ASU grad aims to be a positive force as a politician in India

December 11, 2020

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

How many people can say they’re part artist, part engineer and part advocate — and that they excel at all of them? Venu Gopinath Nukavarapu in the MU with a mask, an ASU Student Life shirt and his camera giving a peace sign ASU grad Venu Gopinath Nukavarapu was an ASU Student Life photojournalist during his time as a Sun Devil. Download Full Image

Venu Gopinath Nukavarapu, originally from Guntur, India, is all of this and more. He’s also about to graduate from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering with his Master of Science in computer engineering. 

A multitalented man, Nukavarapu spent his time at ASU as a part of the Coalition of International Students, Indian Students Association, Japanese Students Association and the Leadership Society of Arizona. He also volunteered with Changemaker Central @ASU, Future for Kids, Start-Up Grind and the Scottsdale Art Museum.

Along with being an active member of many groups around town and on campus, Nukavarapu also worked for ASU Student Life and says that because of this job, he was able to pursue his passion: photography. 

“The best part is that I get to travel a lot. I have explored all four ASU campuses for different photoshoots, met different people and participated in various cultural and extracurricular activities. I also want to give Hannah [Moulton Belec] a shout-out for making my Student Life experience seamless and fun and for being the best supervisor.” 

Nukavarapu says that for all these reasons and more, he loved his time at ASU. 

“ASU gave me an opportunity to meet many different people, which changed my thought process and helped me be more open-minded, inclusive and organized. The one thing that I feel very proud of is that I am graduating as a better person, a better manager and all the memories that I have had for the past two years.”

After graduation. Nukavarapu plans to work for at least three years before he pursues his MBA. As for his long-term goals, Nukavarapu says he wants to be a politician back in India. 

“I believe someone has to change the outlying fundamentals rooted deep and are way too far from reality,” he said. 

Nukavarapu talked with ASU Now about his time at ASU, advice he would like to give current students, what he learned as an international student and more.

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

Answer: My “aha” moment was when I received the admission letter to pursue a master's in computer engineering, which I was passionate about. I felt happy.

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

A: Startups and entrepreneurship have always been my core interests. I have attended multiple entrepreneurship sessions with Dr. Brent Sebold. We had a lot of conversations about lean startups and how startups function. He definitely added a different perspective on being an entrepreneur.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: One of the primary reasons behind choosing ASU is that ASU is international student-friendly. I had friends who completed their master's program at ASU and gave me pretty good feedback about how the colleges are, the resources and the opportunities we have as master’s students and the opportunities we have once we graduate.

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

A: Dr. Stephanie Gil taught me about robotics and the core research going on in the field of multirobot systems. It was rigorous. She made us read a lot of research papers for her classes. It was the first time I had to go through research papers, and that helped me learn a lot about reading research papers, which is a valuable asset.

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

A: Most people fail to understand the big picture of life. The best advice I would give to someone still in school is to figure out what they want to be, not just about right now but down the lane five to 10 years, and start laying those foundational steps from where they are right now.

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

A: My favorite spot on campus is the Hayden Library. Whenever I had some spare time or if I had to get through some homework or reading, I’d get an iced coffee from Starbucks and just head over to Hayden. I just feel more productive and relaxed at Hayden.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to work for at least three years before I get into a business school for an MBA. (He is starting by working as a product manager for a local startup.)

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

A: I believe that we can only make the world a better place to live rather than changing the world to something that it is not. I also believe access to good education will be a fundamental pillar that can make the world a better place. I would want every person on this planet to have access to quality education. That would be the motto.

Written by Austin Davis, ASU Student Life

Grad's passion for working with children and sports led her to pursue degree in community sports management

December 11, 2020

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

Brooke Hanna didn’t struggle with what she wanted to study upon enrolling at ASU. She had been working with children and in sports, separately and together, for a long time. “Two of my passions have led me to where I am now,” she said. Brooke Hanna, Fall 2020, Outstanding Graduate, School of Community Resources and Development, Watts College, Arizona State University Brooke Hanna is the fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate from the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University. Photo courtesy of Brooke Hanna Download Full Image

Hanna, the School of Community Resources and Development’s fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate, winds up her senior year receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in community sports management.

In her time at ASU, Hanna benefited from a New American University Scholarship, the President Barack Obama Scholars Program and the Wal-Mart Foundation Associate Scholarship Program.

She has been working at Residential Programs for Youth, a group home and emergency shelter for children.

“Many of the kids I work with have gone through so much trauma in their young lives. They could really benefit from having a positive role model,” said Hanna, who is from the central Arizona town of Coolidge. “That is why I try to connect with them and set a good example for them in any way that I can, every single day. My hope is to help them build their confidence, believe in themselves and make positive choices that will lead them towards a brighter future.”

She said Assistant Professor Eric Legg taught her an important lesson while she took his sports and recreation for youth course: A child should have at least three nonparent, adult role models in their life.

“This is one of the many developmental assets that I learned in his class, but this one stuck with me the most because I always keep that in mind as I try to be a positive role model for all the kids that I work with at Residential Programs for Youth,” Hanna said.

Students still in school should follow this advice, she said: “Do something now that your future self will thank you for.”

“This means doing the assignment as soon as you can rather than waiting until the night that it’s due. It means doing your dishes when there’s only a few in the sink, because soon enough the sink will be full. This advice does not only apply to your short-term future self, but also long-term. Put in your best effort for every course and learn as much as you can now. Work hard, study hard, save your money, take care of yourself mentally and physically now. The you five or 10 years from now will be so thankful.”

Read on to learn more about what Hanna learned during her time at ASU and her plans for the future.

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

Answer: That I’ve actually met so many people and made many connections during my time at ASU, despite being extremely introverted and struggling to start and continue conversations with people that I don’t know well. This is important to me because I overcame my introverted-ness on many occasions at ASU. Now I know that I have the ability to do so if I really want or need to.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I wanted to remain close to my family. Plus, I knew that ASU was a well-known university with several prestigious schools and programs. I was also intrigued by some of the things that I had heard from friends who attended ASU before me, such as the fact that there are four different campuses with free shuttles traveling between each one, the all-you-can-eat dining halls and the diversity among the ASU community. 

Q: What was your favorite spot to study, meet friends or to just think about life?

A: I was an on-campus student for the past four years. My favorite study spot was Hayden Library! Trying to do schoolwork or study in my dorm/apartment was often difficult because there were so many things around that could distract me. I enjoyed going to Hayden and being surrounded by others doing school work as well because it got me in the right mindset to focus. Plus, it was usually nice and quiet.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I am going to continue at my job that I started at the end of June 2020, which I also used for my senior internship this semester. I am the recreation coordinator at a residential care facility. It has been a very fun, sometimes challenging, rewarding job that I love going to every day. My responsibilities mainly consist of planning and facilitating recreational activities for the youth residents. I get to work with kids of all ages up to 17 years old, doing a variety of activities from sports like basketball and hockey to more creative activities like painting and making slime. I plan to stay there for a while, while also working on growing my sticker business, BA Creations, whenever I have time outside of work. 

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

A: From my experiences working with kids, I have begun to realize how many kids do not get to grow up in happy, safe and healthy living environments. This is the issue that I would tackle because no child deserves to grow up without responsible, loving, caring parents or guardians. I would start some sort of organization that would help with this issue in some way, maybe by getting more children adopted into safe and loving families, or by getting parents the help they need to be better parents.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions