Communication graduate helps first responders through her internship

May 8, 2020

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

Like all ASU students, senior Allison Bretzman had to make the switch to digital learning in her final weeks on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Download Full Image

Yet despite any challenges, Bretzman remained optimistic.   

"The switch to digital learning during my senior year has proven to be one of the most inspiring experiences for me," said Bretzman. "Prior to conducting daily classes, work, meetings and even personal gatherings online, I had yet to understand how life-giving face-to-face contact is."

Bretzman is graduating in the spring of 2020 with a BS in communication from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She is currently at her "dream internship" working with the Local and Global Outreach Department of Scottsdale Bible Church.

She admits the internship turned out much differently than she originally had imagined. 

Due to the shift in all events to online platforms, Bretzman says she has been challenged to learn systems, modes of communication and strategies to connect with others.

“Due to this change, I now collaborate with the director of outreach to design social media and website content for outreach projects. Most recently, I manage and train volunteers for daily shifts to assemble 10,000-plus masks and face shields for first responders at hospitals in Phoenix, and for the Army Corps of Engineers and local churches. This opportunity to help others in need is one remarkable result that's come out of this otherwise difficult time." 

Bretzman says this internship has also provided her valuable experience in her goal to work as an event planner.

“My understanding of event planning and how to work with various personalities and partners grows conducive to the level of responsibility I am given," said Bretzman. "I accepted this internship having no set agenda but merely hoping to learn valuable lessons, so I could have never have imagined that this opportunity would show me how I can best serve the world."

We asked Bretzman to tell us more about her time at ASU.

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

Answer: I realized communication was the field for me while collaborating with a team to plan and lead a retreat for 120 high school students. Prior to that opportunity, I was always finding myself contributing to the process of making the wildest dreams for events a reality. Initially, I believed my draw to such opportunities derived from my passion for dance, performing, and community-building, but, when I was given the freedom to bring my vision for that weekend to life, it hit me that what drew me to each event was the process of creating them. Ever since then, I have sought to study the art of coordinating outlets for people to share their unique talents, knowledge and experience with the world. People become empowered to create a better future when their passions are supported; therefore, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than promoting unity through events. I am forever grateful for every person who designed and executed the countless events that have benefited me, so I would be honored to serve in the same way.

Bretzman at the Royal Arch in Chautauqua Park in Colorado.

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

A: The most life-altering moment for me while at ASU was meeting my friend Angelina. With every coffee date, Sunday brunch and Bible study, I became increasingly aware that my lens through which I viewed the world was narrower than I could have imagined. This wonderful woman shared her life as a missionary building schools, churches and refuges for people inhabiting one of the most remote, third-world islands in the world. Prior to meeting Angelina, I had yet to understand how selfless another human being could be. Her childhood consisted of helping raise her siblings, manage a farm, evangelize to foreigners and even surviving poisonous food sources, vicious animals, and a merciless wilderness daily. Meanwhile, I reflected on how fortunate I had been since the day I was born: fast food on every corner, air conditioning, insect repellent and a safe community. I am forever grateful for the 180-degree shift of my worldview Angelina has inspired since our paths crossed at ASU.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: The diversity at ASU was my No. 1 reason for pursuing a degree here. I grew up attending schools populated by students of near-identical demographics. While I was very appreciative to be surrounded by familiarity, my growing awareness of how much life existed outside my bubble set me on a mission to discover the uniqueness of other cultures, lifestyles, and values. 

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

A: The best piece of advice I would give to those on their educational journey is to only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. This season will bring ample challenges and rewards designed just for you — ones entirely immeasurable to anyone else’s. 

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

Bretzman at the Grand Canyon

A: My favorite spot on campus is the Danforth chapel. It’s a serene sanctuary perfectly placed in the hub of campus. I love maneuvering my way through rushing crowds only to reach that building of total silence and stillness. Its presence gives me such peace and inspiration to take on my daily tasks.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My post-graduation plan is to move to southern California to reunite with my big family and my boyfriend serving in the Marine Corps, gain experience in the field of event coordinating, and obtain a master's in event planning/management.

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

A: With $40 million dollars, I would work to create and distribute a program worldwide to inform parents of the resources and services available in their immediate areas to assist them with child-raising. Specifically, I would partner with hospitals to design and offer a program that provides every new parent with an extensive packet consisting of how to connect with practical, emotional and spiritual services right in their own communities. As I have learned in many ASU courses, the stage of human development which is most likely to determine the well-being of an individual is early childhood. I began noticing that the common theme among most deeply troubled, harmful and resentful criminals is an early childhood experience void of fruitful guidance. There is intrinsic value in nurturing a child and tending to their most basic needs for stability and love; therefore, I would dedicate every penny of $40 million to educating and improving the lives of young families in this way.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


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