ASU fall grad achieves ambitious goal of earning dual law and business degrees

November 23, 2020

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

Thomas Grimes may be the only law student in the country who can say he was a “roughneck.” While he always dreamed of pursuing a law career, Grimes decided to take an alternate route after earning his undergraduate degree from UCLA, accepting a job working on oil rigs in West Virginia. Thomas Grimes Thomas Grimes is a fall JD/MBA grad at ASU. Download Full Image

“After nearly five years of that experience, I felt I was ready to return to the classroom and pursue my legal education,” said Grimes, who ultimately chose the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University to pursue his JD while concurrently studying for an MBA from ASU. He will graduate this fall.

To ease the transition back to school, and working indoors again, Grimes, from Encinitas, California, enrolled in a paralegal program at the University of San Diego and began working at a business defense litigation firm. “After working as a paralegal, I knew the legal field was right for me,” he said. “Further, I decided that to better serve businesses as clients, an MBA would prove invaluable.”

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: Before beginning law school, I heard horror stories about how law students sabotage one another. At ASU Law, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the students go out of their way to help one another. While competitive with one another, everyone seems to come together and act as a community.

From a more abstract standpoint, the student body is very diverse — both culturally and geographically. Everyone brings a different perspective to the table. On any given topic, the diversity has allowed me to see multiple perspectives I would have never considered — like how a law might impact a specific group negatively.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I hate cold weather and wanted to move somewhere with a booming economy. It was also important for me to attend a college with well-respected law and business schools.

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

A: Professor Chad Noreuil ended each criminal law lecture with a two- to three-minute section on mental health. Law school beats people up mentally. His lectures taught me that, regardless of what is going on, it is important to focus on yourself and your emotional well-being.

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

A: No matter how crazy things get, take one day per week and do zero studying. It will help you avoid burnout. Also, have fun and make friends. The Arizona legal community is small — only one other state has fewer lawyers per capita.

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

A: When the weather is nice, my favorite place to study or meet with friends is in the law school’s fifth floor mezzanine. If trying to study or read somewhere quiet, I hunker down in the Reading Room. Pro Tip: There are a few leather chairs in the Reading Room. They are the comfiest chairs in the world and are perfect for taking a power nap.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be working as an associate at Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C., an insurance defense litigation firm in downtown Phoenix.

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

A: Elephant and rhino poaching in Africa has risen dramatically over the past decade. If given $40 million, I would use the money to help conserve and protect those at-risk animals.

Julie Tenney

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Outstanding ASU journalism student: 'I want to tell stories that promote change'

November 23, 2020

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

After watching an episode of “60 Minutes” with his father one night, Dylan McKim knew exactly what he wanted to do.  man's portrait Dylan McKim Download Full Image

A teenager at the time, the Friendswood, Texas, native decided that journalism was a calling he couldn't ignore. McKim applied to and was accepted to ASU, winning an ASU New American University President’s Award, offered to outstanding incoming undergraduate students.

As an undergraduate in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, McKim completed internships at Arizona PBS, 12 News, and The Arizona Republic’s breaking news desk. McKim also reported for Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, and placed second in the national television championship of the Hearst Journalism Awards. 

Through it all, his passion for journalism has continued to grow, he said.

“I’m not trying to do this job because I want to be famous or I want to be on TV. I want to do this because I want to help people and have an impact on the communities I serve,” he said. “At the end of the day, at the end of my career, I want to look back and say that I helped people and told stories that were important and that promoted change.”

The summa cum laude graduate was named an Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Fall 2020 Cronkite Convocation, scheduled for Dec. 14, and was also named to the Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society.  

We caught up with McKim to get his thoughts on his Cronkite experience at ASU and his future plans.

Question: What was your “aha!” moment when you realized you wanted to study journalism?

Answer: When I was about 12 years old, my dad made me watch this “60 Minutes” special on the 9/11 coverage, because it was the anniversary of 9/11. I thought it was just the greatest story they told, following this fire department team throughout their whole day during 9/11. … That day, I started thinking about how I wanted to become a journalist. 

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

A: The biggest thing is always being inquisitive and saying you don’t know everything. Being an inquisitive journalist, and just an inquisitive person in general, that has kind of changed my outlook on life. Always asking questions, and always fact-checking people — whether that is a good thing or bad thing — that is a change that has happened to me.  

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Initially, I chose ASU because I knew I wanted to be in the broadcast side of journalism. All of the other universities and colleges that I toured and traveled to — nothing compared to what ASU offered on the broadcast side. I knew that I wanted to hit the ground running. ASU had the facilities and the faculty that would cater to what I wanted, and they have.

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

A: I have had really great professors that taught me a lot, and I think they all left their own impact on me. I know my television and reporting class with Nicole Koester — I think she was great in giving us advice on not just how to be a good reporter and tell a good story, but also what to look out for. My director in Cronkite News, Heather Dunn, she is great to talk to, great to learn from and get advice from. I thought my videographer teacher, Eduardo Ayala, was a really great videographer and he made me a better videographer. 

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

A: I would say do as much as you can, whether it's a digital story or a broadcast story. Volunteer. Take your professional program seriously. I know a lot of people do it (a professional program) because you have to do it for credit and just get it out of the way, but take advantage of it. 

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

A: I think the library on the second floor next to the First Amendment Forum in the Cronkite School. I’ve done a lot of homework there, especially when I really needed to focus on getting things done. I would take a few study breaks, but I felt it was nice and quiet and it was a good place to get your homework done.  

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to work at a local TV station — wherever I get an offer. I’m in talks with a bunch of stations right now. My plan is to start my career off at a TV station — whether it is reporting, anchoring or producing — and get my career started off on the right foot and see where it takes me.  

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

A: Right now, I think it would be the coronavirus. Those funds (could be used) for vaccine research or PPE funding for hospitals and countries that maybe aren’t as well prepared as the United States. We are one of the worst in infections and deaths. I think there are other countries that really don’t have the facilities we have right now, so I think helping in the areas where there are gaps and tackling this worldwide pandemic would be the wisest decision with $40 million to help the world.  

Written by Lisa Diethelm