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SAAC Spotlight: Alaska Anchorage's Morgan Ross
Morgan Ross scored a 9.7 in the floor exercise in the home-opening meet against BYU in which the Seawolves competed in front of a sold out Alaska Airlines Center.
Morgan Ross scored a 9.7 in the floor exercise in the home-opening meet against BYU in which the Seawolves competed in front of a sold out Alaska Airlines Center.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, GNACsports.com uses this space to profile conference student-athletes who are members of their respective institutions' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition to providing feedback on the student-athlete experience, conference and institutional SAAC members also offer input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes' lives on NCAA member institution campuses. Click here for more information on the function of SAAC at the NCAA level.

Name: Morgan Ross
Sport: Gymnastics
School: Alaska Anchorage
Year: Sophomore
Major: Environment & Society/Spanish
Hometown: Reno, Nev.

Extracurricular activities: Full-time babysitter, assistant manager of Union Station Cafe (on-campus coffee shop), play center attendant at the Alaska Club East, volunteer work with the Alaska Center for the Environment.

Why did you choose to attend Alaska Anchorage? Alaska is such a unique place. I would've been crazy not to go for the experience. Plus, UAA has a decent environmental science program and correlating master's degree program.

What is your favorite class you have taken in college and why? I am currently enrolled in a demography class with Dr. Chad Farrell. The class has been immensely educational and has helped me narrow my focus within the environmental science program. The class has also taught me useful methods of data extraction and analysis: great for my future and my resume.

Who is your favorite professor you've had in college and what did you enjoy about learning from him or her? My favorite professor at UAA is actually two professors: Dr. Patricia Fagan (upper division Spanish) and Dr. Chad Farrell (sociology). Both professors have engaging classes that are both challenging and fun. Also, both professors have taken a personal interest in my academic career and have given me the opportunity to come to them with help outside the classroom. They have gone above and beyond to help me stay on the path towards my academic goals.

Years involved in SAAC: One. 

The reason I chose to get involved in SAAC: I wanted to join SAAC because I wanted a leadership role within the athletic department. Learning about the processes of SAAC activities and getting to work closely with the professional staff at UAA Athletics makes for great connections, communication skills and gives me an outlet for my leadership voice.

Most memorable SAAC activity: The UAA SAAC put on a talent show last year for all student-athletes. Each sport was required to submit two acts. The acts were judged by some professional staff members (not coaches). This activity brought the athletic department closer as a group instead of staying amoungst our own individual sport teammates.

What is the most important thing you've learned from balancing the demands of athletics and academics? Time management. Academics always come before athletics. Health and sleep are the most important things in life; without them nothing else can function properly.

Current mentor(s): Head coach Paul Stoklos, Dr. Patricia Fagan, Dr. Chad Farrell, Dr. Dorn Van Dommelen.

Future goals after school: After graduation, I am planning to live abroad (possibly in South or Central America or Europe) in order to gain a completely new cultural understanding. Hopefully, I will move to a place in which I can use my Spanish degree on a regular basis. I will continue my educational career; my goal is to get a Ph.D. (not sure on the topic just yet.)

Biggest obstacle overcame during collegiate career: When I was a freshman, I lived on campus and was eating at the campus dining hall on a regular basis. I am a vegetarian (and have been my entire life), so the options were limited and even with what I was able to eat, it was not up to par with my typical diet. I gained almost 20 pounds that year, which ultimately affected my gymnastics career, health and personal life. I have spent the last year trying to get back into the physical shape I was in when I came to college.

Best advice I’d give to an incoming freshman: Call your parents. Every week.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)? John Steinbeck. He had an amazing perspective on life and the drive to share his viewpoint. He was courageous in his writing and smart enough to use scientific data to his advantage, even as a fictional novelist.

Favorite sports team: The USA National Trampoline and Tumbling Team.

Favorite athlete: Austin White.

Most memorable sports-related moment: Being asked to join the UAA women's gymnastics team.

One thing that people don't know about me is: I have done gymnastics so long, I am terrified of what my life will become without it.

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