Engineering grad finds her career path with program that combines technology and entrepreneurship


November 23, 2020

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

Pooja Addla Hari found her calling her very first week at Arizona State University. New ASU graduate Pooja Addla Hari Pooja Addla Hari graduates this December with a bachelor's degree in technological entrepreneurship and management, plus a minor in statistics through the W. P. Carey School of Business and a certificate in cross-sector leadership from Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Download Full Image

She was attending the inauguration ceremony of the Generator Labs in 2016 when one of the leaders present talked about the new Technological Entrepreneurship and Management (TEM) program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The program prepares students to launch technology-based ventures and tackle social and corporate issues to impact the world around them.

"Instantly, I felt so heard and understood and I knew I belonged in that program because of its interdisciplinary format, top-notch faculty and resources," said Hari, who hails from Chennai, India. "I switched to it within two weeks, after discussing it with my trusted advisers."

This December, she is receiving her bachelor's degree in TEM, plus a minor in statistics through the W. P. Carey School of Business and a certificate in cross-sector leadership from Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. During her time at ASU, Hari received the New American University Scholarship, Public Service Academy Award and the Sustainability Champions Award.

Students in the TEM program learn a range of skills needed to develop new products, services and business models, as well as whole new industries. For Hari, it has already led to a position with a startup that uses technology to help people find better jobs and improve their financial situation. Learn more about her in the Q&A below.

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

Answer: The list of everything I’ve learned at ASU is endless. However, for the purposes of this (story), I’m going to share two examples. Prior to coming to ASU, I thought that “sustainability” was a field/concept limited to the environment. I didn’t understand the multidimensional, interdisciplinary, cross-sector nature of it. Here I learned that it includes social and economic aspects as well, learned about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and got involved in a variety of coursework and outside-of-class projects. Secondly, I didn’t understand the depths of gender and sexuality until I came here and learned from several amazing folks, which helped me introspect, check my biases and understand my own sexuality.

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: Three things:

  • ASU’s charter — “Measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed.”
  • ASU’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation resources and community.
  • ASU’s focus on sustainability and social innovation.

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

A: Dr. Steve T. Cho taught me important lessons in all spheres of life — academic, professional, technical, personal, philosophical … you name it. He is one of the biggest reasons for my growth and successes in the last few years.

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

A: Adapting a quote from Harry Potter, “Help shall always be given at ASU to those who ask for it,” and oftentimes, even for those who don’t because ASU is all about inclusivity — we try to reach out to you and help before it’s too late. Nevertheless, asking for help is a great sign of strength and a valuable skill to have. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions, thoughts and ideas because there is always a place for you and what you have to offer here. 

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

A: Changemaker Central (Tempe and Polytechnic campuses), Generator Labs @ ECG, Hayden Library, Noble Library and Armstrong Hall's study spaces.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I’m the product and customer success manager for Enfuego Technologies, a Phoenix-based high-growth startup that streamlines the job application process by instantly generating resumes, customized to match any job description, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. We recently secured half a million dollars in funding from Schmidt Futures as part of the Alliance for the American Dream competition to achieve the challenge goal of increasing by 10% the net income of 10,000 middle-class Arizonans by 2022. 

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

A: I would create locally focused, but globally available, upskilling and reskilling programs to help the unemployed and underemployed find quality, meaningful, high-growth work. This would not just help them increase their incomes, which would consequently increase their quality of life, health, leisure spending, etc., but also help them reclaim their sense of independence and purpose.

Carrie Herrera Niesen

Project Manager, J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute

On her own, but not alone, single mom earns degree with university support


November 23, 2020

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

Dec. 14, 2020, is a day Audrey Magee-Davey has been looking forward to for a long time. That is when she’ll accomplish a major milestone, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Headshot of Audrey Magee-Davey Audrey Magee-Davey is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Download Full Image

The 39-year-old single mother of two has technically been working toward this goal since earning an associate degree to become a registered nurse in 2011. 

“I’m so excited! Over the years there were a lot of things that impeded my ability to go back to school so it just never worked out,” Magee-Davey said, “But I knew if I didn’t just start, I was never going to do it so when I moved back to Arizona in 2018 I said okay this is it, I’ve got to get this done.”

In a way, it was like coming home, because she’s already a Sun Devil. In 2003 Magee-Davey graduated from ASU with a Bachelor of Arts in French.  

The second time around though was different. As anticipated, going to school, working a full-time job as a nurse, plus picking up a part-time job all while managing a household and taking care of her children was stressful. And that was before the global pandemic.

COVID-19 brought on new levels of responsibility and exhaustion. 

Like so many parents, Magee-Davey had to manage her kids’ school at home. And at work, she was dealing with a crisis, unlike anything she’d ever seen before in the health care field.

“I’ve been a nurse for 9 years and I’ve never had so many patients die, I’ve never experienced that in my entire career so it’s been a really hard year,” she said.

If there were ever a time to justify taking a pause from her program, 2020 was it. Magee-Davey seriously considered it.

“I thought, ya know I’m almost done and I’ve been doing this degree the whole time under a lot of stress, I just have to finish.”

One of the key factors in her decision to carry on was that Edson College's RN-BSN program is fully online, giving her the flexibility she needed to continue. That coupled with the support from her ASU Online success coach and the program’s faculty helped her not only survive but thrive. 

She has a 3.91 GPA and will graduate Summa Cum Laude but perhaps her favorite part of this achievement is the example it sets for her kids. 

“It was important for them to see that it’s good to apply yourself even when the external circumstances are not ideal. I think getting a degree is really important especially when you know what you want to do. So it’s a big deal for me to have my children see me succeed.”

On the cusp of her second bachelor’s degree from ASU, we talked about what she’s learned throughout her Sun Devil experiences and solicited her advice for current students. 

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

Answer: During the time I have spent at ASU — over 6 years now! — I have learned a lot. When I was at ASU for my first degree in the early 2000s, I found a community that accepted me for who I am. This university has widened my perspective on the world and opened my eyes to different cultures and new people. This gave me the opportunity to grow as a person, to be more accepting of new experiences, and brave enough to try new things and take risks. ASU gave me the opportunity to study abroad, to meet new people, and experience new things I may not have been able to if I choose a different path.  

Now that I have been able to return to ASU, I brought additional life experiences that I could share with others and use to continue to develop my profession in a way that can return to the community once I graduate. ASU has helped me to be proud of my accomplishments and who I am as a person.

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

A: Professor Natalie Heywood showed me the potential nurses have to work in many different facets and to continue to be lifelong learners. She helped me to see that I have the potential to continue to pursue further education and achieve my goals.  

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

A: What you learn in school is yours to keep forever. It is okay to change majors, to take a class just because it looks interesting, or to follow a different path. The important part is that you stay curious, stay focused and be open to trying new things. 

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

A: If someone gave me $40 million dollars, I would want to use it to help underserved populations have better access to health care, mental health resources and continuing education.

Amanda Goodman

Media relations officer, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation

602-496-0983