Rachel Young embraces Honors community
Studying within a university’s honors program
may prove intimidating at first glance.
After all, honors level study is generally associated with promoting a
more critical way of thinking than most students might be used to. But for all who join its ranks, there is much
short-term and long-term success to be realized.
At least that’s how Rachel Young feels. Young, a junior psychology major, started her
studies within NAU’s University Honors Program her freshman year. Though she has taken a variety of courses
both in and out of the program, Young says different types of courses provide
different types learning, all of which have contributed to her own personal
“Being in a bigger class provides the
opportunity to gain a lot of different opinions and perspective on the course
material,” Young says. “Then again, I
like taking the smaller classes within Honors that focus on more in-depth
Young, who came from Mesa, Arizona, says the
smaller campus life and close proximity to her home made NAU an easy decision
after high school. The University Honors
Program does its part to create a smooth transition to college through Guides
to University Retention and Undergraduate Success, or GURUS, who are
upperclassmen designed to help incoming freshman honors students.
Young, who is a GURU herself, believes GURUS
help create a tight-knit relationship with their students, providing insight to
freshmen and Honors students in need of that experience from a relatable, and
“Every Honors student has these upper class
mentors in our first year class, so the sense of community is established quickly,”
Young says. “A lot of times, freshmen
will be shy to talk to their instructors, so it’s really nice to have that
GURUS typically sit in on Honors classes, help
lead discussions, and plan social activities for their students, including
coffee breaks and trips to the First Friday Art Walks, which occur each month
and showcase local artists.
Young also works as an Honors Ambassador, which
requires her to lead prospective students on tours of Cowden Hall (where the
University Honors Program offices are located) while informing them of the
Honors Program and its benefits. If that
weren’t enough, Young also teaches Honors 100 classes as a facilitator.
In Honors 100, students are typically introduced
to NAU through projects designed to get them out and about in the Flagstaff
community. For example, one of Young’s
projects involved sending students to San Francisco Street – a rich and diverse
street connecting NAU’s campus to the city’s central hub – and having them come
back with coursework designed to teach their peers.
“It’s all about getting them acclimatized to
being away from home and getting them incorporated into the Flagstaff
community,” Young says. “It’s a very fun
class for all involved.”
Though her jobs and classes create long work
hours, Young says the goal is to manage time and look at the positive
Young’s long-term goal is to attend graduate
school and eventually work in an admissions office on a college campus. Though she is keeping her options open, Young
admits NAU is on the top of her list due to the wealth of knowledge and
experience gained through the university.
“NAU has definitely helped me to advance my
goals,” Young says. “I’ve been involved
in leadership, which helps prepare me for grad school and be a competitive
candidate. With the coursework, I’ve learned to look at things from more of a
critical perspective. “Graduate classes
are typically seminar-style, which is the same format as honors classes. I’ll be used to that going forward, which is