Nanook Rendezvous brings alumni home

By Felicia Burud

photo by Eric Engman.
alumni stop by the Usibelli Building atrium to visit after lunch and meet Yogi, the Police Department’s new K9 officer, during the annual Nanook Rendezvous alumni reunion Campus Day on the Troth Yeddha’ Campus July 14, 2023.

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Left photo courtesy of Tricia Brown.
Right photo by Theresa Bakker.
Left: Tricia Brown ’83; Right: Former Sun Star editor Tricia Brown ’83 is featured on the cover of the student newspaper’s 2023 summer edition.

Former Sun Star editor Tricia Brown ’83 had the tables turned on her this summer shortly before attending the Nanook Rendezvous annual reunion for alumni.

The summer edition of ’s student newspaper featured a profile of Brown on the front page — more than 40 years after her name last appeared in it as editor in April 1982.

The summer Sun Star, produced in a print edition thanks to sponsorship from the Alumni Association, was just one highlight of the 2023 Rendezvous.

More than 120 people attended a variety of activities on campus — and beyond — during this year’s event. Brown said she greatly enjoyed the reunion, which the association has held in mid-July since 2017.

“A high note of the summer,” she said.

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photo by Eric Engman.
alumnus Darryl Lewis Sr. ’88, right, takes a selfie with fellow alumnus Adam Wool ’88, left, and Brianna Gray ’11, ’12, as alumni gather in the Regents’ Great Hall for the annual Nanook Rendezvous alumni reunion welcome reception and alumni awards ceremony July 13, 2023. Wool received the 2023 William R. Cashen Service Award, and Gray received the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The Rendezvous kicked off on July 13 with a welcome reception and awards ceremony. Alumni celebrated Brianna Gray '11, '12, who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and Adam Wool '88, who received the William R. Cashen Service Award.

The Troth Yeddha’ Dance Group opened the reception and ceremony with a moving performance in the Regents’ Great Hall.

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photo by Eric Engman.
Members of the Troth Yeddha’ Dance Group open the ceremony as alumni gather in the Regents’ Great Hall on the campus for the annual Nanook Rendezvous alumni reunion welcome reception and alumni awards ceremony on July 13, 2023.

The dancers, including young children, college students and parents, wore moose hide slippers and dance tops. They also carried traditional drums — one of which had been purchased with funds from the AA Benefactor Fund. The group also used the funding for material to make dance tops — called bets’egh hoolaanee in Koyukon Athabascan, atikłuk in Inupiaq and kuspuk in Yup’ik.

The reunion continued with multiple options — marching in the Golden Days parade, attending an Alaska Goldpanners baseball game and touring campus after breakfast in Constitution Hall’s Alumni Lounge.

Brown attended several events.

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photo by Leif Van Cise.
alumni, staff and students attend the 2023 Nanook Night at Growden Field for the Alaska Goldpanners’ July 14 match-up against the California Halos. Tricia Brown ’83 and her granddaughter are in the bleachers at center left.

“I loved hearing the stories at the awards ceremony, and went to the ’Panners game, and got to know some other alumni at the breakfast gathering,” she said.

She also took the time to just wander and reminisce.

“There are buildings where there used to be blank spaces, and the old totem pole is gone that once looked over the curve behind the Bunnell Building. Otherwise, it was nice to be back in the old familiar places,” she said. “I trailed through good ol' Nerland Hall, walked the halls of the journalism program, and gazed at the old Chapman Building, where I worked in 1978-79.”

But at least one other reunion attendee had no such memories to explore.

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photo by Leif Van Cise.
Ariel Johnson ’20, holding an umbrella, rides on the award-winning float during the 2023 Golden Days parade.

Ariel Johnson ’20 completed an associate degree in early childhood education completely online while living in Anchorage. Her trip to for the reunion was her first in-person visit to campus.

She said she had a great experience and even got some expert advice about her son’s new 3D resin printer while attending a presentation by the Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.

“I had no idea about the ventilation factor and the fume factor and needing to wear masks and gloves and having the space necessary,” Johnson said. “He set up this resin printer in front of a window, so it’s got the ventilation, and so I was glad to talk to him.”

Next year’s Nanook Rendezvous will take place again in July during Golden Days. The annual event is building a tradition that redefines what it means to be a member of Nanook Nation.

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photo by Leif Van Cise.
Brianna Gray '11, '12, recipient of the AA 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award, joins Nook at the Alaska Goldpanners' July 14 match-up against the California Halos.