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

Adam Klein, who is the W. P. Carey Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior

Adam Klein, W. P. Carey Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior.

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.

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.

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