From running cross-country to running code: ASU graduate is going the distance

November 30, 2020

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

Joining the Sun Devil cross-country team is what first attracted Oregon-state native Adam Klein to ASU. A few short years later, he’s the Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior and graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees in computer information systems (CIS) and business data analytics (BDA). “When I had taken a programming class in high school, I was turned off by how technical it was. What I like about the CIS and BDA majors here at ASU is that they are in the W. P. Carey School of Business, so I am able to learn about how technology applies to business problems,” said Klein. Adam Klein, who is the W. P. Carey Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Adam Klein, W. P. Carey Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior. Download Full Image

But the path wasn’t completely smooth. When he first arrived on campus, Klein struggled with homesickness. “I struggled first semester to make campus feel like home,” he shared. “As I became more involved, that faded, and I realized I wanted to help make others feel at home, too.” He made the W. P. Carey community welcoming in many ways in his years at ASU, including as an academic tutor and residential engagement leader.

“I came to ASU to be the best athlete I could, but what I got is so much more,” the graduate said. Klein shares more below about what made his time as a Sun Devil so rewarding.

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

Answer: Originally, I was an entrepreneurship major, but I took an entry-level computer information systems course (CIS 105) and really enjoyed it! When I noticed that I actually liked something that most other students dread, I knew that was a sign I should pursue it. I changed majors the next semester.

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

A: By the time I graduated, I thought I would actually know a lot more than I do right now. However, I’ve realized over time that I have become much better at learning new things. While this is particularly relevant to my work with computers and the technical skills involved, I believe that it also applies to any other field of study. The biggest takeaway from my undergraduate experience is that an undergraduate degree really isn't all that much about what you know, but rather developing the skills to be an independent thinker and learner.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I first came to ASU because I was interested in the entrepreneurship program and was offered a spot on the cross-country team. However, throughout my time at the school, I was able to be involved in athletics, while also becoming a statistics tutor and working in the residence halls helping freshmen adjust to life on campus. These opportunities, along with the staff and faculty at ASU that help you succeed, were things that I enjoyed most about my time at the school.

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

A: As cliche as it might sound, make sure that you are studying something that you find interesting. You don't have to be passionate about it – passion develops over time. But if you are learning about something that interests you, it will be much easier to go the extra mile, learn something new, or simply not get bored. Make sure that you don't miss the opportunity to take an upper division course in something that interests you, even if it is outside of your major. You never know what you might come to love.

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

A: I have two favorite spots on campus: the first is Noble Library, where I have a lot of memories studying for exams and doing homework as well as meeting with various teams to work on group projects. The second is the track, where I have done a lot of running and more importantly, made many friendships on the cross-country team.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on starting my career at Deloitte, working as a cyber risk analyst. Within the next few years, I would also like to go back to school to earn an MBA.

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

A: My first thought is working on some of the sustainability issues within the food industry. Food is something that every human on Earth has experience with, and in many parts of the world, the system does not function as well as it could. I believe developing technology related to water conservation, pesticide alternatives, or taking a step towards a more sustainable and humane way to raise livestock would be a worthy use of $40 million.

Emily Beach

Senior communication specialist, W. P. Carey School of Business


ASU Online student graduates while in the military

November 30, 2020

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

This December, Kristofer Gonzalez will be graduating with a BS in biochemistry from the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU. His journey to ASU has been quite unique compared to traditional students. Not only is he a proud Mexican American child of an immigrant, but he is on active duty in the military, which became tough to juggle while maintaining a full-time schedule in school. ASU graduate Kristofer Gonzalez. Download Full Image

I currently supervise operations in a military clinic and manage a team of junior personnel in carrying out the necessary duties in day-to-day clinic operations. This includes seeing patients and maintaining a basic medical laboratory,” he said. Gonzalez stumbled across the ASU biochemistry online program that was rigorous and flexible enough to fit his needs and busy schedule.

With success come challenges. Gonzalez was unfamiliar with online classes, but he did not want that to deter him from earning his degree. He struggled a bit in the beginning, and it took some time for him to become accustomed to pacing himself through a course and keeping up with deadlines without ever meeting in person. However, once he got into the groove of things, he was amazed at how much he enjoyed pursuing an online education and appreciated that he could receive a quality education and the same attention that in-person students received from his professors while still working his full-time job.

The motivation for furthering his education came from seeing his father succeed as an immigrant and the support of his wife. Gonzalez's father immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and worked his way to earning his PhD in higher education. It inspired Gonzalez to earn his degree, make his family proud and apply the knowledge he gained from school to real-world settings.

School of Molecular Sciences clinical assistant professor and managing director of online programs, Ara Austin, had this to say: “Kristofer is a wonderful representative of our hardworking military and veteran students who make up a significant portion of our (School of Molecular Sciences) online programs. He is a student who brought so much joy and enthusiasm to my courses, and I'm excited to see what the future has in store for him. I know that his positivity will make a difference in patient care.”

Gonzalez chose the School of Molecular Sciences because they offered a degree that was as challenging yet rewarding as the in-person programs. It allowed him to learn on the go, which is something that students like Gonzalez are searching for.

“One thing about ASU and (the School of Molecular Sciences) is that I love how diverse the STEM program is; it feels nice to be represented belonging to a minority,” he said. He enjoyed that the students and faculty all seem very engaged with each other and wanted to see those around them succeed. In the summer of 2019, Gonzalez attended the special in-person lab offered to online students. The in-person labs were a great opportunity to meet people from around the country and he was able to form friendships he says will continue through his life. The care and structure of the ASU online programs allowed Gonzalez to feel connected to the university on a personal level and earn his degree while never having to leave his job. 

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

Answer: I would solve community health issues. I’d like to try to invest in the city's community health outreach funds. People who live in bad areas and assisted housing do not get the medical attention they need, since it is too expensive. 

Q: Can you describe your experience in one word and tell us why? 

A: Surprising. I was hesitant to do online school. I knew that it was going to be a rigorous program and working full time would be a challenge. However, I was treated like a normal in-person student. This is a hard science that was treated seriously and less intimidating. My professors treated every student equally, which is something I really appreciated. My questions were always answered in a timely and descriptive way. 

Q: Which the School of Molecular Sciences faculty member most influenced you as teacher, adviser or mentor?

A: This would be a tie between professors Ara Austin and Ian Gould. They were my first encounter with (the school's) faculty and their passion and commitment to the program really motivated me to succeed.

Q: What goals have you set for yourself after graduation?

A: I’m currently applying for medical schools right now, so my biggest goal is to get accepted somewhere and begin the journey to become a physician.

Q: Advice for future online students?

A: It’s OK if it seems hard. If you keep at it you will get more comfortable with where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Take a minute every now and then to breathe and you’ll be just fine.

Mariela Lozano

Communication assistant, School of Molecular Sciences