B.A. Journalism and Public Communications ’13
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Fun Fact: Recently tasted raw whale blubber, or muktuk, in Barrow, Alaska
Victor Perez Jimenez has always loved adventure, which explains how he landed in Anchorage, Alaska, from Puerto Rico in 2009 with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket, not knowing a word of English. “When you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it,” he says. It’s this determination that has helped Victor flourish during his time at UAA.
But why did this Dominican Republic native decide to pack his bags and move about as far north as he could? “I started looking at American universities online, started in the As, and found the University of Alaska Anchorage,” Victor says. “The pictures were beautiful.” He was sold. His mother thought he was crazy, but he made the move anyway.
Victor’s path to success has been peppered with its fair share of challenges, though. He was enrolled at a university in the Dominican Republic, where he started studying journalism, before he and his family moved to Puerto Rico in 2008. Unfortunately, the majority of his credits did not transfer to an American university—he had to start over, essentially. He didn’t know anyone in Alaska. He didn’t speak English. Most people would be intimidated to move halfway across the globe under these circumstances, but not this adventurous spirit.
“It was hard in the beginning,” Victor admits. He says the winters in Alaska were particularly overwhelming at first, having grown up in a place where he could see the Caribbean Sea from his house. “The food is different, the people are different, but I adapted quickly,” he says.
Victor moved into the UAA dorms and got a job as a desk attendant. He enrolled in English as a Second Language courses. After about a semester, he became a resident advisor—a job he held with the Department of Residence Life throughout his college career.
In addition to being an RA, Victor got involved with the university’s Latino Student Union, International Student Services Passport Series, Residence Hall Association and The Family, UAA’s LGBT club. He also tutored Spanish for two years.
Since he was a boy, Victor dreamed of working for CNN en Español, hence his choice to major in journalism and public communications. He recently completed an internship with local news station, KTUU Channel 2.
But Victor has opted to put his CNN dream on the shelf for a while longer to chase his other passion, international relations. His next adventure will be traveling to Sweden to pursue a degree in international relations from Stockholm University. He’s particularly interested in the issue of immigration, being an immigrant himself.
After his European studies and travels, Victor plans to return to Alaska for work. “Alaska is such a great state—it has a lot to offer,” he says.
Victor feels that his degree from UAA will help him stand out from the crowd as he departs for his next endeavor. “I think people will notice a degree from Alaska, it’s a highlight,” he says.
Victor recently accepted his B.A. in journalism and public communications on May 5, 2013, at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. But maybe even as exciting as grasping that degree as he walked across the stage was the fact that his mother and grandmother—two of his biggest fans—were able to make the trip from Puerto Rico to celebrate his accomplishment.
“I have a lot that I’m proud of,” says Victor, “but the biggest are graduating, learning to speak English, and all the friends that I’ve made here [at UAA].”
One of Victor’s many adventures as a student at UAA includes a recent trip to Barrow, “just to go.” He tried muktuk—raw whale blubber—for the first time, but admits he probably won’t be eating it again anytime soon. “I like to know different cultures, different people,” Victor says. He also vacationed in Switzerland last year.
This summer Victor will work with UAA’s Conference Services and plans to remain in Anchorage for about a year to work before he hops on a plane to Sweden for his graduate studies.
To Victor we say, ¡Felicitaciones por tu graduación!