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Late start didn't stop graduating student from finding her passion

31 years after first attending ASU Lisa Lacouette graduates with engineering degree

Human systems engineering graduate Lisa Lacouette.

December 08, 2016

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2016 commencement. See more graduates here.

It’s safe to say Lisa Lacouette’s first foray into higher education began a bit earlier than most of the class of 2016. She first attended Arizona State University in 1985, intent on becoming an elementary teacher. However, she found college didn’t suit her and she left for other pursuits.

Thirty-one years later, she’s graduating with a bachelor's degree in human systems engineering from the Polytechnic School, one of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Though she thoroughly enjoyed the program, it’s one of the last places she thought she’d end up.

“I never imagined I would or could be an engineer,” Lacouette said. “My understanding of engineering was far more mechanical and I did not believe I had the ability to achieve success in engineering.”

In fact, when she initially returned to ASU in 2014, it was to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology to complement her associate degree and associate of applied science in Dietetics Technology she earned with highest honors from Paradise Valley Community College.

“I have always enjoyed psychology and the study of how the brain works,” Lacouette said. “I heard about industrial/organizational psych and thought it sounded interesting and promising for future employment.”

Question: What has been most rewarding about your undergraduate years at ASU? What has been most challenging?

Answer: It has been a challenge trying to juggle my school and home life, as well as living in the far northwest valley. Commuting to the Polytechnic campus has not been easy. My relationships with my professors and my peers — of all ages — has been the most rewarding part.

Q: Tell me about a memorable moment at ASU?

A: When I volunteered to work the homecoming activities on West campus. I underestimated the value of finding time for social occasions with my college peers. 

Q: Was there a particular “aha” moment when you knew that you were on the right path?

A: I took my first Human Factors class with Dr. Russell Branaghan and the content just clicked with me. It all made sense.

Q: How do you see your future? What is your dream for your life?

A: I would love to find a position where I can be involved in research, development, design, and documentation design. I love challenges as well as variety. I would love to find a firm where I could be involved in human factors engineering in multiple disciplines.

Q: What are your hidden talents? Tell us one other thing unrelated to engineering that you are good at? A sport? A pastime? A hobby? Art? Music? Photography? Surfing? Etc.?

A: I’m just a mom who has raised two amazing kids.

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