University of Alaska Southeast celebrated this year’s graduates over the weekend, with commencement exercises at all three campuses. The Ketchikan ceremony was Saturday afternoon at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
The familiar strains of Pomp and Circumstance announced the arrival of UAS Ketchikan’s Class of 2018. Clad in caps and gowns, the graduates walked in a line slowly to their seats, smiling at friends and family members who gathered to celebrate their achievements.
UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield was a featured speaker. He talked about what makes UAS special: Its students. And at UAS, he said, the students are not the typical right-out-of-high-school kids.
“Two-thirds of our students are female. The average age of our student population is 29, so those of you who in your late 20s, or in your 30s, 40s, 50s, you can feel right at home coming back and getting your education at the University of Alaska Southeast.”
Caulfield said UAS is “small but feisty.” He said this regional branch of the University of Alaska system constantly strives to improve how it delivers a college education.
Caulfield gave a shoutout to various Ketchikan campus staff members, including faculty member Clare Bennett, who is retiring.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Clare in my time here at UAS. I’m told that she was recently honored as a Woman of Distinction by WISH, the Women in Safe Homes. And also that the First City Players established a Clare Bennett Giving Heart award for her work over the years. So, congratulations to Clare, and thank you for your exceptional dedication to our students.”
Longtime Ketchikan resident Len Laurance was honored during the ceremony for his many years promoting the community’s tourism industry. His daughter, Bev Davies, accepted the Meritorious Service Award on his behalf.
“He is very proud to have served Ketchikan for 55 years and he’s most honored and delighted to receive this award. He’s also very proud of his granddaughter, Isabel Stephens, who is graduating today with us. Thank you so very much. Our family is extremely proud of my dad and proud of this honor.”
Dave Kiffer was the commencement speaker. He is a former borough mayor and currently sits on the Ketchikan City Council. Kiffer has had a winding career path with many side trips. He told the group that life is all about making adjustments.
Kiffer adjusted from a not-quite-realized career as a jazz musician to a more successful stint in journalism. He took a few more paths that eventually led to teaching. That, Kiffer said, was not an option when he first started on the road to adulthood.
“Teaching was something that I would never, ever, ever, ever do. Let that be another lesson to you: Never say never.”
Student speaker was Cassandra Christopherson, from Naukati Bay on Prince of Wales Island. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and was named this year’s Outstanding Graduate by the School of Education faculty.
Christopherson based her comments on a quote from Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Christopherson said that because of personal challenges, completing college took longer than she thought. She almost let that dream slip away.
“But all along, in the back of my mind, I knew that I was meant to be a teacher. I also realized that if I didn’t try, I would spend the rest of my life speculating about what could have been.”
It was a struggle, she said, but it was worth it.
According to UAS Ketchikan, 32 students receives degrees and certificates this spring. They are listed below.
- Certificate – Health Information Management / Coding Specialist: Casandra Asquith
- Certificate – Medical Assisting: Reuajane Hoefer, Robyn McClennan
- Certificate – Pre-Radiologic Technology: Christine Ann Cruz, Michelle Hall
- Certificate – Small Business Management: Jasmine Hibbert
- Associate of Applied Science – Business Administration: Carrie Entwit
- Associate of Applied Science – Fisheries Technology: Chloe Miller
- Associate of Applied Science – Health Science: Jessica Travis
- Associate of Arts: Micah Daniel Briola, Erin Negley, Michelle Oakey
- Bachelor of Arts – Business Administration: Samuel Graham, Isabel Stephens
- Bachelor of Arts – Elementary Education: Cassandra Christopherson, Kendra Standley
- Bachelor of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies: Bettina Brentano, Cathryn Coats
- Bachelor of Arts – Social Science: Sarah Fitzgerald, David Jack, Michael Martin, Amy Montgomery, Roy Wilson
- Bachelor of Liberal Arts – Alaska Native Language & Studies: Victoria McKoy
- Master of Education – Mathematics Education: Shauna Martinez
- Master of Education – Reading Specialist: Brandy Richardson, Kathleen Sivertsen
- Master of Education – Special Education: Kaleigh Ryno
- Master of Arts in Teaching – Secondary Education: Jenessa Albertson
- Master of Arts in Teaching – Special Education: Amy Meaux, Robin Strunk
- Graduate Certificate – Education, Elementary Education: Kathy Smith
- Graduate Certificate – Education, Mathematics K – 8: Shauna Martinez
- Graduate Certificate – Education, Reading: Kathleen Sivertsen
- Graduate Certificate – Education, Special Education: Kaleigh Ryno