Alumni Profile: Karrie Pavish Anderson '98

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

"I'm so thankful for the education I received from UAA's music department," says Karrie Pavish Anderson, who is now the Music & Arts program director at the residence hall of Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA), a public vocational boarding school attended predominantly by Alaska Native students.

UAA alumni Karrie Pavish AndersonKarrie grew up in Anchorage participating in a multitude of community music events including singing at church and in the Anchorage Girls Choir. She received the Chancellor's scholarship to attend UAA and a music appreciation class convinced her that music could be more than just a hobby. She was immediately impressed with the music department and still collaborates with the people she met at UAA, like adminstrative assistant Penny Graber. "It's a big network of UAA music buddies," says Karrie.

What advice does she have for current students?  "No matter how many credits you need to take, don't rush!" She started at UAA in 1991 and didn't graduate until 1998 because she overloaded with too many credits and caused herself a lot of health issues - she wore her immune system down, so she had to take a lot of time off.  "I should have relaxed and gone slower to enjoy it. However, I'm thankful that all of the faculty were very supportive when I came back to finish."

After graduation, Karrie lived in Bend, Oregon where she was involved in all sorts of musical activities, including teaching music, leading worship music and singing in a band called Canvas that had two songs in the top 50, as well as one that reached number five on the general jazz charts. Her siblings David Pavish and Kimberly Kopp,'92 , moved to Galena first and thought Karrie would be a perfect fit in the tight-knit community. David called and told her, "We need people who will love these teens." Karrie found herself asking, "How do I get a job application?"

Her husband, Patrick, supported the move to Alaska, even though it meant he would be moving to a small community without a job and they didn't even have a house of their own; they lived in a tent until the end of October. He soon got a job with the Galena City School District and happily embraced the subsistence lifestyle with the hunting and fishing it entails. Karrie started at Galena as a residence adviser, staying in the residence hall for the first four years during the week, only going home on the weekends.

There aren't a lot of opportunities to perform in such a remote community with a population of only 650, but she loves working with the teens - it is like an extended family.  And since music is one of Karrie's life passions, at GILA's residence hall, she saw a need and was able to create a new position for herself as the Music and Arts program director. Her position allows her to develop relationships with the teens, and help them reach musical breakthrough moments like performing in front of an audience for the first time or when they finally get counting in 6/8 time.

Since Galena is a small fly-in-only community, she is aware the regular audience has heard all her songs, so she works constantly on coming up with fresh ideas. When she's not working, leading music at church, giving private lessons or performing, she remains immersed in music, listening and jotting down lyrics as she rests at home or on the beach of the Yukon River. Sometimes Karrie will go to her sister's home and sing with her nieces and nephews, helping them improvise their own sounds, or go to the residence hall to jam with the teens in her off time. Even these spontaneous activities add to her bank of musical ideas. On short jaunts to Fairbanks she has managed to squeeze in performances. This summer she is actively writing more lyrics and booking performances for herself. She is scheduled so far in Wasilla, Palmer, Anchorage and Fairbanks and is always looking for more.

"With music there's constant growth. You can't just rest on your laurels," Karrie says. So she tries to create performance opportunities for herself and her teens as much as possible.

"I feel led to spread love and hope with my music and everything I do," Karrie says. She spreads a little of love back to UAA and creates opportunities for students by giving what she can. Although she describes her donations as meager, she knows they are appreciated. Just as her positive presence can help support a whole community, every little bit adds up to big difference.

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