I Heart My School: Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

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Why Joy Crutchfield Loves Northern Arizona University

College is expensive — even beyond rising tuition, many students face rent, food, cellphone, and other bills. ABODO was founded by recent college grads who loved their alma maters but not how difficult it was to find (and afford) a great place to live. We wanted to make it easier to find the perfect place, but we also want to make college finances more feasible. After building an easy-to-use price filter, we went a step further and created the I Heart My School Scholarship.

Today, we’re happy to announce our 2017 fall winner: Joy Crutchfield, from Northern Arizona University. Crutchfield loves not only her campus but also the city in which it lies: Flagstaff, “the unknown jewel of Arizona.”

Scroll down to see a few of Crutchfield’s photos from around Flagstaff and take her tour of the city, featuring her favorite things about NAU.

If you love your school, learn more and apply for our upcoming spring scholarship.


I would like to personally welcome you to Northern Arizona University (NAU). At NAU, we are known as the Lumberjacks and live in the unknown jewel of Arizona. NAU is nuzzled in Flagstaff, Arizona in the center of the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine forest, unlike the typical desert of Arizona. So, there is no need to worry running into a cactus while you are in a hurry to reach your next lecture. Instead, you just need to set up your hammock and relax between lectures, which might be why you end up running late. I am a Lumberjack and a local Flagstaffian, so lay back in your hammock and enjoy the journey as I tell you all the best secrets of why I love NAU.

When the school semester starts, and I’m running from class to class, I find that it is important to find solitude and relaxation before I’m buried in homework. For these moments, I escape to the Coconino National Forest, which envelopes NAU. A quick 15-minute drive, and you’ll be out of the city and surrounded by the trees, which provides the perfect opportunity for impromptu weekend camping trips. The stress from school will make you crave a break and the forest never fails to provide. Even if you need to bring your homework along, it is always best to read a textbook by a campfire with a s’more in hand. The Coconino National Forest is filled with dirt roads and plenty of places to camp. There is no better place to relax than within the pine trees where the vanilla-scented air fills your lungs and the stars shine above your head.

Camping weather doesn’t last forever, though, and by late October, it will be too cold at night for it to be enjoyable. At this point, the cool crisp air will greet you every morning and frost will start to form on your car windshield. Personally, this is one of my favorite times of the year, because you can feel that winter is just around the corner and that the first snow will be here in no time.

This is the time of year that most people choose to spring for a scolding hot mocha latte, but I recommend that you opt out of coffee and go with a nice comforting cup of tea instead. In a short 10-minute walk from campus, you can reach Flagstaff’s historic downtown which is filled with countless boutiques and artisan shops. At the center of downtown is Heritage Square and right across the street is Steep Leaf Lounge. At Steep, you can find the best cup of tea in town and potentially the best cup of tea you will have ever had in your entire life. My favorite to drink while I work on homework in the calm atmosphere or catch up with my friends is the lavender mint latte. There is nothing better than a cup of tea to warm your hands on a cool fall day. Careful though: Steep might just transform you from a coffee addict to a tea fanatic.

Fast forward through 50 cups of tea, and it’s now the heart of winter, and the snow has started to fall. The snow is one of my favorite parts about NAU, and it’s one of the most unexpected things about Arizona. Flagstaff is known for receiving large amounts of snowfall throughout the winter — so much so that the city will often be one of the highest-ranking cities for snow accumulation within the continental United States. The love of snow can be felt on campus as everyone is watching it fall, and both students and professors alike are hoping that campus will be closed and classes will be canceled. With the first snowfall, you will feel like a child ready to build a snowman and have a snowball fight, no matter your age. On campus, if there is enough snow, chances are that you will even see Louie the Lumberjack transformed into a snowman outside the student union on campus.

Like clockwork, winter melts into spring, which brings a bright and beautiful side of Flagstaff to light. By March, everyone in town is tired of shoveling snow and the hope of nice weather brightens everyone’s day. I love the spring in Flagstaff and I am filled with spring fever as I look outside the windows during class. The campus is transformed into an outdoor playground as everyone is breaking out their hammocks or lounging on the grass while reading their lecture notes.

Flagstaff offers a lot of outdoor recreational opportunities and the spring is my favorite time to go hiking. Flagstaff is home to the San Francisco Peaks, at an elevation of 12,633 feet, which offers an amazing view of the city below and the northern Arizona landscape. Your legs might be a bit sore by the end of the day, but you won’t regret the hike one you reach the summit. Hiking to the top is one of the most rewarding and best parts of Flagstaff. You can see the mountain from every part of town and NAU, but from the top, you can see all of Flagstaff.

My absolute favorite thing about NAU is the people I have met and will continue to meet. On campus and throughout the city, you will always be greeted by smiles and a door will always be held open even if you are 20 feet behind the person in front of you. When you come to Flagstaff you cannot help but be happy because of the intricate and welcoming community. This community is my home and my love. I love my university because of its atmosphere, its proximity to nature, and because of the quality of people. No matter who you are NAU and Flagstaff will always welcome you, and after you’ve experienced the best things Flagstaff offers you can call yourself not only a Lumberjack but a Flagstaffian.

— Joy Crutchfield, Northern Arizona University