- Tell us a bit about yourself and your studies.
Since graduating with a BA in Art and Art History from the College of William and Mary, I have spent the last six years working in diverse positions at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. Through curating exhibitions, conducting research, and rehousing, cataloging, processing, and scanning collections, I examined and physically handled thousands of artifacts every year, working to connect myself and museum visitors to the past and gain grounding in Alaska history.
I moved to Fairbanks in January 2016 to pursue my studies full-time. The practical application of history with the museum and broader community sparked a tireless intellectual curiosity and love for the Circumpolar North that I now enthusiastically bring to my graduate work with the Arctic and Northern Studies program (ANORS) at UAF. My current research interests revolve around the effects of national identity on policy-making in the North.
Alaska is my home and a progressively important place on the world stage. I feel a professional and personal responsibility to better understand and convey the complex history of Alaska and its place in the circumpolar community. The histories and cultures of the North are underrepresented and often absent from contemporary US discourse and are at great risk of being lost or undermined as the Arctic warms, shipping lanes open, resources are developed, and polar territories are disputed. I look forward to working with UArctic and hope this experience will instill a greater sense of place and understanding of my adoptive home in the North, thereby improving my quality of life and my ability to share it with others.
When I’m not in the library or in class, I can be found outside on my skis, skates, bike, or on a hiking trail. Alaska has an incredible and varied environment and I love soaking up every ounce I can get!
- You recently participated in the Model Arctic Council in Fairbanks. What convinced you to apply?
Mary Ehrlander, the dean of the ANORS program and co-organizer of the Model Arctic Council, piqued my interest in the simulation last fall. I was still living in Anchorage and working at the time, taking one graduate course per semester, when I called Mary to discuss options for pursuing my Master’s degree full-time. Her excitement about the event in the following spring was contagious, so I decided to apply. I was eager to learn more about the work of the Arctic Council and excited at the prospect of working with so many international students right here in Fairbanks.
- How did you prepare in advance, and what were your days like when the event finally took place?
Each student was asked to write a position paper written from the perspective of their assigned role in the Model Arctic Council. Mine was the role of US representative for the WASH project in the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). I made time to read about the SDWG and even had the opportunity to meet with Fatima Ochante, an ANORS alumna who currently works for the State of Alaska’s project, the “Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge”. Fatima’s expertise and passion about the project was inspiring and made modeling the WASH project all the more interesting given the applications it has right here in Alaska.
When the event got started, the days were very busy - action packed! We had excellent speakers in the morning who addressed topics ranging from Sea Ice research to international relations and cooperation. We would then usually break out into our working groups, where negotiations were had and statements for SAOs were drafted, edited, and discussed. Days’ worth of work culminated in a final proclamation. My colleagues and I were exhausted at the end of each day, but for all the right reasons.
The highlights of my week were the excellent presentations given in the mornings as well as meeting, working and interacting with so many interesting students.
- 70 students from several countries participated in the event. What was it like to work with such a large and diverse group?
Wonderful. The high level of participation by all students was exciting and truly an honor to be a part of. I was particularly impressed by how many students deftly navigated sometimes heated or sensitive discussions in their second language. Above all, it was encouraging to work with so many intelligent, positive, and driven young people from across the globe on issues that commonly face our home nations. I hope that this collaborative momentum will be carried forward into our futures.
- What is the most important thing you learned, and how do you think the experience will help you in your future endeavors?
Specificity of language! The longest discussions in the working groups usually revolved around specific phrasing or words chosen for our final reports. Working collaboratively towards concise language approved by all parties was not always an easy endeavor. The Model Arctic Council helped to push my communication skills into new territory.
On a more personal note, I think the greatest value was connecting with students, faculty, and researchers. So much concentrated time and effort forged friendships that I look forward to carrying into future projects, travels, and research!
- What is your advice to future Model Arctic Council participants and organizers?
Participants: Don’t be shy, meet people, ask questions, and prepare for long days.
Organizers: Keep up the great work and keep it going!
Read more about the Model Arctic Council on the Thematic Network pages.