Jennifer Smith is receiving her Bachelor of the Arts degree in English, with emphasis on literature and the environment.
After spending time down south and attending community college in Eugene, Ore., out-of-state tuition costs brought Smith back in state for her education.
“I really liked Eugene, but I don’t want to be one of those students who have to pay off loans forever. So I decided to come back to Alaska.”
At other universities, Smith had found courses cut and dry. She was pleasantly surprised by what she found in Juneau.
“I was really impressed when I got [to UAS]. There are all of these classes that are very specially focused, like Film Noir and Politics of the Body.”
In addition to offering unique classes, UAS accepted many of the transfer credits Smith had accumulated out of state, allowing her to use the credits she already earned.
“I think that in itself is a great example of how UAS is willing to work with all kinds of students,” she said.
After graduation, Smith plans to return to Cordova, her hometown, spend some time in the outdoors, save up some money and possibly go to graduate school, something she hadn’t really considered before this year.
“After coming to [UAS I’ve been] able to specify and focus in on what truly interests me. I’ve had this group of professors around me who are really encouraging [and] I’d never had that kind of encouragement before,” Smith explained. “The professors I’ve met here and the different topics I’ve been able to study have inspired me to continue my education.”
Smith is excited to pursue her interests in graduate school.
“Eventually, I want to do some kind of cultural studies,” she said. “That’s what I think is so great about continuing education, if you start with some sort of vague interest, the more you learn and the more you study you really discover what those interests are.”
“I can’t stress enough how the school here really feels like a community in itself,” Smith said of UAS. “The student to professor ratio is just so perfect. You get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you. I think there is a real beauty in that, and I’m going to miss it.”