Making Connections, Building Community

by Allysia Lara

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Goodbye home, hello college

When I came to college, I was on the road for seven hours. I traded the palm trees and sandy beaches of California for the mountains of northern Arizona. While I was excited to embark on my new Lumberjack life, the goodbye was bittersweet. The stress and excitement is enough for any student, but as an out-of-state student, it can weigh even heavier.

Luckily, the goodbye tears were short-lived. Once I stepped foot on campus, there was a flurry of events to help make the college transition easier.

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At Orientation a huge student involvement fair takes place on the Central Quad. Here people from Admissions, Campus Health, and representatives from every club imaginable give you information on the opportunities they offer. As I walked around the quad that day, one club stood out— Peer Jacks. My brother, who attends NAU as well, told me I was crazy and that I didn’t need a mentor (he’s in ROTC, so he didn’t need too much assistance). But for me, I thought it would be worth it.

I’m so glad I made that choice because I soon came to find out this nationally recognized mentoring program has way more to offer than just sitting down and being “mentored.”

What is Peer Jacks?

Peer Jacks is a program exclusively for out-of-state students designed to make the transition to university life easier. How is this done? Through one-on-one meetings and field trips to places around northern Arizona.

Getting started

While most students were still figuring out their way around campus I was lucky enough to be discovering NAU outdoors.

I mean what better way to get acclimated to Lumberjack Country than going to Sedona and hiking Devil’s Bridge your second week of college?

Honestly, I had never even heard of Sedona before I joined Peer Jacks! Now, I go all of the time with Peer Jacks and with the friends I have made through the program.

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Not only did the trips and weekly events introduce me to some really great friends, but they also allowed me to make a great connection with my personal mentor.

The first year

During my freshman year, I had one-on-one meetings with my mentor once every two weeks. It was perfect because I was able to learn how to do enrollment the smart way, how to fill out the housing reapplication and what I could get involved with on-campus and in my major.

Through the program I found out about resources I didn’t even knew existed.

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Taking part in such an incredible organization is what led me to apply and become a mentor myself. Now as I look back, some of my favorite times in college so far have been as a Peer Jack. And the benefits of being trained and certified as a Level 1 and Level 2 mentor has proven beneficial in almost every one of my meetings with students.

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Our motto

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Peer Jacks Mentoring’s mission statement is, “Making Connection, Building Community.” The program lives up to its hype and was recently recognized in University Business Magazine as a Model of Excellence.

The impact that this program has on the lives of out-of-state freshmen is so large, the university has decided to open it up to ALL incoming freshmen.

That’s thousands of potential mentees that can enjoy everything that this program has to offer!

Needless to say, Peer Jacks is moving in the right direction, and will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of freshmen at Northern Arizona University for many years to come.

If you ever find yourself near our office, stop in and say hello!

And if need a little guidance, sign up for a mentor today.

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It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.

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