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UAF honors the year’s outstanding students


Fairbanks, Alaska-More than six-dozen students were honored at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' annual student awards breakfast Saturday in the Wood Center Carol Brown Ballroom. Each spring, UAF honors students who have distinguished themselves throughout their academic careers.

Among those honored were the winners of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award, the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award and the Joel Wiegert Award. The awards recognize the accomplishments of three top graduating seniors each year.

After earning 177 credits in four years, Christina Hardman graduates this spring with a bachelor's degree in music education. She is this year's winner of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award. Hardman came to UAF as a UA Scholar. She was named Music Student of the Year for the 2008-2009 academic year and serves as the Northwest Division student representative for the Collegiate Music Educators National Conference. Along with almost constant schoolwork and involvement in more than five performing groups, Hardman also teaches Sunday school and is the organist for her church. "All of the faculty members in the music department are proud of Christina and are looking forward to her career as a music educator," said Jun Watabe, assistant professor of woodwinds. "Communities in Fairbanks and Alaska will be delighted to have her work with our children."

Each year a nontraditional student is presented with the Gary S. Tilly Memorial Award. The 2010 award goes to Barbara Blake, who first entered a University of Alaska classroom in 2001. At age 21, she had to leave school to run her family's building supply business. In the past nine years, Blake has been called away from school repeatedly due to family and business responsibilities. During that time, she has always forwarded her education and will receive two degrees at this year's commencement ceremony: a bachelor's degree in rural development and an associate degree in tribal management. Blake has worked as an intern in the federal Department of Agriculture and currently is involved in rural affairs at the state level as an intern for Sen. Albert Kookesh. Not content simply to advance her own self and career, Blake has also worked as a peer advisor to students with Rural Student Services and the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program. "I am on the road to making a better life for me, my family and my people," Blake said.

This year's winner of the Joel Wiegert Award is Alaska Nanooks hockey player and School of Management standout Dion Knelsen. During his time at UAF, Knelsen has amassed a heap of hockey awards while at the same time staying on top of the GPA stack. Knelsen graduates with a bachelor's degree in business administration, as well as being awarded a coveted spot on the 2010 Lowe's All-Senior All-American First Team, a first for UAF's hockey program. On the ice, Knelsen has been the Alaska Nanooks' top scorer for three consecutive seasons. He has been on constant on the UAF chancellor's list throughout his UAF career. Knelsen also spends time off campus, where he volunteers at a local horse farm and helps the physically challenged learn to ride. "Dion is a responsible, conscientious, engaging young man who serves as a great role model to his classmates, the UAF community, and the citizens of Fairbanks," said professor Jacob Joseph.
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