Jessalyn Carpino is the embodiment of enthusiasm and dedication to new student success at Northern Arizona University. The junior art education major makes it her mission to help incoming freshmen learn the ropes of college life before they even start. Her mentorship role doesn't stop there, though. She works as an Orientation Leader for Undergraduate Admissions, as an EDGE Freshman Leadership Summit Facilitator, gives students advice via the NAU student blog "PLAID 2.0," is vice president of NAU's Hispanic Honor Society, and this fall she'll also add Resident Assistant to her list. For Carpino, her involvement in all these activities comes from a desire to help others connect to a larger community.
"I just love helping freshman. If I can connect just one person to a resource that will help him or her feel acclimated to the campus, I think my job is worth it," she says. "I have orientees from last year who still talk to me when they need someone to talk to. I think it's great for incoming freshman to feel that they can connect with even just one person before they arrive on campus. That's what I get most excited about."
A native of Payson, Arizona, many of Carpino's family members are alumni, including her mother. Jessalyn says she looked at several universities before deciding, but a campus visit to NAU sealed the deal for her. "Walking around campus just felt right," says Carpino. "So I just followed my intuition, and have been very happy with my decision."
The excitement she felt at student orientation and from her EDGE freshmen leadership summit mentors inspired her to get involved. Carpino says that the EDGE program, which provides opportunities for first-year incoming students to learn and practice leadership skills, was critical to propelling her toward becoming more involved. "It was an awesome way to connect with campus before classes even started," says Carpino. "I loved it so much that I applied to be an EDGE facilitator."
Now, Carpino says she tries to share what she's learned from her campus mentors with all the new students she meets. One of the most important lessons, she says, is getting out there. "Stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting new people is definitely something I tell my incoming orientees to do," she says. "I tell them to get involved. Even if it is just one outlet, that can lead to another opportunity. This is a short window of time. This is a chance for you to grow as a person individually, emotionally and professionally. It's important to put yourself out there."
Interaction with professors has been another source of motivation for Carpino. For new students, Carpino says, the opportunity to build relationships with professors represents another way to connect. "I have had some incredible, inspiring professors," she says. "I like NAU because it is so personable and I can interact with them."
Her experience with professors and all of her extracurricular activities are helping Carpino prepare for her life after college, she says.
"I have grown so much since I've arrived here," says Carpino. "I've met lots of faculty, staff, professors, and advisers. That one-on-one interaction has helped me gain a sense of professionalism, which I know is going to transfer over to my teaching career, and the extracurricular activities have given me the confidence and leadership experience to help others."