Vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party and John McCain’s running mate Sarah “Barracuda” Palin attended North Idaho College during the spring and fall semesters of 1983 before going on to become a journalist and later a politician.
Born in Sandpoint Feb. 11, 1964, Palin moved to Alaska with her family at three months old. Her parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, were a teacher and school secretary, respectively. Palin has sisters Heather and Molly and a brother, Chuck.
Palin, now 44, graduated from Wasilla High in 1982 and returned to Idaho to attend NIC. Palin was a general studies major during the year, but instructors here apparently didn’t remember her, and she wasn’t mentioned in the student newspaper, including the Dean’s list.
Bloxom, 70, Coeur d’Alene, was the Cardinal baseball coach and physical education instructor for 30 years. He has been a close friend of Chuck Heath for nearly 60 years and has kept in contact with the Heath family.
Though Bloxom couldn’t recall any major occurrences involving Palin, he said she was well-raised and was a tremendous student and athlete. He mentioned that she had been called Sarah “Barracuda” Heath when she played basketball during high school because of her ferocity.
“She was a fearless competitor,” Bloxom said. “She was always involved in athletics and constantly excelled to finish what she started.”
After a year at NIC Palin continued her education at the University of Idaho where, after a brief return to Alaska, she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987. After her graduation from U of I, Palin moved back to Alaska where her family resided.
In 1988, Palin married Todd Palin, a native of Alaska. The couple had five children named Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.
Besides being a busy mother, Palin spent her time as a sports broadcaster in Alaska.
According to Bloxom, Palin got her start in politics when she joined the PTA in Wasilla.
“Sarah saw some things she didn’t like that she felt she could help with,” Bloxom said.
After getting her feet wet in school politics, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council. This led to her 1996 election as mayor of Wasilla City, where she also served two terms. When her second term expired in 2002 she left office due to the term limit and ran for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. This led to her first loss in a statewide campaign.
Later the same year, Palin was named chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by former senator turned governor, Frank Murkowski. She then split with Republican Party leaders in 2003 by going head-to-head with Randy Ruedrich, head of the Republican Party in Alaska.
“Palin started out with $5,000 dollars from the Central Republican Party and earned over $900,000 with the help of supporters to fund her campaign for the governorship,” Bloxom said.
In 2006, Palin upset incumbent Gov. Murkowski in the Republican primary and continued in the campaign to defeat former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) to win the election.
On Aug. 29, she was chosen as Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate for the November elections.
This came as a surprise to many and has created an uproar in the political community. Her status in politics as an unknown created an immediate surge in information on Palin and a startling amount of media coverage.
The NIC Alumni Association Board of Directors is honoring Palin as the recipient of the ’08-’09 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. Palin was notified of this decision in June, and the board hopes to present her with the award sometime this year.
“Palin has achieved great success in her life and political career, and we’re certainly proud of her accomplishments since getting her start at NIC,” President Priscilla Bell said.