Philosophy student graduates with degree she's passionate about

April 24, 2019

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

Keziah Ampadu-Siaw struggled to find a degree that was right for her. She changed her major several times during her time at Arizona State University, but after taking her first philosophy class with Cynthia Bolton, she began to think about pursuing a degree in that direction. Keziah Ampadu-Siaw Keziah Ampadu-Siaw will be graduating this spring with a bachelor's in philosophy and a minor in women and gender studies. Download Full Image

“Anytime I thought about changing it to philosophy, the question nagging at me was, 'What are you going to do with that degree?'” Ampadu-Siaw said.

Like any good student would do, she researched the benefits of obtaining a philosophy degree and decided to go for it.

“Needless to say, this class blew my mind away,” Ampadu-Siaw said. “It was like math — my favorite subject — but in logical sentences. In addition to that, I have always been one to ask 'Why' and ‘What makes what you said valid?’ Therefore, from this point, I continued to pursue philosophy and have since loved every single class, because they challenge me to expand on my knowledge and view different situations and scenarios in a different light.”

After requesting numerous course overloads over the following semesters, the Ghana native will be graduating this semester with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a concentration in morality, politics and law from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, as well as a minor in women and gender studies from the School of Social Transformation.

We were able to sit down with Ampadu-Siaw and ask her a few questions about her time at ASU.

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

Answer: Something I learned while at ASU is that there is no universal truth and that even though we may think we know something, we do not know. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Honestly, at first I was leaning towards U of A because I had a plan which ended with me attending their medical school, but when I learned about Barrett, The Honors College, I was sold. I told my dad, who was on the fence of me coming to ASU, that I was only going to choose ASU if I got into the honors program and I did indeed.

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

A: This is difficult because I have learned a lot from all my professors; however, currently, I am taking PHI 420: Philosophy of Mindreading, taught by Dr. Ben Phillips, and I always look forward to this class because the topics we discuss are very much relatable to situations in our daily lives and have made me conscious about some of my actions and behaviors. Personally, I find it valuable when the things I learn in the classroom can be integrated into my life, and that is something I have appreciated about all my philosophy and women and gender studies classes. It means I am getting my money's worth!

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

A: My Residence Hall Association adviser Catherine LaRoche's most common response to me is, "Do better!" Now, I know this may sound harsh, but I take it in a more positive light. To me, this is her way of challenging me and ensuring that I am always giving my best to something and not just doing the bare minimum. Hence, my advice to students is that when you are done with assignments or any chapter of your life, reflect on it and see if there is something you could do to make it better. After all, all the things you do is a reflection of who you are when no one is watching.

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

A: My favorite spot on campus, even though sometimes it is a place I get more stressed, is the Residence Hall Association office. The reason being, I can either be productive, have meaningful conversations with my staff, meet new individuals, answer lots of questions or just have caring individuals who are attentive listeners and solution-oriented help me solve any problem I may be dealing with in the day or week.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Currently, the plan is to pursue a master's degree in higher and postsecondary education and work, hopefully, for ASU. Upon receiving my master's degree, I plan to pursue a Juris Doctor and practice law.

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

A: I would tackle planetary conservation. I know this is broad, but I will use the funds to provide solutions and education of how we can conserve the resources we have left. Whether we want to accept it or not, this planet is our home and we are the ones destroying it, so we should be the same people to restore its health. After all, when we fall ill we do everything we can to restore our health, so why not reciprocate this to the environment we live in? It is all so very simple. As students, we can start practicing conservation by always recycling, turning off our lights and water when they are not in use, laundering sensibly, carpooling, etc. There are so many ways. 

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

ASU exercise and wellness grad grows with on-campus positions

April 24, 2019

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

Alereese Gonzalez has worn many hats during her time at ASU. Aside from earning her degree in exercise and wellness, Gonzalez held three different student worker positions. She says she loved each of them, but her time as a community assistant at the Taylor Place residence hall was her favorite. ASU spring 2019 graduate Alereese Gonzalez on the Tempe campus Alereese Gonzalez. Photo by Bryan Pietsch Download Full Image

“Though it was a tough job, I appreciated every second of socializing with residents in Taylor Place and making sure the students I talked to felt at home and accepted in our community,” Gonzalez said.

She also worked as a wellness supervisor at the Sun Devil Fitness Center on the Downtown Phoenix campus and currently works as a graphic design assistant for Access ASU. Gonzalez said that networking at ASU allowed her to get each of her positions and that her jobs gave her valuable professional skills.

“These positions taught me professional communication with outside organizations, how to network with others, how to manage my time well and how to deal with challenging situations appropriately and in a professional manner,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez spoke with ASU Now about what brought her to ASU and what she’s learned from her time here.

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

Answer: I was a junior in high school, and I played competitive soccer on a club team and on my high school’s varsity team. I went into a physical therapy session at the beginning of the season due to an ankle injury and finally realized I wanted to major in something with health care.

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

A: Through ASU’s Charter, I learned how the large university is measured not by whom it excludes but by whom it includes. This changed my perspective on academics and life in general because ASU has given individuals the opportunity to accomplish their dreams, regardless of their financial status, where they are from, who they know or what they want to do.

Some students I have met are busy with obstacles in life such as providing for an entire family, are veterans from different military branches or are working full time. ASU has an incredible amount of opportunities to offer individuals who are motivated and determined to follow their dreams.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the EXW (exercise and wellness) program. I am a visual and hands-on learner and this major offered everything I was looking for. I visited the Downtown Phoenix campus my senior year before I chose a university and immediately felt at home.

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

A: Dr. Jack Chisum, one of my EXW professors and my thesis director, taught me that there are many paths you can take in life that will get you to the same destination. Life is a journey that you should spend time loving and enjoying rather than stressing about, because you will still end up where you need to be.

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

A: Make the most of your college career by trying things you have never thought about doing before. Go out of your way to do the unexpected, because only then will you make the most memories. There are times where you need to put your head down and focus just on academics, but always find time to do what makes your soul happy.

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

A: I loved going to the BCLS (Beus Center for Law and Society) building with a group of friends to study. We would have extreme study sessions and take a short break to grab Starbucks across the street, then get right back to academics.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am planning on going back home to California. I am still debating what I am more passionate about: occupational therapy or physical therapy. I do have a position at an orthopedic rehabilitation clinic lined up, but I still want to take a year off to volunteer at different OT (occupational therapy) and PT (physical therapy) clinics to further understand what each of those occupations entail in various settings.

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

A: I would love to tackle ocean pollution. Marine life is extremely important to our planet, and creatures are suffering from plastics, oil spills, fish nets, toxic chemicals, solid wastes, trash, et cetera. There are many organizations that have taken action in an attempt to prevent ocean pollution at its source.

Written by Sun Devil Storyteller Bryan Pietsch, EOSS Marketing

Hannah Moulton Belec

Digital marketing manager, Educational Outreach and Student Services