UAA Alumni Spirit Spring 2021

collage of images from the University of Alaska Anchorage

UAA Alumni Spirit Fall 2021 ISSUE 16


UAA Alumni Spirit Fall 2021 ISSUE 16


Proven to facilitate educational and professional development, meet some of the UAA alumni enrolled in Seawolf Mentor to offer insight and expertise to undergrads and graduates.
Part of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, geological sciences alumna Charlie Detelich is working on the imaging system for the 2024 NASA Europa Clipper.
Using the ultrasonic vocalizations of tickled rats, psychology senior Tucker Sawyer hopes to impact scientific research using rats and even unlock the mysteries of human behavior.
A $1M gift from accounting alumnus Gary Klopfer and wife Jane Cuddy will establish the Student Investment Fund, giving students real-world experience using financial industry tools.
Hear from different Seawolf leaders as they share their hopes For Alaska, campaigning to raise $200M by 2024 to support students, research, and workforce and economic development.
Alumni and friends tuned in to the annual Homecoming Luncheon to network, hear from keynote speaker and education alumna Princess Daazhraii Johnson, and raise over $12K for students.


A wintry westward view of UAA’s ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building.
Matt Jardin smiles while wearing UAA Spirit clothing

From The Editor

Right now is a very interesting time. Of course, the same could be said about anywhere, given all that’s happened over the last two years. But in addition to how the university has responded, reoriented and recovered from global events, new leadership and developments at UAA have me excitedly looking ahead.

What comes next are stories about just that: what’s next — for UAA, for Seawolves and for the community. In this issue of Spirit, you’ll hear from accounting alumnus Gary Klopfer, whose $1 million gift to the College of Business and Public Policy will establish a fund to provide investment portfolio experience to students. And from geology alumna Charlie Detelich, whose position on a support team for the 2024 NASA Europa Clipper mission will contribute to what we know about life in the universe itself.

New Semester, New Chancellor and A Chance For Fresh Starts

For more than 25 years, Sean Parnell has led a life of public service, from his roles in Alaska government as the state’s lieutenant governor and governor, and as an attorney. The son of a small business owner father and high school teacher mother, his parents instilled in him the value of education and leading one’s life to serve the public good.

Parnell’s family moved to Anchorage in 1973 when he was 10, and after graduating from East High School in 1980, Parnell attended Pacific Lutheran University. He earned his B.B.A. before attending law school and earning his J.D. from the University of Puget Sound (now known as Seattle University School of Law).

In his early twenties, when Parnell was at a crossroads in his life and considering law school, his father handed him some of the simplest but perhaps most profound life advice he’s ever received — advice that he’s now passed onto his two daughters and to anyone, regardless of their age.

Seawolves Offer Support

From left: Maicel Fuhriman, project management graduate student, and Jessica Jacobsen, B.S. Construction Management ’13, M.S. Project Management ’19.
Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso. Plato and Aristotle. Throughout history and fiction, mentorships have opened doors for people to discover breakthroughs or assuredly move in the right direction.

Looking at the numbers, university students who have mentors are 14% more likely to graduate. In the workforce, mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors. The benefits swing both ways, as mentors themselves are promoted six times as often. All in all, of both mentors and mentees, 87% feel empowered by their relationships.

In May 2020, UAA launched Seawolf Mentor, a program hosted through Mentor Collective, a nonprofit that runs peer mentorship programs for colleges and universities nationwide. Originally focused on pairing freshmen and first-time students with experienced undergrad mentors, the success of the pilot program allowed it to expand to include graduate student mentees and alumni mentors.

Beyond Alaska and beyond Earth

(Photo courtesy of Charlie Detelich)

Applied geological sciences master’s graduate Charlie Detelich vividly remembers the day she was offered a position at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory supporting the NASA Europa Clipper mission planned to launch in October 2024. That day, she was still processing the rejections she received to several Ph.D. programs.

“I was wallowing around my house and all of a sudden I got this magical email that said the best opportunity of your life has just been offered to you. Do you want it?” said Detelich. “My entire life I’ve wanted to work on NASA missions. It felt like a dream come true. All this hard work finally paid off. It was so surreal and exciting.”

As part of the laboratory’s space exploration team until August 2022, Detelich will primarily work on predevelopment for the imaging system attached to the orbital spacecraft. Put another way, she’ll be calibrating the settings on the cameras that are programmed to take high-resolution photographs of the moon Europa from low orbit.

Seriously Funny

Each week, psychology senior Tucker Sawyer heads to the lab to tickle rats. No, seriously. Sawyer is studying rat laughter for his senior thesis and says the ultrasonic vocalizations of rat laughter could impact research in any scientific field that uses rats. Identifying and categorizing the vocalizations of the rodents may change how scientists interpret drug research, care for lab animals and give us a better understanding of the socialization of rats, which could unlock the mysteries of our own human behavior.

Legacy of Generosity

In June, UAA received a $1 million gift from entrepreneur and alumnus Gary Klopfer, B.B.A. Accounting and Finance ’81, and his wife Jane Cuddy Klopfer, a celebrated Alaska investment leader. The gift establishes the UAA Student Investment Fund in the College of Business and Public Policy (CBPP), giving students real-world experience using financial industry tools. The gift is the largest, individual gift an alumnus has given to UAA during his lifetime.

Part of a UAA legacy, generations of students have already benefited from the longstanding support and contributions of Jane’s family to many areas of the university, particularly UAA’s culinary arts and hospitality programs housed in Lucy Cuddy Hall, which is named in honor of Jane’s grandmother.

The gift provides UAA students the opportunity to manage an investment portfolio and encounter real-life scenarios they can expect to find in the workforce, explained CBPP dean John Nofsinger, Ph.D. This valuable training will benefit Alaska’s financial sector long term. In addition, proceeds from the portfolio will be awarded to accounting and finance students as scholarships each year. As the portfolio grows, so will the number of scholarships awarded.

For Alaska The Campaign for the University of Alaska title typography

For Alaska The Campaign for the University of Alaska

In spring 2021, the University of Alaska system publicly launched its first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising $200 million — the most ambitious philanthropic undertaking in state history.

Aptly named For Alaska, the campaign is surpassing expectations. The quiet phase of the campaign, which began five years ago, has been integral to the effort. To date, 16,500 generous donors have given more than $160 million to strategic priorities across the UA system since 2016. All funds raised benefit the area of support chosen by each contributor.

Throughout the campaign, UAA has raised $62 million thanks to 6,600 #SeawolfStrong donors and partners. Our collective impact For Alaska will help write the next chapter in the state’s history.

Our vision is a vibrant, bold tomorrow for all Alaskans. Our path must be built upon our shared Alaska spirit of determination and resilience that encourages us to achieve new heights. To forge ahead with an unwavering persistence for a better and brighter tomorrow.


On Oct. 8 more than 100 UAA graduates joined the Homecoming Luncheon from across the country to reconnect with their alma mater while raising donations, sponsorships and gift matches to benefit UAA programs and scholarships. In just one hour, the gathered alumni raised more than $12,000, which was carried forward to UA Giving Day in the form of an Alumni Association Matching Gift Challenge.


seawolves making
a difference
Tyler Cushman headshot
Tyler Cushman, B.S. ‘19

Space Grant awarded to study corrosion

In June 2021, mechanical engineering alumnus Tyler Cushman, B.S. ’19, was awarded funding from the Alaska Space Grant Program. The award will fund his graduate fellowship to work on the project titled, Measuring Aerosol Chlorides for Atmospheric Corrosion Studies in Cold Arctic Climate.
Save Seawolf Hockey founder Kathie Bethard, UAA Director of Athletics Greg Myford, UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell and Seawolf hockey alumnus Jim Mayes, B.Ed. ’94
From left: Save Seawolf Hockey founder Kathie Bethard, the late UAA Director of Athletics Greg Myford, UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell and Seawolf hockey alumnus Jim Mayes, B.Ed. ’94.

UAA hockey team reinstated

On Aug. 31, 2021, Chancellor Parnell announced the Seawolf hockey program had surpassed its fundraising mark of $3 million, resulting in the D-I team’s reinstatement and paving the way for the team to resume play in the 2022-23 season.

Class Notes

Rachel Ross headshot
Rachel Ross
Melissa Wanamaker headshot
Melissa Wanamaker
Dr. Laurie Stuart headshot
Dr. Laurie Stuart
Dr. Tina Woods headshot
Dr. Tina Woods


Elementary education alumna Rachel Ross, B.Ed. ’84, visits UAA campus for the first time in over 30 years. Ross, who recently retired from teaching elementary school in California, was in town to participate in the Anchorage Runfest in August 2021, which was the last race in her quest to finish a half marathon in all 50 states.


The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program in Montana announced in September 2021 that marketing alumna Melissa Wanamaker, B.B.A. ’94, has been hired as its director of community engagement and development. In this position, Wanamaker is charged with growing the capacity and expanding the reach of the staff and program. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Wanamaker)

lens on campus

UAA anthropology students Morgan B. Yockey, Cammryn Reagan and Ariana Mayer excavate a bear skeleton that has been buried in the forest near UAA since 2019. Each fall semester, UAA anthropology undergraduate students learn to excavate and perform artifact mapping on deceased bears that have been donated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and buried several years prior.

lens on campus

UAA anthropology students Morgan B. Yockey, Cammryn Reagan and Ariana Mayer excavate a bear skeleton that has been buried in the forest near UAA since 2019. Each fall semester, UAA anthropology undergraduate students learn to excavate and perform artifact mapping on deceased bears that have been donated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and buried several years prior.

UAA anthropology students excavating in a forest

See You Soon, Seawolves!

We are looking forward to seeing you safely in person. But until then, we will meet you where you are with hybrid engagement opportunities to fit your busy schedule. Whether it’s a longstanding tradition or brand new one, we will always be here to honor Seawolf Nation.

What’s next on the calendar?

Nominate amazing UAA alumni for the annual Alumni of Distinction awards before Dec. 17, 2021, and then join us in April 2022 as we celebrate the winners at a brand new event. Learn more:

Join us toward the end of February 2022 to reconnect with classmates and friends for the annual Nine in the Spine at Winterfest, all while supporting current students at UAA. Learn more:

magazine staff

Matt Jardin, B.B.A. ’10

Matt Jardin, B.B.A. ’10
Catalina Myers

Brett Rawalt

James Evans, B.A. ’16


Katie Bender, M.P.A. ’10
Crystal Enkvist, B.A. ’93, M.P.A. ’13
Tim Gravel, B.B.A. ’89
Virginia Groeschel, B.S. ’06, M.S. ’20
Daniel Hart, B.S. 10
Jessica Horwatt, B.B.A. ’97
Jessica Jacobsen, B.S. ’13
Leila Kimbrell, B.A. ’02, C.T.2. ’02
Lessie Kincaid, B.S. ’13
Tana Skye Nevada, B.B.A. ’16
Pearl-Grace Pantaleone, B.A. ’14
Lonnie Ridgeway, B.A. ’18.
Stephanie Schuman, A.A. ’14, B.B.A. ’15
Tanya Pont, Ex-Officio,
Director of Alumni Engagement


Kate Consenstein, B.A. ’11
Josh Edge, B.A. ’10
Jason Herr, B.A. ’20
Karen Lewis, A.A. ’01,
B.A. ’04, A.A.S. ’13



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Thanks for reading our Fall 2021 issue!