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Sept. 27, 2022

Welcome to week 5 of the fall 2022 semester!

Just like that, we are nearly one-third of the way through the term.

On the one hand, the semester flies by in a breathless rush like a race. On the other hand, it is a 15-week odyssey, with every day a small journey all its own. How’s your pace? Are you on track for the results you hope to achieve? Now is a good time, once again, to ask yourself whether your daily habits and routines are going to land you where you want to be 10 weeks from now. Are you putting in the time? Are you keeping a pace that will leave you strong for the finish? This means doing the work in and out of class, but also putting in some time to rejuvenate and restore. Are you feeding yourself some social time, time with friends, and time for fun? How’s your balance?

Take a moment to reflect and make changes where necessary. You know what is working and what isn’t. You are an athlete, trainer, and coach. Be honest with yourself.

Is it fair to make the analogy of the student experience as being like that of an endurance athlete? There are many similarities. However, the vast majority of endurance athletes are recreational. They run, bike, walk, or swim – or all of the above – just because it feels good and it is fun. This is a great thing. However, most of you are on your academic journey to find a better place. The outcome of your race is more important and the stakes are higher. You are spending more of your money and more of your time to get to your finish line than most triathletes.

Most athletes train in a low-stakes environment. You are training and racing for the gold at the same time. It seems so common that we take it for granted. You are learning how to learn better, all the while going to class, doing homework, studying for exams, and researching and writing your papers – all at once. This is heroic. Way to go!

Don’t forget you also have a support crew. We are here to help you. This is our job. There are hundreds of staff and faculty and we are all here to help you get to your finish line successfully. We are like the biggest support crew of your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out or drop by an aid station on this 15-week journey.

Over the next couple of weeks, two amazing university leaders will be sharing some thoughts and suggestions for taking care of yourself and for finding balance. Val Gifford, our director of Health and Counseling, and Kaydee Van Flein, director of the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities, will be writing pieces over the next two weeks. I am grateful for their thoughts and perspectives and I am excited to hear what they have to share with you.

You are amazing athletes. You’ve got this! Do what you need to stay on track. We are your support crew. You, the students of UAF, are my heroes.

— Owen Guthrie, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management


UAF is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer, educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination/.