ASU interdisciplinary studies grad finds success with 'deeper commitment to grow'

December 11, 2017

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

Arizona State University graduating senior Tia Anderson, of Tonopah, Arizona, has been working for Dignity Health while studying full-time to earn her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, with concentrations in business, and leadership and ethics.  ASU interdisciplinary studies graduate Tia Anderson Interdisciplinary studies graduate Tia Anderson. Download Full Image

“Dignity Health is a non-profit that operates hospitals and clinics providing health, social, and support services,” Anderson said. “I started as a temporary worker and then moved to full-time employment while maintaining my full-time student status. By applying what I’ve learned through ASU, I was promoted twice within the organization and look forward to continual growth.”

One of the cornerstones of the interdisciplinary studies major is the required course BIS 401, for which students choose to complete either a semester-long applied internship or a directed study, working with faculty members on research.

Anderson was part of a team of four students in spring 2017 who worked with assistant professors Mai Trinh and Elizabeth Castillo, members of the Faculty of Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, reviewing and coding the literature for the content analysis of prior research studies on leadership.

The team just learned that the resulting paper, “In Search of Missing Time: A Review of the Study of Time in Leadership Research,” has been accepted for publication in the 2018 issue of The Leadership Quarterly Yearly Review.

“Tia impressed me with her dedication to the project, strong work ethic, and thorough analysis of the literature assigned to her,” Trinh said. “She asked good questions and was able to connect the leadership literature with her own lived- and work-experience to provide keen insights to our class discussion. We are grateful for the assistance that our students provided and acknowledge their help on the article.” 

“When I first heard about this directed study opportunity, I was immediately excited,” said Anderson, who noted that the experience of doing the directed study did not disappoint: “There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you can use all of the skills you've acquired in your classes and be more involved with faculty and in producing new scholarship.”

Question: Why did you choose to attend ASU?

Answer: I was born and raised in Arizona, so it has always been a dream of mine to graduate from such a prestigious school in my own state.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I learned that I am a leader and that I inspire people every day. In grade school, I was a shy girl who found it difficult to make friends. When I first started at ASU I had a mandatory communications class, public speaking. I was terrified, but I conquered my fear and I learned that I am a good speaker and can connect easily with people if I allow myself to. With each class, I learned more and more about myself. Because I am introspective, I was able to become a better leader for myself and my peers.  

Q: Looking back on your ASU career, do you see an interesting or defining moment or accomplishment that stands out for you?

A: I withdrew from the university in fall 2008. Most of the time, students who withdraw do not return. I beat this statistic by re-enrolling five years later in fall 2013. I feel like I have beat the odds and it shows me how much determination that I have. I try to live by this quote from novelist Ralph Ellison, "It takes a deep commitment to change, and an even deeper commitment to grow."

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: For now, I am going to enjoy some time off and hopefully travel with my family and continue my work with Dignity Health. I am considering going to graduate school and hope to complete a master’s degree related to interdisciplinary studies and leadership. I would also like to start my own non-profit, focused on providing housing for homeless families and veterans and connecting them to other services that they need, like healthcare.

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

A: I would try and tackle homelessness, especially among young adults and veterans. In my ASU course PAF 494: Ending Homelessness through Public Policy, I learned a lot of valuable information about the causes of homelessness, and I hope that even without $40 million I can make a difference by running a non-profit of my own one day.  

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I was mostly an online student, but the few times that I met with student work groups for classes, I loved going to Hayden Library at the Tempe campus. I also enjoyed the library at West campus. I remember one night I was leaving Hayden Library and there was a student event going on and there were some break dancers outside the library. What an experience to be working hard, walking out exhausted, and stepping out into such a lively and joyous event! It was instantly refreshing.

Maureen Roen

Manager, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


ASU grad aims to improve lives, community through health education

December 11, 2017

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

Madisyn Forst has always been inspired to help other people. Madisyn Forst Fall 2017 graduate Madisyn Forst. Download Full Image

Now as she graduates from Arizona State University with her Bachelor of Science in health education and health promotion from the College of Health Solutions, she will make a career of helping others improve their lives. 

Beyond the classroom, Forst has built momentum toward this goal through her full-time work in an emergency room, as well as on campus in her work with the Recovery Rising program.

“I saw Recovery Rising and was immediately interested,” said Forst. “I have always thought addiction and the stigma around it should get more attention.”

Recovery Rising is a campus-based program that provides a community for students in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, those who are interested in recovery and those who want to support them.

“The opposite of addiction is connectivity and I think it is important for everyone to have resources and someone to talk to when they need help,” Forst said.

Forst helped create that connectivity for the ASU community by maintaining the organization’s social media accounts and planning events in an effort to raise awareness about addiction, recovery and mental health.

Her work with the program also taught her the importance of forging connections with the outside community. This has led to her involvement with the Opioid Crisis Committee for Arizona, Not My Kid, the Tempe Coalition and other local organizations.

After graduation, Forst hopes to continue impacting the health and well-being of her community by working as a health educator and eventually returning to ASU to pursue a Master’s degree in public health.

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

Answer: I have always wanted to help people. I am a health promotion and health education major and throughout my four years at ASU I have realized how many options I have for careers. My real “aha” moment was actually when I started at Recovery Rising. I started doing the social media managing and event planning and realized that is what I want to do. I want to help plan and manage preventative programs for people to stay healthy. Preventative health has been something that has stuck out to me and made me realize how important I think this field is. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: During my time at ASU, and just in general being a full-time student working a full-time job, I learned to just take one day at a time. Most of the time I would try to take on more than I can handle. I would become extremely stressed out and it would affect my mood. This changed my perspective because I was not enjoying myself as much as I should’ve been. I have always been hard on myself so it wasn’t easy for me to just relax and not worry. Now I try to not push myself by taking on more at work or going out with my friends when I should be getting sleep. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because it is close to home and they had the exact major that I wanted. Since I was in high school I knew what field I wanted to be in and I went straight for it. I was adamant about staying close to home so I could be with my family and stay at my current job. ASU has also always been an option because my mom is a Sun Devil, as well. When people ask me what school I go to, I am proud to say ASU because of how many opportunities the university provides. We are a top school in many aspects and that’s awesome.

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

A: My advice would be to do as many extracurricular activities as possible. I think the four years that you’re in college are some of the best times and that is really when you start to learn a lot about yourself and where you want to be in life. Getting involved in activities will allow you to meet more people and make friends for life.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Usually, I would hang out at the Hayden Library (extremely typical, I know). The Hayden Library is such a good location on campus with the MU right down the way for food and it is not a far walk from parking garages. When it is not mid-summer and it is acceptable to sit outside, I have also always enjoyed sitting outside of Old Main. 

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

A: If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem, I would put that money toward providing more shelters for the homeless population. I would make sure that they are provided the resources to obtain a job and the help they might need for addiction/mental health. I do not think there are enough shelters around the Valley and I can imagine it is the same in other areas, as well. To me, it is important that everyone has a fair chance. If someone that is out of work and homeless wants to get a job, then they should have that opportunity. This seems like such a broad issue but I think it would be very beneficial to invest in.

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services