The Backpack: A news source for parents and families of students at Northern Arizona University The Backpack
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Vol. 8 No. 1 | August 30, 2011

Welcome Back!

Fall classes began August 29, but the activities and events to welcome students to campus continue to run through September 6. These activities are provided to engage and introduce students to support services while having fun along the way.

A new event this year is a multi-day scavenger hunt with prizes such as a 50”
wide-screen HDTV. The hunt connects students to student clubs, the expo fair, the vendor fair, campus recreation servies, student life, and even the new MountainLINK bus service.

Students can play using their smartphones by downloading an app or they can play online.

The New Transit Spine

Campus has undergone significant changes over the summer, some of which are visible, like the new transportation spine through campus, and others not-so-visible like the underground power grid and heating systems.

The transit spine introduces some new options for students. The “spine,” as we call it, is only for pedestrian, bicycle, and bus traffic. No private vehicles are allowed. The spine begins at Sechrist Hall and runs north through campus.

It is expected that this spine will attract a lot of foot and bicycle traffic as it will be the quickest way to travel north and south on campus. We want to ensure your student is aware of safety concerns on this spine. Students should be aware and follow safe and common-sense pedestrian actions:

  • Cross only at cross-walks. Bus drivers expect pedestrians to walk across the cross-walks; jumping out in front of a bus in random locations can be deadly.

  • Bicycles must travel in the bike lanes. The transit spine was designed so bicyclists would not conflict with foot traffic. Remind your student that bicycles must obey all traffic laws, including riding the same direction as traffic in the bike lanes and stopping at stop signs.

  • Watch for bicycles. Watch for pedestrians. Cyclists and walkers are equally responsible for watching out for one another to be safe on the spine. Cyclists should signal and declare their intentions to merge, pass, etc.

Student Support Services

by Wendy Wallace, Director, Student Support Services

For over 26 years, Northern Arizona University has offered the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program on the Flagstaff campus. Student Support Services (SSS) is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education in order to increase college retention and graduation rates for students who have financial need, are first generation college students, or have a documented disability.

Throughout their participation in the program, students will receive individual coaching from our staff members, who can guide them in the transition to the university and Flagstaff community. Specifically, we assist students by providing the following core services:

  • Academic support and tutoring
  • Assistance with course selection and career planning
  • Education/guidance to improve financial literacy
  • Information and assistance to apply for financial aid and/or scholarships
  • Assistance in applying for admission to graduate and professional school

Each semester, students in the SSS program will benefit from multiple individual mentoring meetings with one of our staff members, plus ongoing access to staff members via phone and e-mail. We also offer opportunities for students to attend educational workshops, cultural activities, community service projects, and retreats, all at no cost to the student. Additionally, we offer the opportunity to earn a $500 grant after a semester of full participation in our program.

Visit Student Support Services online for more information about program. Space is limited, so encourage your student to apply today!

Off to College

by Melody Hicks, MC, LPC, Counseling Services

Sending a son or daughter off to college is a time of transition which can provoke a pile of emotions—excitement, fear, joy, sadness, delight, pride—just about every emotion you can imagine. If this is not the first time you have been through this adventure, you are most likely prepared for what your son/daughter is going to experience. However, if this is your first child to leave the nest, then you may find this article helpful in anticipating what your son/daughter will be facing in those first weeks of school.

  • Fun and Excitement — Fresh and new—from establishing a room/residence to meeting new people, going to social events and going to classrooms with anticipation of learning new information. There is something for someone new around every corner.
  • Hectic and Chaotic — Your student now has to create and maintain his/her own schedule and routine. This can create a bit of chaos for a while and a sense of feeling overwhelmed, especially with new things to see and do, meltdowns may happen.
  • Class Action — The option of “drop/add” is one way a student can start to exercise a sense of independence and autonomy. This doesn’t always sit well with a parent who has helped his/her student create the plan for the first semester. Can you say “letting go”?
  • Roommate Adventures — Living together provides many challenges, especially since the shared space is small. Some roommate situations seem to work with little effort while others require negotiation skills that often far exceed the abilities of all involved. Dealing with conflict can be hard to do.
  • Anxiety and Fear — New places and new people can increase your student’s anxieties and fears as he/she navigates through a new campus, town and adventure without parental security close at hand. Reassurance and support are a must.

The nice part about sending your student off to college is that he/she is not alone. There are many people on campus ready and willing to help students with classes, roommates, anxiety, and schedules. Counseling Services is just one of many places students can go for help and support.

Providing Support and Assistance to Native American Students

by Sharon Doctor, Native American Student Services

Native American Student Services (NASS) is committed to providing culturally-sensitive support services to our Native American and Alaskan Native students.

NASS emphasises service to first-year freshman and transfer students and providing assistance with the transition from home to the university community. Tribes represented include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Hopi, Navajo, and White Mountain Apache.

Our students represent more than 90 tribal affiliations throughout the United States. NASS staff members are also on hand to assist your student during his/her time entire at the university.

For more information, visit Native American Student Services online, in person at the LEADS Center, located in the University Union, building #30, room 104, or by phone at 928-523-8086, 1-877-523-8125 toll free outside Flagstaff.

Sophomore Segment

It is time for your student’s second year at the university. He/she is past the excitement of moving off to college for the first time, but still not quite near the end. The sophomore year can be equally tough as students recognize their maturation, but their chronological age has some restrictions. Here are a few tips to help keep your second year student engaged in his/her college experience and continue down the path toward graduation:

Encourage your student to...

  • Have meaningful conversations with an academic adviser about career goals, internship opportunities, and appropriate courses.

  • Search and apply for internships. Some places to begin the search include: the Gateway Student Success Center and academic departments.

  • Consider graduate school as an option. Some students will need advanced degrees as they strive toward their ultimate career. This is a great time to search for graduate programs and begin to understand the requirements, both academically and financially.

Answer The Call!

by Rebecca Garrett, Parent Leadership Council

One way to be involved in your student’s education and academic success is to contribute during our parent calling campaign. The parent campaign has a direct impact on students, providing for scholarships, projects, and programs not fully covered by tuition or state funding. While gifts to the university can always be designated to any area of your choice, the parent campaign focuses on our three parent funds. These funds are made up of pooled gifts, collectively contributing to programs that make a difference to parents and students.

  • The NAU Parent Fund supports programs that enhance student life, such as student support services, the retention-oriented Parent and Family University and Family Weekend events provided at no cost for parents and families.
  • The Micro Grant Fund, as recommended by the university’s Parent Leadership Council, awards grants of up to $3,500 each to enhance curriculum and support other student-oriented initiatives. The application and approval process for these grants is quick, allowing for an almost immediate impact on learning experiences.
  • The Parent Scholarship Fund keeps education accessible and limits post-graduation debt for returning students.

Early in the semester, you may receive a call from a knowledgeable student, who will update you on these and other initiatives and ask for your support. Please take the time to talk with one of our students and consider making a gift.

Gifts to the Parents’ Fund or to specific areas within the University can also be made online or mailed to:

Northern Arizona University Advancement
PO Box 4094
Flagstaff, AZ 86011

Family Weekend Commemorative T-Shirt

Family Weekend T-shirts!

September 23-25, 2011

When you order your tickets for Family Weekend, don’t forget to add a t-shirt or two! T-shirts can be purchased through the Central Ticket Office and must be ordered by September 1 to ensure delivery to campus by Family Weekend. Available sizes range from youth-medium to adult-XXL.

Event Highlights

Ice Jacks Golf Tournament Fundraiser. Donations due August 30. All proceeds will go to the NAU Ice Jacks Club Hockey teams. Send checks payble to "NAU Ice Jacks" to Keith Johanson, 3229 Clubhouse Circle, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

See a complete listing of university events on the official university calendar website. More Flagstaff event highlights can be seen at ShowUp Flagstaff and Flagstaff Happenings. More travel, dining, shopping, and event information is available from