Featured SBS alumni
Students from NAU’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences make a difference
Share your stories! Our Alumni Association serves as a valuable resources for your life and career after graduation from Northern Arizona University, from career development and mentoring current students, to bringing NAU Near You and connecting you with alumni where you live. We’re always interested to find out the amazing things our alumni are up to. Update your contact information and check out the alumni site to make sure you’re always in the loop for everything NAU.
With each year’s graduating class, our alumni community grows—going in many directions with their careers, but all tied to NAU and their time as a Lumberjack. Read what they have to say about their NAU experience.
Alumni Spotlight: Marcos Trujillo
Where has life taken you since leaving NAU?
Since leaving NAU I have moved to Tucson, Arizona. After graduating I was looking for a job that I could apply my newly attained skills and perspective without having to move out of Arizona. Through some friends, I learned about the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation where I worked for four years as a Health Education Specialist who provided education to the middle, high school, and college students about comprehensive sex education, STI prevention, and substance abuse prevention. It was while doing outreach for that job that I met faculty from Pima Community College (PCC) in the Ethnic Gender and Transborder Studies Department who encouraged me to apply to teach with them.
What are you doing now for work/for passion? How is your Women’s & Gender Studies scholarship related or help you to get where you are now?
I currently teach as full-time faculty at PCC in the Ethnic Gender and Transborder Studies Department. Within the department, I teach sociology and gender and women’s studies. Our department is interdisciplinary so it is actually my WGS scholarship that made me the ideal candidate for this position I now have, being able to connect sociology to the fields of ethnic and gender studies gives me the ability to not only teach, but to engage students from different experiences and backgrounds and connect their experiences to what we are actually learning about.
Do you feel your work is valued?
I would say both yes and no. I value this work so much, the people in my department value it, but critical fields like ethnic and gender studies pose a threat to systems of power and privilege that can make people uncomfortable or actively resistant to the work that we do in our fields. So I absolutely know that works are valuable, but society at large does not always appreciate it as such.
What is the hardest/best/most surprising thing transitioning out of the university?
How little we are prepared for working life as a professional. Most programs do not require internships, or any sort of direct experience that would help you develop the skills you need to apply what you have learned in classes, to the work you will be doing. So I would definitely encourage people to think about different ways you gain access to the “realities” of the work you are interested in to help understand what it is you know, and areas you might want to develop as you apply for jobs or consider further education and graduate work.
What reflections do you have on the Women’s & Gender Studies (WGS) program after leaving? What is the most important thing you learned in your time at NAU (whether it be inside of or outside of the classroom)?
I really appreciated the variety of classes that people can take that count towards the graduate certificate in WGS. I was very fortunate to study with students and professors whose identities and experiences were from a diverse collection of nationalities/ethnicities, academic backgrounds, gender identities and sexualities, and I always really appreciate that our classes provided a great and critical place for us to learn, but also learn from one another and understand our experiences in the context of difference.
What was the most important part/aspect of your scholarship in WGS?
Being exposed to and learning about gender and sexuality and the politics of the body from non-western perspectives is something I deeply appreciate. I am grateful for the opportunity to develop the skill of decentering our cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality, and this is something that I will need to work and continue to develop over the course of my career and life.
What work (community or self) do you see as most critical/important in this moment?
Learning about disability and the ways we are socialized and encouraged to be part of and perpetuate an ableist ideology. It requires a lot of intention, work and accountability to begin to understand the variety of experiences and identities people with disabilities embody, and how academics, activist spaces, arts spaces, and community spaces have so much work
Who inspires, enlightens, pushes you to keep going?
People may have seen this or a similar image online or in social media land, but there was a picture I saw a couple years ago that said something like, “be the person you needed when you were younger.” Trans and gender non-conforming kids are so important, beautiful and lovely that I often think about what my life would be like if I had trans elders or adults in my life that I could have looked to, or looked up to as a kid. Seeing the bravery and self-love that some youth are able to express, is an amazing reminder and inspiration to be who I am, and not apologize for that.
Do you have any advice for current WGS/NAU students?
I had this amazing advice given to me as a student at NAU by Dr. Burford (I’m not sure if someone told them the same thing as a student) and I have never forgotten it and tell it to my students often which is, “Claim your education.” In order to get the best of the resources that are available to you as a student, you need to actively claim them, utilize them, and set expectations for yourself of what you want to gain from a class, program or degree. There are people who will support and encourage you, but your investment and active participation in your education are fundamental in receiving the best that people and programs have to offer. So value yourself, your perspective and creativity, and claim your education!
Mitch Ettinger, Class of 1980
A professor’s legacy lives on!
Mr. Jerry Ladhoff’s legacy to help Lumberjacks succeed in the classroom will continue, thanks to Mitch Ettinger, ’80 Criminology and Criminal Justice alumnus. Mr. Ettinger, a partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate & Flom Law Firm in Washington, D.C., chose to honor his former professor and mentor by endowing a scholarship in Professor Ladhoff’s memory. The first Ladhoff scholarship will be chosen in 2019 and will receive approximately $4,000 to assist with college expenses. Visit the Social and Behavioral Sciences site for additional scholarship information.