B.A. Environment and Society with Political Science minor, Class of 2014
Hometown: Soldotna, AK
Fun Fact: Has first and second favorite astrophysicists—Carl Sagan (#1) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (#2). Also, knows how to whittle.
Sleep, said Jasmine Woodland, is the first thing to go when her schedule gets busy. And as an Honors College student, a 49th State Fellow, a community engaged student assistant (CESA) and an environment and society major carrying between 16 and 19 credits each semester, sometimes something has to give. So, who needs sleep anyway?
“A lot of people sell themselves short. They don’t think they can do as much as they can because time is so valuable, but if you build it in and start early…You can do anything with copious amounts of caffeine!” she said, all bright smiles and energy in the week before finals when we chatted.
“I love coffee,” she said, taking a moment to savor the thought of it. “It’s so fantastic.”
This first-generation college student is not only finishing in four years, but she’s finishing at the front of the pack. Her final GPA is projected at 3.97, with a lone B, for flavor, gracing her transcript.
“My advisor tells me it shows character,” she said, adding that she’s pretty sure no one in the real world will ever ask her about her high school and college GPAs.
Sidebar: There are fewer than a dozen UAA Class of 2014 grads—out of 2,420—with cumulative GPAs of 4.0, meaning Jasmine’s 3.97 easily places her in the top 5 percent of her class.
Year one: the stars align
“I’m really glad I chose UAA,” she said. “College, or any experience really, is what you make of it. I put effort into making a community for myself here and I think that’s the reason it’s been so rewarding.”
A fourth-generation Alaskan, Jasmine was practical about choosing a college. As a UA Scholar and winner of some local scholarships in her hometown of Soldotna, she knew she could afford UAA. And she also knew that there was a place here for students like her, who really love school.
Preceding her as a Seawolf was her brother, Benjamin Woodland (B.A. Languages and International Studies ’12), another Honors College student, 49th State Fellow and first-generation college grad.
She arrived on campus without a major in mind, but that changed quickly. She was invited to join a Department of Geography & Environmental Studies book club, where she met Professor Dorn Van Dommelen.
“I was really intimidated because this was one of my professors—I was in Geography 101: Local Places, Global Region—but we read this book called From the Farm to the Table and I got to know him and the faculty of the department really well,” she said.
He told her about a cool, new major–environment and society–and it appealed to Jasmine’s love for science, something she’d always excelled at in school. By second semester of her freshman year she declared her major and stuck with it through all four years at UAA.
“A lot of stars aligned in my first year here, so I was able to have this really great community,” she said, referring to her 49th State Fellows colleagues, in particular.
“It was a matchmaking service for friendships,” she said. “It introduced me to and kept me around the kind of people you want in your life.”
Who’s ready to read for fun?
Once Jasmine has her degree in hand, she’ll be ready for her first real break since before college began. Previous summers have found her working service jobs in the Kenai Peninsula tourist industry—waitress, housekeeper at an inn, the up-as-early-as-3-a.m. breakfast chef at a fishing lodge—as well as sharpening her political skills as an intern at a democratic consulting public relations firm in Billings, Mont., her gig last summer following a tip-off from a friend.
This summer, she gets to head to Hawaii soon after graduation for a friend’s wedding and then pack her bags for summer in Denmark. She’ll be reconnecting with a former foreign exchange student and her family on this, her second, trip to Scandinavia.
High on her list of leisure activities during her sun-soaked visits to Hawaii and Denmark (“They have palm beaches!”) is reading for fun.
“I think I’m going to reread the entire Harry Potter series,” she said with a grin. “It’s been far too long since I read for fun.”
Reading, she said, is actually what set her on her academic path.
“School has always been something that was pretty exciting for me, so it was not hard for me to apply myself and want to do well. Because I loved reading so much, it was a pretty easy extension from that.”
Finding the perfect job (singular)
Once she’s beefed up her Danish skills and revisited her friends from Hogwarts, Jasmine will be returning to Alaska for the big job hunt.
“I’m nervous about finding a job when I come back,” she admitted. “Isn’t that the thing? Isn’t everyone trying to find a job right now?”
Her dream is to find just one job, preferably in the environmental science field, rather than cobbling together part-time jobs, though she’s willing to do that, too.
She’s even willing to try an obscure side door to get to the jobs she wants. With experience in graphic design and marketing, she laughs that she could always land a job with an engineering or science organization’s PR office using the overflowing tool box of skills from her work history and then surprise them with her abundant knowledge of science.
With a bevy of bosses and professors willing to recommend her, coupled with an impressive academic résumé and Jasmine’s bright, energetic personality, it’s hard to imagine her waiting long for the perfect job to come along.
Written by Jamie Gonzales, UAA Office of University Advancement.