UAA Alumni Spirit Spring/Summer 2023

UAA Spring/Summer 2023 Cover
UAA Alumni Spirit logo
Spring/Summer 2023 Issue 19
Collage of images from the University of Alaska Anchorage


UAA Alumni Spirit Spring/Summer 2023 ISSUE 19


  1. UAA’s School of Education is hitting its stride with the announcement of the B.A. in early childhood education, the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation granting accreditation at the advanced level in 2021 and the recent hire of Tonia Dousay as dean.
  2. UAA unveiled its new Pride Center on the Anchorage campus in January 2023 — the first of its kind in Alaska. At the grand opening, visitors and supporters were welcomed by art alum Jessi Saiki, who serves as the center’s engagement and belonging coordinator.
  3. After getting his start shooting UAA hockey and basketball games, journalism and public communications alumnus D.K. Johnston has gone on to work in virtually every other position in the filmmaking process, from low-budget independent films to multimillion-dollar Marvel movies.
  4. Physical education alumna Morgan Hooe not only honors her mother’s legacy through her position as Seawolf volleyball assistant coach, but also through the establishment of the Liz Hooe Memorial Volleyball Scholarship.
  5. In December 2022, doctoral student and biological sciences alumna Kodi Haughn traveled to Antarctica with a research team to study the chemical cycling of microbes. What she learned could help scientists ask better questions about life on Earth, and even on other planets.
  6. Meet this year’s Alumni of Distinction: Alumni of Achievement and justice alumnus Kenneth McCoy, Alumni Humanitarian and psychology alumna Maggie Winston, and Alumni Emerging Leader and aviation alumna Marie-Sophie Boggasch.


UAA’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium and Professional Studies Building on the Anchorage campus photographed in June 2019.
Editor Matt Jardin (left) and graphic artist Brett Rawalt (right) work on the latest edition of UAA Alumni Spirit magazine.

From the Editor

As the old adage goes, there’s nowhere to go but up. And with recent issues of Spirit magazine themed around hunkering down, reflecting back and moving forward, I wanted to take that saying to heart with an issue that’s about looking beyond the horizon.

In this ever upward issue, we’re elevating alumni who have risen above, including journalism and public communications alumnus D.K. Johnston, who recently served as additional second assistant director on the high-flying superhero film Shazam! Fury of the Gods for DC Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Also featured in this issue is biological sciences alumna Kodi Haughn, who recently returned from a research trip to Antarctica to learn what microbial ecologies can reveal about how life emerged on our planet.

ada ejike-maduakor

(Photo courtesy of Ted Kincaid / UAA College of Engineering)

From An Alumna

Ever upward has been a guiding principle in my life, and certainly during the challenging curriculum of UAA’s Master in Project Management (MSPM) program. The useful lessons learned then continue to shape my professional and personal life today.

One maxim I embraced in the program was “think outside the box,” a vital mindset that has given me an edge toward excelling in my life and career. As market development manager at Quintillion, the critical thinking and organizational skills honed in the MSPM program are top drawer in my go-to daily toolbox. They’ve been key to managing complex projects with diverse stakeholders and numerous moving parts that are par for the course at Quintillion. Providing critical broadband infrastructure to the hostile environment of the Arctic is no stroll in the park! An added benefit has been working with a highly competent team and supportive boss, Mac McHale, in achieving these goals.

Likewise, my success wouldn’t have been possible without the fierce support of my husband Ifeanyi Maduakor, himself a telecom engineer, not to mention my entire family. I would be naive not to acknowledge the advantage I enjoyed from growing up in a family with strong bonds. Having happily married parents is always an upward boost in life — mine also happen to be accomplished academics with a strong work ethic who modeled the crucial value of education. Their influence has been a pillar of motivation in running life’s obstacle race.


Chancellor Sean Parnell (left) and Ryan Buchholdt (right), vice chancellor for Administrative Services, attend a TRIO awards event in March 2023.
Each spring as a university community, we prepare to celebrate the achievements of our undergraduate and graduate students, and I can’t help but get swept up in the excitement of the season. I find myself reflecting upon my college experience and remembering the advice I was given — to remain engaged in my community. Community engagement is powerful, and acting as a trusted community partner is a cornerstone of our university’s mission, goals and UAA 2027 strategic plan. I have taken this to heart personally and professionally and have often passed along this advice throughout the years.

Turning the Page: School of Education is writing a new chapter

By Catalina Myers
Early Childhood Education Professor Hilary Seitz teaching Creativity and the Arts in Early Childhood.
UAA’s School of Education (SOE) has been hitting the proverbial reset button for the last four years. With the announcement of the B.A. in early childhood education (ECE), the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) granting accreditation at the advanced level in 2021 and the recent hire of Tonia Dousay, Ph.D., to serve as SOE dean, the university’s education program is hitting its stride.

“I think the big message I’ve been working on is that it is a brand new day,” said Dousay. She was hired in July 2022, officially arriving in Anchorage in September after a long drive up the Alaska Highway.

Recognizing the toll the events of the last four years had on SOE faculty and the education community, Dousay spent much of the fall semester relationship-building and surveying faculty and staff to see what holes needed to be filled. She also initiated one-on-one meetings with educational stakeholders from school districts and programs across the state to learn more about educator workforce needs in Alaska. Her boots-on-the-ground approach paid off with renewed enthusiasm and partnerships with SOE, and she is looking forward to continuing the momentum generated during the fall semester.

Taking Pride in One’s Work

By Matt Jardin
On Jan. 17, UAA unveiled its new Pride Center — the first of its kind in Alaska. Located on the Student Union ground floor, the space provides programs, services, supports and events for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and two-spirit members of the UAA community.

Perhaps most importantly, the Pride Center is a visible place for all members of the UAA community to explore gender identity and sexual orientation in a non-judgmental atmosphere. This commitment to representation and visibility can go a long way toward student retention, especially in LGBTQ students.

“If people feel like they belong at a foundational level, that sets them free to be their best selves wherever they are, and that makes a huge difference in student life, staff life and our community relationship,” said Jessi Saiki, B.F.A. Art ’19, Pride Center engagement and belonging coordinator.

Saiki is the perfect face of the Pride Center, having both the personal experience to empathize with anyone who walks in needing support, as well as a professional background that represents the center’s mission.

From Seawolf to Shazam!

By Matt Jardin
(Photo courtesy of D.K. Johnston)
Every year, millions of people crowd movie theaters around the world to watch the latest blockbusters starring beloved comic book characters, but D.K. Johnston, B.A. Journalism and Public Communications ’06, is one of the lucky few who get to watch them from behind the camera as they’re being made.

Johnston served as additional second assistant director on Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Released on March 14, 2023, the DC Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures sequel to 2019’s Shazam! filmed in 2021 from May to August at Atlanta Metro Studios in Georgia.

“What I will say is it was the best film I ever worked on. It was one of those few sets where everyone was in sync and no one walked away unhappy,” laughed Johnston when pressed to share any juicy on-set anecdotes. “There are stories involving Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu that I would love to talk about, but not until way down the road when I know I won’t get in trouble.”

Like mother like daughter

By Becca Brado
Cindy Martensen (left) and Morgan Hooe (right) photographed in the Alaska Airlines Center.
Growing up competing in soccer, volleyball, softball and Alpine skiing, it’s safe to say that sports have played a major part in the life of Morgan Hooe, M.S. Physical Education ’19 (she spent a lot of time in gyms with her very athletic parents, so she didn’t really think she had a choice in the matter). During that time, Hooe learned valuable lessons from past coaches including how to be a good teammate and leader.

All that training helped Hooe become one of the best volleyball players in UAA history. Initially, she didn’t want to stay in Alaska to play volleyball, saying, “Coach Green was recruiting me as a defensive specialist, but according to him, I told him I would only go to UAA if I was a setter, and the rest is history.” Hooe competed in the 2016 national title match, led the Seawolves to conference and regional titles and earned All-American honors as a senior in 2019.

Researching Microbiology in Antarctica

By Matt Jardin
(Photo courtesy of Kodi Haughn)
In the classic 1982 horror sci-fi film The Thing (as well as its 2011 prequel of the same name), researchers in Antarctica discover a killer alien with the ability to shape-shift. Doctoral student Kodi Haughn, B.S. Biological Sciences ’21, didn’t find anything quite as terrifying when she traveled there in December 2022. But what she did find might be just as revolutionary.

As part of a research team that included UAA Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Brandon Briggs, Ph.D., plus one professor and three students from Miami University in Ohio, and a sixth grade PolarTrec teacher from California, Haughn spent a month tent camping across Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys researching microbial ecology.

Meet this year’s Alumni of Distinction

By Matt Jardin
UAA’s Office of Alumni Relations and Alumni Association were pleased to welcome spring by announcing the latest Alumni of Distinction awards recipients. The three distinguished alumni were honored for their contributions in their fields and communities at the UAA Alumni of Distinction Celebration Banquet on March 31 at Lucy Cuddy Hall on the Anchorage campus.

This year’s celebration coincided with UAA Culinary Arts’ 50th anniversary and featured the program’s students extending their academic learning into practical application by developing the event menu, preparing the meal and running the buffet service of their delicious creations.

Nearly 200 graduates and supporters packed Lucy Cuddy Hall on the Anchorage campus to reconnect with their hometown university while raising donations to benefit UAA programs and scholarships. In just one hour, the gathered alumni raised more than $12,000.


seawolves making
a difference


UAA earns gold distinction as Military Friendly School

Seven UAA alumni named Top Forty Under 40 in 2023

Bernie’s Pharmacy helps educate Alaska pharmacists for fifth year

UAA researchers use machine learning to debunk COVID-19 misinformation

A few active duty students pose together for a quick snapshot on a snowy day

UAA earns gold distinction as Military Friendly School

UAA earned recognition as a Military Friendly School for the 15th consecutive year, achieving gold-level status for the first time.

Approximately 18% of UAA students are active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve personnel, veterans or their immediate family members. The MVSS office serves as a key resource center, and hub for the veteran community at UAA, but efforts to make UAA accessible and welcoming extend across campus, from orientation to graduation and beyond.

Recognizing how important a strong start is, MVSS recently partnered with New Student Orientation to better connect with military-connected students that’s set to roll out this summer. These specialized sessions include one-on-one time with MVSS staff, an overview of military education benefits, the application process, and connecting student-veterans to university resources.


UAA earns gold distinction as Military Friendly School

Seven UAA alumni named Top Forty Under 40 in 2023

Bernie’s Pharmacy helps educate Alaska pharmacists for fifth year

UAA researchers use machine learning to debunk COVID-19 misinformation

UAA Seawolves mascot and smiling student hold up a 'Thank you' sign in regards to over $324,000 raised on Giving Day 2023.

Thank you for raising $324K+ on Giving Day 2023

In February, UAA supporters from across the country came together to promote and participate in an incredibly successful Giving Day event. UA Giving Day — 49 Hours for Alaska is a philanthropic event organized in conjunction with the UA System Office, UAF and UAS. This year was the third annual UA Giving Day and it was the most successful event yet.

Class Notes

A headshot portrait picture of Terry Eubank smiling with his prescription glasses (black outer frame and slight lighter chrome colored see through shade tint within inner frame) while wearing a dark grey button-up dress shirt with his front top collar open posing in front of window shutter blinds indoors
A headshot portrait picture of Mark Ayers grinning in a light baby/powder blue colored button-up dress shirt with his front top collar open posing in front of a dark colored studio background
A headshot portrait picture of Cynthia Teniente-Matson smiling in a bright pink dress with a white colored pin/sticker on her right collarbone side area of the dress posing outdoors in the evening
A headshot portrait picture of Sarah Skeel smiling in a dark blue, black, and white patterned style dress shirt on top of a white blouse and dark red colored squared stone earrings posing in front of an light grey studio background


In January 2023, Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom appointed justice and psychology alumna Kelly Howell, B.A. ’92, as special assistant to the office of the lieutenant governor.


In January 2023, finance and accounting alumnus Terry Eubank, B.B.A. ’94, stepped into the role of Kenai city manager following 15 years as finance director. (Photo courtesy of KDLL)


In November 2022, Alaska Communications announced the promotion of mathematics alumnus Mark Ayers, B.S. ’97, to chief technology officer. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Communications)


In January 2023, business administration alumna Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, M.B.A. ’98, began her new role as president of San José State University. Previously, she was president of Texas A&M-San Antonio since 2015. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia Teniente-Matson)
A woman in a dark gray and black striped jacket plus black sweatpant leggings with dark olive green boots sprays down a yellow dye color onto some snow on the ground with her finger pressed onto the top of a chrome colored aluminum canister bottle as she decorates all over the snow many different types of graffiti artwork symbols such as a green backdrop alien, phrases such as "Be Kind!", "UAA", "AK", and other variety of shapes (state of Alaska), etc. while there are other chrome colored aluminum canister bottles nearby in green, red, and blue dye colors as part of UAA’s Winterfest Art & Music event in the Cuddy Quad in February 2023.

Lens on Campus

UAA’s Winterfest Art & Music event in the Cuddy Quad in February 2023.

Lens on Campus

UAA’s Winterfest Art & Music event in the Cuddy Quad in February 2023.
graduate student standing next to green flag

Help out by volunteering at a campus event

Welcome new students during Campus Kick-Off, share your knowledge with jobseekers at Career Networking Night, or welcome soon-to-be alumni at the upcoming commencement and hooding ceremonies! Alumni often participate as gonfalon bearers to lead each college into the ceremonies. Whether you have a little bit of time to spare or a lot, it goes a long way. Fill out the online volunteer form or email Alumni Relations to get involved.

magazine staff

Matt Jardin, B.B.A. ’10

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

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, M.S. ’19
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
Jason Richards, B.S. ’11
Lonnie Ridgeway, B.A. ’18
Tanya Pont, Ex-Officio,
Interim Executive Director for
University Advancement

UAA recognizes and values the diversity of our unique location in Southcentral Alaska, the ancestral homelands of the Dena’ina Athabascan, Ahtna Athabascan, Alutiiq/Sugpiak and Eyak/dAXunhyuu peoples.

Update your information to stay connected with UAA, network with other alumni, change your subscriptions, learn about volunteering opportunities or just to share any good news.

UA is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual:

UAA strives to make its online experiences accessible. Learn more about our Accessibility policy and how to provide feedback.

UAA Alumni Spirit logo
Thanks for reading our Spring/Summer 2023 issue!