Grad to build on background working with those experiencing homelessness with degree in emergency management


December 11, 2020

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

When you are undertaking a degree program with “homeland security” in its name, you learn quite a bit about vulnerabilities in society. Angel Ocegueda, Fall 2020, Outstanding Graduate, Interdisciplinary Programs, Public Service, Emergency Management, Homeland Security, Watts College, Arizona State University Angel Ocegueda, interdisciplinary programs student, is a fall 2020 outstanding graduate of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Download Full Image

Angel Ocegueda, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions' interdisciplinary programs fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate, said his studies revealed several points where technological advances, while providing so many convenient services, also potentially leave much private information exposed.

“We as a society are very dependent on our phones, computers, emails, video chat services and other devices. There are many cyber-threats out there,” said Ocegueda, a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve who is receiving a Master of Arts degree in emergency management and homeland security.

“If we do not pay attention and take care of our devices, we can leave ourselves exposed to our data getting compromised,” he said. “Personally, I have taken the necessary steps to do the little things, such as not using the same passwords and not opening links that I do not recognize, among other things to keep my family safe.”

Ocegueda, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology and criminal justice from ASU, has worked for five years as a case manager for A New Leaf, a Phoenix-area nonprofit social service agency. Ocegueda said he mostly works with those experiencing homelessness, helping to provide resources for his clients, connecting them to needed services and helping them navigate the legal system.

The San Tan Valley resident said he chose to remain at ASU to earn his master’s degree because of the quality of education it provides.

“The academic reputation ASU has established made it easy to choose to come back for my master’s,” he said. “The availability of the program online played a part in the decision-making. I work full time, have two young kids and have military obligations, so it was important for me to be able to have access to a program that was going to provide me with flexibility.”

Read on to learn more about what Ocegueda learned during his interdisciplinary studies program:

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

Answer:  My “aha” moment came from two different fields that have importance in my life. As a military member, I want to keep exploring ways to continue to contribute to the safety and well-being of the United States population. The homeland security part of my degree taught me about the many options I can explore and be qualified for due to my military experience. Additionally, my current job is in social services and I have developed a passion for helping people who are going through challenges. Any time there is a natural disaster, I wish I could do more to help those affected, which is where studying emergency management comes in.

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

A: The professor that taught me the most important lesson was Anthony Cox. In his integrated emergency management class, he talked about the importance of being able to work with multiple agencies to develop plans when emergencies occur. Those same concepts can be applied to any job out there. There is a high likelihood that most end up working with other departments, companies and even co-workers. Knowing what each entity does and how they contribute to the workplace is important to be able to do the job properly.

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

A: The best piece of advice is to be mindful about time management. It is likely that students have multiple responsibilities while working on their degree. Being able to dedicate time to each is going to help the student find a balance that works for them and be able to succeed at each task.  

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: As an online student, the only place I was able to power study was my living room. Due to COVID-19 there weren’t many places I could go and focus on school work.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on continuing to work with my current employer helping the homeless population. However, I will begin my search for employment in my field of study in hopes of getting in somewhere and learning. Additionally, I will continue with my Marine Corps Reserve responsibilities for as long as I can.

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

A: The one problem would be the displacement of families and children. All around the world, families are forced to leave their home countries due to conflict. They end up in an unknown place asking for help. Families often live in unfavorable conditions and are faced with a tough decision: Either go back to their tumultuous countries, or continue to find a new place to live and keep their family safe, with no real timeline on how long that would take. $40 million would not be enough to help everyone, but it would at least provide some kind of food, shelter, medical care and other services needed until they find new, safe places to live.     

Mark J. Scarp

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

602-496-0001

Grad's fascination with criminal justice began with 'Law & Order' and led to a degree


December 11, 2020

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

Ever since she was very young, Alexis Klemm was fascinated by the study of the mind and human actions. That captivation first came from watching TV dramas such as “Law & Order” and “Criminal Minds.” Then, as a middle and high school student, she began taking courses in psychology, forensic sciences and sociology. Alexis Klemm, Fall 2020, Outstanding Graduate, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Public Service, Watts College, Arizona State University Alexis Klemm is the fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. Photo courtesy of Alexis Klemm. Download Full Image

“And reading books such as ‘The Lucifer Effect’ by Philip Zimbardo, all in an effort to learn the more realistic aspects of the field I had only ever seen on screen,” said Klemm, the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate.

“I became even more intrigued by behavior as a complex science, one with many influences and explanations. This intrigue, paired with my interest in crime and the explanation for deviant behavior, made the field I now find myself in a no-brainer,” said Klemm, who is receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in criminology and criminal justice and in forensic psychology.

While at ASU, Klemm received the following scholarships: New American University Scholarship, multiple years of the Buzz Sands Chevrolet Scholarship, Enrollment Services Student Staff Award, Devils' Advocates Alumni Chapter Scholarship, New College Dean's Advisory Board Scholarship and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean's Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

Klemm, a Glendale resident who is from St. Petersburg, Florida, recalled a quote by famed American sociologist Kai Erikson: “The deviant and the conformist are creatures of the same culture, inventions of the same imagination.” Klemm said Erikson is speaking to the reality that we are all products of similar environments and yet, due to circumstances can end up with such different lifestyles.

“So, what throughout the course of our lives, the path of the same imagination, differed so much that some of us find ourselves, say, in prison, and others at university? This was the question that inspired me to not only pursue forensic psychology but double major and (add) a certificate in law and human behavior,” Klemm said. “I felt that this would give me a diversified understanding of these fields. I would say I knew I wanted to study these fields since I was in elementary school, but my true commitment came at 17 when I applied for the programs. My experiences here at ASU within these areas have only solidified my passion and direction.”

Read on to learn more about what Klemm’s time as an ASU student has taught her and how it influenced her future academic and professional choices.

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

Answer: During my time at ASU I learned that it is truly possible to make a difference in the world and it doesn’t require fame or fortune. I used to think that I would have to become renowned in my field in order to create true change. But attending a university like ASU, one so dedicated to research and innovation, made me realize that I am already on that path. There are amazing programs and faculty here that are constantly developing new ideas, research and practices that are actively changing the world and I have been honored and amazed to be a part of that. I have learned that even helping one person can lead to a chain reaction of positive change. And that is just as impressive and important as a singular major discovery.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I am originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, and although I moved around a lot when I was younger, I had never been to Arizona. My best friend since seventh grade moved to Arizona during her senior year of high school and applied to ASU in order to stay close to home. We discussed how cool it would be to attend university together after having been best friends for so long, yet living apart for much of that time. She is the one who inspired me to apply to ASU.

I initially applied for the forensic psychology program and was accepted but ASU still wasn’t at the top of my list. A few months later I received my acceptance from what had been my dream university since middle school (New York University). That school did not have a forensic psychology program, so it began the internal battle between attending the school I had always dreamed of in my favorite city in the world, or pursuing the field I had always dreamed of in a state I had never been to. So, without having ever toured the school or even visiting Arizona, I committed to ASU in order to pursue my dream.

While I admit this was a rather unconventional approach, I don’t regret it for a moment. I threw myself into a brand-new situation in a brand-new chapter of my life. It was exactly what I never knew I needed and looking back at all the opportunities and amazing experiences I’ve had here at ASU, I know it was the best decision.

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

A: There are two professors who have taught me some of the most significant lessons during my last year of undergraduate study, Kevin Wright and Caitlin Matekel. These professors were my instructors for a very unique class, the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, during fall 2019. I have had the honor of continuing work with them as an undergraduate research fellow for the Center for Correctional Solutions, where Dr. Wright is the director and Caitlin is my direct supervisor. One of the most important lessons they taught me was the power in discomfort. Discomfort, in a variety of contexts, implies growth. If you are not uncomfortable, you are not learning, because limiting yourself to what you’re familiar with means it is the only thing you will ever know. This can also be applied to the idea of vulnerability, and how there is strength in being vulnerable, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

These lessons came at a time in my life where I was struggling and dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Embracing that uncertainty became my strength during that time and moving forward. Dr. Wright and Caitlin Matekel have helped me grow both as a student and a person this past year and I am so unbelievably grateful for their support.

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

A: The best piece of advice I would give to someone still in school would be don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is true for a variety of contexts and experiences. From the time you start at ASU, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re lost; everyone was in your position at some point. Don’t be afraid to speak out if you’re confused on a concept in class; no one is going to judge you and you’re only hurting yourself by remaining confused. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling emotionally; this is a big one. Internal struggles can be some of the hardest obstacles to overcome but some of the bravest triumphs. ASU is full of people and resources that are ready to help, which can be that much more encouraging for you to reach out.

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

A: My favorite spot to study was on the West campus in Fletcher Library. There are some small wooden tables and chairs near the front of the library by the Starbucks, which were my go-to spot. I work really well independently, but I don’t like feeling isolated, so the traffic of people walking through the library created the perfect environment.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I plan to pursue a graduate degree in criminology, potentially with a concurrent degree in public administration. I plan to continue with my research focus of corrections through my graduate program. One of my peers within the Center for Correctional Solutions once presented me with a metaphor of passion being a flowing river. You as an individual are a rock in a river, and the water that flows around you are the experiences and passions that will inevitably form you throughout your life. You should allow your passions to change you in varying ways. If they lead you in an unexpected direction, don’t be afraid, because you are a complex being, but flexible to the experiences, opportunities and unexpected parts of life. So, while I have a passion and a plan right now, I won’t deny that it may very much change in the future and I won’t attempt to limit myself from it.

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

A: If I were given $40 million I would address sustainable consumption and production. Sustainable consumption and production are the general use and creation of materials, energy and practice of services in a way that minimizes impacts to the environment. I would encourage and assist major corporations and public entities to enact more sustainable practices and products. I would also argue that legislatures should enact certain policies requiring corporations to perform in ways that are less detrimental to the environment. Many may argue that environmental preservation practices limit economic growth. In reality, the inevitable impact that a destroyed environment will have on the economy will be far worse.

Mark J. Scarp

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

602-496-0001