The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) held its first academic fair, “This is SBS,” in the du Bois Ballroom Oct. 26.
Over 30 booths advertised a variety of SBS majors, minors, resources and clubs. Assistant Dean for Student Success Chrissina Burke said this event was specifically designed to bring faculty members and students together, since SBS is the largest college on campus.
“A lot of students come to NAU, choose a major and don’t necessarily get a chance to explore other options,” Burke said. “So, we started thinking about how we could get all the departments out in front of our students and make an exciting event to help us connect with them in a meaningful way.”
Academic fields represented at the event included psychological sciences, anthropology, sociology and many others to provide details for those experimenting with other educational plans. Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Social Work Kiley Huntington said communication between students and program leaders is crucial to help them define their future pathways.
“Our program has really exploded in the last few years,” Huntington said. “The more exposure you have, the more interest you can generate and the more students will know what their options are. Hopefully, this event is able to help students make informed decisions about what they want to do with their education.”
In the aftermath of a pandemic and in the midst of midterm season, Huntington added that events like “This is SBS” gave faculty a chance to meet with others in their departments, and students a chance to socialize.
“I think with COVID-19 being what it was, this event is a great way of having that face-to-face interaction that’s been missing,” Huntington said. “Having us here as a point of contact and being able to share what we have to offer are good opportunities events like these bring.”
Crowded events and communicating directly with professors can be intimidating for some, so SBS faculty incentivized participation by offering complimentary refreshments. Each booth also used its own hand-outs and raffles to encourage student engagement.
One main method of student interaction was the student passport, created by Burke, which was a customizable pamphlet provided at the welcome booth in the center of the ballroom. The sheet encouraged students to fill in information about booths of interest for extra credit in their courses and a chance to win a gift certificate.
To complete the passport, visitors also had to investigate relevant resources including the Center for Service and Volunteerism and Institute for Human Development. They then dropped it off at the SBS career hub to qualify for the final drawing, which Burke said serves as a way to promote career-related services both throughout the event and in the hub itself.
“The biggest thing we want to highlight for students is career development,” Burke said. “We wanted to make it work so that the passport was interactive and students could show their faculty that they had come here. It also gives them a chance to get out of the classroom and work to win prizes we know they need.”
Additional student resources set up booths within the event to help provide their services to SBS students.
Representatives from Cline Library and the academic success centers used the opportunity to answer questions and give out relevant information such as the proper use of the library and who to contact for tutoring assistance.
Junior Callie Lowe is an ASNAU senator. Lowe said she was present to gain inspiration for the organization’s future actions.
“Our motto is ‘the voice of the students,’” Lowe said. “It is because of the students that we exist and, as senators, we specifically represent students in the College of SBS. We’re here today to learn more about student issues so we can better represent the students of SBS.”
With valuable information and limited methods of sharing it, school-wide resources including ASNAU use community environments to educate in one-on-one environments while gaining a sense of what additional support is needed.
“It’s awesome to be here, and meet our fellow students where they already are, to talk to them about things,” Lowe said. “We want students to feel comfortable knowing that we’re here as a resource for them.”
If a student is struggling with determining a major or academic plan, Burke said she recommends they contact professors and academic centers for advice.
“One of the things we know about humanity is the reason we are so successful on the planet is that we have community and relationships,” Burke said. “It is the thing that keeps students successful. By bringing everybody together, it builds camaraderie. We are the biggest college so making sure we’re out there is really powerful.”
Burke said SBS faculty and students hope to continue this event annually. To learn more about SBS institutes and programs, visit the NAU website.
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