Graduate aims to set example for son, help community through social work career

April 12, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

“I think it’s really important that anyone that has gone through any kind of adversity, to use that as a fuel to go and help others,” said Lena Bonds, an online student in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Get out, and once you get out, you should turn around and help others that are still engulfed in those flames.” Lena Bonds and her son Gabriel Lena Bonds and her son, Gabriel. Download Full Image

Bonds, who is graduating with her bachelor’s degree from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics in May, is the first in her family to graduate from high school, obtain an associate degree and is soon to become the first to receive a bachelor’s degree, with sights set on a master’s degree next. And she has accomplished each step while raising her son, Gabriel.

Bonds said her son, now 5, was a driving force for her to return to school.

“To be able to provide that stability for my son by myself and show him how important education is and how important it is to continue with your goals and keep bettering yourself no matter what’s going on around you is extremely important to me. That’s why I initially went back to school, I was just planning to get my associate but it’s just blossoming into now getting my master’s.”

When Bonds was set to begin her journey at The College, she was in the process of exiting an abusive relationship.

“I thought about it for a minute wondering if I should postpone my entrance to Arizona State but I just took a leap,” she said.

That leap paid off, as Bonds said she experienced a wealth of support and assistance — both financially and emotionally.

“The professors were always working with me. When I was in the middle of leaving, I was a couple of days late and they would gladly give me an extension and even after the extension, they’d check up and make sure that my son and I were safe,” she said.

Bonds said she not only enjoyed the online experience, but that it was crucial to her future success.

“I would have never been able to obtain my bachelor’s degree without having a fully online program,” she said.

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

Answer: I was going to be a lactation consultant because I was already in the medical field (as a pediatric assistant). To be a lactation consultant, it was required to take a child development class and that class just changed me. It made me realize I didn't want to be in the medical field, I wanted to work more hands-on with children and families that are at-need and at-risk of entering into either the CPS system or the juvenile delinquency system and that class (at Glendale Community College) just changed everything. I took a leap of faith, applied to ASU and started in fall 2017.

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

A: The most changing class of my perspective would be The Sociology of Deviance with Dr. Carlsen-Landy. You just look at so many things on how you think either you’re different or this person is different — either negatively or positively — but then you see how the norms are constructed and different sociological perspectives on how norms are constructed and why some people are made to feel like they are different and how it benefits different people.

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

A: Dr. Carlsen-Landy, I love her. I am TAing for her both sessions this semester. She has taught me how to mentor students; in social work it’s a lot about mentoring and helping these families and young children and adolescents so I find that to be an invaluable resource. And Professor Duryea in Stress Management Tools II. That class came to me at the perfect time — when I was going through everything — and it was an invaluable way to learn about stress management. Her feedback and encouragement, learning that you just have to let things go, how to meditate and focus on what you can control ... it was such a great class. I think everyone should take it. 

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

A: No matter what is going on in life, prioritize school. Definitely prioritize family, but prioritize school even if you have to scale it back a couple of classes to get through some personal issues. Do not quit school. I almost thought about it and I’m so glad I pushed through, you learn so many lessons as you’re pushing through as well and you get it done. If you stop for a little while, it’s so hard to restart; if this is a dream or purpose or something you’ve been wanting to accomplish, you can do it.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’ve already spoken with graduate admissions, they require 240 hours of social service work before you can apply. I’m finishing up my hours of social service work and then I’ll be applying for my Master of Social Work at ASU. My ultimate goal is to help others that went through similar situations as me but working with more youth, so at-risk-youth and their families and helping them either prevent recidivism or help and prevent before they go into the system.

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

A: I would tackle the foster system. Growing up I had an uncle that went into the foster system, I almost went into the foster system but ended up with my dad — my mom was an addict and was abusive. I have seen the system from when I was a child up until now and there are so many issues with the foster system.

Q: What advice do you have for individuals considering returning to school but unsure of how to make it happen?

A: Think outside the box. There’s always a way to make it happen, it may require a lot of sacrifice and simplicity in your life — I had to scale back, I was without a car for two years and I sold almost everything I had — but just stick to what your purpose, your priority, your goal is. And reach out to ASU. It’s amazing how many different scholarships and grants are offered to you.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Lifelong Sun Devil turns longtime interest in weather into degree

April 12, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

When Anna Wanless was growing up, her Sun Devil parents brought her to campus and football games. At the same time, she became interested in meteorology. Anna Wanless presents research during a poster session. She will be graduating this May with a degree in meteorology and climatology. Download Full Image

“I loved storms and at that time wanted to be a ‘weather girl’ on the news,” said Wanless, thinking back to her first career ambitions at the age of 10 years old. “As I got older I realized that broadcast meteorology wasn't for me, but still had a passion for weather, especially severe weather.”

That passion and those Sun Devil roots brought Wanless to Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. In May, she will earn her bachelor’s degree in geography, with a concentration on meteorology and climatology, as well as a certificate in atmospheric science.

Wanless, who is also a student in Barrett, The Honors College, took full advantage of the opportunities presented to her during her time at ASU, including earning the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hollings Scholarship. Not only did it provide tuition support to help her pursue her studies, it also provided the opportunity for a 10-week paid summer internship at a NOAA facility.  

“Anna is a creative and hardworking student who sees the connections that most others miss,” said Ronald Dorn, a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning who serves as associate director of undergraduate programs for the school. “In my landforms class, she carried out a research project exploring the connection between surface formation on Earth and extreme wind storm events.”

With graduation in sight, we asked Wanless a few questions about her time at ASU.

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

A: The biggest thing I probably learned here at ASU is to be flexible to change. Life isn't going to follow the plan that you have for it. So, go with the flow, because when something doesn't work out the way you planned for, there's most likely a reason and you will end up right where you are supposed to be. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I grew up a Sun Devil. Both my parents graduated from ASU and have had season tickets to football games since 1976, so I have been coming to campus my entire life. In high school, I was sure I was going out of state, but when it came time to make that decision I knew that ASU would be home for me.

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

A: Wow, that's really tough because all of the professors in the department are amazing. I would probably say Dr. Randy Cerveny. I've had him for a lot of classes and he served as my honors thesis adviser. I've learned a lot from him in my time here. 

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

A: If you're not involved on campus, get involved. It's a great way to make friends and to do something outside of schoolwork that you'd otherwise have no opportunity to do. 

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

A: Old Main.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Next fall I will be pursuing a master's degree at the University of Oklahoma with a research assistantship. 

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

A: I would tackle education. I think it is extremely important to pay attention to our schools and teachers so kids can have the best opportunities for success. I am only where I am in life because of the great teachers I have been blessed to have along the way. $40 million wouldn't solve the issues the education system faces, but it would be a start. 

Megan Martin

Manager, Marketing and Communication, School of Human Evolution and Social Change