Senior Nick Bursell has done a little bit of everything during his time at the University of Alaska Southeast.
Beginning the fall of 2017, Bursell, the student speaker at this Sunday’s commencement ceremony at the UAS Recreation Center, studied at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, staffed House District 34 in the Alaska Legislature and been elected president of the UAS student government.
As a senior, Bursell chaired the University of Alaska Coalition of Student Leaders, which meant reporting directly to the Board of Regents on behalf of all three UA student governments.
The Empire spoke to Bursell over the phone on Friday afternoon about his English degree, being student body president and his plans for the future.
Juneau Empire: Why do you think UAS was a good fit for you?
Nick Bursell: I think that the small-community aspect is really special. The community here is very engaged and tight knit and I think that was really helpful for me. At a larger university it’s a lot more difficult to get to know your professors on a personal basis, but here I’ve got my professors’ phone numbers. I can text them if I need something. We can meet up outside of class.
Empire: Why did you choose to pursue an English degree?
Bursell: I had been going to school for a while without really making any decisions. I took a beginning creative writing class and it was one of the first times that I felt like class work didn’t feel like class work to me. It felt fun. It felt interesting. I felt like it was something I really cared about. So I stuck with it, and here we are.
Empire: What were some of the lessons you took away from serving as president of the student government?
Bursell: I realized how much people really care about what’s going on in governance. Student government on campus is a lot smaller than say the legislature, but even at that level, students care a lot and they show up and they’re always talking. They made me busy and they made me work, which is great. (Laughs) I kind of just did it because I thought it would be neat, but then when I got there, I realized how many people are actually involved and how many people want to have a say about what goes on on campus.
Empire: Have you formulated any plans for the future?
Bursell: I would say it’s a work in progress. One thing I’m really interested is writing professionally.
Empire: What kind of writing?
Bursell: My dream is to be a screen writer, but really anything I can get my hands on.
Empire: What are some of your inspirations in the arts?
Bursell: Mostly film and television. My favorite show is actually this animated series called “Fullmetal Alchemist.” I really like (Quentin) Tarantino films. I really like this thing that Marvel’s doing right now with the Cinematic Universe and the long-term storytelling. Those are some things I would point to.
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