Forging a path to success
For Kevin Wright, a junior computer information systems and business
administration major, and Kathleen Short, a senior communications major,
adjusting to university life wasn’t necessarily easy. As first-generation
university students, they needed guidance to navigate a system that was
entirely new to them. Now, as upper-level undergraduates, both Wright and Short
say that they have created a foundation for long-term success – thanks in large
part to the university’s various mentoring programs.
the right resources for success as a student
Wright grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and arrived
at Northern Arizona University with the goal of starting his own youth group
for underprivileged students. Coming from a modest financial background, Wright
had hopes of someday helping those who grew up in similar situations to his
Once he reached college, however, Wright
realized that his path might be more daunting than he originally thought. He
had to work three campus jobs in order to pay tuition his freshman year, and
was having a difficult time balancing his multiple commitments. When he was a
freshman, he got involved with Student Support Services
(SSS). By his sophomore year, Wright was involved with Inclusion and Multicultural Services (IMS) and
Engagement Achievement Diversity Service (LEADS) Center, and had
found a support network that could help him realistically pursue his dreams.
“It was definitely a
group effort between all the offices and the wonderful people that work in the
department,” Wright says. “That helped me realize how big of a responsibility
my education is with all of my future goals. I’ve always been taught and raised
to be thankful for every opportunity and everything that is a blessing in my
life, but the LEADS Center somehow made me more grateful.”
Though the LEADS Center helps students
financially, academically, and even socially, Wright says the support and
compassion of its staff has given him the confidence to move forward and
accomplish his own personal goals.
“I already know that when I graduate and I have
a career, I’ll have the knowledge and resources to become successful,” Wright
says. “If I had to pick one facet of NAU to give my thanks, it would definitely
be the LEADS Center after all they’ve done for me.”
Keeping a straight focus
For Short, SSS played a
similar role: without SSS, she says, Short wouldn’t have found the financial
aid, moral support, or encouragement to even stay in college.
Originally from Phoenix,
Arizona, Short says she decided to attend Northern Arizona University after
studying at a community college her freshman year. She visited the Flagstaff
campus and immediately fell in love with the sense of community that she found.
When Short arrived for
her sophomore year, however, she discovered the trials and tribulations of
being a first-generation student, including not knowing how to access resources
or adapt to a higher level of education. Coming from a Filipino family who had
little experience with American universities, Short
did not know what to expect upon arriving at Northern Arizona University, and
says if she hadn’t gotten involved with SSS, the LEADS Center, and the IMS, she
probably wouldn’t be on the path to graduation.
“All I can say is that without the community and
support systems I had here to help me figure out what I want to do and where to
go when I needed help, I wouldn’t be in college,” Short says. “I would have
dropped out a long time ago.”
Short says that, thanks to the guidance she’s
received, she is able to pursue her long term goalof becoming a talk show host,
through her classes, peers, and the support system she found at the LEADS
Center. Even though she is well on her way to finishing a successful university
career, Short says she’s still free to seek guidance and advice thanks in part to
the close-knit relationship she’s developed with her SSS mentors.
“It’s such a strong support system to say the
least,” Short says. “It’s the community.
It’s the support. It’s the
feeling that as soon as you meet your advisers, you’re already part of their