bond. We have access to lakes, rivers, glaciers, sea, mountains, and trails all in our backyards. I was able to completely immerse myself in the beautiful environment here. I found, however, that my life-long appreciation and enjoyment of art was also well within reach. Juneau has a great artist community, and with the new BA in Art program at UAS there exists a fantastic juxtaposition of art education and a culture willing to embrace the arts. Though my career plans have changed for now, my fascination for biology and my desire to create art have led me to complete both programs with a goal towards scientific illustration. UAS has been a welcoming and nurturing school. The friends and peers have provided great support, knowledge, and critique over the years. The faculty is amazing and provides great feedback and assistance. I’ve learned so much about my surroundings, and the different media to explore has given me a solid base from which to launch myself. The great thing about science and art, is that they’re both all about experimentation, and UAS has provided a wonderful laboratory and confidence to take myself through whatever doors open before me.

Emily Scott LockieEmily Scott Lockie
B.A. Social Science, Minor: French, Spanish

In the fall of 2006, I attended Idaho State University as a National Exchange Student. During my exchange, I discovered my true interest in sociology and changed my major to reflect this discovery. I worked for Community Education teaching French, beading and Swing, Latin and Ballroom dancing. I also served as an intern with Habitat for Humanity. Outside of school, I spent most of my time volunteering, driving to other states, dancing, visiting national parks, running through sprinklers, hiking and dating an interesting young man. Needless to say, our budding romance sprouted into a full blown love affair. By the end of my exchange, we got married and moved back to Juneau. My husband and I became active members of the community serving as religious teachers and youth leaders as well as teaching dancing and participating in community activities. I also began working for Juneau Youth Services, which gave me invaluable real life experience helping at risk youth. In 2009, we welcomed our son Alden into the world. With the help and cooperation of my professors, I was able to continue my education through many difficult times. I also took advantage of the UA Distance program. These online courses allowed me to stay home with my son while finishing my education. After graduating, I hope to return to school to earn a Doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Ariel RolfeAriel Rolfe
B.A. Art

After graduation, I don’t anticipate life to change too drastically. I intend on continuing to serve my community by helping with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council as well as working on my own projects. I hope to volunteer some time with the Alaska State Museum as well to keep learning how to construct and design exhibits, which is my ultimate career goal. I really can’t say that I had any favorite class or professor at UAS. A lot of my professors made classes fascinating and I loved learning from them. Jane Terzis is definitely one of the top professors at UAS, she helped introduce me to Juneau’s professional art community and nominated me for the JAHC Board. My favorite UAS memory was during Dan Monteith’s “Archaeology of Southeast Alaska” course. We took a field trip to a local road and hiked down to the beach where we saw petroglyphs. I could touch and feel the rubbings in the rock and guess what the artist was trying to illustrate and why.

Emmett J. DavisEmmett J. Davis
A.A., Power Technology, Automotive Emphasis

I took my first basic automotive class six years ago. Two years ago, I decided to go for my degree. I completed my GERs, did a practicum and of course took automotive and power technology classes. I am now employed at Mike Hatch Jeep in North Douglas. When co-workers ask me why I went to the trouble to get a college degree I say, “Because I want to be your boss some day!”

Hubert BrownHubert Brown
A.A., Computer Information Systems

I retired from ACS in 2006 after 17 years of climbing and installing telephone poles. I decided to get training for a new career and had been out of school for 40 years. I dropped out at 14 and got my GED in the mid-70s. After finishing my general education requirements, I took courses in web site development and Cisco systems. Learning to write was really cool. Thanks to TRiO for the math tutors! I developed a website for the Juneau Aurora Knights synchronized swimming team. I put in 14 hour days for three years working on my degree. I especially want to thank my “hero” Colleen McKenna for being an excellent advisor and instructor.


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