There was an crash course taught on the University of Alaska Southeast campus Friday, only the subject wasn't history, biology or a foreign language - it was the university itself.
Before spring semester classes tomorrow, a group of about 15 new UAS students participated in a full day of orientation activities on campus. The day included a welcome from Chancellor John Pugh and Dean of Students Paul Kraft, a tour of the campus and an afternoon of seminars on financial aid, transferring credits and other topics.
The number of new students arriving each spring is traditionally much smaller than in fall, when orientation programs draw 75 to 100 students. But this spring's group of new students includes an equally diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.
Danl Griffin transferred to UAS from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, with a stopover in Ohio. While in elementary school he lived in Anchorage for a number of years - but this is his first time in Juneau.
He said he chose UAS because it offered classes he was looking for, he had a good friend here and for "the sheer adventure of it all."
Griffin was an English major in Tennessee, and said he plans to take more humanities classes at UAS.
Sarah Saunders, originally from Vermont, spent the past four years in Skagway before coming to Juneau to take classes in the paralegal field.
"I decided to go back to school; Juneau had the program I was interested in and Juneau was a little bit familiar," she said of her reasons for choosing UAS. She also said she liked the close-knit, accessible UAS community.
There are also a number of new students from Juneau, including Darrelene Karlson and Emily Edenshaw - both entering college for the first time. Karlson plans to become a high school teacher, while Edenshaw is undecided about her career.
"I'm just here to take classes and find out what I'm interested in," she said.
Jodi Barnes, a UAS academic advisor and orientation coordinator, said the orientation program is a vital step in getting new students acquainted with the school and with each other so they can have a support system from the start.
"I think it's really important to familiarize them with the campus and the resources that are here," she said. "I think it's crucial to start forming relationships with staff, faculty and other students here on campus."
Karlson said she was "a bit nervous starting out," but that the morning session had made her feel more comfortable on campus.
Griffin said that after the time he spent in the Lower 48, he felt Juneau was the right place for him.
"It's awesome," he said, commenting on the view of snow-capped peaks over Auke Lake. "I love the mountains. I'd lived on flat land for so long. It's overwhelming."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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