ASU alumnus helps students acclimate to DC

June 25, 2019

The first week in Washington, D.C., for Arizona State University students participating in the Capital Scholars program feels like a whirlwind.

While dressed in business attire, students walk countless steps in the hot and humid summer weather touring various political offices, government buildings and historic sites. Students also get a chance to receive advice and network with government staff, ASU alumni and other professionals. ASU alumnus Matt Caruso Matt Caruso attends the Capital Scholars Alumni Reception at the ASU Barrett and O’Connor Washington Center. Download Full Image

Matt Caruso is one of those ASU alumni who help Capital Scholars navigate our nation’s capital.

“It’s so worth it to me because the students want to learn,” Caruso said. “They want more out of D.C. and out of the program.”

In his mid-20s, Caruso moved from Connecticut to Arizona hoping to become the first member of his family to earn a degree. Upon finishing his associate degree at Paradise Valley Community College, Caruso chose to attend ASU next due to the quality of the professors in his major at the time — history. After taking summer and winter classes, Caruso turned his interests to political science, adding it as another major.

Once he graduated from ASU in 2006 with degrees in both political science and history, Caruso left for Washington, D.C., to intern with Common Cause while participating in the Capital Scholars program.

According to Caruso, the experience would ultimately change his life.

“The program and internship prepared me to learn that in D.C. versatility is an extremely valuable commodity that I have used in my professional career,” Caruso said.

The camaraderie between students was just as key to Caruso as the professional skills he gained. He has maintained friendships with his fellow Capital Scholars, as well as the faculty program director, Richard Herrera.

In 2014, Herrera asked Caruso and a few other past participants if they would come out and meet with the students at the annual welcome dinner for the program. Over time, Caruso’s role would evolve to become a resource for students interested in life in Washington, D.C.

Working in the nation’s capital as the manager of committees and educational programs with Intermodal Association of North America, Caruso has intimate knowledge of the city. He often takes students out to group dinners and various excursions. For this year’s group of Capital Scholars, Caruso took students to the Folger Theater and Library to see Shakespeare’s "Love’s Labor’s Lost" where an actor spoke with the students about the performance afterwards.

Beyond volunteering his time to help students integrate with Washington, D.C., Caruso shared that mentoring students gives him the opportunity to learn from the current generation of Sun Devils.

“The students will meet so many D.C. superstars,” Caruso said. “I like to be the person that scales it back as someone they can look up to but also someone that treats them as a peer.”

Each year, roughly 16 students participate in the Capital Scholars program with the School of Politics and Global Studies. Many of the internships that students get are unpaid, and the costs of the program prevent some of the most promising students from participating unless they receive financial assistance. Thanks to the help of donors, the school is able to offer scholarship opportunities specifically for deserving students participating in the program.

“If I had not received a scholarship, I do not think I could have participated in the program,” Caruso said. “An investment in the Capital Scholars program is an investment in the future of ASU students that are going to accomplish great things they had no idea they could.”

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


Herberger Institute alumni, faculty receive grants from Arizona Commission on the Arts

June 26, 2019

The Arizona Commission on the Arts awarded grants to 31 artists throughout the state, including two faculty members and six alumni from Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The $5,000 Research and Development Grants are awarded through a competitive application and review process and support Arizona artists as they work to advance their artistic practice, expand their creative horizons and deepen the impact of their work, according to the Arizona Commission on the Arts Photo of Heidi Hogden painting a mural at Herberger Institute Day Heidi Hogden, assistant professor in the School of Art, is one of several Herberger Institute faculty and alumni who received grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow. Download Full Image

The Herberger Institute recipients and their projects include: 

• Liz Guzman, BA in music, School of Music: Percussionist Guzman’s grant will support travel to the Philippine Islands, where she will study with masters of various Filipino folk music traditions. She will create a new body of work for marimba showcasing traditional Filipino folk music.

• Hilary Harp, associate professor, School of Art: Harps’s “Better Out Than In” is the third in a series of experimental gender-fluid folk tale videos created by the multimedia artist in collaboration with Pittsburgh-based artist Suzie Silver.

• Heidi Hogden, assistant professor, School of Art: Hogden’s “Desert Survival” project will comprise seven graphite drawings, five cement sculptures and four mixed media paintings. Collectively, the works aim to demonstrate the consequences of climate change through visual storytelling and humor.

• Sara Hubbs, BFA in painting, School of Art: Hubbs will experiment with complex sculpture casting methods as well as new methods of viewer engagement with her series of three sculptures called “The Gift.” 

• Saskia Jorda, BFA in painting, School of Art: Jorda will explore themes of place and cultural identity through sculptural works that employ the metaphor of mapping of territorial disputes.

• Michelle Marji, BFA in dance, School of Film, Dance and Theatre: Marji hopes to diversify the involvement in and knowledge of two areas of personal passion through a community event that combines rock climbing and hip-hop dance and will be accompanied by community story circles, art, hip hop, food and music.

• Amanda Mollindo, BFA in photography, School of Art: As a part of her long-term, interdisciplinary project titled “Beyond the Vessel,” Mollindo will engage in research that explores the history, evolution and conditions of reproductive healthcare policy and practices. Her research will include video interviews with women across the U.S., large format photographic portraits and a series of still-life photographs representing family planning techniques employed prior to the advent of modern medicine.

• Ruby Morales, BFA in dance, School of Film, Dance and Theatre: Morales will convene a group of dancers for a five-week paid training intensive and rehearsal process during which the dancers will develop a shared movement language rooted in two disparate dance styles–break dance and Cumbia–and develop a new performance piece.

The full list of grantees represents a variety of artistic disciplines and reside in communities throughout the state. This year, thanks to a new public-philanthropic partnership between the state agency and the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), and through funding from the Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts, the number of available awards more than doubled, from 15 to 31.

For more information on the all 31 recipients and the grants, visit

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts