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NAU: An Investment That Pays the Best Interest 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” The success of NAU’s alumni proves this to be true. Their accomplishments are a living, enduring testament to the benefit of an investment in the NAU experience.   

Robin Braun credits her time at NAU with the skills that led her to serve as a pilot for the Navy SEALs, as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and in leadership roles at Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.   

Martin Casado believes his years of study at NAU trained him for an incredible path in computer science, a role as a cofounder of the network virtualization company Nicira, and a leadership role as the general manager of networking at VMWare. 

Evan Wolff’s NAU degree led him to serve as an expert on homeland security and cybersecurity, first as an advisor at the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and then as an author and attorney. 

Mary O’Driscoll’s time at NAU prepared her for an important career reporting on energy policy and directing media relations for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.   

Thomas P. Smith’s education here led him to co-found TASER International, building it into a very successful company before dedicating his skills to founding new companies. 

Shelly Bunge’s studies prepared her for an illustrious career first as a diplomat to Tunisia, and then as an executive vice president of Music Business Affairs for Sony Pictures. Her team has won two Grammys for movie soundtracks, and launched the career of the a cappella group Pentatonix.   

David Mangelsdorf’s NAU training led him into an academic career full of accolades and recognitions for his work on therapeutic strategies that treat a variety of diseases. 

Lisa Bacus’s NAU degrees launched her successful career in marketing for Ford Motor Company, American Family Insurance Group, and Cigna. 

Former Arizona Governor Raul H. Castro used his NAU education as a foundation for service to our state.  Richard N. Morrison continues his dedication to Arizona as an accomplished attorney, Episcopal priest, philanthropist and co-founder of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.  Debbi Fitzgerald uses her success in financial advising to open doors for other women through the Arizona Professional Women’s Network and America’s Gender Equity Network. Lattie Coor continues to contribute great thought and visionary leadership through prominent roles with education and business groups, and founded the Center for the Future of Arizona.   

This is just a small sample of NAU’s alumni success, and many more stories of great accomplishment will come as our recent graduates and current students make their way into a world of possibilities. They are prepared because of an investment in knowledge, a commitment to improving the world around them and a dedication to living the principles of service they have learned in our programs. 

We are building the workforce Arizona needs, and the commitment required to succeed against all obstacles. Thank you to all who support our students, applaud our graduates and celebrate the lasting impact of NAU’s investments in knowledge. QCBN 

By Rita Cheng 

Rita Cheng is the president of Northern Arizona University. 


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