Welcome to Flagstaff
Northern Arizona University welcomed over 200 people for the 2023 Lumberjack Leadership Summit (LLS) this summer. Students and staff spent a week on-campus learning about college, the STEAM fields, leadership skills, and more.
The Lumberjack Leadership Summit serves as a gateway for students to explore the world of higher education with immersive experiences. The Summit is open to rising first-year students, sophomores, and juniors at our Arizona GEAR UP schools. The event is free of charge for each of our students.
The week began as students were welcomed to their new home for the week, a real college dorm. As students settled in and met their new roommates, they gathered and were introduced to their team leaders. Team Leaders are staff members assigned as the student’s go-to peer leader and guide throughout the week’s events. Team leads serve as role models for the students and become a source of information for college and career questions. Some team leaders returned to the Summit as alumni of the GEAR UP summer program.
“I first heard about it in middle school, and I thought it was a good idea to come because of the benefits that I was told about, and I thought I could improve a lot of things within myself. And it did just that the first year, so I kept coming back. And every year, I learned something new, and I felt it tremendously benefited my life. And then last year, I found out I can be a counselor here to help other kids, and I took the opportunity,” Cindy Teran said.
After introductions, the newly-formed teams headed to orientation. Kicked off by Program Manager Jasmine Dean, she welcomed the students and began preparing them for the days ahead. Jasmine closed her presentation and introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Mona Dixon.
Dr. Dixon shared her story of perseverance and dedication as she overcame homelessness as a child and making it to where she is today. Dr. Dixon emphasized the importance of goals and a plan to get where you want to be. Through the keynote, the students and Dr. Dixon had interactive activities where students set goals and mapped out how they would achieve them. In another activity, students created their vision boards, where they carefully searched through magazines to find images and words that represented what they wanted in the future. As the students worked, diverse vision boards began to come together. Some students aspired to become bakers, and some wanted to start their own families. At the end of the session, students and staff excitedly shared their vision boards and what they look forward to in the future.
Exploring the STEAM fields
The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) fields are an essential part of the Lumberjack Leadership Summit. During the camp, students selected from 3 different classes- coding, engineering, and robotics. In these classes, students created their very own technology. Students coded LED lights, programmed messages, created airplanes and vehicles, and their very own robots. Each student was able to take their newly created tech home.
“I’ve done this [Lumberjack Leadership Summit] since I was a freshman. It’s something that keeps me busy throughout the summer. I get to meet new people, try new things. I really like it,” Ashley Diaz Rodriguez, a senior at Tonopah Valley, said.
Another important aspect of the Lumberjack Leadership Summit is the namesake, leadership. This year the student leadership sessions were led by Paradigm Shift, a program dedicated to building up future leaders through adventure-based models. During their sessions, students would learn from the Paradigm Leaders about teamwork, leadership, and responsibility. Following the lesson, the students participated in various activities and games focused on teamwork and communication. After the games were complete, students were asked thought-provoking questions about how the students felt during and after the activities.
“They teach a lot of individuality and being okay with who you are and what you will take after high school or college or whatever it may be. So we definitely, feel more comfortable in our own skin,” Atanacio Burgoyne said.
Each evening featured a unique event to build team relationships and wind down for the night. On the first night, students competed in various team mini-games to see who would be the champion at the night’s end. Night Two was The Game of Life, where students received a career and family and had to navigate through simulated real-world scenarios like paying for insurance and taxes. During the event, students learned about the importance of budgeting and preparing for life after graduation. To close out the last night of the Lumberjack Leadership Summit, the students showcased their skills in the talent show. The show featured a variety of talents, from singing, dancing, comedy, instruments, and more. As the night went along, more and more students gained the confidence to go on stage and perform in front of the crowd of students. Students performed solo, with a friend, and some even choreographed dances with their team leaders. After each performance, the students received overwhelming applause from their peers. The show was successful, and the students returned to the dorms for one more night.
As the last day of camp arrived, there were closing ceremonies where Jasmine addressed the students and reflected on their time together. Each student was recognized by their team leaders with a certificate for completing the Lumberjack Leadership Summit and team photos taken. Some students were selected to share their experiences over the week with the crowd.
After closing ceremonies, students returned to the dorms to pack up and head home. Walking through the halls, you could hear students reflecting on the week, saying their goodbyes, and greeting family members as they prepared to checkout. Each student received a sack lunch as they packed into their rides home to close out the camp.
“This program has been great. The team leaders are amazing, supportive, and friendly. There’s no harm in joining. The scenery is beautiful, and the people are A-plus,” Mikayla Martinez said.
The Lumberjack Leadership is a yearly summer program that welcomes rising first-year students, sophomores, and seniors to a week-long event of college readiness and personal development. Each year applications open in the spring for students and staff positions. For more information and future updates, visit the Lumberjack Leadership webpage.