Janna Harala waited at the door of the Microsoft building for the Seattle-based parents to arrive. She was the regional host of the inaugural Nationwide Sun Devil Family Coffee Day on Oct. 15, 2011 sponsored by the ASU family association and was eager to meet fellow ASU parents in the area.
"It was a great event. We had a nice mix of parents whose students had already passed through ASU and new parents as well."
Janna became involved with the ASU family association in fall 2008, when, after being lost, she wandered into a room full of parents who gave her some direction. "They were so helpful — and still are!"
Being an out-of-state parent presents unique challenges. Parents who are accustomed to being involved find themselves hundreds of miles away and feeling a bit disconnected from their student's experience. Janna says, "Having an organization like the family association is a very helpful tool to stay connected, learn tips and tricks, and navigate through ASU."
It was the tips, tricks and stories of their students that the Seattle parents were sharing at the Sun Devil coffee. "Everybody was just chatting. We attempted to run a video, but everyone was so engaged that it didn't have much of an audience," Janna says. "We really had a good time. Even though the event officially ended at 11 a.m., a group of us stayed until noon talking."
(One tip that a number of attending parents agreed was a great service was the availability of Zipcars, "a super cost-effective way to get the benefits of a vehicle without the investment of owning one.")
Parents mixed and mingled and "really had a good time." Janna says that before the coffee, she knew very few ASU parents in the Seattle area, but, after the nationwide coffee day, "I have 20 or more new parent pals."