First Year Seminar
Meet our faculty
I moved to Flagstaff many years ago to attend NAU as an undergraduate. After completing a degree in Latin American History, I spent several years traveling and exploring from Argentina to Alaska. Upon my return to the states, I realized how much I loved it here and decided to stay and make Flagstaff my home. Though I miss the ocean where I grew up on eastern Long Island, I love the adventure that Flagstaff has to offer from hiking, biking and backpacking to river-running. I live here with my husband and two adventurous children.
I taught Spanish for 17 years and have worked with students from first grade through the university level. During this time, I had the opportunity to coordinate multiple student immersion trips to Costa Rica and completed a master’s degree in Spanish.
Of all of my teaching experience, I prefer working with first-year college students the most. This is an important time of transition from youth to adulthood, from dependency to independence, and from a concrete world of understanding to the abstract. Through teaching First Year Seminar courses, I look forward to supporting students in developing enduring academic skills of a liberal education such as: critical thinking, effective written and oral communication, and most importantly, the development of their own informed ideas and opinions.
I teach a First Year Seminar course on Latino culture. I also work as a mentor in the Interdisciplinary Global Program evaluating students’ Spanish language skills and supporting them during their year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. While I do not identify as Latina, the Spanish language and culture have captivated my heart and mind, and I look forward to exploring with you this semester.
“Se valiente. Toma riesgos. Nada puede sustituir la experiencia.”
– Paulo Coelho
Cody Canning, FYS Director
Growing up in a small high desert town, all I wanted to be was a teacher. My teachers embodied the virtues I came to hold dear: kindness, intelligence, hard work, and open-mindedness. So, when I teach (and teach well), I am honoring all the wonderful teachers who helped shape me. But education is not about teachers—it’s about students. Without students, without learners, school has no purpose or point. While I feel deeply impacted by those teachers who came before me, I’m inspired by the students ahead of me. Students inspire me to be the best version of my professional self for them, to hone my craft, and to grow as a human being. Each class of students I teach will someday be the leaders of the world in which I live. Not only do I wish for them to inherit a good and decent world, but I also want them to have the intellectual habits and skills to run that world well.
My course What is America? has a two-fold agenda; the first and most obvious goal is to review a whole host of American ideas and challenge the student to develop an informed answer to that enormous question. Doing so will require deep thought, reflection, and will likely lead to a new set of lenses by which the student may come to observe their country. The second goal of the course is to help each student embrace their intelligence. School, unfortunately, has a nasty tendency to make some of us feel stupid—mostly when it’s narrow and focused on only a small spectrum of boring cognitive tasks. This class and how I teach it will challenge each student, without question. Still, it will also open the door for students to re-imagine themselves as emerging deep thinkers and qualified members of the university community.
I was born and raised in southern Wisconsin among dairy farms and endless rows of corn. I studied English and Italian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and spent a year studying abroad in Bologna, Italy. When I returned home from Italy, all I knew was I wanted to move to the desert. I had no idea what I would do once I got there.
I graduated from UW–Madison in 2003 and began my graduate studies at Northern Arizona University in 2004. In 2006 I graduated from NAU with an MA in English Education and started my teaching career fall 2006 at Winslow High School. I later taught at Flagstaff High School. In 2015, I left the classroom to work for Upward Bound at NAU, a college access program sponsored by the federal government. Two years later, I realized how much I missed teaching and working with my students, so I made the move back to the classroom. This will be my fourth year of teaching at NAU.
I’ve realized that my passion for teaching is grounded in my work with first-year college students. Given my experience in both the high school and college classrooms, I understand where students are coming from (the K-12 world) and what they are moving into (the world of higher education). I feel this uniquely positions me to help support students as they transition to college. I’m honored to be in a position where I have the opportunity to work with young people as they begin this journey.
My course What is Sport? explores the concept of sport through the lens of aesthetics (think literature, art, film, photography, etc.) and the human condition. We will also dive deeper into the role sport plays in American society, how sport serves as a mirror (or a window or a boat), and the relationship between sport and truth. I want my students to become comfortable with ambiguity and the concept of multiple legitimate perspectives (lenses) as we move through our study of sport, aesthetics, and, ultimately our humanity.