SAAC Spotlight: Alaska Anchorage's Jessica Pahkala
Senior Jessica Pahkala will compete at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 1,500 meters May 26-28.
Senior Jessica Pahkala will compete at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 1,500 meters May 26-28.
Jessica Pahkala.
Jessica Pahkala.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, 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: Jessica Pahkala
Sport: Cross Country/Track & Field
School: Alaska Anchorage
Year: Senior
Major: Legal Studies
Hometown: Wasilla, Alaska

Extracurricular activities: Hiking, fishing, exploring, reading.

Why did you choose to attend UAA? Because they have an excellent running program and it's close to home!

What is your favorite class you have taken in college and why? Civil liberties because it changes my view of the world and made me want to get more involved with human rights.

Who is your favorite professor you've had in college and what did you enjoy about learning from him or her? Professor Brandeis because his style of teaching is informative as well as fun.

Years involved in SAAC: Two.

The reason I chose to get involved in SAAC: My teammate, who was on the committee, suggested I join.

Most memorable SAAC activity: We had an athlete wide talent show where athletes from each sport showcased talents that were not of their respective sport! It was cool because you never expected what some people could do!

If I could change one NCAA rule, it would be: I would change eligibility rules to allow students five years of eligibility instead of four because that gives us more time to successfully complete our degrees without being overworked in the process. Plus, students more and more these days are taking five years to complete degrees even without being an athlete.

What is the most important thing you've learned from balancing the demands of athletics and academics? Stay positive! Take a deep breath when things get stressful because it’s never really as bad as it may seem.

What does it mean to be a Division II student-athlete? It means that I compete at a lower level than Division I, but that there are still amazing and talented athletes that work just as hard or harder than Division I folk.

Current mentors: My mom.

Future goals after school: Get a job and give back to the community that raised me.

Biggest obstacle overcame during collegiate career: My own self-doubts and fears.

Best advice I’d give to an incoming freshman: Have fun! Enjoy everything, it's not worth getting upset about the little things beyond your control. Don't take anything personally. You get to choose how your day goes, not your coach, not your teammates, not your opponents. Only you.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)? I would spend the day with a friend of mine who passed away in high school so I could share with him all the things that are worth living for.

Favorite sports team: University of Alaska Anchorage.

Favorite athlete: Steve Prefontaine.

Most memorable sports-related moment: Cross country nationals last year in Kentucky. The weather was crazy and the mud was awesome to run in. Within the first 100 meters at least 3 people around me lost a was insanity and really fun!