Gold Axe Award: recognizing the university’s top seniors
Diploma in hand, graduation carries unforgettable memories and accomplishments during college. However, NAU gives 45 students special recognition for their involvement with the university: the Gold Axe Award.
Jessalyn Carpino, a senior art education major, said she was honored to receive the 79-year-old award in addition to the President’s Prize, the highest student recognition from the university.
“It was such a wonderful moment in my life that I’ll never forget,” Carpino said.
Carpino has been involved on campus since she came to NAU her freshman year. Being so involved has taught her many lessons that she will take with her to the next chapter of her life.
“I’ll always have a passion to just try different things and to do things that are even outside of my comfort zone,” Carpino said. “It’s hard to squeeze all that time in but it’s worth it. I’ve learned so much about not only time management at NAU, but about myself. If there’s time to do something exciting and to get involved, I’ll make it happen.”
Yemile Ojeda, a senior marketing and Spanish double major, is another Gold Axe Award recipient who said getting involved has changed who she is in a positive way.
“Being involved, I think, made me more professional — it let me break out of my shell,” Ojeda said. “That’s going to help me be a businessperson in the professional world — being able to talk in front of people.”
Ojeda said she is glad to be able to put this award on her resume. She said she felt honored the university wanted to recognize her for her involvement during her time at NAU.
“Working up to this award, it’s something you’d want to put on your resume,” Ojeda said. “It’s a privilege for them to think that I contributed so much throughout my years that they’d want to give me this award.”
Rick Brandel, Dean of Students, facilitates the process of selecting recipients and awarding the winners. He said the award is for seniors who have contributed and impacted the university in a number of ways. However, only a small percentage of graduating seniors who apply are chosen.
“It’s intended to recognize a combination of scholarship and civic engagement in the campus, and leadership opportunities that students have become involved [in],” Brandel said. “We honor probably somewhere between one to one-and-a-half percent of our graduating seniors in any semester.”
Graduation is often a time for students to reflect on their time in college and all they’ve achieved and been involved in. Carpino is no exception, as she is sad to see her time at NAU come to a close, but ready to experience what the next chapter of life holds.
“All the opportunities that I took have kind of made me excited to see where life’s going to take me,” Carpino said. “I’m bittersweet. NAU will always be home — I’ll always be a Lumberjack.”