Riley von Borstel
When a housing mix-up canceled Riley von Borstel’s plans to attend college in Hawaii, she quickly regrouped and headed to UAF. She knew a bit about the place.
“My mom is an alumna. All of my siblings are — my brother and my two sisters. All five of my aunts went to UAF. They all met their husbands at UAF. A lot of my cousins went to UAF. We’re definitely a Nanook family,” she said.
Von Borstel, who grew up in the Alaska coastal town of Seward, has no regrets about abandoning Hawaii. She knew UAF would be a good choice.
“I’m on my own, being independent and going to college, but at the same time, if I need to go home or something or need help from my family, I’m still in the state,” she said.
Von Borstel is pursuing three degrees — political science, justice and performing arts. She was elected president of the Associated Students of UAF, the student government. She’s a member of the Honors College. And she landed a principal role in a theater production of “Pride and Prejudice,” though she had to adapt to a virtual performance during the coronavirus pandemic.
After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and perhaps seek political office. She got a taste for that as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C., right after high school.
“That was really what made me fall in love with politics, if that’s possible,” she said. “It was a life-changing experience.”
She thinks UAF is the right place to pursue that future because the people are so supportive.
“Something about UAF that never stops shocking and surprising me in a good way is how welcoming the university community is,” she said. “I think every professor or faculty member I’ve met or engaged with has been so kind or helpful.”