ASU graduate finds success through hard work and making the most out of the college experience

April 27, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

College life has been busy for Francesca Lascala, but she isn’t one to shy away from hard work or a challenge. She’s president of Advocates for Education, a member of the Next Generation Service Corps and a curriculum designer in the Center for Games and Impact.   Francesca Lascala Download Full Image

“I've taken advantage of as much as I could while here at ASU,” said Lascala. “I’ve been in leadership roles in various clubs since my freshman year while maintaining at least one on-campus job and a full class load. I am also very grateful that ASU made studying abroad my junior year accessible and affordable.”  

Her drive and determination have led to her success at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Lascala is earning a Bachelor of Arts in Innovation in Society and a minor in media analysis. She’s in the Accelerated Master's Degree Program for a Master of Science and Technology Policy degree, and a part of Barrett, The Honors College. She’s also received several awards and scholarships, including the Obama Scholarship, the Graduate College Fellowship and the Public Service Academy Commitment Award.

The people at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society drew her to the school — people with unique mindsets, who think about problems differently and are open to new ideas.

“The faculty and students are just so amazing. The professors are doing powerful things. They really care, are easy to talk to and have great insights.”

After she finishes her education, she will join Teach for America, where she can continue to make a difference in the classroom. 

“I care a lot about education. I want to spend two years in a classroom to understand what it's like to be a teacher. After that, I can then find solutions for problems in the classroom through technology. At the Center for Games and Impact, I’m doing things with the ThriveCast platform, which provides opportunities to learn in ways that you don't necessarily get in the classroom. I want to continue doing work like that.”

Her never-give-up mentality also extends outside the classroom. Even with her busy schedule, she still finds time to bake and try new recipes. She considers baking a good stress reliever.  And although there’s a macaron recipe she hasn’t quite mastered yet, she keeps trying. It’s just part of the persistence and dedication that drives her to succeed in all things she does.

Question: Why did you choose ASU? 

Answer: When I was starting to get serious about choosing a school, I noticed ASU had the most options out of anywhere else. I was able to combine my major with my minor, get certificates and be a part of (Barrett). I think if I went anywhere else, I wouldn't have been able to create the path that I'm creating for myself right now. I'm very grateful that I was able to come to ASU and pursue all that together.

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

A: I chose my major on a whim. There was a paragraph description about Innovation in Society that said students would match STEM with ethics. That really interested me because I always wanted to do something in STEM, but I had a liberal arts background and was more focused on ethics than actual science. I thought this would be a good chance for me to explore that more.

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

A: All the classes have definitely changed my perspective. Before this, I didn't know much about STEM and hadn’t thought about policy before. The FIS 308 class — Politics, Markets and Innovation — introduced me to new and interesting concepts, including economics, policy and innovation in technology. Being able to see all those things together was fascinating. I had never thought about policy in that way before, especially involving science, and it had never occurred to me that that was something important. 

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

A: Take advantage of the ASU campus. Right now, I miss studying there. The campus has always been the best place to get my work done, whether using campus computers or taking advantage of the nice study spaces with pretty views in Hayden Library. I've always been more successful when I spend more time on campus.

Ashley Richards

Communications Specialist , School for the Future of Innovation in Society


ASU grad’s path from NCAA championships to studying abroad

April 27, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Delaney Bucker started her journey at Arizona State University as an athlete — swimming, biking and running her way to two NCAA National Championships on the women’s triathlon team.  Delaney Bucker Download Full Image

After accomplishing this impressive feat, she was ready to reach new heights on her academic path. With a passion for community development, educational access, curriculum development and science communication, Bucker took a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to her studies — finding a place for the humanities in biology. 

Her unique combination of degrees, majors, minors and certificates illustrate her interdisciplinary spirit. This spring, Bucker, a Barrett, The Honors College student, will earn a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the School of Life Sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with minors in Spanish and civic and economic thought and leadership, as well as a certificate in history and philosophy of science.

Along her path, Bucker, who was chosen as the spring 2020 dean’s medalist for the School of Life Sciences, often formed connections and established partnerships across departments at ASU and on a global level. Throughout her time at ASU this was seen in her exploration of a diverse span of activities and engagement in a variety of leadership positions in the lab, in the field and beyond.

Bucker says she could see herself pursuing a career in education after graduation but she is eager to continue learning and seeing what opportunities come her way in the next few months.

“I think one of the greatest lessons I've really grounded myself in is that learning does not terminate at all upon graduation,” Bucker said. “Even though I'm leaving university and maybe I won’t have a structured learning environment for the time being, I am actually leaving with the confidence that I am capable of learning anything and this is the time that my learning can flourish more than ever before.”

She shared more about her journey to becoming a lifelong learner.

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

Answer: One big lesson I’ve learned is that we're all learners and we're all teachers. I felt I grew and changed in a positive way the most when I had professors who kind of acknowledged that they were still learning as well, and that their students were teachers to them. Having smaller classes, particularly in contrast to the large lectures, helped me realize how much I appreciate an approach to teaching where the teachers themselves were learners. It also inspired my own learning when I could come to the classroom and have something to teach to the class that the professor themselves was open to hearing. So I think that's a huge takeaway from university — framing myself as a continuous teacher and learner and also continuing to establish relationships with people around me who want to carry that same sentiment.

Q: What were some of the challenges you encountered while attending ASU and how did you overcome them?

A: I’ve found that a common theme in the biological sciences major is that people want to become doctors and I never entered with that as my aspiration or goal. But I think because of this I was continually questioning myself, telling myself, "If I'm in a major with all people who want to be doctors, either I also need to be a doctor as well or I shouldn't be in this major if I don't want to be a doctor.” So it was this personal struggle that I felt and I guess I wasn't confident in the creativity that I could bring forth in the major and that field of study. I had to get creative and find an interesting way to integrate my biological sciences background into the field of education that I want to go into. At first it was hard for me to really conceptualize. But I think the challenge that I had initially in understanding how these all link and how these form me as a person will kind of be an output of my university experience. It's been a challenge, but I think it's also been a great opportunity.

Q: What has been your best memory at ASU?

A: Best is a strong word but I would say some of the most impactful weeks I had at ASU were when I studied abroad in India. Through the perspective of economic thought and leadership, we looked at India globally and politically. We looked at the historical text of the making of India and we got to talk with people, working relatively closely within the political life in Delhi. But then in contrast, we also went and stayed in Tilonia, a very small, rural village. We were able to see and experience these two very different types of living that are both existing within a six hour bus ride from each other. That was a very dramatic experience and that's where my thesis project of contextualizing mental health in the rural community came from.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: With intention and reflection I've gained confidence that my experiences have made something of themselves and will continue to do that. For right now, I really do feel my next step is that I'm ready to learn. I want to explore, gain and practice skills of self-sustainability like gardening, creating a greywater system in my house and growing my own food. I want to focus on establishing these very practical skills and the kind of lifestyle that I want to live. When it comes to contributing to my community I think my next step is looking into teaching opportunities. I see my long-term path going toward education or academia and thinking about educational models, educational systems and educational philosophy. I don't personally feel justified in going and knocking on the education system’s door without having been an educator myself. So I'd like to have that experience to build off of in the future.

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

A: Find your community. Really engage yourself on campus and explore different areas. There's so many opportunities and there’s such a rich diversity of opportunities on the ASU campus that even if you start one and you don't like it, move to the next one. There's so much opportunity to engage with people beyond just sitting beside them in lecture. Seek out opportunities that maybe don't seem the most connected. They will nonetheless add to your bank of skills and the experiences that will help you make the most of your time at ASU. Be a self-directed learner and know that your learning doesn't end after graduation.

Emily Balli

Multimedia specialist, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences