ASU grad discovers passion for science, humanities and the arts

Sofia Vine covered it all, from studying biology to performing in marching band


December 1, 2020

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

When first-generation college student Sofia Vine started out at Arizona State University in 2017, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study or pursue as a career. But over the next three-and-a-half years, Vine said she truly discovered herself while developing a passion for biology, performing arts, women and gender studies, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.  Sofia Vine. Download Full Image

Vine grew up in the small town of Page, Arizona, and chose to attend ASU because she wanted to experience new things and meet new people, while staying somewhat close to home. She started her journey at ASU’s West campus and decided to pursue biology with an emphasis on neuroscience, physiology and behavior when she realized how interesting she found the human body and living organisms. 

“My aunt had a brain tumor — thankfully she's fine and has since recovered — but she gave me the opportunity to look at her MRIs and I found it so fascinating,” Vine said. “I also have this vivid memory of sitting in front of the library at the West campus with a friend and talking about how cool brains are. I was just looking at the major map and getting excited about being able to take all these different courses like behavior and physiology. It was in these moments that I knew this is something I'm passionate about, and I haven't changed my major since.”

Throughout her college experience, Vine was involved in a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. From 2017 to 2020 she served as the vice president for Spectrum, ASU West's gay-straight alliance club, and she was a member of the Sun Devil Marching Band. In addition, she interned with the Girl Scouts Arizona Pine Council, where she organized programs in low-income schools that provided opportunities for girls to develop leadership and teamwork skills. She also served as a research assistant both at ASU’s Canine Science Collaboratory and in the College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences with Associate Professor Chad Johnson on his research of black widow spiders. As a Barrett, The Honors College student, she also studied abroad in Vienna and London through the Barrett Global Intensive Experience.

Vine received several scholarships that helped her pay for tuition and other expenses, including the Kristin Bervig Valentine Scholarship in Performance Studies and the New American University Scholarship.   

This fall, Vine will earn a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in women and gender studies and a certificate in LGBT studies from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As her undergraduate experience comes to a close, she’s gained a newfound confidence to take on any challenges she might encounter in the future.

“If I can do this, then I can do anything,” she said. “College is such an intensive experience that, especially as a high schooler, I was not at all prepared for. My first semester at ASU was so mentally difficult. I look back often on me as a freshman in my first semester and think about how I really didn't think I was going to get through it. And now, being on the other side of it, I know that going into any challenge that I'm going to have to face in my life, I can look back on this whole three and a half years and say, ‘Think about freshman year, think about how you didn't think you were going to get through it.’ Because of this experience I know I can get through anything.”

Vine reflected on her experiences at ASU, gave advice for current students and shared her future plans.                                                                                                       

Question: What is one of your best memories you made while at ASU?

Answer: I think the first thing that comes to mind is planning and executing a drag show with Spectrum. That was really special because we had spent months and months organizing and sending paperwork into ASU and we got a really big-name drag queen, Manila Luzon from "RuPaul's Drag Race," to participate. Then finally getting to that day and meeting Manila Luzon, and realizing that me, this little 19-year-old, with the help of the club, organized this whole thing and made an audience of 300 people happy and entertained. It was so early in my ASU career but it showed me and the group that we are capable of accomplishing something awesome like that.

Q: Did you experience any obstacles on your ASU journey? If yes, how did you overcome them?  

A: At the West campus I was able to meet almost all of the professors that teach there and developed a relationship with almost my entire cohort. I could walk through campus and know every face that passed by me. So moving to the Tempe campus was a culture shock for me. It was difficult to maintain the connections and relationships I had made at the West campus, while simultaneously trying to create new connections in a different city. I worked through this by staying involved in clubs on the West campus and visiting as often as I could while also staying involved in my classes and personal relationships in Tempe. While some of those personal and professional relationships from West campus did disappear, the relationships that stayed with me are ones I know will last and I will cherish even after my time at ASU. This obstacle also taught me to live life day by day and to be grateful for the people around me right now, even if that means that a year down the line we will be following completely different paths — and that's more than OK!

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

A: My advice is to spend more time thinking about yourself and what you love to do and not what everybody else is doing. I wish I would have known to not compare myself to anybody else around me. I spent a lot of my college career wishing I was as good as other people or trying to do everything and not home in on what I actually love and what I actually enjoy doing. I attribute that to coming from a small town, and then coming to a university with 70,000 people and hundreds of clubs.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: As of right now, I don't have anything confirmed. But I know my short-term plan is to take a gap year after graduating and then pursue some sort of graduate degree. I’d like to do research that I'm passionate about or volunteer somewhere. I see myself pursuing something in biological sciences or possibly women and gender studies. My more long-term goal is to go to graduate school overseas, my dream school would be the University of Oxford.

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

School of Molecular Sciences graduate receives Moeur Award


December 1, 2020

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

Sabrina Mango successfully completed her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the School of Molecular Sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. Mango came to ASU from Gilbert, Arizona, receiving the New American University Scholarship President’s Award from ASU. Sabrina Mango, School of Molecular Sciences recipient of the Moeur Award. Download Full Image

While at ASU, Mango earned second place in the English 105 division of the ASU Writers’ Place Awards. She also gained new perspectives.

“I learned that you can learn something from everyone," she said. "I was a tutor, so I was familiar with teaching other people, but sometimes I learned from the students I tutored. Every person has a unique story, and you can learn something when you’re looking and listening.”

One of the lessons Mango values most came from her calculus professor, Mark Ashbrook: “Either make progress, or ask for help.” This advice resonated with Mango, and she took it to heart, now graduating with a 4.0 GPA, summa cum laude, and as a recipient of the Moeur Award, reserved for ASU students with the highest academic standing through all semesters of study.

Outside the classroom, Mango has been interning for a local cosmetics laboratory since the summer of 2019. She credits her internship with giving her the opportunity to transition directly into a career right after graduation. At the end, she reflects back to the beginning.

“On my first day of class, I forgot to bring paper to write notes down. I remembered a pen and pencil, but I didn’t have a single piece of paper. I was really embarrassed for forgetting to bring the bare-minimum materials but look at me now! I’m graduating with a full-time job lined up at a company I really enjoy working for. The moral of the story is: Your bad days aren’t indicative of your whole future.”

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences

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