Applying for college was a daunting task for me while I was still in high school since I had no idea what university I wanted to attend or where I wanted to live. I visited UC Davis, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, University of Nevada, Reno and expressed interest in Colorado and Oregon schools until I received a mailing from Northern Arizona University. At that time, I knew that I did not want to go anywhere near Arizona for school, much less live there for at least 4 years.
My first thoughts of Arizona (having never visited the state) conjured images of cacti, hot-dry weather, and crawling desert animals. I immediately threw it away but my mom found the brochure and decided we would go on a family trip to Flagstaff, Arizona.
We began the trip by revisiting the University of San Diego in California to discuss cost and scholarship information and relax by the ocean. We later flew into Phoenix, Arizona and I thought my worst fears were confirmed until we drove north of the city and through the desert grasslands and juniper forests outlined by the distant red rocks of Sedona. The freeway finally escalated us onto the Colorado Plateau where we were immersed in a Ponderosa Pine Forest and the San Francisco Peaks straight ahead of us.
We drove through downtown Flagstaff and I immediately fell in love with the place. We spent several days in Flagstaff checking out some of the local sites and visiting campus. We compared programs and costs to other universities and I began to like this place even more.
The morning before we left Flagstaff to go back home I decided to explore. I discovered that the Arizona Trail cut through the middle of campus; a path that extends from the Mexican border to Utah, meanwhile connecting pedestrians and bicyclists to paved and unpaved trails all over the city. I found a peaceful area in between north- and south-campus where I sat in the shady-forested grass and pondered my future. A gust of warm Arizona wind barreled across an overgrown field of Prairie Sunflowers nearby, rattling themselves against each other. I knew right then and there that this was the place for my undergraduate experience.
I began my studies as an Environmental Engineering major. I remember studying Calculus, Civil Engineering, AutoCAD, General Engineering and Physics. This was interesting material, but I just did not have the passion to put the time and effort into practicing problems and discovering the intricacies of complicated infrastructure systems.
I did some research and talked to a few advisers before I finally found a major I could enjoy. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Sciences – Administration and Policy with a Political Science Minor on August 6th, 2013 – Almost four years to the day since I had moved to Flagstaff.