Getting involved as a member of the Sun Devil family


ROBIN OKUN HENGL: Representing the
Sun Devil Family Association, as you know, we are a nationwide
network of ASU families. Our mission is really twofold. Certainly to support student success, and also to engage and connect
our families back to the university. We know that when families are involved,
their students do better. I was hoping that maybe you could speak
a little bit to how parent involvement has helped you and your son. JANAE LEE: Absolutely. I guess I want to start by saying
thank you, because the Sun Devil Family Association has made it easy for us
to become engaged with the university as a family, and that’s been really important to us. I don’t know that this is true for every
parent’s child who comes to college, but my son, although he’d been away from
home many times, when he came to the university, felt a very strong need
to establish his independence and be his own person. As a parent, that means you have to
find a way to transition to a new relationship with your child
and your student. Sometimes that can be a little awkward,
and particularly when you’re an out-of-state parent, as we were,
and you come to the university to meet with your child, and they have their own
calendar of events and agendas that they want to meet. You’re like, “But I’m here, you need to
do something with me,” you know? We found it was very important for us,
right from the beginning, to create our own independent relationship
with events at the university, and the Association helped us with that. It started right from the Welcome Weekend, and went through Family Weekend and Homecoming, and football games that we then
got involved with. It gave us reasons to be here
independent of him, and yet created natural events that
we could do together, that helped foster conversations
other than the awkward silences that can sometimes happen when
people are growing and learning. ROBIN: You’re kind of in a unique
role, because you have had the experience of being an out-of-state
family, and now you’ve moved here, so now you’re an in-state family. Could you speak to how out-of-state
families can get involved, and then how your involvement has
changed now as an in-state parent? JANAE: Absolutely. It starts from, quite honestly, becoming
a member of the Family Association. It does make you part of the university. It gives you access to information
through the newsletters. It gives you access to volunteer
opportunities that you can participate in. Regional coffees that parents hold,
where you can go and meet other parents whose children are also freshmen, or
maybe sophomores in the university. You can get an early understanding
of what university life is like, and what some of the things that
you should expect. As an out-of-state parent, you can
participate through that vehicle. Now as an in-state parent, taking
advantage of being here to get more involved, as you know, with some
of the local volunteer activities. ROBIN: We appreciate that. JANAE: Thank you. Calling and participating and giving feedback. I’m going to enjoy having the
opportunity to be more involved, because the university has given a lot
to our son and to our family. Now I want to be able to give some back. ROBIN: Can you give us maybe one or
two of your top tips for families who are maybe incoming freshman families,
coming to the university? What would you tell them, now that
your son is going to be a senior? JANAE: I guess my top things,
and we’ve touched on these already just a little bit. But absolutely I would come
to the Welcome Week. It’s a way for you to get started on the
right foot, to find out what’s here. And then the second item, and I’m going
to tell the audience that Robin did not pay me to say this, but you must join
the Sun Devil Family Association. The reason is, it gives you as a parent
an absolutely independent pathway into the university, a source of information
about what’s going on, and a place to call if you just don’t know who to call. We feel so grateful to the university
for the wonderful experience that my son has had here, in growing and becoming
the man he’s going to be. And the great experience that
we’ve had as parents. I’m looking forward to continuing that,
even after he graduates. ROBIN: We are, too. [LAUGHTER]

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