Originally from southern Alabama, Melissa Woodgate moved to Alaska and began her degree in natural resource management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Now, 12 years, a family and a few moves later, she will be receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from UAS, along with the honor of being named the spring 2011 outstanding graduate in environmental science.
“I went to Auburn University in Alabama, and from there I went to Fairbanks to pursue natural resource management,” Woodgate said. “Shortly after that my husband got a job in western Alaska teaching in the village of Marshall.”
During that time, Woodgate took a six-year break from school while she raised her family.
“I have three children and one stepchild,” she said. “They keep me busy, but it’s a good way to be more focused.”
After moving from Marshall to Juneau, Woodgate was ready to finish what she started, but with a new and equally interesting field.
“The UAS environmental science program was a subject with a broad range of interests for me,” said Woodgate.
Woodgate intends to attend graduate school at UAF.
“I have applied to UAF for my master’s degree in soil sciences. UAF has phenomenal soil scientists and I want to become one of them.”
After graduation, Woodgate and her family will move back to western Alaska.
“My husband is going to teach in St. Mary’s and I’m going to take [distance] classes,” she said.
Woodgate has been involved in research at UAS as a research assistant to Associate Professor of Environmental Science Eran Hood.
“That was a great experience,” she said. “There have been endless amounts of data to organize and a lot of exploration.”
Woodgate is grateful for the patience of her family and the support of her professors at UAS.
“This experience has been a culmination of so many people participating. I’m thankful to my family for being so patient and to my professors who have been extraordinary and supportive.”