Diana White, Executive Director of Moonshot, mentors a startup business owner at NACET in Flagstaff. Diana White, Executive Director of Moonshot, mentors a startup business owner at NACET in Flagstaff.
Entrepreneurship & Business 

Helping startups thrive

NAU alumna Diana White leans on her business experience to guide entrepreneurs in their new ventures.

Diana White, BS Business Administration ’17, is the Executive Director of the Flagstaff campus of Moonshot at NACET, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with incubation and accelerator programs for Arizona entrepreneurs. She also co-hosts “10 Lessons Learned,” an international podcast offering insights from successful business leaders. With over 30 years of sales and retail experience, White has led stores with revenues of over $10 million and managed departments with more than 200 employees. She has served on many boards, including those of the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity. In 2002, White moved her family from New York City to Arizona, and now splits time between Gilbert and Flagstaff. She was a nontraditional student, starting school after she already had an established career. White took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about what it meant for her to get a degree at NAU.

What brought you to NAU?

I was introduced to NAU when the organization I worked for took over the management of the campus bookstore, and I was picked to help train employees and remerchandise the sales floor. Several years later, I had the opportunity to become the director of the NAU Bookstore and was excited to take on the role because I had fallen in love with the campus during my visit to assist with transitioning the store.

You were already successfully employed; what made you decide to get a degree?

I had always wanted my degree and tried for many years to obtain it through a myriad of schools. There was never enough time, energy, or money to finish. NAU was a blessing as I was finally able to find an institution of higher education that fit all my needs and allowed me the opportunity to complete my degree.

It’s up to you to market yourself after graduation so that your degree and the soft skills you’ve learned in your academic career fit many positions and industries.

Why Business Administration?

I have always had an interest in business. While I was working at the NAU Bookstore, I started a consulting firm and helped local small businesses with growing their sales and creating marketing strategies. I knew I had proven skills and was already using them to help various companies; I also knew that having a degree would be beneficial if I wanted to grow my business and brand.

Any advice for student entrepreneurs?

Enjoy your college experience. Don’t believe people who tell you your degree is only suitable for one thing; it’s up to you to market yourself after graduation so that your degree and the soft skills you’ve learned in your academic career fit many positions and industries. And, if you’re thinking about starting your own business, remember to surround yourself with resources—including people who believe in you and want to help you succeed.

Headshot of Diana White, Executive Director of Moonshot at NACET in Flagstaff.

Thinking back to your time at NAU

Where did you find support?

My interactions with faculty and staff at NAU go way beyond my educational journey. As the Director of the NAU Bookstore, I built amazing relationships with many faculty and staff. They held me accountable and cheered me on as I worked towards my degree. I will forever be grateful to all of them for believing in me.

What was your biggest challenge?

One of the most challenging aspects of my education was going back to school at a stage in my life in which I was far from the average youthful, optimistic student in their late teens or early twenties. Even though I was never ridiculed or judged, I felt out of place at times. But with the promise of graduation within reach and the faith of my family and friends to support me, I was able to put those insecurities aside and focus on learning.

What is your favorite memory?

Family Weekend was a particularly fond memory for me. Every year, we would see families come and support their college students. They were enthusiastic, proud, and eager to show their school spirit! I loved watching the moms buy NAU gear and memorabilia to wear to the football game. It was like they were college students themselves. It was very moving.

Why should a student choose NAU?

NAU provides a small-town university experience with a 21st-century approach to higher education. Between the weather and proximity to all the adventures that Arizona (and adjacent states) has to offer, getting your degree with NAU will be the experience of a lifetime.

What makes you proud to be a Lumberjack alumna?

It is the ultimate sense of accomplishment to have obtained my degree from NAU. The significance of a 25-year pursuit of higher education culminating in finally getting my bachelor’s degree from a university that embodies many of the philosophies and passions for learning that I admire is not lost on me.

What do you find inspiring about your career?

I get to work with founders that are ushering in solutions to today and tomorrow’s most pressing concerns. I get to help them bring their products and services to market and show them how to maintain sustainable companies which contribute to the economic vitality of the city of Flagstaff. I’ve yet to find work that feels more rewarding.