ASU graduate has turned life’s biggest challenges into unique learning opportunities

May 8, 2020

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

ASU Online student Christie Moore proves that every turn in life can still lead us to our goals. Her perseverance and determination to overcome any challenges motivated her to push the limits of her own accomplishments to create a better future for herself and her family. ASU Online student Christie Moore Download Full Image

She started at a community college in her late 30s, balancing school, family and other responsibilities. Through tremendous focus, Moore will now be counted as an Arizona State University alumna and teach her children that anything can be accomplished through hard work and determination.

“I learned dedication, critical thinking and self-confidence,” Moore recalls. “But most importantly, I discovered the power of knowledge as a motivator toward accomplishing my dreams.”

Through the focused and flexible curriculum that ASU offers, Moore quickly embraced the high standards, values and commitment to education that embodies the Sun Devil Nation, earning a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in sustainability and organizational leadership.

Throughout her ASU journey, Moore has shown the dedication and fortitude that have helped her overcome many of life’s challenges. And while earning her degree has certainly helped her discover the potential within herself, it has also set her up well for a prosperous and rewarding future where she can aim for higher achievements.

Since enrolling at ASU, I have been promoted four times at my job,” Moore said. “ASU helped me realize that I can accomplish anything as long as I am determined and have a great support system around me. This experience has really transformed my life.”

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

Answer: I have always been pulled into leadership roles so most of my professional life led me to that concentration. I have also always had a passion for treating the world better. I found out that the name for that is sustainability, and I heard a radio ad that offered an online sustainability degree at ASU. I knew immediately that was my new path.

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

A: The most surprising, and I believe the most important, skill I take away from school is the ability to think critically. I did not realize my entire thought patterns would change by learning how to critically analyze problems for school, but now I use that skill multiple times a day in my life. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I have always been interested in sustainability, and when I learned that ASU offered an interdisciplinary studies path so I could study a passion along with a topic that would immediately elevate my present working position, there really was no other choice I considered.

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

A: I learned something valuable from almost every professor so I couldn’t choose one who taught me the most. However, one of the most valuable life lessons I learned came from BIS 340: The Aikido Way to Conflict Transformation. This should be a required course! Professor Bill Erwin’s approach was fun and memorable. The lessons are life-altering. 

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

A: Use Grammarly for all your writing. Ask for help when you feel like you don’t understand something. And most importantly, remember you can do this! 

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: My home office.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am currently a lead project manager for a large corporation. I would love to find a position in project management for an environmentally sustainable company where I could use both aspects of my degree. Eventually, I would like to own my own company, something that gives back more than it takes from the world. 

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

A: This would be a very hard decision. Forty million dollars would be just a drop in the ocean for most of our most pressing problems. I believe I would use it to set up a standard lesson program on sustainability to be integrated into all public schools K-5. If we teach the young ones from the beginning that our world and our society are fragile — that we can’t continue to treat it like a disposable item — then future generations may have a chance to repair our past mistakes. I remember being a kid and having Smokey Bear come into school and teach us about preventing forest fires. We all ran home and taught our families what we had learned. That lesson stuck with you — almost every person in my age group remembers that clearly. I would like to help develop a program that can have the same effect on the young generation about recycling, reusing and reducing all consumables.

Carrie Peterson

Sr. Manager, Media Relations, EdPlus at Arizona State University


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