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From the Arizona Communication Association to the Southwest Communication Association

Brant Short & Dayle Hardy-Short

Northern Arizona University

Our first connection to the Arizona Communication Association was in 1997. ACA had successfully been providing outlets for student conference presentations for several years, primarily under the auspices of the annual Student Scholarship Showcase. We had had previous experience with state and small regional associations in Indiana, Texas, and Idaho and were eager to attend the association’s meeting and find out more.

The Arizona Speech and Drama Association had been meeting at least since 1952; its November 1, 1968 revised constitution stated that “the purpose of this organization shall be to unite these persons of the State of Arizona with an academic or professional interest in the field of speech and drama for the promotion of their mutual interests and the advancement of their common field.” The first volume of the Journal of the Arizona Speech and Drama Association was published in Winter 1971, and touted its appearance as “a most optimistic sign of the state of the profession in Arizona,” highlighting the need to “nurtur[e]… “a strong professional association.” The Journal provided an outlet for scholarly and editorial faculty opinion. The association was renamed the Arizona Communication and Theatre Association via a new constitution in May 1975, and the association’s publication became the Journal of the Arizona Communication & Theatre Association. In 1985, the Arizona Communication Association was born as theatre faculty formed their own association, and the journal was renamed the Arizona Communication Association Journal. Beginning with the Fall 1989 issue, the ACAJ editors announced, the journal would become an “annual publication designed primarily for research conducted by students—graduate and undergraduate,” and with few exceptions, this focus has continued to the present.

In April 2001, after vigorous discussions at the previous October Arizona Communication Articulation Task Force meeting (COM ATF), Dr. Michael Dues, Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona, hosted a small group of interested college and university faculty to discuss the future of the Arizona Communication Association. Held at Pima Community College East, attendees included faculty from Glendale Community College (representing the Maricopa Community College system), Northern Arizona University, Pima Community College, and the University of Arizona. 

Michael was very blunt. The ACA was in financial trouble and had run a deficit. If those of us at the meeting thought a state association was important and would commit to its future, he would help manage the finances. The group agreed and a core of individuals stepped forward to plan annual meetings. Many individuals have been involved over the years since, but with faculty members from GCC, NAU, and UA taking the lead.

Those of us who attended that first meeting in 2001 believed that our students would benefit from having an opportunity to participate in a scholarly conference with panels of competitive papers, poster sessions, workshop sessions, and including a keynote lecture. We also wanted to make the meeting a single day so it was accessible for anyone in the state. To finance the association, we turned to departmental memberships. As a result, there are no registration fees for students or faculty members from any of the supporting departments. The group also decided to host an annual public speaking contest with financial support from book publishers for trophies and cash prizes. Under the leadership of  Dr. Pam Joranstaad of GCC, the contest has been a great success. 

Based upon our collective memory, we believe that from 2002 until 2019, three ACA meetings were hosted by NAU, two meetings were hosted by ASU-West, two meetings were hosted by UA, and GCC has hosted the remaining meetings. GCC has been generous in its hosting, and has provided a location easy to travel to and from in a single day.

In April 2015 the leadership of ACA decided to rename the association as the Southwest Communication Association as a way to enlarge our footprint in the region and encourage participation from surrounding states. In 2016, the new visual mark for SWCA appeared, featuring the southwest’s notable blue and gold colors, mesas, and bright sun.

The ACA/SWCA has served an important role for communication education in the state for the past two decades. Many of our NAU students (undergraduate and graduate) presented research papers at their first professional meeting and have had opportunities to share their ideas with other students and scholars. While most of the NAU students who participated in the ACA/SWCA had no interest in pursuing a career in communication education and/or seeking an MA or PhD degree, many often expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to share their work and to meet others with the same interests.

ACA/SWCA has been an important part of our academic life in Arizona and we value the friendships that emerged over the years in working with our colleagues. Although many people contributed each year to the association’s success, we want to offer a special thanks to Dr. Jim Reed and Dr. Pam Joranstaad of GCC for their hard work and commitment to the successful meetings each year. We also want to thank Dr. Marie Baker-Ohler of NAU for her leadership, enthusiasm, and long-standing commitment to her students and colleagues and the friendship she offered us. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge and thank Dr. Michael Dues and his vision for keeping the ACA alive and making it a valuable experience for students and faculty members in the state.

Janet Napolitano’s Rhetoric of Resiliency

Ashley D. Garcia, Ph.D.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and staff boarding a flight, courtesy of the US Embassy of New Zealand, used under public domain.

“In this competitive and fast-moving world, we must continue to write our own story;

otherwise, we give in and allow it to be written for us.”

––AZ Governor, Janet Napolitano

“Americans are by nature a resilient people.”

––Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano

 Arizona, a “hard-core Republican” (McCarthy & Schwartz, 2005, para. 1) state, is renowned for its conservative politicians––from Barry Goldwater to the war hero Senator John McCain to the first female justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor to “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio. Amidst these conservative powerhouses, liberal Janet Napolitano garnered enough support to be elected Governor. As an activist and politician, Janet Napolitano dedicated herself to the citizens of Arizona, the Southwestern states, and the country. Her dedication to public service is witnessed in three critical capacities: as Governor of Arizona, as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and as President of the University of California (UC) system. Although Janet Napolitano faced personal and political obstacles that would dissuade others from public service, she persisted. Her political achievements attest to her tenacity, and her oratory exemplifies a rhetoric of resiliency.

Janet Napolitano was in the public spotlight as an orator in each critical capacity. Goldstein (2008) argues, “Napolitano’s rhetoric––and governing style––has proved both successful and wildly popular” (para. 3). Some, such as Tyrangiel (2002), believe that Napolitano “has a bit of a charisma problem” (para. 4) or Baker and Lewin (2013), that “her speeches and public statements seemed stiff and forced” (para. 13), but others, such as Goldstein (2008), believe she “is both wonky and charismatic” (para. 8). Despite being five feet four inches, “she is a powerful, self-possessed speaker” (Goldstein, 2008, para. 6) with a “law-and-order credibility” (para. 23). Yet, her manner is both “low-key and businesslike” (Rauch, 2005, para. 1). Like Hillary Clinton, she continually emphasizes her experience, tenacity, and policy chops in a sort of self-justification that is rarely heard from male politicians (Goldstein, 2008). Playing politics is one of Napolitano’s esteemed assets (Cottle, 2010). So, even though the assessments of Janet Napolitano are wildly diverse, she has still been able to harness the political support of her constituency to advance her political career. Janet Napolitano exhibits personal resilience, yet I contend it is her development of a rhetoric of resiliency in her public addresses that propelled her political ascendancy. Her rhetoric of resiliency relies on her crafting normalcy during trying times in Arizona and the broader United States (US) by specifically affirming the identity anchors of Arizonans while Governor and Americans as Secretary of DHS.

Napolitano’s rhetoric of resiliency was conceived during her State of the State Addresses, yet became mature and explicit in her State of America’s Homeland Security Addresses when she narrated the evolution of homeland security. Buzzanell (2010) defines human resilience as “the ability to ‘bounce back’ or reintegrate after difficult life experiences” (p. 1). She claims that resilience operates through several communicative processes: crafting normalcy, affirming identity anchors, maintaining and using communication networks, putting alternative logics to work, and downplaying negative feelings while foregrounding positive emotions, such as hopelessness and self-efficacy (Buzzanell, 2010). In her State of the State Addresses, Napolitano’s rhetoric of resiliency appears through her metaphors. From “climbing a mountain,” “the road to recovery,” or “writing a story,” Napolitano demonstrated the continual process of crafting normalcy. According to Buzzanell (2010), crafting normalcy is “both an ongoing process and a perceived desirable outcome” (p. 3). Napolitano’s vision of a New Arizona runs through these addresses highlighting her goal’s desired outcome and affirming her constituents’ identity anchor as Arizonans. She extended this logic as Secretary of DHS to focus on Americans rather than Arizonans. Additionally, a close reading of Napolitano’s State of America’s Homeland Security Addresses reveals a central theme of her approach to protecting the country: resilience. In both positions, first as Governor and then as Secretary, Janet Napolitano took office facing insurmountable obstacles. Being the resilient politician and woman she is, she rose to face and conquer both challenges. Her legacy should be remembered not only for her political successes but also for her rhetoric of resiliency.[1]

Early Life & Career

Janet Napolitano, born in New York City in 1957 (Cottle, 2010; Goldstein, 2008), grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where her father, an anatomy professor, served as dean of the University of New Mexico Medical School (Goldstein, 2008; Yglesias, 2008). She majored in political science at Santa Clara University where she graduated in 1979 as the school’s first female valedictorian, summa cum laude (Baker & Lewin, 2013; Cottle, 2010; DHS, 2013; DHS, 2016). She then worked as an analyst for the Senate Budget Committee before attending law school at The University of Virginia (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008). She received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1983 (DHS, 2013). After law school, she settled in Phoenix, Arizona where she clerked for Judge Mary Schroeder of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008; Yglesias, 2008). Following her clerkship, she specialized in appellate and commercial litigation at Lewis & Roca, a well-known Phoenix law firm (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008). It is notable because its senior partner, John Frank, argued the landmark Miranda case before the Supreme Court in 1966 (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008).

In October 1991, Frank received a call from Sen. Dennis DeConcini, an Arizona Democrat, asking him to represent Anita Hill when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (Goldstein, 2008). Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of a prolonged pattern of sexual harassment (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008; Mccarthy, 2005). Frank agreed and brought Napolitano to Washington to assist him (Brock, 1993; Goldstein, 2008). She prepared the testimonies of Hill’s supporting witnesses (Goldstein, 2008). It was due to these hearings that Napolitano became a national figure in 1991 (Cottle, 2010; Mccarthy, 2005). In 1993, Bill Clinton appointed Napolitano as US attorney for Arizona, despite her lack of prosecutorial experience (Cottle, 2010; Goldstein, 2008). As US attorney, she dealt with high-profile domestic terrorism cases, including one tied to the Oklahoma City bombing (Cottle, 2010; DHS, 2013). After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, Napolitano underwent a mastectomy just three weeks before addressing the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles (Cottle, 2010; Mccarthy, 2005). In 2002, after five years as a federal prosecutor and four years as a state attorney general, Napolitano was elected to the top governmental position in Arizona by fewer than 12,000 votes (Rauch, 2005).

Governor of Arizona

Janet Napolitano became the first Democrat to be elected Governor of Arizona since 1987 (Mccarthy 2005; Tyrangiel, 2002) and was, at the time, one of just eight female governors in the US (Goldstein, 2008). In a state “where Democrats are often thought to be an endangered species” (Rauch, 2005, para. 4), this was no small feat. Republicans enjoyed a five-point advantage in voter registration and controlled both US Senate seats, six of the eight US House seats, and both chambers in the state legislature (Rauch, 2005). Further evidence of Arizona’s conservative bent is seen in presidential election results. Only three Democratic presidential nominees have won Arizona in the general election: Harry Truman in 1948, Bill Clinton in 1996, and Joe Biden in 2020 (CNN, n.d.). Against this political backdrop, Napolitano began her first term as Governor in 2003 (Mccarthy, 2005), effectively laying the foundation for other Democratic candidates. In 2022, former Secretary of State Katie Hobbs defeated her Republican challenger by roughly 17,000 votes (Watson, 2023).

Arizona was experiencing numerous problems when Napolitano’s governorship began, and starting with her Inaugural Address, she developed her vision of a New Arizona. During her Inaugural Address on January 5, 2003, she positioned herself as a “no-nonsense, pro-business centrist” who worked outside party lines to “re-energize a state that . . . was marked by recession and scandal” (Mccarthy, 2005, para. 1). It was during this Address that she laid the foundation for her future addresses with an emphasis on building what she termed a “New Arizona” (Napolitano, 2003a, para. 16). Napolitano demonstrated that she could not bring about the changes necessary to right Arizona’s course alone; success would only be achieved through the collective “we:”

We must ensure that prosperity wins over desperation and becomes the norm for all Arizonans. To do this, we must come back together as one, united in the knowledge that we need each other, and bound by our commitment to each other. My friends, we are all in this together [emphasis added].” (Napolitano, 2003a, para. 13-14)

In this “we,” Napolitano defines the Governor as another citizen of Arizona, just like them, working to better the state. She actively closed the gap between the government and the people of Arizona to unite them in making changes to attain her vision for a “new Arizona where hope and opportunity abound” (Napolitano, 2003a, para. 21). The construction of the New Arizona in her speeches crafted normalcy––which she continued to develop in her State of the State Addresses–– because “normal” is both an ongoing process and a perceived desirable outcome (Buzzanell, 2010, p. 3). Janet Napolitano slowly crafted a new normalcy through an ongoing process that took several years to attain the desirable outcome, which resulted in significant changes for the state.

State of the State Addresses

Napolitano’s seven State of the State Addresses worked to craft this new normalcy. The first was presented a little over a week after her Inaugural Address to the 46th Arizona Legislature’s First Regular Session. In this address, Napolitano (2003b) used the metaphor of starting the “long journey back up the mountain” (p. 1). Just as a hiker is rewarded with a spectacular view after scaling a mountain, Arizonans would reap the benefits as their Governor actively sought to implement changes for the betterment of the state. This metaphor also allowed Napolitano to emphasize Arizona’s renewal: “It is up to us to put this great state on a path of renewal, by fixing our short-term problems and focusing on our long-term vision of a new Arizona” (Napolitano, 2003b, p. 2). Her long-term plan for a New Arizona included an emphasis on five priorities: (1) education, (2) economy, (3) homeland security, (4) children and seniors, and (5) land and water preservation (Napolitano, 2003b). This metaphoric journey to attain Napolitano’s five priorities represented the ongoing process of crafting a new normalcy that would find its way, albeit in various ways, into each of her State of the State Addresses.

Governor Napolitano’s second State of the State Address, presented to the 46th Arizona Legislature’s second regular session on January 12, 2004, focused on the next steps needed to progress beyond the past year’s successes regarding each of her five priorities. Here though she moved from the metaphor of scaling a mountain to seeking renewal through the road to recovery. At the end of the speech, she stated: “We are on the road to recovery because we have found within ourselves the resolve and optimism to return Arizona to the grandeur of Its roots” (Napolitano, 2004, p. 12). Whereas scaling the mountain focused on the arduous process of crafting a new normalcy, this metaphor of recovery emphasizes attaining the perceived desirable outcome, returning Arizona to its spectacular origin. The road to recovery also affirms identity anchors, the second process in constructing resilience (Buzzanell, 2010). Buzzanell (2010) defines an identity anchor as “a relatively enduring cluster of identity discourses upon which individuals and their familial, collegial, and/or community members rely when explaining who they are for themselves and in relation to each other” (p. 4). Napolitano appealed to long-term Arizonans who knew what the state once was and wanted to return it to that previous perception of greatness. In other words, Napolitano was identifying with the citizens of Arizona who were interested in making changes to the state they called home.

On January 10, 2005, in her third State of the State Address to the 47th Arizona Legislature’s first regular session, Governor Napolitano demonstrated the process of creating normalcy through the image of pioneers and settlers. Just as the pioneers/settlers of the 19th century faced numerous challenges in search of better opportunities, Arizonans must confront the challenges of the day to fulfill their mission. She reflected on “the progress we have made together” (Napolitano, 2005, p. 1). Although these achievements are something to be proud of, she stated: “this is not a record to rest on; it is a record to build on” (p. 2) to keep moving Arizona forward. Again, she continued to discuss the same five priorities from 2003, with education being the first and most vital and security––family and homeland––being the second. She claimed, “previous governors have not had to talk about homeland security in state of the state addresses” (Napolitano, 2005, p. 6), demonstrating her increasing investments in the security of not just Arizona but of the entire nation. Her motto in this speech was “yes, we can” (Napolitano, 2005, p. 1). She ended by invoking the example of a resilient group of people, the pioneers/settlers of the 19th century. In doing so, she called Arizonans to confront the challenges Arizona faces because they too are resilient and can move beyond these trying times.

On January 9, 2006, in her fourth State of the State Address to the 47th Arizona Legislature’s second regular session, Napolitano emphasized that Arizona is safe, strong, and prosperous; three desired outcomes and significant components of her ongoing process of crafting normalcy. Napolitano claimed that Arizona is strong and continually growing stronger, but more work still needs to be done regarding the same five priorities she has previously addressed (although some of these priorities were altered in this speech). She emphasized the motto, “safe, strong, and prosperous” (Napolitano, 2006, p. 1), which she argued had been her guidepost over the previous three years. Napolitano (2006) worked each day “to build an Arizona that is ever more safe, ever more strong, and ever more prosperous” (p. 1). Safety refers to security, stronger refers to education, and prosperous refers to the economy. She concluded, “it is time to recommit to the work we do for Arizona––creating a state that is safe, strong, and prosperous” (Napolitano, 2006, p. 11). Safe, strong, and prosperous represented the three desired outcomes and were significant components of her ongoing process of crafting normalcy in Arizona.

In the 2007 State of the State Address, delivered to the 48th Arizona Legislature’s first regular session on January 8, Napolitano (2007) emphasized unity, transforming her vision of a New Arizona to “One Arizona” (p. 1). Arizona is strong, she claimed, but it could be stronger: “I believe this independent, confident, growing state of ours can be even stronger” (Napolitano, 2007, p. 1). By referring to Arizona as a growing state, she reminded her audience that the journey of crafting a new normalcy––a New Arizona––would now continue through transforming her five priorities into three components of the “One Arizona Plan” (Napolitano, 2007, p. 1): education, foundation, and innovation. Although “foundation” works to build the infrastructure for growth (Napolitano, 2007, p. 5), the heart of her plan is the “One Arizona Education Initiative” (p. 2). Educating the next generation of Arizonans is vital to future innovation. Napolitano (2007) claimed, “nothing will be more important to our success than our ability to innovate––to wonder, then imagine; to invent, then to build” (p. 8), which drove her “Innovation Arizona” (p. 9) plan. The fusion of education, foundation, and innovation describes Napolitano’s vision of a united Arizona, which is her desired end to the normalcy process. Arizonans must, however, be resilient now to achieve this vision of a more united state.

Napolitano’s second to last State of the State Address, delivered on January 14, 2008, to the 48th Arizona Legislature’s second regular session, centered on writing the story of Arizona’s successes. Although national budgetary and economic woes influenced Arizona, they did not define Arizona. Her message was “clear: the state of Arizona is strong, And together, we are writing the story of its future” (Napolitano, 2008, p. 1). Despite community differences, all are part of the overarching state, uniting it as One Arizona; for “we are many communities, but we are One Arizona, and we must work together so our story for the future reflects that” (Napolitano, 2008, p. 8). Working together, Napolitano (2008) described the story of Arizona’s future as “a powerful narrative, one of progress, action[,] and success. It is not one we can allow to be cut short because of a temporary economic condition” (p. 10). Like the earlier metaphors, writing a story emphasizes the ongoing process of crafting normalcy through interlocking chapters: (1) education, (2) economic prosperity in a diverse knowledge-based economy, (3) security and public safety, (4) transportation and growth, and (5) health care (Napolitano, 2008). These five chapters revise the 2003 edition of her story of Arizona, as she proclaimed: “My friends, we are writing the story of Arizona’s future. Let’s make it a classic” (Napolitano, 2008, p. 12). The process of writing a story is the process of crafting normalcy, but the result, the final classic, is the perceived desirable outcome. This outcome will be a success story that makes Arizonans proud. 

Napolitano’s final State of the State Address, presented on January 12, 2009, to the 49th Arizona Legislature’s first regular session, departed from the previous six to reflect on her six-year governorship. Knowing she would most likely be confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security, she called upon others to emulate her example by moving the state she loves so dearly forward. Napolitano’s (2009) opening was bittersweet:

This is a day of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am very sad that this is very likely the final time I will address Arizonans in this manner. On the other hand, I am confident about the future of this state and proud of the work we have done together. (p. 1)

The nearing end of Napolitano’s governorship signaled the conclusion of her process of crafting normalcy in Arizona. Someone else would now be called to serve the state, and she hoped they would continue the process she began. The theme of this speech was thus a call to service:

I have been called by our President-elect [Barack Obama] to serve in a new way, during extraordinary times. I am not alone in this call to serve. Indeed, this difficult time calls upon all of us to offer ourselves to the greater good, to build a stronger state and a stronger country. (Napolitano, 2009, p. 1)

Once again, albeit differently, Napolitano affirmed the identity anchor Arizonans by calling on Arizonans to serve the greater good of the state. She described how the call to service comes in numerous forms: as a member of the armed forces, as a legislator in the state capitol, and as a volunteer in the community. Near the end of her address, she stated, “I trust that when I return home, I will find an Arizona that continued to build its long-term future––an Arizona that has realized even more of what it can be” (Napolitano, 2009, p. 7). This future Arizona is the culmination of the One Arizona vision she constructed over the last several years.

Although a Democratic Governor of a predominantly conservative state, Napolitano’s approval ratings soared. In 2005, she received national recognition. Time named Napolitano one of America’s five best governors (Ripley & Tumulty, 2005), and in the summer of 2005, Napolitano became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association (DHS, 2013; Mccarthy, 2005). At home, in 2006, her closest rivals were 29 points behind her 70 percent approval rating, which was almost double that of the state legislature (Rauch, 2005), leading to her re-election in 2006 with more than 60 percent of the vote, making her Arizona’s first democratic governor to be reelected in 25 years (Goldstein, 2008; Yglesias, 2008). Although an honor “to be selected by my Republican and Democratic peers alike, to serve” (Napolitano, 2007, p. 9), during her tenure, Republican control dwindled to six seats in the House and four in the Senate (Goldstein, 2008). Arizona Republicans admit that she fundamentally altered the Arizona political game via her appeal to moderates (Goldstein, 2008). As Governor, she issued a record number of vetoes, more than any governor in Arizona’s history (Goldstein, 2008; Yglesias, 2008), which provided her “an opportunity to make government even more efficient and effective” (Napolitano, 2008, p. 11). As Napolitano stated in many of her State of the State Addresses, being the governor of Arizona was a privilege (Napolitano, 2005; Napolitano, 2006; Napolitano, 2007), but she could not reject the call to join the Obama Administration mid-way through her second term (DHS, 2013).

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

On January 21, 2009, Janet Napolitano took over the third largest and relatively young Cabinet department: Homeland Security (Cottle, 2010; DHS, 2013). Her administrative competence, legal acumen, and often neglected counterterrorism and homeland experience (Cottle, 2010; DHS, 2013) allowed her to fulfill the department’s founding mission to prevent terrorist attacks (Napolitano, 2013a). Napolitano, the first woman and longest-serving Secretary of Homeland Security, served in this capacity for almost the entirety of President Obama’s administration (DHS, 2016; Dinan & Waterman, 2013). During her tenure as Secretary, she delivered three State of America’s Homeland Security Addresses, each of which participated in the rhetoric of resiliency that she developed in her State of the State Addresses. Napolitano also invoked the theme of resilience regarding national security in each address.

State of America’s Homeland Security Addresses

Janet Napolitano began a new tradition of assessing America’s homeland security on January 27, 2011, in her first State of America’s Homeland Security Address at George Washington University (Napolitano, 2011). In this address, she continued her rhetoric of resiliency, emphasizing that the nation’s security demands the engagement of our entire society, requiring national resilience (Napolitano, 2011). She broadened her One Arizona vision to the national level by invoking a “whole of nation approach,” which, she argued, “will bring us to the level of security and resilience we require” (Napolitano, 2011, para. 12). Security is a “shared responsibility” (Napolitano, 2011, para. 14), and “we are all in this together[;] . . . we all have a role to play” (para. 20). This whole nation approach extends her affirmation of identity anchors by demonstrating how Americans must unite the nation to secure it successfully. In this address, she outlined four areas of focus for the upcoming year: (1) counterterrorism, (2) border security and immigration, (3) cybersecurity, science, and technology, and (4) resilience and response. This continued in Napolitano’s second State of America’s Homeland Security Address, delivered on January 30, 2012. Here, Napolitano (2012) combined the rhetoric and theme of resilience. She affirmed that “Americans are by nature a resilient people” and the role of DHS “is to be part of the team that fosters that resilience” (para. 22). She also discussed how memorials are a visual symbol of the nation’s resilience, and despite the various forms of attacks that the US faces, “we will always come back stronger from tragedy and adversity” (Napolitano, 2012, para. 117). She emphasized how the process of resilience is ongoing: America will continue to face attacks, but it will continue to rise above these atrocities as a stronger, more united nation.  

Napolitano’s (2013a) third and final State of America’s Homeland Security Address, delivered on February 26, 2013, just days shy of the department’s tenth anniversary, reflected on the resilience of the department and its development. Reflecting on the changes made during the first ten years, Napolitano (2013a) broke the department’s history down into DHS 1.0, DHS 2.0, and DHS 3.0. Two of the principles that define DHS 3.0 are “agility and resilience” (Napolitano, 2013a, para. 37). In her closing, Napolitano (2013a) argued that it is time for DHS 3.0, which is her desired outcome for the department. A few months later, on July 12, 2013, Napolitano announced her resignation as Secretary of Homeland Security to become the first female President of the University of California (Baker & Lewin, 2013). In her resignation statement, Napolitano (2013b) claimed that serving President Obama as the Secretary of DHS “has been the highlight of my professional career” (para. 1). In a statement addressing her resignation, President Obama thanked Napolitano for her service: “the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership in protecting our homeland” (Obama, 2013, para. 1). Napolitano’s resignation included a brief reflection in which she emphasized her efforts to “build resiliency” (para. 1), which was a great way to wrap up one of the key themes of her tenure as Secretary (DHS, 2016).  


As Governor, Janet Napolitano made it abundantly clear that her top priority was education. Despite having her eye on becoming attorney general or one of President Obama’s finalists for a Supreme Court nomination (Baker & Lewin, 2013), Janet Napolitano’s service as the 20th president of the University of California is fitting (DHS, 2016). When Napolitano became UC President, the system had ten campuses, 220,000 students, and 170,000 faculty and staff members (Baker & Lewin, 2013). Despite not having an extensive background in higher education (Baker & Lewin, 2013), Napolitano welcomed “a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service” (Obama, 2013, para. 1). Early in this new chapter, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015 (DHS, 2016). Her ability to serve in these varying yet significant roles is a testament to the resilience she fosters as a public service figure.

Napolitano’s work in these three critical capacities––Governor of Arizona, Secretary of Homeland Security, and President of the UC system––demonstrated her commitment to public service. Each role exemplified her resilience as a leader. First tasked with fixing numerous issues in a conservative state, then protecting national security, and finally, battling the problems of education in a sizeable public university system. A close reading of her State of the State Addresses and her State of America’s Homeland Security Addresses reveals a rhetoric of resiliency. This rhetoric of resiliency is first exemplified in her State of the State Addresses through varying metaphors; each contributed to her continual process of crafting normalcy for Arizonans. Her perceived desirable outcome for the state was her vision of a New Arizona, and she affirmed that identity anchor of her constituents as Arizonans who can achieve this goal. When she became Secretary of Homeland Security, she took a more augmented approach, moving the identity anchor from Arizonans to Americans. When discussing the nation’s security, she continuously emphasized the necessity of resilience. For Janet Napolitano (2008), “our story is . . . about a government that lived up to its end of the bargain, and didn’t give up when the going got a little tough” (p. 11). Resilience, as shown throughout this analysis, was the thread that runs through each chapter of Napolitano’s marvelous public service career story.


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Brock, D. (1993). Who is Janet Napolitano? American Spectator, 26(10), 20.

Buzzanell, P. M. (2010). Resilience: Talking, resisting, and imagining new normalcies into being. Journal of Communication, 60, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01469.x

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Cottle, M. (2010, March 30). The sheriff: The semiotics of Janet Napolitano. The New Republic. https://newrepublic.com/article/73809/the-sheriff  

DHS. (2013, October 24). Janet Napolitano. https://www.dhs.gov/archive/person/janet-napolitano

DHS. (2016, May 17). Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary 2009-2013. https://www.dhs.gov/janet-napolitano

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Goldstein, D. (2008, June 20). Janet Napolitano and the new third way. The American Prospect. http://prospect.org/article/janet-napolitano-and-new-third-way

Mccarthy, T. (2005, November 13). Janet Napolitano: Arizona. A mountaineer on the political rise. Time. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1129542,00.html  

Napolitano, J. (2003a, January 5). Inaugural Address of Governor Janet Napolitano. Arizona Daily Sun. http://azdailysun.com/inaugural-address-of-governor-janet-napolitano/article_b47f0f51-4f2d-5320-8c40-4e885ba7f6d3.html

Napolitano, J. (2003b, January 13). State of the State Address. State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2004, January 12). State of the State Address. State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2005, January 10). State of the State Address.State of Arizona Research Library. Retrieved from http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2006, January 9). State of the State Address.State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2007, January 8). State of the State Address.State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2008, January 14). State of the State Address.State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2009, January 12). State of the State Address.State of Arizona Research Library. http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/ref/collection/statepubs/id/2480

Napolitano, J. (2011, January 27). State of America’s homeland security address. DHS. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2011/01/27/state-americas-homeland-security-address

Napolitano, J. (2012, January 30). Secretary of homeland security Janet Napolitano’s 2nd annual address on the state of America’s homeland security: Homeland security and economic security. DHS. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2012/01/30/secretary-homeland-security-janet-napolitanos-2nd-annual-address-state-americas

Napolitano, J. (2013a, February 23). Secretary of homeland security Janet Napolitano’s third annual address on the state of homeland security: “The evolution and future of homeland security.” DHS. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2013/02/26/secretary-homeland-security-janet-napolitano%E2%80%99s-third-annual-address-state-homeland#

Napolitano, J. (2013b, July 12). Statement by secretary of homeland security Janet Napolitano. DHS. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2013/07/12/statement-secretary-homeland-security-janet-napolitano

Obama, B. (2013, July 12). Statement on the resignation of Janet A. Napolitano as secretary of homeland security. DHS. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2013/07/12/statement-secretary-homeland-security-janet-napolitano

Rauch, J. (2005, April). In Arizona, a democrat shows how to thrive on GOP turf. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/04/in-arizona-a-democrat-shows-how-to-thrive-on-gop-turf/304006/  

Ripley, A., & Tumulty, K. (2005, November 21). America’s five best governors. Time. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1129606,00.html  

Tyrangiel, J. (2002, September 30). Arizona governor: Just being themselves. Time. http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,356285,00.html  

University of California Office of the President. (n.d.). President Janet Napolitano. http://www.ucop.edu/president/public-engagement/index.html

Watson, K. (2023, January 2). Democrat Katie Hobbs sworn in as Arizona governor. CBS. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-facebook-instagram-active-today-2023-02-09/ 

Yglesias, M. (2008, February 22). The 2008 veepstakes. The American Prospect. http://prospect.org/article/2008-veepstakes

[1] Napolitano’s University of California speeches and op-eds have been excluded from this analysis due to the paper’s scope and to allow for a more focused analysis of her rhetoric of resilience as exhibited during her governmental tenure as both Governor of Arizona and as Secretary of Homeland Security. The University of California’s Office of the President (n.d.) has archived 24 of Napolitano’s speeches and op-eds between the fall of 2013 and the present. 

Teaching on the Rez: An Intercultural Journey Through Time and Space

Robert A. Barraclough, Ed.D.

Diné College (2011 to 2020)

Flag of the Navajo Nation, used under public domain.

Somewhere between Gallup, New Mexico and Tsaile, Arizona, John went through a vortex/portal/gateway, a disturbance in the space-time continuum.  He emerged in an alternate universe, one which looked very much like the one he left, but it wasn’t.  That was the story he told for as long as I worked with him, and every time I have seen him since then.  I can’t argue with him about it.  It can be hard to pin down, but somehow life on the Rez just isn’t the same as off it.  Maybe Mulder and Scully will come back and find the answers.  Or perhaps everyone’s favorite Gallifreyan will help sort it out.  Or not.  Anyway, what follows is a partial discussion of my own nine strange and wonderful years teaching at Diné College (DC) on the Navajo Nation.

(Caveat:  This is offered as a reminiscence.  It is certainly not scholarship, not in the proper sense of that word.  It might not even be very scholarly.  Think of it as a, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” piece, except that the summer was the school year, and there were nine of them.)

My first introduction to the Navajo began in 1971 and lasted nearly two years.  I had little, but not no, contact with Navajo people for a few years afterward.  In time, I developed an interest in broad human communication issues, including and especially intercultural communication.  I then began a more serious study of Navajo culture, combined with a deeper reflection on my own previous experiences there.  I had an opportunity to become involved with a Native American Studies Committee at West Virginia University, which led to teaching and research activities, as well as meeting invited guests from various tribes/nations.  One of these was Peterson Zah, former President of the Navajo Nation, who invited me on one occasion to be on lookout for an

opportunity to do something to help “The People,” as the Navajo call themselves.

In 2011, friends alerted me to an opening at DC (formerly Navajo Community College).  This was my chance both to return to an area that still held a special place in my heart and to do that something to help “The People.”  So, some forty years after my first visit to the Navajo Reservation, I went back through that mystical portal, this time to be a teacher of Public Speaking.

My own experience did not always align with that of other non-Navajos who have been invited to teach at Diné College.  I had been there before.  I knew some places not on the maps.  I knew something of the culture, the life-ways.  I spoke Navajo, at least a little.  I was able to appreciate some of the inside jokes.  I already knew something of the disorientation my friend John would face as he tried to make sense of this new universe.  Still, I was not a local boy.  I was an outsider, a temporary guest.  And I was reminded of this fact almost daily.

One thing that I believe helped me was that, between my times in Navajo-land, I had made other cultural transitions.  One of these was spending three years teaching in Australia.  Before I moved there, a friend, who had just come from the institution to which I was going, tried to prepare me for the experience.  Among other things, he told me that, of course, they would be happy to have me there; after all they had offered me the job.  At the same time there would be just a bit of resentment that they had not found a qualified Aussie to fill the position.  This would be combined with a more generalized, subtle, but constant, anti-American bias.  Indeed, the taunts and barbs and digs were usually delivered with a smile, but they never let up.

I encountered this same set of mixed messages at DC.  After being hired and warmly welcomed, it can be disconcerting to be told you don’t really belong.  When broadside attacks are made against “Western” education, it is somewhat awkward to point out that Navajo leaders of an earlier generation made it quite clear that they wanted more of that very thing.  And after all, it was the Navajo leadership of the college who invited me there precisely to teach things the students would need to know if they were to do well in the world outside.

This highlights one of the ongoing tensions within Navajo education.  They have an intense desire to impart skills that will serve students in the job market.  They are also strongly committed to preserving Navajo language and culture.  I believe that these things are not fundamentally incompatible, but the balance is not always easy to find and maintain.  This is compounded by the fact that both are themselves moving targets.

When one is preparing to move into a new cultural milieu, it is wise to learn about it from one who has been there.  One challenge is that cultures are living things and they change constantly.  A person can get into trouble trying to function in a culture that no longer exists.  Indeed, I found that my prior knowledge needed some updating.  There had been changes in language usage, interpersonal distance, patterns of eye contact, and greeting rituals, among other things.  When I discussed some of these with my students, they were skeptical.  Then I invited them to go home and carefully observe their own grandmothers.  They would consistently return and admit that I was right.  The changes had been gradual and subtle, and those on the inside had not been observing.

This is further complicated by the fact that Navajo culture is not, never has been, and should not be expected to be, a single, monolithic entity.  I have heard Navajos from the eastern side of the reservation complain that those in the western areas talk too fast and mispronounce words.  Sometimes they will even argue over what is the correct word for something.  On one occasion, one of my Navajo colleagues had to let off steam because she had been rather severely reprimanded by her boss for speaking Navajo incorrectly.  She was confused because she was only saying what her mother and grandmother had taught her.  I once used an expression I learned from Navajos, only to be told by an elderly gentleman that I was saying it in the Hopi way.  A curator at a display of traditional artifacts associated with the cardinal directions confided to me, privately, that she was explaining them as she has been instructed to do, but that her own parents (from another area) had taught her rather differently.

I attended a meeting designed to introduce outsiders to the intricacies of Navajo kinship.  There are major clans that have been around since the beginning, and these are subdivided into a dizzying array of smaller clans.  The meeting was being led by a respected individual with extensive knowledge.  We all listened intently and tried to follow along, or at least pretended to.  Then another knowledgeable individual interrupted to explain to the leader that he had it wrong.  I clearly remember the second person explaining that, “Where I come from, we do it like this,” and he went in an entirely different direction.  It is also a curious fact that new clans are being added as circumstances require.  I recently learned of a very small “clan” connecting Navajo people to Mongolia (long story).  Small wonder that outsiders can’t keep it all straight.  And yet, it matters.  Navajo kinship determines who can date and marry whom.  It carries responsibilities in both hospitality and ceremonial support.  It comes with expectations of support and help in employment, etc.  Clan membership is not to be taken lightly.

Much of current practice at DC is built around a cycle of activities.  It begins with thinking (ntsahakees), moves into planning (nahat’ah), then living or doing (iina), and finally reflection (siihasin).  The last one should provide assurance and is the basis of more thinking, which leads to more planning, etc.  This is often presented as something uniquely Navajo.  I still remember the day a Navajo administrator wryly admitted that he had learned the same pattern, without the Navajo terms, in management classes as part of his (very “Western”) M.A. program.  I often explained to my students that public speaking was not such a foreign activity, as we had for a few thousand years taught the same process of thinking about a subject (discovering all the available means of proof or persuasion), gathering and outlining the material, giving the speech, and assessing the impact.  I hope I was able to appropriately help students respect their own culture while seeing their connections with other traditions.

Early each semester, often on the first day, I would engage each class in a discussion of basic, often overlooked, communication principles and practices.  Among these are the kinds of judgements people make when first meeting, or even observing, others.  Many students began by claiming that they knew absolutely nothing about me.  They were reluctant to move from this position, but eventually admitted that, yes, they had noticed that I was an old white guy.  (One wag expressed surprise and said, “Really?  Are you white?”  It got the intended laugh.)

The first “pullout” from this is to note that we often know more than we consciously register or acknowledge.  It is, after all, in the “taken-for-granteds” that we encounter most of our problems.  I invite them to spend the semester stepping back and reexamining the obvious or mundane.  There just might be something there which is worth pondering.

But the second pullout is to ask the question, “So what”?  Eventually I correct that to, “So . . . What”?  What do we do with what we learn?  We all are aware of the fact we come from different cultural backgrounds, but are we capable of articulating which differences actually make a difference?  I have the students count with me, in the language of their choice, as I hold up my fingers.  Upon “discovering” that I have five fingers, I then ask them how many fingers they have.  This might resonate more with those who, steeped in tradition, consider it important that Navajos are five-fingered beings.  (Bears also have five fingers!)  But even without that hint at a deeper meaning, the point can be made that we are not of different species, we are not from different planets.

 In the heart of the reservation many people focus on differences and spend a great deal of time and energy drawing lines of demarcation between “us” and “them.”  I tell the students that I will happily note, respect, and adapt to cultural differences (e.g., in the patterns of introduction in a speech), but that I will also emphasize the underlying humanity of every person in the room.  I invite them to join me in a semester-long (and life-long) quest to tease out the differences that really matter, and to adapt and adjust accordingly.  Also to recognize the deep connection we have as members of one human family.  This may strike some as Quixotic, but I will continue to invite others to join me in respecting, even celebrating, diversity while avoiding destructive divisiveness.

We also had interesting discussions about the teaching and use of the Navajo language.  I readily admit that I speak Navajo only a little.  I was surprised over the years at the number of students who openly acknowledged that I know more of their language than they do.  This poses a problem for some, since graduation from DC requires demonstrating an awareness of Navajo culture and basic functionality in the language.  But the real issue is whether this should continue.  Almost all students in Tsaile, Chinle, and Ganado (when we still taught there) – these locations are toward the center of the reservation — felt that this was appropriate.  Their reasoning dealt with cultural respect and strength, personal identity, family communication, ties to the land, maintenance of ceremonies, etc.  In my classroom discussions, I found much less support, and even some opposition, when I was teaching in the border towns of Tuba City, Shiprock, and even Window Rock.  Students there were more likely to talk about the extreme difficulty of the language and its lack of utility in any other place.  Some acknowledged that its use was declining even on the reservation and they were willing to see it go away.  This divide between the central reservation students and the border-town students was striking.  I am still trying to tease out whether it was a real separation or merely a function of the particular groups I had in those classes.  It is also true that non-Navajos can and do take classes at all DC campuses, but there are more of them in the border locations.

I still wear a DC windbreaker which carries the slogan, Hozhoogo Ahil Nidadiilnish.  A rough translation would be “We work together in Beauty/Harmony.”  One of the Navajo faculty members, for whom I have great respect, once simply said, “I tell people it’s a theory, it’s not reality.”  My own feeling was that it was aspirational and worthy.  The frustration I found was when people would use that expression as a way of suppressing dissent.  Anything contrary to their own viewpoint (or policy decision) was silenced as disruptive of the desired harmony.  The term, “Groupthink” comes to mind.  This was one of the new realities that my friend John found most disturbing.  As an academic, in the “Western” tradition, he felt that free and open discussion was desirable on both practical and ethical grounds.  It was most discomforting to learn that he was operating in a culture where one of the bedrock values was so easily used to bludgeon people into submission and silence.  And more than once, the “outsiders” were reminded that whatever protections the Navajo Nation offered for Navajo employees did not extend to us.  We were considered quite expendable.

Given all of the challenges and mixed messages, it is reasonable to ask why teachers stay.  The fact is, many don’t.  I saw new faculty, filled with idealistic dreams and expectations of great things, leave within weeks (sometimes days) of starting.  Some felt they had an ethical responsibility to at least finish the semester.  Some made it for a year, but it was evident early on that they wouldn’t stay beyond that.  The shift to a different universe was simply too much for them.  Some left quietly.  Others made quite a lot of noise on their way out.

 Those who did stay consistently stated that they were there for the same reason: the students.  Less often stated, but evident in their behavior, was that they also had a deep and abiding commitment to their own subject matter.  These are people who believe that what they have to give is of great importance.  The best teachers generally seem to think that their own subject is essential, that no one could possibly have a meaningful life without it.  This holds for people who teach chemistry and history and accounting and sociology and creative writing and on and on and on.  The best teachers are “hooked” on their field and wish to infect students with the same enthusiasm.  (Of course, they are all wrong.  The only subject which is really that important is human communication, in all its glorious variations and contexts!  But I digress.)  DC has many highly motivated and talented teachers, in several disciplines.

Back to the stated reason for putting up with all of it.  The students.  The typical DC student is . . .  well, there is not a type that they all fit into.  One of the challenges newcomers have is that they may have learned something about Navajos and they expect that they can thus predict how each student will respond/behave.  This is stereotyping at its worst.  DC students are, in fact, as diverse as the students at every other institution where I have taught.  I can’t possibly describe each student I met there individually, so I must do some generalizing.  But this process is fraught, and I do this with some trepidation.

I worked with Navajo students who had been raised in cities and found Rez life as bewildering as John did.  Others had grown up in remote locations in Navajo-land and found any place with more than a few thousand people to be overwhelming.  One student explained that she had never taken a shower until she was 20 years old, and then it was with 30 other women.  She had joined the army!  Many of the students were the first members of their families even to graduate high school, much less enroll in a college class.  Others were the offspring of college educated parents, including college faculty.  Some students were the primary caregivers for elderly relatives, some were young parents themselves, some were both of these, and still determined to get a college education.  Some students were taking the same classes as their own grandchildren.  Some self-identify as Traditional Navajo, some as the newer Traditional or Native American Church, some as devout Christians, and some avoid all such designations.

Many of the students manifested genuine anxiety in my class.  Some of this appeared to me to be a generalized response to the academic environment.  Being the first in their families to go to this level of formal education, they had no awareness of what was involved or expected: their background did not include interactions with very many college-educated people.  They expressed concern about their ability to perform, and about how they would be received when they returned home, and about whether they were betraying their cultural background.  They simply were not sure how this experience fit into the totality of their lives.  And yet, they sensed that it was important and worthwhile.

Some of the anxiety seemed to be subject-specific.  Public speaking is known to be frightening to many people.  This is exacerbated on the Rez by some unfortunate factors.  Some have erroneously argued that speech-making is, after all, not a normal Navajo activity.  I actually never met a Navajo who could not speak at length in meetings at the Chapter House, in front of the School Board, or at political rallies.  Others have perpetuated the myth that Navajo people are innately reticent – they are not.  I would argue that any apparently higher level of apprehension is a product of: 1) the evaluative dimension of speaking in front of the class (and, especially, the teacher, with a gradebook); and 2) the fact that the classroom still represents an intercultural (i.e., foreign) arena.  That the teacher is visibly non-Navajo only increases this perception.  The students with whom I worked were actually quite capable of overcoming their fears and performing very well.

My general assessment (and I stress again that this is dangerous) is that the students I met and worked with were bright, able, motivated, willing to work and to learn, anxious to navigate the difficulties of combining Rez life and the academy, in sum, every bit as capable of academic success as any other college students.  Unfortunately, many of them had not been well-served by their previous schools.  My own (highly judgmental) suspicion is that this is a manifestation of an insidious form of racism.  Too many educators and administrators have come to believe that these students are simply unable to perform at the highest level, and so they settle for far less, assuming that this is the best they can do.  I disagree.  I think they are able, and we should expect more of them than we often do.  I understand that some, perhaps most, in the business will take issue with that assessment.  The fact is, my observation of these students and their behavior in my classes led me to this conclusion, and it only grew stronger over time.

I began my career as a speech teacher and debate coach in Southeastern Idaho.  I crossed the continent several times and left it for a while.  I taught multiple aspects of human communication:  interpersonal, organizational, educational, intercultural, to name a few.  I taught research methods and statistical analysis.  I became a “dark-sider” and did some administrative work.  At the end of it all, I returned to my roots to teach speech again, and I did it in a place I often thought of as my second “home.”  I might never recover from my multiple passages through that portal John described.  I’m not sure I want to.  I have come to appreciate the wonder of it all and to be grateful for the journey.  Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Discovering the Rhetoric of the Southwest: Studies of People, Places, and Culture

Richard J. Jensen, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Communication

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Flag of Aztlan, used by La Raza Unida activists and other members of the Chicano Movement, used under public domain.

From 1974 until 1976 I was a visiting assistant professor at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.  I enjoyed my years at Humboldt State but wanted to have a permanent position. During the 1975-1976 academic year the University of New Mexico (UNM) advertised a tenure track position for a rhetorician.  The description of the position indicated that the person chosen would teach the usual courses in Rhetorical Criticism and Rhetorical Theory but it also called for someone to teach a course in Southwest Rhetoric.  The chairperson of the department, R. Wayne Pace, had examined at course offerings at UNM noticed that there was a course in Southwest History and one is Southwest Literature among other that dealt with the Southwest.  He concluded that the Department of Speech Communication should have a course in Southwest Rhetoric.

I can honestly say that there was no one in the country who was an expert on Southwest Rhetoric.  I had done studies on Native American discourse in a course on Intercultural Communication at Indiana University so I did have some minor expertise that would be helpful in designing and teaching the course.

I applied for the position and was invited for an interview.  I was the fifth person interviewed for the position and there was another following me.  A few weeks after my interview I was offered the job and I accepted.  My family and I prepared to move to Albuquerque in the summer of 1976.

During the Spring Quarter of 1976 one of my graduate students and I attended a student conference on rhetorical criticism at California State University, Hayward (now California State University, East Bay).  At that conference I met John C. Hammerback.  I discovered that Hammerback and I were both graduates of Indiana University though he had graduated several years before I had.  John was interested in studying Chicano Rhetoric.  John had heard that I had been hired at UNM.  He approached me and asked if I was interested in studying Chicano Rhetoric.  I stated that I wasn’t. That was not a smart answer.  I did not realize that the study of Chicano Rhetoric would be an important part of the course in Southwest Rhetoric.  Also, little did I realize that Hammerback and I would become great friends and co-authors for more than 30 years.

My family and I moved to New Mexico in early July of 1976.  My wife and I both were interested in learning as much as we could about the history and culture of New Mexico.  Fortunately, one of the documents given to new faculty members was an article in which prominent New Mexico authors were asked to name which books about New Mexico they would like to have if they were stranded on a desert island.  We spent the next few months reading many of the books mentioned in the article.

During the fall semester of 1976 I was assigned to teach a course called “The Rhetoric of Dissent.”  That course focused mainly on protest in the 1960s and early 1970s.  It quickly became clear that the study of Chicano Rhetoric should be a unit in the course so I began an in-depth study of the subject.

In the spring semester of 1977 I was scheduled to teach the course in Southwest Rhetoric.  I decided that the course should begin in the early 1800s with the arrival of Anglos in the Southwest.  Anglo arrival along with the resident Hispanics and Native Americans created a unique society with three dominant cultures.  The interplay of those cultures became the focus of the course.

There was no textbook for the course so I set out to discover documents that I could give to the students. There were many books like The Far Southwest 1846-1912: A Territorial History by Howard Roberts Lamar that provided extensive bibliographies that were helpful in discovering sources for texts to study in the course.  I was also able to gain money from a faculty committee to travel to archives to do research. Particularly useful was the William G. Ritch papers at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California.  I also asked historians at UNM and in other states to recommend possible texts and speakers to study.  I received many excellent suggestions. 

I also discovered interesting books that had copies of speeches and other documents.  One particular useful book was a self-published volume by W.D. Grisso called From Where the Sun Now Stands: Addresses by a Posse of Noted Western Speakers.  Grisso’s book contained speeches that students particularly enjoyed.  I was fortunate that the University of New Mexico has several collections of documents that were useful in my study.

Hammerback was interested in studying the rhetoric of Reies Lopez Tijerina, the leader of the Alianza, a movement to recover the lands that Hispanics had lost in northern New Mexico.  Tijerina was a powerful spokesperson for the rights of Hispanics in the Southwest.  Many documents about Tijerina were housed in the library at the University of New Mexico.  John came to New Mexico to to research on Tijerina.  He stayed at our home while he did his research and also gave a very interesting presentation to the Southwest Rhetoric class on Tijerinas.

I later met Tijerina twice.  On one occasion one of my students who was doing a paper on Tijerina and I had a lunch at Tijerina’s home and we spent several hours interviewing him.  He was a fascinating individual.

 I once asked a historian at UNM to name the greatest speaker in New Mexico.  He quickly responded, “Reies Lopez Tijerina speaking in Spanish in Northern New Mexico.”  Unfortunately, those speeches were lost.

There obviously was no textbook for Southwest Rhetoric so I made copies of documents and distributed to the students.  Also, for several years, Kinko’s would publish packets of materials for courses.  Unfortunately, that service ended after many lawsuits so I was forced again to distribute copies to the students.

As I taught the course I became more and more interested in Chicano Rhetoric.  I began to read extensively and I hoped to get interviews with the major Chicano leaders Cesar Chavez, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Reies Lopez Tijerina, and Jose Angel Gutierrez.  I was able to gain funding to travel to Crystal City, Texas to interview Gutierrez, the leader of the Chicano political party, La Raza Unida.  Gutierrez was an intelligent, dynamic leader.  Five minutes after I met him, he proposed that we should write a book together.  He took me to his home to look at his documents.  I was also able to conduct a lengthy interview with him. 

Gutierrez’s home was in a rural area.  I quickly noticed that there were loaded guns by the doors and windows.  There had been instances when individuals had driven by and shot into the home.  I met some individuals at the motel where I was staying who quickly made it clear that Gutierrez was not their favorite person.

 I enjoyed telling my students about the visit.  One of them became so excited that she went into the office of our departmental secretary who was transcribing the tapes and took them.  A few days later I received a note from her saying that one of her nephews had taken the tapes and lost them.  I was angry and stunned.  Fortunately, the tapes appeared in my mailbox one day and the interview was transcribed.  I never did find out the name of the student.

Hammerback and I began to write papers on the Chicano leaders that we presented at professional conferences.  Those papers attracted the interest of one of my colleagues at UNM, Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, the editor of the Western Journal of Communication.  Rosenfeld asked if Hammerback and I would assemble a special issue of the journal of Chicano Rhetoric.  That edition of the journal included articles on Chavez, Tijerina, and Gutierrez.  It also included an article on poetry from the Chicano Movement, and interviews by Gutierrez and Bert Corona, a leader among Hispanics in California.

We continued to do our research on Chicano Rhetoric. We presented many papers on Chicano Rhetoric at professional conferences.  We also published three books on the Chicano Movement: A War of Words: Chicano Protest in the 1960s and 1970s (Gutierrez was a co-author), The Rhetorical Career of Cesar Chavez, and The Words of Cesar Chavez. 

I also made presentations on Southwest Rhetoric at the gatherings of the New Mexico Communication Association, the Western Communication Association, and the Southwest Labor Studies Conference.

My courses in Southwest Rhetoric and The Rhetoric of Dissent allowed me to do research and publications that focused on materials covered in the courses.  I was also able to inspire my students to do papers, theses, and publications on Chicano Rhetoric.

I last taught Southwest Rhetoric during the spring semester of 1992. I left UNM in 1992 and moved to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  I was told that students asked for the course for several years after I left. 

After I retired I recycled most of the materials I used in the course.  I wish that there had been someone at UNM or another university that would be interested in using them.   Even though I no longer have the materials I have always felt a great deal of satisfaction that I was able to create and teach a unique and very interesting course.

Cesar Estrada Chavez

Richard J. Jensen, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor of Communication

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Scholars who study great orators generally focus on dynamic individuals who were able to move audiences through the power of their words, their dynamic style of speaking, or the force of their personality. Nevertheless some people who did not possess those attributes were highly effective orators.  Cesar Estrada Chavez, a native son of Arizona, was such a person. 

Cesar Chavez and farm workers marching in California in 1975. Photo used under Creative Commons, courtesy of the UCLA Library.

Chavez was one of the most successful labor leaders in American history because he was able to effectively articulate his message to workers and supporters outside the union.  Union leaders have traditionally spoken in fiery, uncompromising, and often violent language in challenging the status quo.  Chavez defied that stereotype.  He was small in stature, uneducated, and soft-spoken but he possessed a quiet charisma that drew audiences to him and his message.  He looked, dressed, and acted like a farm worker.  He believed in nonviolence and adapted his nonviolent beliefs to tactics used by traditional labor leaders such as rallies to organize workers, marches, picketing, and strikes. 

Chavez was born on a farm near Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927.  The family lost the farm during the depression of the 1930s and became migrant workers.  Because he moved so often, Chavez received little formal education.  Instead he was introduced to labor unions and organizing during those years.  He was convinced that poor and powerless workers must organize unions to improve their lives.  While he and his family often challenged growers, Chavez soon discovered that only united action could match the power of the growers and their allies.

Chavez served in the navy in World War II but was frustrated with the racism against Mexican-Americans and Blacks in the military.  After the war he married and returned to the life of a migrant worker.  He seemed destined to spend his life as a poorly-paid farm worker.  However, in 1952 he was introduced to two men who dramatically changed his life:  Father Donald McDonnell and Fred Ross.  Father McDonnell, a Catholic priest, taught him about Catholic social justice and labor movements among farm workers.  Fred Ross met Chavez while searching for indigenous leadership among Mexican-Americans in a barrio of San Jose, California, called “Sal Si Puedes” (get out if you can).  Ross recruited Chavez, taught him how to be an organizer and got him a job with the Community Services Organization (CSO), a group that did grassroots organizing among the poor.  During the next ten years, Chavez rose to leadership positions within the CSO.  Because the organization showed little interest in unions, in 1962 Chavez quit his job, moved to Delano, California, and founded the United Farm Workers (UFW).

Chavez faced tremendous obstacles in achieving his goal.  He had no money, no power, and no followers, yet he challenged growers with tremendous influence and power.  He believed that the farm workers could be organized and would become an effective force for change if he could only get his message to workers and the public.  Chavez began to organize by meeting workers in fields and small gatherings in workers’ homes.  He learned a series of techniques that made it possible for him to recruit a core group of followers, many of whom later became leaders in the union.  

In those early years he learned to speak in public.  After each speech he would carefully analyze those parts of his message that were effective and those that were not.  He learned that when he spoke to farm workers he had to keep his message simple, to paint a picture with words, and then color in the parts.  He used his ability to speak both English and Spanish to his advantage, often switching from one language to the other in the course of the speech, but making sure that his words were translated into Spanish for those who only spoke that language.  He also called upon his Mexican-American heritage, using the traditional language, proverbs, sayings, and stories taught to him by his mother. As a devout Catholic he used that religious tradition to appeal to his mainly Catholic followers.

He also spoke to audiences favorable to his cause such as college students, many of whom were willing to make small contributions and to volunteer to work for the union during their summers and other vacations.  He undertook extensive speaking tours, often months in length, during which he spoke several times a day.

He believed that his cause was a just one that would inevitably succeed.  He saw the UFW as more than a union.  It was a social movement that would improve the lives of all poor people.  In order to achieve that goal, he had to convince the workers that they had to undergo a transformation.  They could no longer see themselves as poor and downtrodden individuals but as powerful members of a social movement.  They had to become new people who saw the world in a different way.  He was able to achieve that goal and the union grew in size and power.

Although Chavez preferred to speak from notes, he was capable of speaking in an impromptu manner because he had developed a series of standard arguments that he used over the years.  He used a speech writer for those occasions when a speech had to be particularly carefully prepared, such as when he spoke before congressional committees.

In his quest to improve the lives of all workers and poor people, Chavez became a national hero and a leader of the Chicano Movement.  He and the union were potent forces in the Democratic Party and had powerful political allies like Senator Robert Kennedy and California’s governor Jerry Brown.

Chavez died in Yuma in April of 1993 while testifying in a civil trial where the union was defending itself against its opponents.  He had become an internationally-known hero.  Eventually his life was honored by a state holiday in California, schools and streets were named after him, and many other honors were bestowed upon him.  His unlikely crusade was successful, much of that success based on the power of his speeches.  He was one of the most successful orators in Arizona’s history.

Embodying Arizona, Invigorating Conservatism, Changing a Nation (For Better or Worse): Barry Goldwater’s Rhetoric of Rugged Individualism

John Hammerback, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Communication

California State University, East Bay

Image of Barry Goldwater campaigning in March, 1964, used under Creative Commons.

If ever an influential public figure embodied the spirit of Arizona, that person is Barry Morris Goldwater, and if ever a political leader relied heavily on public address, again it’s Goldwater. In large part through an extraordinarily intensive rhetorical campaign, in part a result of providence, he projected the persona of a rugged individualist. His personal image both reflected the state’s frontier heritage, incarnating dominant qualities of those early Arizonans who tamed the wild frontier and wide-open spaces filled with deserts and mountains, and mirrored the personal qualities of contemporary Arizonans, characteristically a self-reliant people who lived informally, lacked pretense, valued self-reliance and freedom to do it their way, and collectively embraced a conservative ideology that called for personal responsibility and strength necessary to live with a minimum of governmental interference.

After Senator (R, AZ) Goldwater decisively lost his presidential bid in 1964, he continued to be an important influence in Republican politics up through the 1980s. His outspoken advocacy of his right-wing principles, sometimes in disagreement with the mainstream of his Republican party, eventually earned him respect across the political spectrum and a hallowed place in the history of conservative politics in America. By the end of his career he was seen as a straight-talking man of unshakeable integrity who stayed true to his ideals. Although he was in many ways a maverick and frequently accused of looking backward rather than forward, he has been credited with moving the Republican party rightward, paving the way for the elections of President Ronald Reagan and a host of other conservative officeholders, and giving life and energy to right-wing politics and policies previously considered moribund.

As a genuinely rhetorical phenomenon, Goldwater’s story invites attention from students of communication and perhaps particularly from those in Arizona. What in the message and man accounted for the zealous support in the first half of the 1960s that only he among conservatives could wield? What inventional resources did he display that could and would aid later right-wing leaders and want-to-be leaders? To address these questions, I will offer a short, informal version of what my research on Goldwater tells me. For those who want more details, see my articles on Goldwater in the journals cited  below plus a chapter, written in collaboration with Richard J. Jensen, in American Orators of the Twentieth Century: Critical Studies and Sources.

A brief overview of my rhetorical analysis: Goldwater communicated a personal image, substantive message, and implied audience that merged to create multiple and overlapping lines of identification with audiences; their identification with him reconstituted many of them and persuaded others, often reordered their qualities of character so that they could enact his agenda for them by campaigning optimistically, tirelessly, and selflessly for his election. The primary sources of his substantive messages and personae can be located in his heritage, life, and appearance, and in the content, organization, style, and (in his speeches) delivery of his discourse. In every case, what these sources told audiences comports snugly with the ethos of Arizona.

Now, to the campaign that brought Goldwater national attention and prominence. Without the usual means to political power, that is, without legislative accomplishments, a dominant political network, millions upon millions of dollars of personal wealth, or a large constituency, Republican Senator Goldwater entered the 1960s as a relatively insignificant player on the national stage. An unflinching conservative during a period dominated by liberal politics, he seemed destined for obscurity. His rhetorical efforts would turn this picture upside down.

From 1960 to 1964 he embarked on an unceasing campaign of words, giving more than 200 speeches each year, first as a fund-raiser for  the GOP, later as a candidate for the presidential nomination and then for president. Audiences read as well as heard him: He wrote a column carried in 200 newspapers three times each week and authored a best-selling book, The Conscience of a Conservative. Goldwater’s effects on audiences soon caught the attention of journalists and other close observers.  In 1963 Tom Wicker, for example, reported in the New York Times that the Arizonan was “easily the most sought-after and most traveled Republican speaker, the biggest recipient of Republican applause at any party meeting.” The once-obscure Senator seemingly had created among conservatives something believed impossible at that time: Excitement, optimism, zestful energy, a willingness to work hard and long for what had often been seen as a stodgy, elitist, selfish, and dying ideology. Perhaps the most striking example of the power of the “amateur political machine” he inspired was his pivotal victory over Nelson Rockefeller in the California primary, which Goldwater won despite his opponent outspending him $3.5 million to $1.5 million, and almost all Republican leaders or major newspapers endorsing Rockefeller. Congressional Quarterly noted that “credit for Goldwater’s victory was given to his large army of enthusiastic workers who manned the polls and got out the vote.” He went on to win the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP convention. In the presidential election, however, incumbent Lyndon Johnson handily defeated him, notwithstanding the all-out efforts of the relatively small group of true believers fully committed to Goldwater and his cause.

In both his nomination and presidential campaigns, Goldwater attracted supporters who were far more ardent than were followers of other conservative leaders of that period. In an article in the Quarterly Journal of Speech I offered an analysis of his rhetorical dynamics, focusing on Goldwater’s Burkean identification with four not-mutually-exclusive groups who constituted his core audience: college students, Americans frustrated with complex problems and desiring simple solutions; traditional conservatives; and the far right. Years later in an article in the Southern Communication Journal I extended my study into his presidential campaign and refined my analysis, applying a three-part model (substantive message, first or personal persona, and implied auditor or second persona) to analyze how his discourse changed the very character of his audiences.

Goldwater’s three primary themes and arguments allied with those themes form the center of his substantive message from 1960-64 and remained consistent during most of his long career: Government must be reduced to enable humans to be free and self-reliant, private property must be protected, and communism must be opposed and confronted boldly and strongly. He added three appeals to form a complementary psychological context for his themes: patriotism, simplified answers and issues, and unhappiness with the status quo. These themes and appeals created an overarching substantive message of rugged individualism.

Partly a result of his good fortune or providence, Goldwater’s persona or image matched his themes. He appeared to be self-reliant, dynamic, persevering, bold, brave, natural, active, and uncompromisingly committed to principles, the rugged individual who could live without undo assistance from government, who could prosper from the fruits of one’s own labor and should be allowed to keep whatever is created and owned, and who could confront communism with strength and conviction. These personal qualities were communicated to audiences through Goldwater’s discourse as well as through sources beyond the words from his own lips and pen.

Goldwater’s speeches and writings told much of his story, sometimes explicitly, often implicitly. His blunt and unadorned style, for example, or his straightforward and slightly unpolished delivery might cause some teachers of rhetoric and public speaking to recommend refinements and adaptations. Yet by appearing honest, uncomplicated, bold, and direct, he depicted himself as representative of the values of Arizona’s and the nation’s frontier forbears and, in Goldwater’s rendition of reality, of contemporary citizens who needed these qualities and more to survive and thrive. Goldwater’s substantive message, meanwhile, clearly underscored the need for a rugged individualist leader to carry out his themes, an uncompromising figure reminiscent of our past when issues and lives seemed simpler, and (second persona) for rugged individualists to carry out his agenda for change. 

Goldwater’s image as a rugged individualist was reinforced by his heritage, life, and appearance. His campaigns publicized his lineage in an Arizona pioneer family who had helped to tame the wild frontier and make its fortune; and identified his own adventurous, bold, and active life as shown, for example, by his experiences as a jet-airplane pilot, explorer, ham-radio operator, and race car driver. Adding a final brush stroke to his portrait was his trim, tanned, athletic appearance, made so by conscious exercise and diet as well as by fortuitous genes.

The story above offers an explanation of how Goldwater created a relatively small but highly influential audience who would see in themselves some of the personal qualities attributed to Goldwater in his campaign’s discourse. Many members of his audiences took on reformulated definitions of self that mirrored what they saw in their leader; consequently they slid easily into the mold of the ideal audience that Goldwater presented. As I wrote elsewhere, “the completed rhetorical transformation left audiences indistinguishable from their leader in many ways. They were optimistic, active, bold, energetic, positive, willing to take an unpopular stand for a moral issue and in possession of simple truths.” This rhetorical reformulation, I have contended, explains how he seemingly came out of nowhere to win the presidential nomination. Yet Goldwater’s story of rhetorical success does not end there. Contesting an early view of his career as a rhetorical failure because of his failure to expand his far-right ideology during the 1964 presidential election, several scholars more recently have taken a long-range view. Among the newer interpretations: “what [President Ronald] Reagan learned so well from Goldwater’s experience was the power of image” [Robert Allen Goldberg, Barry Goldwater]; and, Reagan’s “ongoing narrative celebrates extraordinary qualities that mark Goldwater’s heroism: his courage, his wisdom, his commitment to his convictions, his grit” [Kathryn M. Olson, Communication Quarterly, 1995]. In short, the Arizonan left a potent inventional legacy, demonstrating how conservatives could be unified and animated to act out qualities needed to win elections and invigorate an ideology—qualities quite unlike those that had usually been associated with the right in American politics. It is at least plausible that Goldwater contributed mightily to the subsequent rise of the right that changed America’s political landscape, for better or for worse, even to our present day. What Arizonan has relied on rhetorical discourse to leave deeper imprints on our history and culture, imprints that lead straight back to Arizona’s history and culture?

Morris K. Udall

Benjamin Krueger, Ph.D.

University of Nevada, Reno

Morris K. Udall (1922-1998) may not be Arizona’s most remembered orator, but his thirty-year career as a Congressional representative and unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1976 left a lasting rhetorical imprint on the state. An examination of Udall’s legacy can thus provide new insights into Arizona history. 

A 1985 portrait of Mo Udall by Everett Raymond Kinstler, used under public domain.

Udall was born on June 15, 1922 in St. Johns, Arizona, a tiny town on the high desert plains of Apache County. Like most of the town, the Udalls were Mormons. From that vantage point, it seemed strange for the Udalls to be Democrats. Although a substantial portion of LDS voters had been Democrats in the nineteenth century, most had shifted their allegiances to the Republican Party by the beginning of the twentieth century. With the exception of Morris’s father Levi, most of the Udall clan were Republicans (Carson and Johnson xiv). Even Morris himself acknowledged that his political background was unusual, once remarking that “”I’m a one-eyed Mormon Democrat from conservative Arizona, and you can’t have a higher handicap than that” (Severo B9).

Udall won election to Congress in 1961, filling the seat vacated by his brother Stewart, who had resigned to become John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of Interior. He won re-election to fourteen consecutive terms, retiring in 1991.  Unlike many political orators, Udall is not remembered for a single definitive speech. Instead, he became famous for a distinct rhetorical style on the campaign trail and in Congress that sounded populist themes distrustful of the Washington elite and that relied on a folksy sense of humor.

Perhaps due to his rural roots, Udall embraced a populist rhetorical style. As an early as the mid-1960s, Udall was a supporter of campaign finance reform, and supported legislation that would have required members of Congress to file income statements, publicly disclose all campaign contributions and expenditures, and to adhere to a code of ethics (Carson and Johnson 74). Udall also warned against the effects of concentrated media ownership, sponsoring the Independent Local Newspaper Act of 1977 (Carson and Johnson 80). Through his support for such initiatives, Udall seemed determined to show that he was more beholden to his constituents in rural Arizona than he was to the Democratic Party or the Washington D.C. social establishment. Yet Udall did not shy away from controversial issues and spoke forcefully against President Richard Nixon’s Cambodian incursion in April 1970.

Secondly, Udall attracted attention folksy and dry sense of humor. While on the campaign trail in Iowa in 1976, Udall would ask audience the difference between a tractor and a pigeon, leading to the punchline: “the pigeon . . .  can still make a deposit on a tractor” (Udall 231). For his witty one-liners, Washington Post reporter David Broder dubbed him “too funny to be president.” Udall’s folksy and witty style helped him to gain traction against Jimmy Carter during the 1976 primary election season. Despite a slow start, Udall placed second in the key New Hampshire primary and looked poised to become the Democratic establishment’s alternative to Carter. Ultimately, Carter’s momentum was too much overcome. Udall competed in twenty-two primaries or caucuses, and lost every single one (Carson and Johnson 172). For his tenacity, though, some political commentators dubbed him “second-place Mo.”

Udall’s career leaves behind a unique legacy for Arizona’s public leaders. After the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s, Democrats in Arizona became somewhat of an endangered species. By the mid-2000s, Arizona Democrats had regained some momentum, winning the gubernatorial elections of 2002 and 2006. By 2008, Democrats held four of Arizona’s eight congressional districts. Since that time Democrats have continued to make important gains in the state and win a number of House, Senate, and Gubernatorial seats. Udall’s oratory serves as an exemplar of how Democrats can seize the populist mantle in the Intermountain West and continue to be a competitive political force in the region.

Works Cited

Carson, Donald W. and Johnson, James W. Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001.

Severo, Richard R. “Morris K. Udall, Fiercely Liberal Congressman, Dies at 76.” New York Times. 14 December 1998, p. B9.

Udall, Morris K. Too Funny to be President. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1988.

Southwest Communication Association

SWCA’s “COM Together” Conference
@ Glendale Community College

Saturday, April 22, 2023
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

SWCA 2023 is free for all students and faculty
Potential professional development for Maricopa faculty

Please consider submitting to the conference:
an academic paper, research, roundtable suggestion, or propose a panel

Even if you don’t present, please join us for worthwhile experience

Contact: Dr. Marie Baker-Ohler at marie.baker-ohler@nau.edu