Jose Olais grew up in San Luis, Arizona, earned his bachelor’s degree at NAU Flagstaff, taught English Language Arts in Gadsden, and then returned to NAU Flagstaff to earn a Master of Arts in Psychological Sciences degree. As a graduate student, he conducted research aimed at understanding and improving issues such as student learning and health disparities among underserved populations.
Now he’s the new Academic Success Coordinator at NAU Yuma, where one of his goals is to create a welcoming environment where students can feel comfortable seeking help. As a first-generation college student from an underserved population, himself, Olais experienced uncertainty and anxiety when he started college but was hesitant to ask for help due to the stigma of doing so. He plans to combine his research, psychology, and higher learning experience to provide a learning environment for students where there is no stigma.
Olais also intends to expand the Academic Success program to include mentors and tutors for every subject taught at NAU Yuma as well as to create a bigger sense of community that emulates the NAU spirit. “As someone coming from NAU Flagstaff, I’m interested in connecting (local) students to what it means to be an NAU Lumberjack,” he says.
Olais is also a mental health advocate, particularly for Latino men. He says 70 percent of suicides are completed by men, and that in the Latino culture, men are taught to be “strong,” which can prevent them from seeking mental health care. He applies his psychology background to help them understand that when there is a need, there is help.
In his spare time, he enjoys grilling, cooking, and spending time with his cat, Cleo, as well as his nieces, nephews and other loved ones. Most of all, he likes to travel, he says. “I’ve traveled to over five countries and over 30 cities in the U.S., all over the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, and part of the South, and I lived in Italy for six months.”
For NAU Yuma students and prospective students, he shares this quote by Joseph Addison: “What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.”
Olais can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-317-6239.