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Taking the scenic route

ASU English student traveled around the world and back again to finally achieve her dream of a college education

portriat of a woman standing in front of a staircase
December 11, 2015

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of student profiles that are part of our December 2015 commencement coverage.

It might be hard to believe, but there is such a thing as too much of the Golden State. Or at least, that’s how Honor Soluri felt in 2010 at the age of 22.

“I had just gotten laid off and I was sick of California for whatever reason. I just wanted to go see the world,” recalled the soon-to-be Arizona State University graduate.

Soluri had been taking classes at a community college in her hometown of Monrovia when she lost her job. However unfortunate at the time, it served as the impetus that led her to enlist in the U.S. Army.

Before she knew it, she was off to basic training in Missouri, then to Virginia where she trained for a job as a mechanic, and finally to her actual duty station in Georgia. There she worked maintaining vehicles in the motor pool until she was deployed to Kuwait in 2012.

The nine months she spent in Kuwait were sometimes nerve-wracking, but Soluri found solace in the company of her fellow soldiers.

“The people I was there with I was very close to. I’d see them every day ... they were like family, so it was pretty comforting having them there,” she said.

The experience also gave her the opportunity to exercise the team-player skills she’d learned while playing varsity volleyball all four years of high school.

Though she was thoroughly enjoying her time in the Army, throughout it all Soluri harbored the desire to one day return to college and get a degree — something the GI Bill allowed her to do once her service was complete in 2014.

“As soon as I knew [my service] was up, I wanted to go back [to college],” she said. “Especially considering the opportunity of the GI Bill, it would have been silly of me not to go. It would be a mistake to waste an opportunity like that that, that not a lot of people get. It was an inspiration for me.”

At that time she was ready to return to the West Coast, but not California per se. She settled for Arizona.

“It’s close to California but not quite as expensive,” she said.

ASU was her first choice because of the good things she’d heard about the university and because it seemed like a “fun and exciting place” to continue her education.

Having been an avid reader since she was young, Soluri gravitated toward English as her major:

“I've always loved reading. Growing up, my parents had a fairly extensive library and I enjoyed making my way through as many books as possible. English has always been my favorite subject out of all my classes in both high school and community college, so when it came time for me to choose a major, the choice was very simple for me.”

Opting to earn her degree through the English program offered by the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural StudiesThe School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies is an academic unit of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University’s West campus. at ASU’s West campus, Soluri “couldn’t be happier” with her decision.

“I love the small size of the campus and the classes,” she said. “I think smaller class sizes are better because they allow for students to develop a good rapport with both instructors and classmates.”

In spring 2015 Soluri served on the editing team for Canyon Voices, the online literary magazine for ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, something she calls “an amazing experience.”

And though she’ll be graduating next week, Soluri has no plans to leave ASU any time soon.

“Ideally, I’d like to continue on to graduate school at ASU and get my master’s degree in communications so that I can do something in human resources for the VA,” she said of her future career plans.

“Giving back to the veteran community is something that's very important to me.”

Those attending New College’s commencement ceremony on Dec. 15 will get to see Soluri briefly reprise a role she used to fill in the Army — she’ll be carrying the gonfalon for her school.

“It’s kind of funny because I used to carry a flag in the Army, so at least I won’t worry about dropping it or being awkward with it,” she said with a laugh.

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