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New grads on a mission to effect change through public service

Ty Ashley
December 11, 2014

Four outstanding graduates of Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs are on a mission to effect change across the spectrum of public service.

Read on to learn more about each of the graduates.

Tyandrah Ashley, nonprofit leadership and management, School of Community Resources and Development

Pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management, Ty Ashley says she likes “the challenge of it.”

“The resources are so limited in the nonprofit sector, but it is also a worthy challenge,” she adds. “If I am going to spend a full work week, it might as well be something that gives back to the community.”

Ashleyis the first in her family to complete college.

But that was not enough – she has also been active in the community. She spent a week in San Diego, helping to renovate a home, serve food to people in need and clean up a river bed. She served as a mentor and camp counselor with Camp Sparky. She submitted a plan to the City of Tolleson to develop green spaces, build awareness about environmental practices and create a greater sense of community among residents.

As part of the Public Allies Arizona program working at the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence as their STEM program assistant, Ashley fuels her passion for youth development.

“Eighty percent of jobs will require some form of STEM skills,” she says. “Youth development – college readiness, career readiness – is what gets me going.”

Her goal is to pursue a master’s degree in sustainability, focusing on societal sustainability and preserving cultures. She wants to create programming for positive youth development that creates a culture of sustainability awareness.

“This is a career where I am doing something every day to help people,” she says.

Jennifer Lewis, criminology and criminal justice, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Jennifer Lewis was told she would never attend college because of the cost. In December, she will graduate with high honors, earning her bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. She is the first in her family to graduate from college.

“I’ve always loved education. That was the one way I knew I could make something of myself,” she says.

But that path was not easy. She earned a GED and later went to community college, noting that she worked hard.

“I’ve always applied myself. I basically look at the university as a job for me. I excel in my jobs, and I want to excel in my education,” she says.

Her fascination with criminology and criminal justice was sparked when she worked as a dispatcher for the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am interested in psychology and how the mind works,” she says. “I believe that for some people, crime is a choice they make based on how they perceive their future.”

Her goal is to potentially go to law school or earn a master’s degree. She has applied to the Teach for America program, hoping to help less fortunate children further their education.

“I want to show my daughter that you don’t have to be in debt. You can get a scholarship, you can get grants and you can still achieve your education as long as you have the academic prowess that allows for it,” she says. “I am opening doors and possibilities for my own daughter to continue the legacy that I am building.”

Jeanne Jensen, master of public administration with a concentration in urban management, School of Public Affairs

A management assistant for the City of Tempe’s Water Utilities Division, Jeanne Jensen is interested in driving community innovation.

“I think ensuring a safe and reliable water supply to our public helps address issues of economic disparity by treating water access as a human right,” she says. “Supporting the role of government as a service provider and protecting equal access to our government is crucial.”

Jensen will add a master of public administration to her credentials. She already holds bachelor’s in chemical engineering and master’s in civil and environmental engineering from ASU. She is a licensed professional engineer.

“I want to use my technical background and my newly-minted leadership and management skills to continue growing my city in unique ways that strengthen the relationship between government and community,” she says.

“As my career grows, I want to move into direct leadership,” she says. “I want to use that opportunity to move others forward, vet and grow their ideas, and support growth in those around me.”

Jensen has been recognized in her career with the Rookie of the Year award from DSWA/Jacobs and the Young Professional of the Year from the AZ Water Association. She is also an advocate for opportunities for youth in STEM and government-related fields, speaking frequently in K-12 classrooms and overseeing the AZ Water scholarship program, which awards $12-15,000 to Arizona students each year.

Jensen is serving as the chair for the 2015 American Water Works Association/Water Environment Federation Young Professionals Summit.

“I think it is important for a new generation of leadership to serve our communities. I want to be a part of the catalyst that fosters change,” she adds.

Ramina Lazar, social work, School of Social Work

Ramina Lazar is actively working for social change.

“I chose social work because I really wanted to make a difference within the community,” she says.

In addition to pursuing her bachelor’s degree in social work, Lazar volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul supporting the Dream Center, where she helps children with homework, reading, art and plays games. She is also completing a field internship at the City of Chandler Police Department Victim Services, where she is an advocate helping victims find needed social services.

She also participated in Social Work Day at the Arizona legislature, where she shared insight from her internship on how policies affect social change.

“If I could change anything in the world, it would probably be to create a safer place in our communities wherever we go,” she says.

Her goal is to apply her knowledge in medical social work, assisting patients and families who are going through an illness.

“I think it’s really important to have someone there to support you through those types of events in your life, and I would really like to be one of those people,” she says.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in the field so she can “advocate for our population on a broader basis."