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Class of 2011 to receive degrees at spring commencement

May 05, 2011

This spring, almost 11,000 students are set to graduate. ASU graduates will include about 1,000 teachers, 780 engineers, 200 nurses, 190 lawyers and 200 journalists. Some 2,230 students are earning business degrees, with 690 of these getting MBAs, including 123 from ASU’s executive MBA program in China. About 27 executives from Shanghai will attend the ceremony to pick up their degrees.

ASU President Michael Crow will be the commencement speaker at each ceremony. Both will be webcast live on the Internet at

Here is a look at some of ASU's graduates. Check back for updates, as more profiles will be added throughout the week of graduation.

Class of 2011 graduates

Daniel Sadoway: Anthropology
As an 18 year old, Daniel Sadoway walked away from a National Merit Scholarship to join the U.S. Army. That decision shocked many who knew Sadoway as a straight-A student who loved learning.

Chris Caseldine: Anthropology and Secondary Education
While serving as a Marine in Iraq, Chris Caseldine decided he wanted a career that allowed him to travel the world and learn about other cultures.

Aaron Peshlakai: Engineering
Engineering grad Aaron Peshlakai overcame challenges to get his education back on track after a four-year detour.

Rachel Lindor: Law and Medicine
Rachel Lindor’s career path became more defined when, as a college student, she worked summers in rural Thailand and Uganda and witnessed great disparities in the quality of health care compared to back home.

Dhannia Torres: Psychology
When you’re one of only seven students out of 113 applicants to enter a nationally ranked Ph.D. program, it’s a safe bet that you’ve stood out during your undergraduate career. That’s the case for Dhannia Torres, a first-generation college student.

Isaiah McCoy: Business
Isaiah McCoy will receive his degree in accountancy, with a minor in economics and a certificate in international business. And he was awarded the Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Award.

Sarah Stevenson: English
Eclectic is a word that comes to mind when describing Sarah Stevenson, who is set to graduate from ASU this spring with a bachelor's degree in English – and a lot of dabbling in various disciplines.

Elodie Billionniere: Computer Science and Engineering 
The student that ASU President Michael Crow once called a “nuclear reactor” of energy is achieving her dream of earning her second graduate degree from ASU.

Nathan Delafield: Kinesiology
A maturity beyond his years led Nathan Delafield to rely on education as a healthy distraction to the unfortunate realities of his early childhood.

Dana Bennett: Public History
A fascination with historical research provided a springboard to Dana Bennet's current position as senior researcher for Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada.

Vanessa Montes and Schyla Kase: Elementary Education
One grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and is the first in her family to attend college. The other has pursued her bachelor’s degree while raising three children as a single mother. The ties that connect them are a passion for making a difference in the lives of young people.

Nevin Culley: Literature and Secondary Education 
Life isn’t about money for Nevin Culley. It’s about passion and believing in what you do.

Anthony Vito Badalamenti and father Tony: Engineering and Applied Science
Anthony Vito, 22, is graduating with a bachelor of science in engineering, and his father will receive a bachelor of applied science in operations management. The elder Badalamenti, 48, is graduating cum laude, barely edging out his son.

Heidi Nielson: English  
They say that college is all about finding what excites you and discovering what you want to do with the rest of your life. For Heidi Nielson, her undergraduate experience at ASU helped her not only find those passions, but connect them in a unique way.

Tessa Muggeridge: Journalism
Tessa Muggeridge honed her storytelling skills during her years at the Cronkite School. She is graduating in May, part of the first class of Cronkite students to complete a new program that allows them to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.

Osmara Altenhof: Technical Communication
Osmara Altenhof said her degree from ASU has kick-started a stalled career, restored her self-confidence, and helped her become a better parent.

Mara Steinhaus: Computational Mathematics and Anthropology
Graduating with degees in computational mathematics and anthropology, Mara Steinhaus has immersed herself in research, analyzing the skyrocketing rabies incidence in Arizona’s wild animal population and also the impact media attention has on disease research funding.

Sarah Driscoll: Literature
One would think that the noted American author has been thoroughly covered, but according to ASU graduate student Sarah Driscoll, there’s still more to learn. And more to say.

Tiffiney Yazzie: Photography
Tiffiney Yazzie spent the early years of her life with her grandparents who live according to traditional Navajo ways in Northern Arizona. Her dedication to Navajo traditions has greatly influenced her career at ASU.

Ashlan Falletta-Cowden: Anthropology
ASU anthropology graduate student Ashlan Falletta-Cowden is committed to bringing about global change by researching the human condition here and abroad.

Maria Paredes: Education
Maria Paredes not only earned a doctorate in 3 years while working full-time, she also did it while researching, developing and instituting an innovative new parent-teacher program in a local school district.

Maribeth Gallagher: Nursing
After attending nursing school in her home town of Brooklyn, N.Y., Maribeth Gallagher’s life took an adventurous turn. She moved to San Francisco after graduating with her RN and launched a 30-year career as a professional singer. Today Gallagher has come full circle as she returns to her roots in nursing.

Najat Omer: English
Growing up the youngest of four daughters, Najat Omer didn't know anyone who had applied to college and attending a university wasn't even in her dreams. But that changed her senior year when friend encouraged her to apply to ASU.

Tara Blondell: Construction Management
Tara Blondell has the building profession in her blood. Her great-grandfather started the family construction business more than a century ago. ASU's online construction management master's degree program offered the working mom and opportunity to earn the master's degree she has always wanted.

Edward Jensen: Urban Studies
Edward Jensen, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in urban & metropolitan studies, shares his aptitude for technology.

Nicole Bruno: Social Work
Nicole Bruno, graduating from the College of Public Programs with her master’s degree in social work, was named as the recipient of the ASU Commission on the Status of Women’s 2011 Outstanding Contribution and Achievement Award.

Anthony Robles: Business Communications
To say that ASU senior Anthony Robles has a lot of opportunities available to him after graduation would be a profound understatement. The NCAA wrestling champion is about to cash in on his newfound fame but says his biggest score will be when he collects his diploma later this month.

Will Russell: Anthropology
Will Russell changed careers to pursue a lifelong fascination with Southwestern and Native histories.

Kelsey Hazzan: Kinesiology
Serving as the leader of a large organization on campus has given Kelsey Hazzan experience in participating in large events, learning time management and skills, and spreading school spirit and tradition while making great friends.

Katie Zinn: Journalism
Katie Zinn came to ASU following in her brother’s footsteps and once she was accepted into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she knew she had made the right decision.

Bradford Dworak: Journalism
Bradford Dworak aspires to launch his own production company one day, creating a wide range of shows and movies and using the skills he learned at Cronkite in producing, writing and editing.

David "DJ" Heyward: Nonprofit Leadership and Management
A big heart and a passion for basketball have combined to lead David (DJ) Heyward toward a commitment to help young people.

Steven Accardi: English
Social justice is an issue of passionate interest for Steven Accardi as he graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition.

Gillian Coffinger: Global Studies
Gillian Coffinger will graduate from the School of Politics and Global Studies with a major in Global Studies-Governance and a minor in Spanish.

Larry Mickelson: Engineering and Materials Science
After almost 25 years of education, Larry Mickelson is ready to transition to a new phase in his life, as he graduates with a 4.0 GPA and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering.