Internships guide first-generation grad's career goals

April 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

A first-generation college student who grew up in Tempe, Melissa Beltran will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in sociology in May. From very early on in Beltran’s life, her parents always stressed the importance of a college education to both her and her two siblings. Thus, Beltran dedicated much of her time in middle school and high school to preparing for her time at ASU. She was part of the AVID program in middle school, which was designed to prepare students for college-level work. Picture of Melissa Beltran in ASU cap and gound. Melissa Beltran has learned is that education is a lifelong journey. “It doesn’t stop after graduation. I’m prepared to learn for the rest of my life,” she said.

She also joined the ACE program in high school, which allowed her to take classes at Mesa Community College on Saturdays. She earned 18 credits through that program before even starting at ASU. It was through ACE that she took her first sociology class and found her passion and major.

Beltran has loved her time here at ASU and has excelled in her studies. She has also taken advantage of internship opportunities, which have helped her determine her career goals. Through an internship at Gililland Middle School, she developed an interest in counseling. Another internship in the ASU Math Department advising office has piqued her interest in pursuing a master’s in higher education with a concentration in advising and/or counseling. However, during her time here, one of the biggest lessons Beltran has learned is that education is a lifelong journey.

“It doesn’t stop after graduation. I’m prepared to learn for the rest of my life,” she said.

Along the way during her college career, she got married and increased her support system exponentially. Her husband is also a student and is working on his accounting degree. They push each other to work hard and succeed.

And what about her siblings who were also encouraged to go to college? Her brother just graduated with a degree in exercise and wellness, and her sister is pursuing a degree in exercise science at Mesa Community College. Beltran says that they all support each other in the pursuit of their education and career goals. And, of course, beaming with pride are Beltran’s parents who have succeeded in raising three children who consistently heard their message about the importance of education and have followed a path that was paved with the hopes and dreams of the generation before them.  

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

Answer: I think my “aha” moment was my senior year when I got a counseling internship and I realized I loved going every day and applying what I learned to real-life situations. I learned that I enjoyed talking and helping others in every way I could, and I realized I was on the right path.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU was my first and only choice, because my brother attended ASU and because it was less than five minutes away from my home!

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

A: I would definitely advise students to take advantage of all the opportunities given to them. Do as many internships as you can, get a job on campus, attend all the events, get involved and definitely get to know professors/advisers/staff in your school. It will definitely benefit you in different ways.

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

A: I’m a nature person so it was very convenient that the Social Sciences Building housed my advising office and professors’ offices and had a nature theme. It is a great place to cool down, look at all the beautiful plants and green scenery and clear my mind!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plans after graduation are to go to graduate school for an education degree and hopefully work at ASU or other universities or fully pursue my dream of traveling around the world.

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

A: Environmental sustainability — we need to do way more to preserve our planet if we want to continue living here!

John Keeney

Media Relations Coordinator, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics


Spanish lit grad balances motherhood and academics

April 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Getting a degree or being a parent is a lot of work for anyone, requiring careful time management and a strong work ethic. Rachel Hill, a senior at the School of International Letters and Cultures, has taken on both and will graduate in May while her three children watch from the crowd. Hill family Rachel Hill and her children Atticus, Emry and Iris, and husband Brandon Kelley. Download Full Image

“I have a 6-year-old son, a 3-year-old daughter and a 17-month-old boy,” Hill counted. “And two dogs. And my husband works about 50 hours a week (for the military).”

Hill’s house is full of hard workers. Even as she prepares to graduate this May with a degree in Spanish literature, Hill is gearing up to pursue the Spanish 4+1 program.

“We had our second baby, and then I went back to school after she was 4 months,” Hill said. “It was something that we both knew needed to happen to ensure our family’s future.”

Hill would bring her new daughter to class, enthusiastically accommodated by SILC faculty, like David William Foster. While she found it harder to attend events like SILC Café, Hill was determined to continue studying.

“I found a way, with all the craziness, to do really well in the program,” Hill explained. “It has a really great variety of instructors and professors. That’s something I really enjoyed.”

Hill credits the SILC faculty, her marriage, family, friends and faith with helping her through the program, especially when it got overwhelming. Bringing her new daughter to class was helpful, as were the extensive options for events and clubs, like ASU Family Night. The flexibility to engage with the SILC community went a long way.

"I feel like my kids can come with me and be a part of my experience on campus," Hill said. 

That flexibility is fortunate as well, as the Spanish literature program is rigorous, encompassing diverse topics and time periods. But that has been Hill’s favorite part of the program as well.

“When you study literature, any literature, but especially Spanish literature, it’s like taking a core sample of the Earth. You know exactly what’s going on at any time period when you read this literature. It tells you socially, economically, politically what was going on in that region or that country during that specific time,” Hill explained.

Hill believes this holistic knowledge, and the research skills that come with it, will help her move forward in an academic career.

In 4+1, Hill wants to find inclusive points of view within Spanish literature and explore less-known topics. She proposed focusing on Black Latinos in Latin American.

“Through that study, I can come out and possibly do something that revolves around social justice,” Hill said. “I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned in undergrad and apply it to present problems we have right now in our society.”

As for her children Atticus, Iris and Emry, they’ve taught her a lot as an undergrad as well, which she’ll bring into future studies. She hopes others can benefit from the ways she pushed through stress and doubts.

“Even being a parent not in school, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the present. Even if you’re not a long-term-goal person, understand that it’s part of a process, you’re in a season of life, and this is not going to be your life forever,” Hill said. “You’re investing in your kids; you’re investing in yourself.”

Gabriel Sandler