On Feb. 11, NAU’s Leadership, Engagement, Activities and Peer Mentoring (LEAP) office held a Virtual Paint Night for students with all supplies provided. Undergraduate students were encouraged to express their artistic abilities and take a break from schoolwork. In the LEAP office located in the University Union Fieldhouse, there were paint supplies that all guests had access to before the paint night.
Director of student life experience Joey Ruiz and administrative associate of student life Destanee Reckeweg were both present during the event. Reckeweg led the students in a painting of an saguaro cactus with a sunset in the background.
Freshman Sierra Dalbec was one of many who attended the virtual event.
“I have participated in three previous paint nights and attended another NAU virtual event, which was bingo night,” Dalbec said over Instagram direct message. “I love to attend these paint nights because it’s always so relaxing and I love to paint. I’m not very good at painting, but it passes the time and I always have fun.”
Dalbec wasn’t the only one who had participated in a LEAP virtual event before.
Freshman Ashley Zoephel has also participated in a paint night and a virtual bingo night as well. Additionally, Zoephel touched on how these virtual events help her relax from her coursework.
“I’ve done virtual paint night twice and also attended a virtual bingo night,” Zoephel said. “I attended last night because I needed a relaxing break from my busy work. Art isn’t really a big part of my life. I do occasionally like to paint and do crafts.”
Both Zoephel and Dalbec said they hope they can attend more in-person events in the future. Dalbec heard about the event through her Peer Jack mentor.
Other students who attended the paint night were a range of ages, majors and artistic backgrounds. Despite the virtual setup, many students were able to interact with the artist leading the group and others on the Zoom call. However, Dalbec talked about the hardships of virtual events and the benefits of being presnt in person.
“I think it would be a great way to meet more people,” Dalbec said. “I think I would feel more connected if the paint night took place in person, but for the most part I do feel involved and connected at NAU.”
According to LEAP’s website, its mission is to create opportunities for students to lead, engage, have fun and celebrate being a Lumberjack. The center provides a variety of virtual events such as karaoke, bingo, cookie decorating and tie dye, among others.
Junior Carly Cabral participated in her first LEAP virtual event, which was paint night.
“I had never done any NAU virtual events before,” Cabral said. “So this was my first one and it was a lot of fun. I decided to attend because I’ve always wanted to and it seemed like fun and just a good stress reliever.”
Even though painting is not a big part of Cabral’s life, she still enjoys the peace and joy painting brings her. Cabral also talked about attending future virtual events and even in-person NAU events after COVID-19.
LEAP creates a Lumberjack experience by providing students a way to get involved and connected once they come to college. There is a wide range of activities throughout campus to help build a community for its students.
“I definitely would attend events like this once the pandemic is over,” Cabral said over Instagram direct message. “I heard about this event through an email I got from the LEAP staff at NAU. I feel a little more connected to NAU just because it’s nice that our campus puts thought into doing nice things like this for its students.”
About 50 people attended the Zoom call, with some students in groups of four calling in from a single device. LEAP sends out weekly emails about upcoming events and opportunities available to undergraduates.
Zoephel was one of many students who learned about the event through the LEAP emails sent out to NAU students. She also follows its Instagram page that promotes new and upcoming events. Zoephel also talked about how she felt more connected to her school after the event.
“I do feel more a part of NAU after this event,” Zoephel said over an Instagram direct message. “Considering I’m from out of state, I felt like I was welcomed into the campus community. I highly recommend taking advantage of the events on campus! They really are fun.”
Once the pandemic is over, Zoephel said she looks forward to attending these events in person so she can meet new people and undergo hands-on experience with the campus environment.
LEAP provides a wide variety of opportunities and events for students to get to know each other. Whether virtual or in person, these events help students in many ways.