Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
Merryman poses with her magazine outside of late for the train in Flagstaff.

Micaela Merryman | English and Film Studies | Class of 2022

What motivated you to enroll at NAU?

I was drawn to Northern Arizona University because it offered a unique opportunity to explore a different side of Arizona. Growing up in the desert, I’ve always been surrounded by arid landscapes, and the greenery of Flagstaff was a welcome change. It felt like attending an out-of-state school without leaving Arizona. In addition to the natural beauty of Flagstaff, I wanted the chance to integrate myself in a diverse, inclusive, and tight-knit community. Something that I was severely lacking in the city where I grew up.

Why and how did you select your final major and minor at NAU?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, so choosing English with a focus on Literature and Creative Writing as my major was a no-brainer.

When it came to selecting a minor, I initially considered Journalism, thinking it might be a lucrative choice after graduation. Artists don’t make real money, or at least that’s what I’ve always been told. However, I soon realized that I lacked a true passion for journalism. I also briefly explored Criminal Justice studies, which I found rewarding, but it didn’t quite align with the rest of my studies or my long-term goals. Truthfully, I only chose to pursue that minor because I enjoy writing crime fiction.

Ultimately, I settled on Film Studies because it fulfilled my childhood dream of bringing my written work to the screen. It complemented my major and allowed me to bridge the gap between literature and film. I even had the opportunity to bring my stories to life on screen during my time at university.

Merryman and firend particpate in northern Arizona Book Festival, reading in heritage Square

In what ways did your NAU coursework prepare you for your career?

My NAU coursework was instrumental in preparing me for my career as a writer. I had the privilege of learning from writers and poets like Chelsey Johnson and Sherwin Bitsui, whose teaching and artistic insights significantly broadened my perspective as a writer. Living so close to the reservation and experiencing Indigenous literature and art changed my life.

Above all, my coursework introduced me to a diverse and talented group of peers whose varied perspectives and experiences enriched me as a person. These interactions expanded my horizons, fostering a sense of community and understanding that has been invaluable in both my personal and professional life.

Did you participate in any experiential learning opportunities, like a study abroad or an internship? If so, how did these contribute to your overall NAU experience?

Yes, I had the privilege of serving as a Peer Instructor in 2020. This role allowed me to mentor other students in English, which was not only rewarding but also a valuable learning experience. It taught me a great deal about leadership and effective communication, contributing significantly to my overall college experience.

What campus activities did you participate in while you were a student?

I had the pleasure of being a member of the Badjacks Dance Team for two years. This was a fantastic experience.

In addition to that, I founded the English Honors Society of Northern Arizona University right before the pandemic hit—unfortunate timing, I know! It dissolved shortly afterward due to the chaos. Nevertheless, it was an incredible journey in leadership, and it allowed me to connect with fellow creative minds. The defunct English Honors Society laid the foundation for my independent literary magazine, Sonder Magazine, which I founded with some of the original members of the club. Fostering this creative community occupied a significant portion of my time as a sophomore, junior, and senior and played a pivotal role in developing my leadership skills.

Merryman headshot

What part of your NAU experience do you value most highly today, and what could NAU have done better to prepare you for the future?

I cherish the profound impact of the individuals I had the privilege of meeting. They have, in the most beautiful and transformative ways, expanded the horizons of my understanding, fostering within me a radical acceptance of myself and of others’ authentic selves. These connections have allowed me to craft an amazingly supportive and tightly knit community here in town. It is what has kept me anchored here, the kindness of the people who live here.

As for areas where NAU could have better prepared the creative people in my major for future opportunities, I believe there could have been more focus on equipping us for careers in publishing and academia. The options for creative writers can be limited after graduation, and additional guidance in these areas would have been beneficial. Because of the community I’ve created for myself here, I’ve been fortunate in carving out my own career path as the Youth Poet Laureate and as an independent publisher. However, not everyone has had these same privileges.