Avery Pope is CAL’s Distinguished Senior and the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of Global Languages and Cultures. She is graduating with a double major with a bachelor’s of science in public health and a bachelor’s of modern languages with an emphasis in French.
Avery had always planned to study public health, but did not intend to get a second degree in French. Her original intent was to study enough to earn a minor. “I started a language immersion program at University Savoie Mont Blanc in Chambéry, France in the spring semester of 2020, but shortly got sent home due to COVID,” she said. That experience increased her want to study public health in the French-speaking world.
Avery credits Prof. Erika Hess for encouraging her to take on the double-major once she returned home, creating independent study classes and working with Avery as she put together a capstone thesis on the influence of culture and stigmatization on HIV/AIDS in Haiti. Avery expressed the most gratitude for Madame Hess’ efforts that came after a serious car accident left Avery in the hospital just before her originally-intended graduation date last May. “She was beyond helpful in contacting my other professors and deans to inform them of my situation which I was unable to do myself. This initiative allowed me to contact the right people and be able to get back on track,” Avery said.
Avery has been interning at a mental health hospital in her hometown of Grand Junction, Colorado this semester, and has accepted a job at a law firm there so she can better understand the intersection of public health and the law, hoping to learn about developing policy, creating interventions and finding ways to benefit a community as a whole. She plans to eventually attend graduate school to become a physician’s assistant, and sees plenty of travel to Francophone countries in the future to better understand their public health issues.
Mia Irvin is CAL’s Standard Bearer and the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of Philosophy. She graduates with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics and law with a minor in Spanish (something that was encouraged by her mother and grandmother, both fluent Spanish speakers).
Mia came to NAU from Chandler, Arizona with the intent to study political science. “I enjoyed a philosophy course I took my freshman year with Dr. Luke Maring so much that I quickly decided to switch my major,” she said. Her favorite studies at NAU include working through ethical dilemmas with Prof. Maring and Prof. Katie Tullman and learning specific philosophical figures with Prof. George Rudebusch and Prof. Greg Kirk.
Mia plans to attend law school in the fall. “There are so many areas of law that interest me such as Civil Rights Law, Family Law, Public Interest Law, and Immigration Law, just to name a few,” she said. Her ultimate goal is to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Let’s hope she becomes the first Lumberjack to make it to the bench of the high court!
Anne Anderson is the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the School of Music. She graduates with a bachelors of music in secondary education: choral.
Anne’s passion for music began when she was young. “In elementary school, I joined the choir at school and my local church where I fell in love with singing, performing, and making music,” she said. Those early years included working with NAU alumnus and founder of the Harold M. Harter Memorial Handbell Choir, Doug Benton. “Doug would brag about NAU and tell me incredible stories about his undergraduate experiences and the music education degree. I knew I wanted to become a music teacher, so I decided to apply to NAU.”
Anne said she was particular to her work with the handbell choir, making those some of her favorite classes. “I am obsessed with handbells, and my senior year I served as Bellmaster and teacher of the handbell choir,” she said. “If anyone (music major or non-major) is looking to learn a fun skill and make music, you should sign up for this class and learn how to ring handbells!”
Anne will return to the East Valley after graduation (she’s from Apache Junction, AZ). She has a job lined up teaching general music at an elementary school in the Gilbert Public School District and is also the Handbell Director at St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Mesa. She has hopes to start an East Valley UMC Youth Handbell Choir within the next year. Anne is also engaged, with plans to get married this summer. Congratulations! She also hopes to continue her schooling by getting a master’s degree.
Abigail Fitzekam is the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the School of Art. She is receiving a bachelor’s of fine arts in studio art with an emphasis in ceramics. She grew up in Phoenix and became interested in three-dimensional art while attending Desert Mountain High School. That interest grew into a passion for ceramics while attending Coconino Community College.
Abigail said she particularly enjoyed her glazing and firing class, and that Prof. Jason Hess was particularly helpful in her studies, “he has offered a wide variety of opportunities to help develop my career and I’m very thankful for him.”
Abigail wants to make a living off of her art someday, and plans to eventually attend graduate school in the hopes of furthering that goal. “In the meantime, the idea of sitting still and enjoying post-graduation life is pretty enticing,” she said.
Thomas Flannigan is the Outstanding Senior for the Department of History. He is graduating with a degree in secondary education in history and social studies.He is originally from Chino Valley, Arizona and graduated from Tri City Prep High School in Prescott.
Thomas has always been fascinated with history. “I find that it explains in great detail, no matter how broad or specific, the problems and issues of social relations that we see today. From race, to gender, to sexuality, and to class relations/structures, there is always a point of origin that was built upon to get us to where we are today,” he said. And he thinks it’s important that the subject be taught in schools in a way that makes it more than “a compendium of impenetrable and unchangine facts.”
Thomas said that Prof. Christi Carlson was incredibly helpful in helping him realize what he wanted to study. He also added that his favorite classes are ones that taught recent history outside of the U.S. “I feel Americans often gain tunnel vision about the world and its possibilities when they repeatedly study American or European history, and so to branch out in more specific areas can be of extreme benefit.”
While Thomas intends to make his way to teaching eventually, he hopes to take some time before becoming a full time high school teacher so he can be ready with detailed curriculum maps of possible subjects. “I want to come in prepared and ready to have students take a new approach to history. In the immediate future, I may take up substitute teaching or perhaps another job while I construct this curriculum.”
Kathryn Ludi is the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies. She is receiving a degree in interdisciplinary studies/humanities. Kathryn came to Arizona in 2010 from California.
Kathryn came to the humanities by coincidence. She’d completed more than 90 credits towards an English degree, but had trouble getting those credits to transfer to programs other than the 90/30 interdisciplinary studies/humanities degree. “To my surprise though, I wish I’d pursued Humanities from the beginning,” she said. “The courses I’ve taken at NAU to complete this degree have been the most interesting of my life.”
Kathryn said she most thoroughly enjoyed any of her classes that involved film, and is appreciative of her courses with Dr. Diana Coleman, “She is a great professor, and the materials in her courses were among the most enlightening, engaging, anf thought-provoking of my time at NAU so far.”
Kathryn is done with her undergraduate studies, but she’s not done with NAU. She starts work on a Master in English Literature next semester with plans to pursue a PhD after that.
Chris Mort is the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of Theatre. He is graduating with an emphasis in design and tech and a minor in sociology. Chris’ choice of majors came from a passion that’s outside of school. “I am a drag queen and love costumes so I chose theatre to pursue a career in costume design.”
Chris said that, when it came to instructors who made a difference, there were many. “Jennifer Peterson helped me get into the theatre program and encouraged me throughout my college career to be a better designer. Nancy Parr taught me key costume construction skills. Kate Ellis pushed me to better the quality of my work in both design and construction,” he said. Chris also noted that sociology courses proved invaluable in learning to understand character relationships.
Chris has plans to continue to work in Flagstaff while pursuing a drag career on the side and applying for summer stock theatre jobs around the country. He hopes to work ultimately as a costume designer and as a professional drag queen.
Rose Salinas is the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of English. She is an English major and is receiving certificates in literature, creative writing, and rhetoric writing and digital media studies. She came to NAU from Phoenix and graduated from Glendale High School.
Rose chose English as a major because of the support she has always received from her English teachers. “English is an amazing major which has allowed me to grow as a creative while teaching me the tools in order to be successful in life.” Among the NAU professors she credits with expressing that same support are Sarah Begovac, Steven Rosendale, and Calinda Shely.
Rose said she most enjoyed Prof. Rosendale’s seminar in American literature: American modernism, but she also enjoyed studying Shakespeare with Prof. Shely and poetry with Prof. Sherwin Bitsui.
Rose will begin her post-graduate studies of literature here at NAU in the fall, in preparation for what she hopes will be a future career in education. “My long time goals would be to teach English and to always keep the Lord the center of my life. Through His never-ending generosity, I have been able to achieve so much and meet many amazing people,” she said.