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Student Achievement Award

2008 to 2009

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Campus Profiles

Lacie Richardson
Western State College of Colorado to University of Alaska Southeast 2008-2009
Major: English

Early in her exchange to the University of Alaska Southeast Lacie said to her coordinator that she was not only excited about being in Alaska, but she wanted to give something back to the campus community she felt had already welcomed and embraced her. That something took the form of leading the reformation of an English club that had become inactive. She rallied English professors and a handful of interested students, and by February the Beatniks English club was formed. Soon after that, monthly open mike nights organized by the Beatniks became the hot place to be, and each month more students have come to perform. Lacie stated that it has given students who have stage fright or don't think their works are deserving of a voice, a chance to share and build their confidence. It has allowed artist from all over Juneau to get involved with the college instead of separating it from the community. It has brought professors out and allowed them to interact with students outside of the classroom that ultimately improves the relationship within the classroom. It allows professors to see the impact they are having on the lives of their students whether it is in a poem or an idea.

Lacie has also highlighted other moments of her exchange: She was recognized as a UAS republican representative for the 2009 Republican Convention commemorating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. She has taken full advantage of the wilderness in Alaska and has experienced personal growth through skiing, sea kayaking, backpacking, snowshoeing, fly-fishing, camping and much more. She had a special feature article written on her achievements and adventures in Alaska. She was featured in several articles highlighting the UAS Beatniks English club and her role in an ongoing debate to put bike lanes along the highway. With all of this she has also earned a 3.5 GPA.

At the end of her exchange Lacie wrote to NSE saying, "I would have never known that I was capable of creating so much good in so many lives if I had not gone on exchange and pushed my own comfort zones by coming to Alaska."

Her Alaska coordinator said that Lacie is a dynamic and friendly student who came to UAS with more than a positive attitude. She came with intention and spunk!

Keith Underkoffler
Iowa State University to University of Alaska Southeast 2008-2009
Major: Marketing

When asked what motivated you to participate in the National Student Exchange, Keith replied, "I participated in NSE because I had become worried that I was seeing the world through a narrowed perspective. I had travelled enough to realize that the world was more diverse than the faction that I had encountered, but felt that unless I immersed myself in a situation different than what I was used to, I might never be able to truly understand the ways in which others engage the world, and how that might shape their perception of it."

There are three achievements while on exchange that uniquely changed Keith's engagement of the world.
  1. He became involved with Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). SIFE is an organization that hosts competitions between competing university chapters which encourage entrepreneurial-minded students to develop projects that benefit their campuses and communities. Under the guidance of the chapter advisor, Keith set up a project that would address energy/cost issues in rural Alaska. The project resulted in furnishing every home in Port Alexander, AK - a rural town running on private generators - with 5 CFL bulbs, which are estimated to reduce energy bills by as much as 15%. Keith was able to facilitate distribution and a collection center that will ensure the bulbs are disposed of in a safe manner.
  2. Keith was accepted for an internship program that allows students to work as full-time employees in the Alaska State Legislature in the office of a State legislator. The experience was an overwhelming success and there are now job prospects available to him in the Alaska Legislature. Keith was able to see how the political process works and even afforded the privilege of sitting in private meetings with lawyers and legislators to workshop a bill that he carried for his boss, Representative Peggy Wilson.
  3. Keith completed an intensive study on the culture of the Tlingit North Americans, who welcomed him into their lives by sharing many stories and inviting him to their sacred rituals and ceremonies. Keith used that experience to complete his senior honors project. Keith was invited to present his project at the annual meeting of the Alaska Anthropology Association (AAA) in Juneau. This project invigorated his desire to study different ways of seeing the world.
Keith's host coordinator said about him, "He is a very intelligent, warm-hearted young man who has begun to learn the significance of his actions on the world. I believe he is destined for great things."

Honorable Mention

Elizabeth Brock
Iowa State University to Portland State University 2008-2009
Major: Kinesiology and Health

Elizabeth found NSE to be a path to securing an exchange that closely aligned with her academic goals and life dreams. Even when the student with whom Elizabeth was linked on exchange could not participate, Elizabeth stayed on task, focused and determined to complete her goal.

As a kinesiology student at Iowa State, Elizabeth tried for more than a year to secure an internship with Nike, her dream employer, even offering to volunteer in exchange for an opportunity to work with them. Nike never responded to her calls or letters. Then Elizabeth heard about National Student Exchange and decided to pursue an exchange with Portland State, a campus located 10 minutes for Nike World headquarters. She was accepted for exchange to PSU and began courses there in Summer 2008.

Elizabeth continued to contact Nike for any kind of work internship. After 6 months, they finally replied and she got the internship she was seeking. Building on her experience in the Iowa State biomechanics lab, Elizabeth was able to participate in similar work at Nike, specifically working on an anti-shear shoe that may reduce anterior-posterior forces. The testing and research that she completed on this shoe while at Nike will be the basis for her Iowa State honors project. She completed 250 hours with Nike by the end of her internship.

In addition to her coursework at Portland State and internship, Elizabeth was a member of the Portland State Viking Crew team where her lightweight 4 boat placed 2nd at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association competition. As part of the crew team, Elizabeth was a community volunteer and helped PSU gain recognition through the competition.

After her exchange, Elizabeth said, "Having this internship at Nike is going to be something that will stay with me forever. I worked so hard to achieve my dream and it finally happened." She continued, "I can't even begin to explain how my life has changed from participating in NSE. I realized that I can do anything I set my mind to ..... I have gained lifelong friends."

Matthew Winarski
University of Memphis to University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 2008-2009
Major: Sociology

By the time Matthew completed his exchange he had left a significant mark on the Eau Claire campus in three ways in addition to maintaining his stellar academic performance.
  1. Motivated by his love for music (especially for marching band) and his ability as a mellophone player he became the Horn Section Leader in the UW-Eau Claire University Band and a Mellophone Section Leader in the Blugold Marching Band (BMB). Matthew held the following Blugold Marching Band Staff positions: Visuals and Physical Fitness; and Commanding Officer and Public Relations & Athletics Liaison
  2. Matthew created a student group titled the Athletics Support Student Organization (ASO) - This service organization's mission is to foster a home court advantage at UW-Eau Claire athletic events through the support of two entities - a pep band (Blugold Athletic Band) and a student section (The Blu-Zone). The Organization works with the Music Department, Athletic Department, and Community members to foster a more successful support atmosphere at Blugold Athletic Games. The organization was confirmed by the Student Senate in the spring of 2009.
  3. He held the position of President of the UW-Eau Claire National Student Exchange Organization for the 2008-2009 academic year. As NSE organization president and an experienced NSE student, Matthew was very involved in promoting the NSE program to current UW-Eau Claire students. He volunteered to present at various classes and was present at most of the NSE Information Meetings held in the fall on campus. Due to Matt's efforts, more NSE students went on exchange than in the past five years.
When asked how his life has changed because of NSE he stated, "My life has dramatically changed as a result of the NSE program. During my exchange time at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire (UWEC) I was able to do many great service projects for the student body and for the community."
As to how UW-Eau Claire felt about Matthew. The NSE coordinator said, "He has brought some southern charm into the Midwest and we are very happy that he chose to attend UW-Eau Claire through the NSE program!"

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