Maria Emilia Machelor is busy. She has two majors—international affairs and Spanish. And she’s the president of Associated Students of Northern Arizona University—ASNAU for short—the governing body for undergraduate students at NAU. Learn how she got involved (and how you can too!), how travel continues to define her life and what she has in common with the blue macaw.
What brought you to NAU?
The change of scenery and affordability were the top reasons why I chose NAU. I have always wanted to live somewhere where I could see the leaves turn different hues of red and watch the snow fall. Flagstaff is the perfect place to have the college experience, there are great spots to enjoy nature, study and build bonds of a lifetime.
How did you get involved in ASNAU?
ASNAU was tabling for 2021 elections my freshman year in the union. As a curious freshman, I asked about ASNAU and got an election packet to run for senator. A couple months later, I got elected senator! I represented The W. A. Franke College of Business for the entirety of my sophomore year. Ever since then I have stayed with the organization and wouldn’t change a thing.
What do you want students to know about ASNAU?
ASNAU is YOUR undergraduate student government. Your ’23 Fee’ which you pay alongside other university expenses, goes towards the Homecoming Carnival, Lumberjack Concert Series, reimbursements for clubs/individuals, free legal counsel, free menstrual products and so much more. ASNAU staff and Senate work diligently to advocate for the students of NAU. Our department consists of 38 student workers that dedicate their time to the betterment of NAU.
Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today.
Traveling has always played an essential role in my life. My mom, Norma, was born in Argentina, and her family is Paraguayan. Ever since a young age, I traveled with her every summer to visit my abuela, other relatives and family friends. I can talk nonstop about the experiences I have had while traveling abroad. When I was 10, my parents took teaching jobs at the International School of Curitiba. I completed fourth and fifth grade in Brazil. Every summer alongside my travels to South America, I also traveled to Quebec. My dad, Paul, born and raised in upstate New York, has a passion for the great outdoors. Our family owns a cabin in Quebec right near a town called Swisha. I spent many summers kayaking around the lakes, getting bit up by horseflies and living the best life a child could live. I find it difficult to narrow one childhood memory that defines me. I would say every time I traveled, whether it was to Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Rapides-des-Joachims, Quebec, makes up the person who I am today.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
For the longest time of my formative years, I wanted to be a veterinarian. As life progressed, I noted that sciences were not necessarily my forte. For a brief moment in time, I even considered running for president of the United States, but those dreams died when I realized that since I was not born in the U.S., it would not be possible. One common theme that has stuck with me is the want to help.
What do you want to do after graduation?
I am currently looking into master’s degree plans in public administration and international education at all in-state universities. I hope to continue in higher education. I am not sure where this year will lead me, but I ready for whatever happens!
What have you been most proud of recently?
My mother is my backbone. I find a lot of similarities of her in me. I am proud to have her as a mom because without her love I wouldn’t be the person I am today. She is a hard worker and puts forward a helping hand in everything she does. Norma teaches high school Spanish and along her many tasks as a teacher she still goes out of her way to make the students feel at home. Her kindness and compassion are something I live by and want to also exemplify in my roles as a college student at NAU.
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
I would consider myself a very sociable person. I enjoy being in the presence of others and doing something fun! It’s always difficult to slip away from the commotion but there are always days that things play out perfectly. My favorite way to spend a day off would be to go to Sedona with a group of friends, having a paint night or enjoying a restaurant in downtown Flagstaff.
What are three things on your bucket list?
Three things on my bucket list include:
- Backpacking the West Coast of South America from Colombia all the way to the southern tip of Chile. My dad always recounts on his stories backpacking through cities in the Andes and has convinced me that it is a must-do.
- I want to go paragliding in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. If you’ve ever seen Rio, the movie about the blue macaws, that is exactly what I am referring to.
- I love food. It is my goal to try as many foreign foods as possible before I kick the bucket. It would be even if I tried these foods in their home countries. Some of these include coq au vin, tagine, pastitsio and so much more!
What advice do you have for other students, especially those new to NAU this fall?
Change is scary, but it is what makes us more resilient. Without trying new experiences, you will never know what is out there! I recommend joining a club, any club, and making friends! The students and people you meet at NAU will be those who will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Know someone who would make a good profile in Humans of NAU? Email your suggestions to NAUComm@nau.edu.