After transferring to ASU, global health graduate gets a new outlook on career, and hometown

December 7, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

For as long as she can remember, Micah Gumaru wanted a profession that could help her, help others. First, as a human rights lawyer and then, after a high school tour of the American Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, as a doctor. Portrait of global health graduate Micah Gumaru in her cap and gown. After transferring to ASU for the last half of her undergraduate studies, Micah Gumaru says finding professors and academic advisors who were invested in her success helped her thrive on campus. Download Full Image

But in 2016, she found herself back home in Arizona after spending two years at Gonzaga University in Washington state. She'd transferred to Arizona State University halfway through her undergraduate studies, and for the first time, her career resolve was faltering.

“Back at Gonzaga, my advisor told me I was never going to be a doctor and that I should change my major,” she said. “That really put a damper on my self-esteem.”

Things turned around thanks to a little help from Gumaru’s first academic adviser at ASU.

“She told me, ‘I want you to believe in yourself, you can become a doctor,’ and that really gave me hope,” she said. “Since then I’ve had a lot of experience with professors who actually cared about the success of their students, I think that was a very large part of what helped me succeed here.”

She’s graduating this December from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change with an undergraduate degree in global health and a minor in anthropology.

Two years since her homecoming, she’s gone through two study abroad programs, including a global health advocacy trip focused on parasite treatment and prevention for children in Peru. This spring, she’s preparing to take the MCAT exams.

“I actually just heard back from my advisor who says I have the grades to get into medical school,” she said. “Things really can change.”

But it’s not just her professional prospects that underwent a transformation at ASU. It’s also her outlook.

Gumaru's parents are originally from the coastal province of Isabela in the Philippines. As a first-generation American, she says she sometimes felt isolated growing up in Scottsdale. Spending time on campus gave her new insight.

“I definitely felt a connection to other students whose parents are immigrants because sometimes it can be hard for those whose parents have lived in the United States for so many years to really understand what it’s like to be kind of an outsider,” she said. “I definitely think after years of thinking I come from such a different background, it really made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

She answered some questions about her time at ASU, and where she’s headed next.

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

Answer: I definitely think ASU taught me how to deal with very diverse backgrounds. I grew up in Scottsdale and I went to a very small high school. Going there, everyone had a very similar mindset and childhood. So, when I came to ASU and met people from different countries, states, cultures and backgrounds, it really expanded my beliefs and changed my perspective on a lot of things. Most of my relatives are still in the Philippines, it’s just my parents and immediate family that came here to the U.S. There are so many students who are probably having the same sentiments as I am when it comes to balancing your American culture and your family’s culture from a different country. I learned how to have great conversations, no matter what. That was really important for me.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: There have been a lot of them, but one I met recently was Alissa Ruth, my anthropology professor. She really cares about the success of her students. She told us all about her own academic career and the setbacks she’s had, and always encouraged us by saying that we could do anything we wanted to, as long as we put our minds to it. She gave us the resources for career development and internship opportunities, and went through the process of applying to grad school. So aside from the anthropology class itself, she also taught us the life skills we’ll need further on down the road.

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

A: I think my advice would be, even if you go through some setbacks and don’t get the grade you want, as long as you keep trying and put your heart and soul into what you want, then you can succeed in whatever dream career you have. I feel like sometimes we’re so stuck on our set plans that if they change, we think the whole world is going to end. People don’t really talk a lot about transferring, but I think it’s a good way to let others know that it’s okay to change your mind a little bit. 

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

A: I love the palm trees right outside the Memorial Union. When it gets darker, they turn on all those lights and it’s so nice just to sit down and people watch or talk with friends.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m planning to take the MCAT in May and also apply to medical school. I would love to stay in Arizona if possible, but I am also open to other regions! In addition to the MCAT and medical school applications, I am looking forward to finalizing the plans for my nonprofit, SoleFull. Through SoleFull I would like to collect closed-toed shoes to donate to children in developing communities. I was inspired by the children that I interacted with during my ASU study abroad in Peru. Learning about how much of a role shoes play in preventing diseases and illnesses was eye-opening, and I’d love to contribute in any way to help those in environments like that.

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

A: I’d put it toward global medical campaigns. Right now it’s really expensive for poorer countries to access medication or cures because it’s so monopolized. So I would probably donate that money to helping others with medical needs. 

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Political science program in Washington, D.C., sets up ASU student's success

December 7, 2018

Some people learn about what’s going on in the world around them by turning on cable news or scrolling through their Twitter feed. This past summer, Arizona State University political science senior Alexandria “Daisy” Maese took a much different approach through ASU’s Capital Scholars Program.

Like other Sun Devils enrolled in the summer internship program, Maese spent nine weeks in Washington, D.C., earning six upper-division credits while working in our nation’s capital, specifically for an internship with lobbying firm the Madison Group. Alexandria “Daisy” Maese. Download Full Image

The Madison Group gave Maese assignments that not only fostered her professional growth, but gave her a first-person perspective on the subjects she has been studying in her political science and military leadership courses.

“Seeing the topics I was learning about in class become reality was one of the coolest moments I could have imagined,” Maese said.

This tremendous opportunity involved a whole host of responsibilities that educated Maese on the nature of the federal Ggovernment and the working culture of Washington. A lot of these responsibilities were not even on Capitol Hill, as the Madison Group used interns like Maese to create their first political action committee and set up events such as fundraisers for prominent politicians.

For the most part, the Madison Group had Maese taking notes on legislation in congressional committees dealing with everything from the armed forces to space exploration. These powerful committees, which serve as the starting point for the legislative process, gave Maese a front row seat to where America’s international and homeland security policies are created. Though it was a busy time for her, Maese loved every second of it.

“Even when you’re not working a typical 8 to 5 job, work is always in play in D.C., even when you’re not at your desk,” Maese said. “The city takes in a lot of ambitious and driven people. Just seeing that, that is what was the most amazing thing to me.”

Of course, Maese also had to work hard to get her job with the Madison Group. She acknowledges that it was her long-term preparation that allowed her to get to that position.

Beginning with the School of Politics and Global Studies’ two-week Early Start Program, Maese forged and maintained relationships with the same professors that would advise her through the application process. In this program, she also learned  how to pursue a career in politics, especially with the undergraduate work that develops a strong work ethic and provides a foundation of knowledge about the way the government works. Additionally, Maese was able to overcome some of the financial obstacles that often prevent students from taking on exciting opportunities like this with the help of financial support from a sponsor.

“I was very thankful knowing that someone was able to sponsor me for that opportunity,” Maese said. ”I don’t think many people know how challenging it is for students to find opportunities like Capital Scholars and for someone who doesn’t really know you personally to sponsor you is amazing.”

Maese has certainly kept busy since coming back from Washington, interning with Global Ties and searching for graduate programs to enroll in after graduating from ASU this spring. While she is excited about all these pursuits, Maese wants to ensure that her career in politics and homeland security benefit the people who have supported her.  

“This is something of interest to me and something I want to continue to do. More so because I’ve seen the change, even the smallest contribution can change everything. I want to give back to my community because they backed me up.”

Student Assistant for Recruiting and Marketing, School of Politics and Global Studies