Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Imagine maintaining a perfect GPA throughout your college career and still finding time to work and perform in a band.
That has been the experience of senior Alexa Graves, who is graduating summa cum laude this spring with a degree in communication from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and a minor in film and media studies. At the May 6 commencement ceremony, Graves will receive one of ASU's top academic honors, the Moeur Award, for her efforts.
Since 1901, the ASU Alumni Association has presented the Moeur Award to graduating seniors who have maintained the highest academic standing over the course of eight consecutive fall and spring semesters. The award was named for Dr. B. B. Moeur, who was a physician and businessman in Tempe in the early 1900s.
Graves also received the Louis and Louise Menk Endowed Scholarship in 2017 from the Hugh Downs School.
Graves has been a standout student since she arrived at ASU four years ago. In her first semester, she impressed her professor in her COM 100 class, Pauline Davies, who later invited her to be a classroom assistant to provide support and advice to more inexperienced students.
“Alexa is very capable, conscientious and empathetic, and she's also very modest about her achievements. Though we've stayed in close touch, I just learned she would be receiving the Moeur Award when I was invited to the ceremony,” said Davies. “Only then did I realize that she has been an outstanding student in all her courses.”
Graves also worked as an office assistant at ASU’s Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science for three years, where her diverse talents were put to good use.
“From planning events to building websites, I’ve had a chance to work on many different types of projects,” said Graves. “Overall, I was able to learn many different interpersonal skills such as professionalism, dependability and time management.”
In addition to her work and studies, Graves is also the lead singer of the band, Lo Standard, formed in the summer of 2017, whose members are either ASU students or alumni. During that time, the band has performed all around Arizona including several times in front of the Memorial Union, and also at ASU’s Homecoming Block Party. They have also released their first music video, “No Fight Left” filmed by ASU Film Student Xavier Sanchez with the hope to raise awareness about emotional and physical abuse and to let victims know that they are not alone.
ASU Now sat down with Graves to learn more about her college experience:
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I have always loved being social and working in teams. One day when I was looking at the different majors offered at ASU on their website, communication stood out to me as something I would enjoy and also had the flexibility to apply to many different career paths. That was the moment that I realized it was the perfect degree for me.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: ASU is a really unique school, and part of that is because of how diverse the campus is. I have gotten to work with so many different types of people that I have never had the opportunity of meeting anywhere else. It is a really inclusive university when it comes to celebrating different cultures, and everyone is very respectful. I learned that hand gestures have different meanings in different cultures, so it is important to do your research before going to a new place!
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose ASU because the campus is beautiful and I felt that there would be an abundance of opportunity here. Which I have to say was a good choice because I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities like being a student worker at the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. I have worked there for three years as an office assistant for Paul Davies and I have been able to help plan events and meet really fascinating people like Lucy Hawking and Jennifer Doudna. As a singer, I have also had the opportunity of being one of ASU’s Got Talent’s top 10 finalists, and I performed at the Memorial Union multiple times as a part of the ASU Culture Express Yourself Series.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: During my time at ASU, I had the opportunity to teach a student success class for incoming freshmen, and the advice I always gave them was to get involved. The best part of ASU is how easy it is to make connections and participate in the many clubs and organizations. This type of experience is invaluable, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot was definitely the Secret Garden. I went there many times to study or hang out with friends! If you’ve never heard of it before you’ll have to ask around and see if you can find it.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I would love to work in the entertainment industry, so I am actively pursuing that right now with the help of people I have met at ASU. Besides that, I’m going on a graduation trip to Hawaii to celebrate!
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would love to donate to the Ocean Cleanup Project to help rid our oceans of plastic. As humans, I believe we have the responsibility of protecting our environment. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now estimated to be three times the size of France. If you would like to donate you can go to theoceancleanup.com/support.
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