See the stories you most wanted to read in 2014

January 7, 2015

A new year has begun, with fresh opportunities and academic adventures waiting ahead. We thought we’d take a last look back, however, to recap 10 of the most popular stories published on the UAA website in 2014.

1. Alaska Airlines Center

Our stories about the grand opening and other aspects of the long-awaited Alaska Airlines Center garnered the most attention from UAA website visitors last year, cumulatively.

The Alaska Airlines Center opened its doors Sept. 5, 2014 and has since provided a venue for sports competition, concerts, running races and other community events.  (Photo by Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage)

The Alaska Airlines Center opened its doors Sept. 5, 2014 and has since provided a venue for sports competition, concerts, running races and other community events. (Photo by Ted Kincaid/University of Alaska Anchorage)

The most popular of these was the schedule for the week-long grand opening celebration but our grand-opening slideshow also drew viewers, as did stories about the new Varsity Sports Grill, Raven’s Nest indoor walking track (which was funded by Skinny Raven and is open to the community for free) and our story about the history of the effort to gauge community interest and construct an arena that would prove useful to Anchorage and Alaska as well as to UAA and university athletes.

2. Convocation and Kick-Off

A story about Campus Kick-Off, Freshman Convocation and other UAA events scheduled for new scholars, which ran in August, was the most-viewed individual story this year and second-most overall. Senior Kivalina Grove reminisced about her freshman experience, her decision to use her stature as a UA Scholar and Alaska Performance Scholarship winner so she could attend UAA and graduate debt-free, and her path toward becoming an award-winning Honors College undergraduate researcher who probed and debunked a belief among some that women who are pregnant behave in stupid ways—a stereotype known as “pregnancy brain.” “There’s really no research to back it up,” Grove said.

3. Top Forty Under 40

The story that consistently claimed top-viewed honors for several months of 2014 was our article in February about a dozen UAA alumni named to the Alaska Journal of Commerce’s annual community-nominated Top Forty Under 40 list—a roundup of the state’s most impressive professionals under the age of 40. The honorees included Harry Need, Amanda Metivier, Cynthia Berns, Jon Bittner, Leah Boltz, Morten Kjerland, Carrie Lindow, Ann Potempa, Lance Pruitt, Ghazal Ringler, Viola Stepetin and Chad Steadman.

4. Come Home to Alaska

The top “news you can use” story we ran in 2014 focused on the UA System’s new “Come Home to Alaska” program, which began last fall and waives the nonresident tuition surcharge for students with parents or grandparents living in Alaska. UA President Pat Gamble approved the waiver for two academic years, to assess its success.

5. “I am UAA” Shayla Silva

We regularly run “I am UAA” stories about students, faculty, staff and alumni whose energy, effort and imagination make UAA shine.

I AM UAA: Shayla Silva

UAA Logistics student Shayla Silva overcame a devastating injury to forge a new life of leadership in Anchorage.
(Photo by Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage)

The most popular “I am UAA” story we ran in 2014 and fifth-most-viewed overall last year was our story about Shayla Silva, a UAA global logistics and supply chain management student, Anchorage Youth Soccer Club coach and Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority member who had just completed her reign as Miss Fur Rendezvous at the time we wrote about her in February. Silva went on to compete last month in the Miss Alaska USA pageant, immediately after her hospital stay for a serious case of salmonella. Silva earned the pageant’s Miss Congeniality honor. Her greatest accomplishment in 2014? “Both of my female teams I coached at the Arctic Winter Games won bronze medals [after] coming in as underdogs,” Silva told us this week.

6. Thesis about alcohol and Alaska Natives

“Alcohol killed my mom. Her life and death motivated me to learn how my Tlingit people got to this place we find ourselves in regarding alcohol.” That’s the riveting opening to Tlingit scholar Kyle Wark’s master’s thesis, “Yéil Kaawashòo, ‘Raven was Drinking’: An ethnotoxicology of alcohol among the Tlingit.” Our story about Wark and his study of the culture of alcohol earned the No. 6 spot on our list.

7. UAA-Willamette law school partnership

Our story about a new partnership UAA forged with Willamette University College of Law to enhance law school opportunities and address debt concerns for Alaska college students took the No. 7 spot on our list of top-viewed 2014 stories after it ran in May. Under the schools’ “3+3 program,” students may complete a bachelor’s degree and law degree in six years rather than the usual seven. UAA and the University of Washington School of Law announced a similar partnership in November.

8. ‘Investor angels’

We wrote last April about the board of Alaska Accelerator Fund, a new angel investor group, and its decision to invest in its first Alaska startup company, Mackinnon Marine and the story became the eighth-most-viewed on our site last year. Mackinnon Marine makes a product it says is an Alaska-tested “SUV of personal watercraft” ideal for water rescue in tough terrain—the AlumaSki. The investment will make it possible for the company to manufacture about three dozen AlumaSkis, said the man who helms the company, Brian McKinnon. “It’s inspirational to see a group of people come together and help each other,” he said.

9. UAA Leadership Fellows

UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy named its first full cohort of leadership fellows in April—10 master’s students and five outstanding undergraduates matched with community business and industry leaders for a year-long, one-on-one mentorship program for the 2014-2015 school year.

The 2014-2015 UAA Leadership Fellows cohort (Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage)

The 2014-2015 UAA Leadership Fellows cohort (Photo by Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage)

The leadership fellows story earned the No. 9 slot on our list.

10. Learning cuisine at Lucy’s 

Lucy’s, a restaurant lab run by UAA’s culinary school, teaches budding chefs, restaurateurs and sommeliers the art of cooking and plating impeccably prepared entrées, salads and desserts for paying customers to savor. What’s in it for those customers? Modestly priced and eclectic cuisine, campus parking vouchers and a $5 dessert buffet every Friday. This delectable story earned the 10th-most-viewed position in our list of stories that ran in 2014.

Most-viewed story on most-viewed day?

That honor goes to a profile Sept. 22 highlighting Yon Yilma, a UAA alumnus and cross country standout who won the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 2013 with a blistering time of two hours, 29 minutes, 53 seconds. It wasn’t just Yilma’s first marathon victory—it was also his first-ever marathon. He hadn’t even raced an official half marathon prior to that. One of his race-day secrets? A regimented ration of Pedialyte.


Written by Tracy Kalytiak, UAA Office of University Advancement



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