ASU geographers and planners celebrate success virtually

May 8, 2020

More than 100 faculty, staff, students and alumni from Arizona State University's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning tuned in from the comfort of their homes to celebrate one another as the school held its 29th annual award ceremony for the very first time online. 

“I’m so proud of how the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning has responded to this global pandemic,” said Trisalyn Nelson, director of the school at the opening of the virtual ceremony. “But even a global pandemic will not keep me from this award ceremony, which many of you know is the highlight of my year, so let’s celebrate 2019 and 2020 and all of our academic, research and personal success.”  The School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning held its 29th annual award ceremony for the first time online. Download Full Image

The virtual ceremony included recorded remarks and greetings from faculty, staff and alumni, who creatively introduced awards, spoke about students and left parting words of encouragement as everyone headed into summer.  

The format may have been different, but the energy and enthusiasm from the school to celebrate and honor one another had never been more inspired.  

Award recipients

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Social Science Alumnus Award 
Max Wyman, PhD in geography '94 

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Excellence Award 
Ryan Heintzman
Megs Seeley
Yining Tan
Yuanyuan Tian

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalists
Fall 2019 - Adrienne Gosnell
Spring 2020 - Amy Berry

Ray Henkel Scholarship Award
Rachel Stowers

Brian and Leah Swanton Urban Planning Scholarship 
Chase Hales
Mastura Safayet

Gage Davis Associates Urban Planning Travel Scholarship
Noah Schumerth
Corey Ferguson

MUEP Outstanding Graduate
Beth Freelander

Mary R. Kihl Leadership Award
Hannah Trostle
Taylor Sapero

Balling Family GIS Fellowship 
Arnold Chi Kedia

Matthew G. Bailey Scholarship Award
Madeline Kelley

Melvin G. Marcus Memorial Fellowship
Zachary Hilgendorf

Anthony J. Brazel Research Award
Mehak Sachdeva

Pat Gober Water Prize 
Megs Selley

View the full award celebration.

David Rozul

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU graduate, Starbucks partner works toward life goal of serving as street outreach nurse

May 8, 2020

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

Jason Irlanda, a self-proclaimed military brat, spent much of his childhood in Connecticut and now resides in Omaha, Nebraska, where he works as a store manager at his local Starbucks. It was there that Irlanda found out about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. ASU Online student and Starbucks partner Jason Irlanda (back left) with his family ASU Online student and Starbucks partner Jason Irlanda (back left) with his family. Download Full Image

“I can’t honestly say that I chose ASU as much as it chose me,” states Irlanda, and upon learning about the coffee company’s partnership with Arizona State University, “I thought to myself: I get to go to a top-notch school and graduate debt free — this is a no-brainer.” 

After enrolling through ASU Online, Irlanda, who previously served as a foster parent, decided to major in family and human development with a minor in sociology in order to achieve his ultimate goal of working with the opportunity youthOpportunity youth are people 16 to 24 years old who are neither in school nor working. population. 

“Following graduation, I have decided to continue my education here in Nebraska. I am headed back to school at a local college for an accelerated BSN program and then on to get my doctorate in nursing practice. I want to get a job as a street outreach nurse practitioner for our local Youth Emergency Services nonprofit organization.”

As he approaches graduation and reflects upon his time at ASU, Irlanda says his best advice for future students is to plan ahead, starting at the beginning of the semester: “Take that syllabus and course calendar at the beginning of each session and calendar out your work, school, and life events so you can have a defined balance.” 

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

Answer: I realized when I was taking my sociology classes that I was fascinated by how so many aspects of our lives are influenced and shaped from the society we grew up in and currently partake in.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I was working at Starbucks when they announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and partnership with ASU. 

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

A: I have to say there were three professors that I admire so very much: Dr. Krista Puruhito and Dr. Khaerannisa Cortes were amazing mentors when I was a TA for them both, and Dr. Casey Sechler took the time to connect with me on my future plans and talk me through her journey. Those relationships were invaluable to me on my ASU journey.

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

A: I would tell current students to give it your all, even when things seem like they are impossible to keep going. Sometimes the only way to get to the other side of a problem is through it, and that is how I made it through some of the classes I thought were going to overtake me. Take that syllabus and course calendar at the beginning of each session and calendar out your work, school, and life events so you can have a defined balance.

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study, or to just go and think about life?

A: Believe it or not, my favorite spot to power study was in my home gym. I would make flash cards and power through them as I was on the Bowflex Max or the elliptical machine. Workout for my body and mind all at the same time.

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

A: Without a doubt, I would tackle health care among the homeless population. Through health care interventions we can help those that are in need reach potential. A healthy body and healthy mind help to heal the soul and give people the confidence they need to pursue new opportunities to better their situations.

Written by Tuesday Mahrle, earned media specialist for EdPlus at Arizona State University