Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.
Raymond Ceo believes in Arizona. He also believes in great cultural institutions, like marriage and public libraries. The Arizona State University 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.
“I had intended to go to another school,” he said. “I even had a dorm picked out and had accepted a scholarship.”
Ultimately, Ceo’s sense that his home state could make a place for him won out. He enrolled at ASU in 2006.
Our interview with him picks up there.
Question: What was your "aha" moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field?
Answer: I have always been a writer to some extent. I was the editor of my high school newspaper for three years, I have written poems and short stories, and I even won an award for writing for the State Press years ago. Simply, I have always dabbled in it. But being a writer, and this degree, is just a stepping-stone for me. My ultimate goal is to become a librarian, which requires a master’s degree. While I love to write, I like the stability that being a librarian provides. Further, I like giving back to my community and what better way to do that than working in a library, where your community gathers to learn, connect and be entertained.
Q: What's something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: I started my degree in 2006. I left ASU for a few years. And then I returned, older, somewhat wiser, and certainly more mature. The biggest thing I learned in my now 11-year journey to getting my degree is that you are never too old to pursue your dreams, and that education is in fact a journey, and everyone’s path is different. I have come to learn to embrace all of it.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: In 2006, when I started, Arizona was facing a same-sex marriage ban, and I wanted to work on the campaign to fight it. I have always believed in marriage equality because one day I wanted to be married. I am glad I went to ASU to fight that law. I was able to witness Arizona become the first state in the nation to vote down a so-called marriage amendment. Now that I am married to someone of the same sex, I think it was worth it to stay here and fight for it. Being married in my home state was important to me.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you'd give to those still in school?
A: Classes will come and go; friendships will come and go. The most important thing is to focus on your educational journey. Always be willing to explore and see where it takes you.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: Naturally, Hayden Library has been good to me through the many phases of my academic life.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I intend to become a librarian. I have worked in libraries for nearly a decade and am in the process of deciding which library graduate program I want to go to. I’m looking forward to taking another step in my educational journey.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Libraries are uniquely positioned to provide safe spaces for teens. However, not enough libraries have dedicated teen spaces. I want to change that by evaluating libraries and their communities and working to create equitable space for the teen populations, and that’s how I would spend $40 million.
The Department of English of an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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