December 9, 2020
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.
First-generation college student Justine Anderson started her journey at Arizona State University studying communication because she thought it would be a great foundation for any career path she took. After taking an introductory global health course and learning about health disparities occuring within the community, she realized she had a passion for public health and promoting healthy living.
This fall, first-generation college student Justine Anderson will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a minor in global health and a certificate in sales and marketing essentials.
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In her first year at ASU she worked as a social media specialist for the Sun Devil Fitness Complex and she saw firsthand how social media can be used as a powerful tool to educate people on health and well-being. This experience pushed her to pursue a certificate in sales and marketing essentials.
“In my global health class we talked a lot about health disparities within our communities and that made me want to do something about it,” Anderson said. “I could see how communication can play into those disparities and help people learn about and better understand health. So I thought I could use my skills and communication to bridge the gap in the health world.”
She continued to combine her passions for communication and health through several internship positions including as a benefit communications intern with the State of Arizona and as a human resources office aide with ASU’s School of Sustainability.
Outside of work and school, Anderson found time to serve as president of the Arizona Mentor Society, a student organization that works to encourage and empower third through fifth grade students at a local Tempe school to continue their education.
Although there were challenges along the way, Anderson said through every experience she learned to push herself and continue trying new things. This fall, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a minor in global health and a certificate in sales and marketing essentials.
Anderson shared more about her experiences at ASU and gave advice for current students.
Question: Why did you choose ASU?
Answer: I chose ASU because it seemed like a community I could see myself fitting into and everyone just seemed really friendly at my orientation. There were a lot of opportunities for students to succeed and get involved, which I was really looking forward to when I entered college.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Anthony Roberto has been super influential for me. He taught my Health Communication and Social Marketing class. I always joke that the class was designed for me because he was teaching about everything that I was passionate about — public health, communication and social marketing. He's been a great mentor in helping me figure out the path that I should take and teaching me about the field and the research that's happening right now.
Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way to obtain your degree? If so, how did you overcome those?
A: Having to work through college can be an obstacle but I had the support of my friends and my parents, giving me that encouragement to finish and reminding me that it's all going to be worth it in the end. Sometimes being the first one to go to college in your family is tough because my parents didn't really know how to guide me through it at times, but ASU has been so helpful in guiding me through college.
Q: What’s one of your favorite memories you made during your time at ASU?
A: I did this study abroad class in spring 2019, but the studying abroad part was in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. It was a wilderness astronomy class. Spending seven days out in the wilderness with people who are interested in astronomy like me was super fun and I learned a lot.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: I would say get involved because there's so much you can learn from all of the organizations that ASU has to offer and all of the events — go to the events, get the free pizza, get the experience. Also, learn about your loans. As you're signing up for them ASU has resources available to teach you about your loans, so take advantage of that and take the iGrad courses because they're super helpful and they're free. Getting ahead of your financial situation is super important.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: There are many paths I would like to pursue. I can see myself working either in corporate wellness, employee wellness, government health, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or at a nonprofit organization. I'm seriously debating entering the AmeriCorps Healthy Futures program. Graduate school is not in my immediate future right now, but I can definitely see myself getting a master's degree in public health one day.