49 Voices: Sophie Leshan of Anchorage

This week we’re hearing from Sophie Leshan in Anchorage. Leshan is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and moved to Anchorage in 2013. She will be the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Fall commencement speaker on Sunday.

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Sophie Leshan of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Sophie Leshan of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

LESHAN: It wasn’t something I planned on. I actually only anticipated being in Anchorage for about a semester before I, kind of, applied to other schools. But I really just immersed myself in the community and just embraced everything it had to offer. And here I am, 3.5 years later about to graduate.

I feel like I’m a lifelong learner. Going to school and being a student and being a learner just really excites me. I just dove right into my classes, dove right into different campus leadership opportunities, and it was really motivating and I think just helped me chug along and build that momentum.

I loved being in Michigan. I was always outside, but I was just so excited to explore the vast world that I saw in National Geographic. I remember devouring those magazines and seeing the pictures of all the beautiful places. And sometimes, living in Alaska, I feel like I’m living in a National Geographic magazine or special.

I’ll post pictures of moose sometimes, and I’ll have friends from back home in Michigan be like, “Wow! It looks so friendly. Why didn’t you pet it?” Oh no! I feel like people really don’t understand that moose need their space. They are most comfortable when you are giving them a lot of distance. So I would just clarify, if you come to Alaska, and you happen to spot a moose… look, observe, embrace the moment, share that moment with the moose, but also take a few steps back. Know moose safety.

I have this big list of books that I’ve been striving to read that I just haven’t had time for as a student, so I’m excited to just dig in and delve into some books. I’m excited to be more involved in the community. I just moved into the Spenard/Turnagain neighborhood, and I’m excited to go to our Community Council meetings and find out more about the neighborhood and how I can be an active member within my neighborhood.

I’m just excited in the immediate future to continue building relationships within different schools that I’m subbing at, and getting to know teachers, and getting to know the tools and strategies they’re using, and getting to make a difference in the students’ lives. I’m just so excited for what’s to come.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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