Get involved. Find your home.

Michelle GardnerBy Michelle Gardner

NAU alumna and director of the Office of Leadership & Engagement.


When I arrived at NAU in 2004, a first-generation college student from Southern California, I knew no one. I was terrified and despite being an extrovert, I had no idea where to start to meet people. I was overwhelmed by new terminology (what is a bursar?) and what felt like a gigantic campus. 

When I attended a club fair during Welcome Week, I was quickly brought into a family of students who called themselves “New Student Government.” I was a new student. I didn’t, at the time, have any passion for government, but something about the students made me want to see what they were all about. It was this choice that shifted my entire Lumberjack experience. I joined the Honors program, worked on The Lumberjack, served as an orientation leader, taught HON/NAU 100 and hosted my own radio show on KJACK. 

Getting involved changes lives. 

It was getting involved that altered my entire career path, built lasting friendships and prepared me with the skills needed to go to graduate school. Getting involved helped me meet people who helped me figure out my identities, connected me with friends who challenged me and aided me in finding my voice. Involvement and engagement created memories that allowed me to call NAU “home” and brought me back as a staff member for the last 9 years. 

Now, as director of the Office of Leadership & Engagement, I am driven to ensure all Lumberjacks have access to finding their own “home” or community.  

With more than 400 student organizations, there is bound to be a place for students to find connection and community. Student organizations provide a space for students to lead, grow and create experiences that aid their future career paths. These student-led, student-run clubs allowLumberjacks to find others who have similar interests, identities, passions and more. Involvement is where students build lifelong memories that positively contribute to their college experience. 

As senior and Student Body President Brendan Trachsel expressed, “Being involved on campus has created friendships and many of my favorite memories as a Lumberjack. It creates community, gives experience and makes you proud to be a Lumberjack. When I first moved to Flagstaff, I knew no one as an out-of-state student. I found belonging at NAU through events, community council, ASNAU, and clubs. Being involved at NAU has made it the ultimate college experience.”

For more information about getting involved and to find your place, visit 

Gardner poses with Louie and fellow club members


NAU Communications