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ASU Online grad gratified that he could care for his mom while studying

'I knew my mom wanted me to do something with my life that would be important'

December 01, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

ASU Online students have the flexibility to learn anywhere, and Christian Hansen’s go-to spot was in the hospital where his mother was being treated for cancer.

“Strangely, my favorite spot to study became Room No. 1 at the El Camino Hospital Cancer Center,” said Hansen, 38, who is getting a degree from Arizona State University this month in healthy lifestyles coaching with minors in religious studies and film and media.

“It had a special cubby with a window that looked outside. I would sit up in the cubby with my laptop and coffee and go to work while my mom rested.”

ASU Online student Christian Hansen

Christian Hansen is graduating from ASU Online with a degree in healthy lifestyles coaching.

Besides his mom, the hospital community became his supporters as he studied.

“I made friends with the nurses, and they all kept saying, ‘You have to do this!’”

Persisting in the ASU Online program was a big deal for Hansen, who is 38 and lives in San Jose, California. He started in 2013 and has been working full time as an office manager at a church while taking classes.

“A couple of times I tried to go to junior college and I just kept quitting,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. It just never stuck and I never had the motivation get through it.”

He appreciated the personal attention from the ASU Online coaches.

“When I first started, there was a lot of reaching out from coaches and staff, which was very good because that was the time I would have given up,” he said.

“I knew my mom wanted me to do something with my life that would be important.”

Hansen answered some questions from ASU Now:

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My "aha" moment came following the passing of my mother. I wanted to find a way to change the lives of others around me who were having similar experiences, just like the nurses I had met during my mother's journey had done for us.  

Q: What’s something you learned during your studies that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: This might sound strange, but something that surprised me was how smart I actually am. I never considered myself to be a smart person, I barely made it through high school, but here I am graduating ASU with honors. I learned to see myself from a new perspective, and I now know I am capable of so much.

Q: Why did you choose ASU Online?

A: I chose ASU Online because it gave me the option to continue my studies while still being able to be the caretaker of my mother in her final years.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don't give up! ASU has so much to offer and will work with you through your struggles. They want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I have several different directions I am contemplating at this time. One of them is to work with children with autism, and possibly continue with ASU Online to obtain an Autism Spectrum Disorders Graduate Certificate. The second is to attend seminary in hopes of becoming a youth pastor. The last would be to begin a business of my own in which I provide a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to exercise and learn about nutrition.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I think if I had $40 million to help solve one problem on this planet I would focus on cancer research. l have personally seen so many families affected by this disease that I would love for a cure to be found.

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