Last week, two former National Student Exchange students at the University of Alaska Southeast received Student Achievement Awards at an annual NSE conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Lacie Richardson and Keith Underkoffler are winners of the Bette Worley NSE Student Achievement Award. The award recognizes students who demonstrate the best use of their participation in the National Student Exchange.
Underkoffler and Richardson were on exchange during the academic year 2008-09 from Iowa State University and Western State College in Colorado, respectively, to the University of Alaska Southeast. The winners were selected from among the nearly 3,000 students who participated in NSE for the 2008-09 exchange year. They are receiving cash awards of $500 each.
"I was fortunate enough to take advantage of several life-changing opportunities at UAS," Underkoffler said. "Although these experiences were rewarding in and of themselves, I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish, and I am honored that NSE chose to recognize my achievements with the Bette Worley Student Achievement Award."
Underkoffler became involved with Students in Free Enterprise and set up a project that would address energy and cost issues in rural Alaska. The project resulted in furnishing every home in the rural town of Port Alexander with five CFL bulbs, which are estimated to reduce energy bills by as much as 15 percent. Underkoffler was able to facilitate distribution and a collection center that will ensure the bulbs are disposed of in a safe manner.
Underkoffler completed an intensive study on the culture of the Tlingit people, who welcomed him into their lives by sharing many stories and inviting him to their rituals and ceremonies. As a result, he was invited to present his project at the annual meeting of the Alaska Anthropology Association in Juneau.
In addition to those projects, Underkoffler was accepted for an internship program that allows students to work as full-time employees in the Alaska Legislature in the office of a state legislator.
Richardson rallied English professors and a handful of interested students to form the Beatniks English club. Soon after that, monthly open mic nights organized by the Beatniks became the hot place to be, allowing artists from all over Juneau to get involved with UAS.
Richardson was the UAS representative to the 2009 Republican Convention commemorating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.
In addition, she became involved in an ongoing debate over bike lanes along Egan Drive. She took full advantage of the wilderness in Alaska through skiing, sea kayaking, backpacking, snowshoeing, fly-fishing and camping.
"The National Student Exchange honor is the first thing I've ever won," Richardson said. "It's pretty awesome to win an award for something I had so much fun doing!"