Gold Axe winner graduates with help from scholarships

Kiara Weathersby has close family ties to Northern Arizona University. Her great-grandfather Lemuel Littleman, who worked as groundskeeper for the university from 1947 to 1983, encouraged Kiara to pursue an education to better herself and her family.

Now a recent graduate with degrees in business management and psychology, Kiara is making her family proud. She says her success is due in large part to the community of support at NAU, as well as to the financial aid she’s received from scholarships.

Community of support

Kiara is the first to make clear that she alone is not to credit for her accomplishments. A network of faculty mentors, personal relationships, and private support has helped Kiara on her path to graduation.

Among the many professors who guided Kiara through her education, economics professor Marc Chopin stood out the most.

“For the last two years, Dr. Chopin has been such a friend and mentor,” Kiara says. “In group projects, it can be difficult to get everyone to contribute. Dr. Chopin was the person who gave me advice on how to motivate people to get the most out of them.”

For Kiara, it wasn’t just helping out with classwork that made Marc one her most memorable faculty mentors.

“He’s also been there for moral support,” Kiara says. “When my father passed away two years ago, Dr. Chopin was there if I needed to vent or even just needed to be heard.”

Awarding excellence

Kiara’s service to the community, leadership in the Delta Sigma Phi business fraternity, and dedication to her coursework all culminated in the prestigious Gold Axe Award. But Kiara’s skills and contributions to the university meant that one award was not enough to recognize her accomplishments.

In addition to 11 scholarships, Kiara also received the Theodore “Ted” Johnson Outstanding Senior Award—named for the first African American faculty member at Northern Arizona University. The award honors exceptional graduating Black seniors for their contributions and commitments to the university and beyond.

Kiara’s awards don’t just recognize her academic and service pursuits however. Her impressive accomplishments also include a bronze medal for snowboard slalom in the 2015 USA Snowboard and Freeski Association’s National Championships.

With diverse talents and interests, Kiara intends to enter the workforce in a position where she can make a positive difference, which aligns with her long term goal to give back.

“My ultimate goal is to be a philanthropist. I want to be the person who comes back to NAU and at the scholarship luncheons and is giving to the university for everything that NAU has done for me.” – Kiara Weathersby