Education on the lake

Arizona State University has a strong presence in the Valley, but it has also been a key player in the Lake Havasu City community since it opened a campus there nearly seven years ago.

“ASU at Lake Havasu opened August of 2012 and at the time, we started with about 78 students. We started out with a mission to increase access for students in rural Arizona and that has been an important reason for us to come to Lake Havasu,” said Dr. Raymond Van der Riet, Arizona State University (ASU) Colleges at Lake Havasu City (ASU at Lake Havasu) director.

The campus now serves about 160 students and offers a variety of degree programs such as business, communication and media, psychology and humanities.

“We’re a small campus with a very much personalized education so students can meet with the faculty at any time. The access to staff is excellent so if students want an appointment on the same day, they can do that,” Van der Riet said. “So, it’s almost like a family.”

In addition to the access to faculty and small community feel, ASU at Lake Havasu offers an active lifestyle with its outdoor activities.

“Our students are very active. We have a beach hut right on the channel, right on the water for our students. Students can go down and we have kayaks, we have mountain bikes, we have paddle boards, we have a sailing boat,” Van der Riet said.

The students’ involvement in outdoor activities and clubs does not distract them from their work. In fact, the engagement benefits their academic performance.

“The students are happy, and they do better when they’re more engaged in clubs. It’s not a distraction for the students to engage. They persist and they complete their degrees,” Van der Riet said.

Students are also encouraged to engage with the professional community through Wednesday Lectures, which features a wide range of speakers.

“We feature speakers of various expertise and run the gamut from experts in Colorado to research that’s been done on bees,” Van der Riet explained.

ASU at Lake Havasu is planning to feature inspirational speakers and local up-and-coming authors, as well.

Van der Riet explained that faculty also works to give students hands-on, experiential opportunities as early as possible.

In students’ first year at ASU at Lake Havasu, they will take a career-based assessment to identify potential career paths of interest.

“We work with them to develop a pathway to develop a resume that will give them a leg up in the marketplace,” Van der Riet said. “We partner them with shadowing opportunities in the business community and government entities. We give them volunteer opportunities and internship opportunities.”

The campus implemented a community advisory group, which is comprised of almost 45 members- including Mayor of Lake Havasu Cal Sheehy.

“That’s a very active group, it’s project-oriented, and every year we tackle at least three major issues that will benefit the community as well as the campus,” Van der Riet said.

Sierra Ciaramella

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