Exceptional ASU graduates are ready to make their mark on the world

Here's a look at some of the university's outstanding spring 2017 graduates

student in cap and gown giving pitchfork sign

Approximately 14,000 students will be headed out into the world after graduating from Arizona State University at spring commencement May 8. Here's a look at some of those exceptional grads. 

Katie Bieri

Journalism teaches Cronkite student many lessons

In her eight semesters at ASU, Cronkite student Katie Bieri has completed seven news internships in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and New York. She has worked for CBS’ National News Political Unit, reported live on Arizona politics from Capitol Hill and earned bylines in the Arizona Republic. And she’s loved every minute of it.

Eric Moody

Studying fish in desert sets stage for ecologist

As an aspiring ecologist, Eric Moody decided the most interesting place to study freshwater was in the desert, where water is particularly scarce. That scenario, along with faculty who are experts in the field of desert ecology, drew him to ASU, where he is graduating with his PhD in biology from the School of Life Sciences.

Erin Schulte

Barrett Outstanding Graduate wins Marshall Scholarship

Erin Schulte will graduate with a major in global studies with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. In September she will move to the United Kingdom for studies as a Marshall Scholar at King’s College London and the University of Oxford. She is the Spring 2017 Barrett Honors College Outstanding Graduate.

Former major leaguer earns degree online

John Baker played professional baseball for 13 years and now works for the Chicago Cubs. When he decided to resume his college education, he did it with ASU Online. He was happy to have the flexibility as the Cubs won the World Series last year.

Cassie Roose

After finding support, she's ready to help the world

Cassie Roose developed confidence in her intellectual capabilities at Chandler-Gilbert Community College before transferring to ASU. She won a Fulbright award and a Gilman International Scholarship, and after she graduates she'll travel abroad on two fellowship programs, where she'll work with young refugees. 

Cody Van Cleve

Building robotic arm gives engineering grad a leg up

For Cody Van Cleve’s senior design project, the engineering undergrad and five teammates secured a robotic manipulator arm and a check for $25,000 from Delta Technologies Inc. and built an automation demonstration cell. That project and ASU's emphasis on entrepreneurship inspired Van Cleve to see the impact of designs.

Aimee Alvarado

Learning how to fail helps graduate succeed

First-generation college student Aimee Alvarado embraced every opportunity to learn about subjects that interest her. She's graduating with a bachelor’s in anthropology, minors in family and human development, and transborder and Chicano/a and Latino/a studies; as well as certificates in LGBT studies and human rights. 

student at Universal Studios

Online graduate wanted prestige, flexibility of ASU

Scott Lau dropped out of two colleges and realized his engineering major was not for him. When the Sacramento man decided to resume his education, he chose ASU Online for the flexibility and credibility the program offered.

John Hart

West student changes his story by returning to school

A few years ago, after bouncing from one dead end job to another, John Hart came across a mentor at work who pushed him to realize what he was capable of. Now, he’s graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology and has already been accepted to return in fall 2017 for the master’s program.

mother and son

Mother, son in sync for graduation

When graduating student and U.S. Air Force veteran Barbara Blanchard attended the Arizona State University Veteran’s Honor Stole Ceremony Saturday she was be accompanied by another graduating student veteran she knows well. Her son, Marine Corps veteran Rodney Buller.


portrait of student in cap and gown

From trauma to triumph

Nearly 60 years old, Cindi Tanner isn’t your typical student at ASU. Baking cookies for her classmates, sitting in the front row for every class and craving knowledge, information and resources were cornerstones of her educational emergence. Tanner is graduating with concurrent bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and sociology from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

ASU grad Caitlan Rocha

Seeking justice for the vulnerable

Growing up in the small town of Trabuco, California, justice studies major Caitlan Rocha lacked the opportunity to learn about diversity. She set to make an impact at ASU by dedicating her time to studying societal injustices and learning how to create change. She graduates one of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Dean’s Medalists.

Jeremy Quist in Bratislava, Slovakia

Studying role of social media in transnational gay identity

In a world often divided by ideological and cultural differences, social media has the ability to bring people together regardless of geographic location. “Social media knows few borders,” said Jeremy Quist, a graduate of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society’s Global Technology and Development master’s program. 

Lauren Nicole Jackson interned doing research at San Pedro River Preserve

Military vet answers call of the wild

After serving five years with the U.S. Army in military intelligence at Fort Hood, Texas, and then working with the Army a few more years in California as a civilian contractor, Lauren Nicole Jackson moved back to Arizona to attend ASU. She originally pursued a pre-med path but realized she preferred working with animals to people. Jackson changed her major to applied biological sciences in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Jorge Ramos

Launching career with dream job in conservation

It’s often a course, research experience or personal experience that drives students into one field or another. But for Jorge Ramos-Holguín, a recent graduate of Arizona State University’s Environmental Life Sciences PhD program, his interest in the environment started much sooner.


Brigitte Nicoletti

A passion for juvenile justice reform

Brigitte Nicoletti will graduate with a major in history and honors from Barrett, The Honors College. She is the Barrett Honors College Spring 2017 Outstanding Graduate for Leadership and Service. She will attend University of California Berkeley School of Law and hopes to work in the field of international juvenile justice reform.

Raymond Ceo / Courtesy photo

For this grad, there’s no place like home

Raymond Ceo believes in Arizona. He also believes in great cultural institutions, like marriage and public libraries. The ASU student, who graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in English (Creative Writing) and who plans to become a librarian, almost left the state to pursue his degree.

ASU communication graduate Stephanie Carmen Krebs enjoyed the vibrant Downtown Phoenix campus

Communication grad thrives in downtown Phoenix vibe

Internships in the fashion industry in New York City helped communication major Stephanie Carmen Krebs realize that the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is where she wanted to be. Krebs has also earned a minor in media analysis from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Alexandra Norwood in the field in New Mexico

Shaping her environment for excellence 

A double College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Medalist, Alexandra Norwood's interest in archaeology has taken her to Iceland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Africa and, this summer, the pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacan in Mexico.

Chloe Warpinski '17

Grad maps water pathways in Phoenix

When Chloe Warpinski graduates this May with a bachelor’s degree in global health, she will leave behind a valuable resource for Phoenix social service providers and those who rely on them. 

Garrett Fleetwood

Engineering grad looks to the stars

Garrett Fleetwood, about to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, invented a computerized process to identify rock samples and put them into categories. His approach may someday help create a geologic scanning instrument used in space exploration.

Monica Szeto

Strong female role models inspire ASU grad 

Growing up in Phoenix, Monica Szeto didn’t have a strong female role model — until she came to ASU. This May, she'll graduate with a degree in biology. While her courses were exciting, personal trials presented their own challenges during college. It was especially during those times that Szeto turned to four women for inspiration. 

Hannah Murphy

Combining health, supply chain management

Hannah Murphy will graduate with a major in Supply Chain Management and a minor in Mathematics, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. She will be recognized at honors convocation on May 9 with Barrett’s Outstanding Student for Research Award. Her research portfolio in object-oriented programming and data structure has produced five research articles in top-ranked publications. She hopes to pursue a career in health care.

Amanda Bayham

Passion for art sparks interest in urban planning

Amanda Bayham, who grew up with a paintbrush in her hand, originally gravitated toward architecture — until she discovered the urban planning program at ASU. The Dean's Medalist was drawn toward urban planning's mix of the built environment with the people who live there. 

Spring 2017 Grad Profile Capria Rinaldi

Biochemistry senior shines with research

School of Molecular Sciences senior Capria Rinaldi, recipient of the school's Distinguished Biochemistry Merit Award, excels in research. Professor Joshua LaBaer, executive director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, has supervised Rinaldi's independent research and says she is one of the brightest students he has ever interacted with.

Sarah Jackson Young / Courtesy photo

Analyzing the future

A former government contractor, Sarah Jackson Young is earning a Ph.D. in English (Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies) from ASU this spring. The Kansas City native combines her experience as an investigator with a love of rhetorical analysis to inform her academic interests in surveillance studies, background investigations and the use of the internet for surveillance.

Ashton Grove

Grad embraces roles of animal educator, social activist

Ashton Grove knew early on what to focus on in college. Volunteering with the Phoenix Zoo while in high school helped steer Grove toward studying biology, and working with animals in some capacity became a goal that was clearly within reach. 

Student's thesis inspired by Arizona Legislative Internship

Jennifer Kahn is graduating from ASU this May with a degree in political science as part of ASU’s 4+1 program, an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s major track. Before beginning her graduate studies, Kahn took part in the Arizona Legislative Internship Program.

School of Community Resources and Development outstanding graduate Andrea Lichterman

Illinois native finds plenty of opportunities at ASU

Andrea Lichterman came to ASU to study event planning. She leaves having accomplished so much more. Lichterman is the spring 2017 Outstanding Graduate for the School of Community Resources and Development, part of the College of Public Service and Community Services. 

Global studies grad to teach English in Vietnam

Megan Kelly, a graduating senior with a global studies degree, recently received the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Award to Vietnam, which allows recipients to aid students who are learning English as a second language.

Photo of Blaise Caudill

Service to community motivates Outstanding Graduate

Blaise Caudill is an exemplary graduate student with a 4.0 GPA. He has considerable experience working on local government issues as a student and an intern. And he's active as a leader in student and community organizations. That’s why the School of Public Affairs has named Caudill the Spring 2017 Outstanding Graduate.

Cassie Johnson

Improving criminal justice outcomes for Natives

Cassie Johnson was a self-described troublemaker growing up. But after making a conscious decision to turn her life around, now she is the 2017 Outstanding Graduate of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Bald man with brown background

Herberger student chases the drama

Herberger grad student Jericho Joseph Thomas was born in a “red state,” identifies himself as a Christian and writes about race, sex and faith. “I like things that are messy,” said the 2017 MFA Dramatic Writing candidate who will graduate from the School of Film, Dance and Theatre this month. “I think messy and honest are synonyms.”

ASU Dance Student Nicky Shindler

Dance science offers hope to graduating dancer

At 15 years old, after hip surgery, doctors told Nicky Shindler she should never dance again. “I knew there was another way,” she said. As a dance student at ASU, she’s been able to study in the field of dance science and enhance her knowledge of body mechanics, something she hopes to continue to do after graduation.


Matthew Hernandez

ASU student motivated by desire to help people in need

Many experiences may seem challenging for students, says Matthew Hernandez, “but after every drawback we are propelled forward.” After facing challenges himself, Hernandez is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in family and human development, with plans to study international law or human rights law.

Wexler Hall at ASU

6 women on why math adds up to a great major

It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the sciences, especially in mathematics. One reason is the belief that natural brilliance for a subject drives success, rather than hard work or persistence. These six women graduating with degrees in mathematics want to help change that perception. 

ASU Interior Architecture Student Travis Bradley

Big moves pay off for Design School master’s student

When Travis Bradley chose to attend graduate school at ASU three years ago, it was a big decision. He and his wife uprooted their lives in Virginia so Bradley could study interior architecture in The Design School. Now, he's the Outstanding Graduate Student for the Herberger Institute.

ASU School of Music Student Nicole Blumenstein

Merging music, medicine to achieve dream goals

As a child, Nicole Blumenstein dreamed of being a scientist, maybe a doctor. She always assumed she would major in chemistry. But then she discovered the power of singing. Blumenstein landed a spot as a voice performance student in the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Now, she’s graduating from the School of Music as the Alumni Association’s 2017 Spring Outstanding Graduate for the Herberger Institute.

Photo by Eunice Beck Photography

Grad discovers a passion for Latin American art

During her undergraduate career, 22-year-old Angelica Fox worked with an array of arts organizations across the Valley; she spent one semester with City of Tempe Public Art, three months with the Phoenix Art Museum and eighteen months with the ASU Art Museum. Fox is graduating this May with two degrees from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts: art history and museum studies.

ASU's Sue Foley earns interdisciplinary studies degree while being point of help for Downtown Phoenix campus students, families at Info Desk

Nudged by dad’s advice, full-time staffer persevered

Susan Foley, who staffs the information desk in the University Center building as office assistant in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, helps students and families year-round find their way at ASUs Downtown Phoenix campus. Next week she earns a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies. 

Alice Hays / Courtesy photo

Using literature for social transformation

Graduating student Alice Hays thinks literature can change lives. Specifically, the Mesa, Arizona resident believes that young adult literature — termed “YA lit” — has uses beyond just book reports. This May she’s receiving her doctorate in English from ASU.

ASU English grad (Poly campus) Nathan Askins and family

Scripted for the role of English major

Nathan Askins, an English graduate in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU's Polytechnic campus, said the birth of his sons was the most rewarding part of his undergraduate years.

Karol Pomplin / Courtesy photo

Student earns degree, turns 50 same week

A military spouse and moving frequently with her family, Pomplin thought she’d have to put off completing her college degree indefinitely. Then she heard about Starbucks’ partnership with ASU, and applied to Starbucks as a barista. Her application to ASU soon followed. Pomplin graduates this spring with a bachelor's in English which she earned entirely online.

Rachel Dallmann in Kenya / Courtesy photo

A heart for diversity

Graduating master’s student Rachel Dallmann has always found joy in helping others. She is especially gratified when she finds a way to connect, to communicate across real or perceived barriers. Dallmann is earning an Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages this spring and plans to teach in Africa this summer. 

ASU philosophy student receives Dean's Medal

Jacob Martin, a graduating philosophy senior, has made quite the impact on tje School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies. He will be receiving the Dean’s Medal at the commencement ceremonies this spring.

Grads exemplify what it means to go beyond law

ASU Law's Class of 2017 donated over 80,000 hours of public service and exemplify what ASU Law looks for in its student body — that extra special something.

Catherine Moutray in Guatemala

Global perspective informs social work graduate

Catherine Moutray, the School of Social Work spring 2017 Outstanding Graduate, has traveled far and faced hardships on her way to her education.

Mother of 3 completes academic marathon

Sophie Olson didn't think she would graduate until 2020, but through perseverance and dedication, and with a clear goal in mind, she outpaced her own expectations.

Sarah Bruce history graduate at ASU Polytechnic campus

History major finds her calling at Polytechnic campus

Sarah Bruce, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA in history in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASUs Polytechnic campus, said she is passionate about actively engaging people, and especially kids, in learning related to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). 

ASU dance MFA student Erika Moore

Graduating dancer uses artistry to impact society 

Erika Moore graduates with her MFA in dance this week. And she has no intention of slowing down after the ceremony. “My plans are to continue to make impactful works of art ... advocate and create programs ... [and] launch business ventures," she said.

Melissa Munguia on the Leon Valley Community Emergency Response Team

Emergency management grad driven to help those in need

Melissa Munguia is the spring 2017 Outstanding Graduate for the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. She is already putting her master’s degree to use: She recently started as the deputy coordinator of the Emergency Management Office for Nueces County in Corpus Christi, Texas.

ASU digital culture student Keyaanna Pausch

Grad thrives in digital culture program

Keyaanna Pausch graduates from ASU this week – something she says might not have happened if she hadn’t discovered ASU’s digital culture program in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

School of Music student Ryan Downey is graduating May 2017 with a DMA in music performance.

Fourth-gen ASU student earns PhD in musical performance

Ryan Downey is not only a native Arizonan, from Mesa, he’s also a fourth-generation ASU student: His great grandmother attended the university when it was still known as Tempe Normal School. This week, Downey earns his DMA in music performance with a focus on voice from the School of Music.

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