UAF photo by Leif Van Cise.
Participants of UAF’s 2023 Golden Days Parade march gather for a group photo before walking through downtown Fairbanks.
Submissions received April through September 2023.
Imagery and photos courtesy of alumni unless otherwise noted. Information is courtesy of alumni and public sources.
John Stuart Watkins ’65 has published a new book of poetry, “Living With a Shadow.” It touches on war, peace, cowboys and cowgirls, and haiku and cinquain poems. He is a retired teacher who enjoys writing poems, short stories and children’s books.
Stuart was an active rifle shooter and won gold in the 1971 Pan American Games held in Cali, Columbia. As a UAF student, he made All-American four years in a row and was the collegiate national champion in 1963 in both the small- and large-bore categories.
Joan Braddock ’77, ’83, ’89 received a 2023 Meritorious Service Award from UAF.
Joan has been a part of the UAF community for more than four decades. She earned her doctorate in oceanography from UAF in 1989 and joined the faculty the following year. Her scientific research focused on bioremediation of environmental contaminants, especially petroleum. She served as a professor and then dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics before retiring with emeritus status in 2009.
In addition to being a donor and consistent volunteer at the university, Joan returned twice to provide temporary leadership to units with vacancies: once as interim dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and another as director of the University of Alaska Press.
Stanley Senner ’77 received the 2023 Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award from the American Ornithological Society. The award honors extraordinary contributions to bird conservation by an individual or small team.
Stan graduated from UAF with a master’s degree in biology in 1977.
For the past 45 years, Stan has led initiatives to protect migratory bird populations. Most recently, as the National Audubon Society’s vice president for bird conservation, he worked with hundreds of conservationists, wildlife and land managers, and policy experts to achieve notable conservation successes for migratory birds in several global flyways.
Stan’s career led him around the country as a leader for many other prominent conservation and governmental organizations. He was director of conservation sciences for the Ocean Conservancy, vice president and executive director of Audubon Alaska, science coordinator for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, restoration program manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, executive director of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, professional staff member for the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Alaska representative for The Wilderness Society.
During the past decade, while still working at the National Audubon Society and after retiring from in June 2021, Stan worked tirelessly to develop and advance the Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative and to bring attention to the importance and critical status of the birds and saline wetlands of the Great Basin. These efforts resulted in the first major conservation funding efforts for these habitats, which should fortify migratory connectivity across the Pacific Flyway.
Jo Heckman ’79, ’85 is exploring the food industry in Interior Alaska. Her blog and podcast, Jo’s Table Alaska, is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the local food scene in the Fairbanks area.
“My entire mission is for people in the Interior to have access to information about agricultural awareness and issues in our community,” she said.
The topics she covers in her blog posts, such as the challenges of growing food in Interior Alaska, can provide valuable insights for those who live in similar climates or are curious about sustainable food production in difficult environments.
Her podcast conversations with beekeepers, grocers and the director of the area food bank offer a diverse range of perspectives on the food industry and food security in the region.
Jo’s feature column, “What's Cooking Today,” in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is another place where she shares delicious recipes and cooking tips that can inspire and empower people to try new dishes and improve their culinary skills.
John David Rausch ’89 received the 2023 Professional Service Excellence Award at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. Dave, the Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences, has been a faculty member at WTAMU since 1998.
Thomas Gross ’94, owner of Tommy G’s Meat and Sausage Inc., won top honors at the 2023 American Cured Meat Championships.
His reindeer cotto salami was named grand champion, while his honey habanero beef jerky earned the reserve grand champion title and his all-beef snack stick earned champion status.
Tommy G’s opened in Fairbanks in July 2021 and offers fresh, cured and smoked meats and meat products, in addition to Alaska products and a variety of Italian artisan foods.
Michele Stalder ’97 has retired after 42 years with the UAF Community and Technical College and its predecessors. Michele's journey with the university began in 1981 as a program administrative clerk at the Tanana Valley Community College, where she embraced the mission of equal access to education. She was instrumental in the process of TVCC achieving accreditation and merging with UAF to eventually become CTC. In 2010, Michele became dean at CTC, where her commitment to the core mission of community-driven education was unwavering.
To continue her legacy of support for students, Michele established the CTC Dean Michele Stalder Endowed Scholarship, which will provide assistance to students and allow them to pursue their academic goals.
Tammy Tragis-McCook ’99, ’00 received the 2023 Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Alaska Chapter.
Tammy is the director of development and outreach for the UAF College of Business and Security Management. The Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy award honors an outstanding individual in the field of fundraising or philanthropy in Alaska. Nominees must possess fundraising certification, spend a majority of their time on fundraising or philanthropy efforts and be a current member of the AFP Alaska Chapter.
Jason Gootee ’05, ’13 received a 2023 Meritorious Service Award from UAF.
Jason has remained an active part of UAF since he graduated in 2005. He is a past president of the UAF Alumni Association Board of Directors, currently chairs the UAF Chancellor’s Board of Advisors and serves as a director on the University of Alaska Foundation Board of Directors.
Jason, who is Moda Health’s vice president for sales and strategic marketing development, lives in Oregon with his wife, Katie, and their four children but returns frequently to Fairbanks. He is an avid hockey fan and, together with his father, established the Gootee Family Hockey Scholarship to support UAF student-athletes.
Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone ’13 received the Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Alaska Native Arts and Languages at the 2023 Governor's Arts and Humanities Awards Show.
Kunaq is Inupiaq from Wales, Alaska, and Kiowa from Oklahoma. Kunaq is the proud mother of her 4-year-old daughter Telele Iŋmaġana. She is a business owner, artist, teacher, traditional tattooist and hide tanner. Kunaq recently became the director of the Katirvik Cultural Center in Nome, where she will continue to focus on revitalizing the Indigenous languages of the region, cultural skills and traditions.
Kunaq serves on the Nome School Board, World Eskimo Indian Olympics Board of Governors, Native Movement Advisory Board and Inuusiq Inc. Board of Directors. Kunaq is proud to help start the first Inupiaq immersion program in Nome for kindergarten and first grade students and is working to open an immersion tribal school in Nome.
Sgt. Tim Sherry ’17, an instructor and competitive shooter with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s International Rifle Team, won three gold medals at the USA Shooting nationals in Elk River, Minnesota.
During the competition in late May, shooting against top marksmen from across the U.S., Tim claimed the top prize in the men’s 300-meter prone rifle, open 300-meter standard rifle and men’s 300-meter three-position rifle events.
His performance also earned Tim a spot on the U.S. 300-Meter Rifle Team. He represented the United States, and the Army, at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, in August.
At UAF, Tim was the 2014 NCAA national champion in smallbore, a U.S. National Team member, and the Alaska Nanooks’ most outstanding male athlete in his sophomore year, 2013-2014.
Uriah Nalikak ’20 graduated in August 2023 from Cornell Law School with a Juris Master degree.
Uriah’s thesis built on his bachelor’s degree in rural development from UAF and addresses food insecurity in Utqiaġvik by creating a community food bank that integrates traditional Inupiaq foods and practices, backed by the legal framework of the Alaska Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. It aims to enhance cultural relevance, reduce food waste and foster community resilience.
Jenna Dreydoppel ’21 is the new choir director at North Pole High School. Jenna graduated from UAF with two degrees, one in music education and the other in music performance.
“Coming back home to North Pole High School as the choir director is a dream come true. I have always wanted to be a music teacher, but this school and this job is the best that I could ask for! The room is still pretty much the same, but I've switched my chair and my view!
“Getting my music degrees at UAF really set me up for success. In my time at the UAF Department of Music, I was able to study and collaborate with the school district. I got to work firsthand in high school choirs in Fairbanks and see exactly what my future job could look like!”