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SAAC Spotlight: Alaska's Anja Maijala
An adventure junkie, Maijala plans to advocate for wildlife by leading outdoor recreational activities.
An adventure junkie, Maijala plans to advocate for wildlife by leading outdoor recreational activities.
Anja Maijala
Anja Maijala

Friday, October 18, 2019

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.

Name: Anja Maijala
Sports: 
Cross Country and Nordic Skiing
Institution:
 University of Alaska Fairbanks
Year:
 Junior
Major:
 Wildlife Biology
Minor: Outdoor Leadership
Hometown:
 Cloquet, Minnesota

Why Did You Choose To Attend Alaska?: I chose to attend Alaska because it has a great wildlife biology program that has tons of opportunities outside of class. It also has a cool cross country program that allows me to participate in cross country running while also being a part of the strong Nordic skiing team.

What Is Your Favorite Class You Have Taken And Why?: The Dynamic Earth. This was a general credit course for me so it was a class that I was not specifically interested in taking. I had a great professor, however, and an engaging teaching assistant who made the learning environment incredibly fun. I found that I enjoyed learning about geology and glaciers while applying new knowledge when I was out adventuring in the mountains and backcountry with my friends.

Who Is Your Favorite Professor And What Did You Enjoy About Learning From Him Or Her?: My Principles of Ecology professor, Knut Kielland. Knut is my favorite professor because he is friendly and relatable. A lot of my professors are serious, intimidating and disconnected from their students, but Knut seems like an ordinary person who is passionate about the outdoors. He makes an effort to get to know every one of his students by name and individually engages us in his lectures. His funny and witty personality makes his lectures educational and enjoyable. He was also extremely accommodating with my athletic schedule and went out of his way to help me learn the course content to the best of my ability.

Years Involved In SAAC: Three years.

The Reason You Chose To Get Involved In SAAC: I've always loved to learn through involvement. As I entered college, I thought SAAC would be a great opportunity to get more involved with the athletic department, learn more about college athletics, meet other athletes and connect with the Fairbanks community.

How Do You Feel Participating In SAAC Will Help You In Life After You Graduate?: It will help me appreciate and acknowledge the work that goes on behind the scenes. Additionally, it will give me experience being on a decision-making board.

Most Memorable SAAC Activity To Date: Nanook Olympics. Every year, all of the UAF athletic teams compete in each other’s sports to see which team has the most well-rounded athletes. The winning team is crowned the Nanook Olympics champion.

If You Could Change One NCAA Rule, It Would Be: I would change the rules regarding preseason camps and practices. Having a preseason camp for Nordic skiing where we can travel to a good training venue would be fun and beneficial.

What Does It Mean To Be A Division II Student-Athlete?: To be a Division II student-athlete means I am a student who wants to participate in athletics at a high level but still have a life.

What Is The Most Important Thing You’ve Learned About Balancing Athletics And Academics?: To just chill out, go with the flow and appreciate the little bits of time.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome During Your Collegiate Career: Reoccurring shoulder injuries.

Current Mentor(s): Danielle Bessent, a coworker and strong female role model in outdoor leadership.

Future Goals After Graduation: I want to use the skills that I have gained as an athlete and wildlife biology student to advocate for our wildlife by leading people in outdoor recreational activities. I also want to have fun, enjoy the outdoors, meet new people and explore new places.

Best Advice You’d Give To An Incoming Freshman: Don't get too stressed because things will work out in the end.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why)?: Glen Sorenson, my high school ski coach. Glen is a gem. He is friendly, knowledgeable, caring and adventurous. Whenever I connect with Glen, I learn something new, have a great conversation and go on a rad outdoor adventure. He is someone I admire and hope to stay in touch with over time.

Extracurricular Activities: SAAC, outdoor adventures and the Alaska Alpine Club.

Favorite Sports Team: Minnesota Twins.

Favorite Athlete: Kara Goucher.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You Is: I live in a cabin without a bathroom or running water.

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