For National Leadership Day, The NAU Review connected with senior Hailey Case to discuss the EDGE Leadership Experience, an opportunity for incoming first-year students to learn and practice leadership skills. She joined the program her freshman year and has stayed on as a facilitator for the following three years. Learn more through the Q&A below.
What brought you to NAU?
I came to NAU because when I toured, everyone that I met was so kind and friendly, so it felt right to come here! I am an Arizona resident, so NAU is only a few hours away from my home in the valley.
The EDGE program helps first-year college students find a place to belong at NAU. EDGE is made up of leadership workshops, ice breakers, team-building activities, opportunities and tons of fun! There really is something for everyone—we have extroverted activities, introverted activities and activities for those in the middle. You get the opportunity to meet so many people and learn a lot about yourself. If you are slightly thinking about doing the program, I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot!
Why did you decide to get involved?
I was in the Successful Transition and Academic Readiness Program (STAR) and got an email about EDGE. I had an ache to grow more at NAU so much that I took a leap and joined another leadership program. I got involved as a facilitator because I wanted to give back to a program that truly transformed me and my college experience, while helping first-year students succeed.
What has been your favorite experience/memory as part of the EDGE program?
My favorite part of the program is an EDGE tradition called “passing the axe.” Each EDGE group gets a wooden axe to decorate together, and at every meal whoever has the axe passes it to another member to recognize their leadership, kindness, effort or whatever traits the group deems worthy of a pass. Passing the axe gives you an idea of how you affect others around you, and it feels very rewarding to be chosen as an axe keeper!
How has this program helped you grow as a leader?
The EDGE program has led me to find my identity as a leader. This program has taught me how to leave my comfort zone and how to comfortably push others out of their comfort zones. The program has shown me to be a “go-getter” and to say yes to new opportunities, even if they seem unachievable. Chances are, you are way more capable than you know!
Why do you think leadership skills are important?
Leadership skills truly set you apart from others. It is never too early to start being a leader. If you have had leadership experience and you run up against competition that has not, employers always pick you. This has happened to me in multiple competitive settings, where I was picked over my competitors in the running for a position. Leadership skills not only help you grow, but they help the team grow because being a leader means standing by others and helping others succeed too, not just bossing people around.
How do you think EDGE and the leadership skills you’ve acquired through this program will help you in your future?
EDGE has provided me with the foundational skills that I use every day. I have learned to say “yes” often and be open-minded when it comes to new opportunities. EDGE has taught me an endless number of ways to get involved around campus and has helped me gain trust in the NAU community. EDGE has taught me that I always have people who support me and want the best for me and the community.