Passion for nutrition, education inspires sustainability grad

December 5, 2012

After spending countless days in a cubicle working for a local bank, ASU senior Ryan Winkle knew he needed a change. Armed with just his ambition, he applied to ASU in search of a new path and the tools to make a difference in the changing world. 

Winkle is currently pursuing dual undergraduate degrees in sustainability and urban planning to fulfill his passion for creating policy changes regarding nutrition and education.  Download Full Image

“There is a disconnect now between people and how they get their food. The lettuce you eat is probably from Mexico and your tomatoes from Chile. That’s really far away,” he said.

Winkle feels many behavioral issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder in children can often be linked back to high amounts of sugar and additives in food. It is his belief that society needs to become more in tune with local, all-natural or organic diets. 

To assist with this, Winkle teamed up with his friends this fall to begin working on a proposal for a Mesa Urban Garden (M.U.G.) that would unite the local community and bring awareness to sustainable dining. An “urban garden” is a plot of land within a metropolitan area that can be broken into smaller sub-plots for community members to harvest their own produce. 

The plan was accepted by the Mesa City Council and broke ground in July. Staff members work on a volunteer basis to keep the garden flourishing. M.U.G also hosts poetry readings and cooking classes to further solidify the land as a place for social engagement. 

When he isn’t advocating for M.U.G., Winkle enjoys traveling abroad and exploring different cultures. He recently participated in a study abroad trip to Brazil hosted by ASU professor Beth Larson. While he says the coursework was challenging, the knowledge he gained was the ultimate pay off.

“The work that we did reinforced the idea that you can change something if you try. It was an awesome trip,” he said.

The graduating senior is a firm believer in public service. While volunteering with Habitat For Humanity, Winkle says he learned the value of helping others. His travels also taught him how to survive on merely a few possessions – a philosophy he thinks the United States as a whole could adopt. 

“We have to look at the way we live versus how people outside of the U.S. live," Winkle says. "Why do they live like that? Are they happy? Would we be happy living like that? There are so many things we take for granted.”

The soon-to-be graduate will receive his diploma this month from ASU. He plans to travel to Nicaragua and return to Brazil on his quest to serve and educate. 

“I feel like I’m on the verge of stumbling upon something great,” he said. 

Juno Schaser

Event coordinator, Biodesign Institute


More than 6,000 students set to graduate Dec. 19, 20

December 5, 2012

Once the finals have been taken and all assignments turned in, seniors at Arizona State University will be able to cross "graduate" off their holiday wish list.

More than 1,300 graduate students are set to have their degrees conferred at 3:30 p.m., Dec. 19, in Wells Fargo Arena. The undergraduate commencement will take place at 8:30 a.m., Dec. 20, in Wells Fargo Arena. This semester more than 4,700 students will receive a bachelor’s degree. Download Full Image

ASU President Michael Crow will be the commencement speaker at each ceremony. Both ceremonies will be webcast live. Convocations for individual colleges will take place on all ASU campuses Dec. 19-21. A schedule is available at

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will send 136 new journalists into the world to pursue their dreams. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will follow suit with 1,878 Sun Devils graduating.

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will send 589 new educators into the workforce to enlighten young minds. Meanwhile, 328 students from the College of Technology and Innovation will be one step closer to changing the world one invention at a time.

Free parking will be available throughout the Tempe campus, except for metered spaces and residence hall lots. Parking information for commencement and convocation ceremonies can be found here:

Learn about some of ASU's outstanding graduates:

Passion for nutrition, education inspires sustainability grad

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Veteran credits ASU Online, military-friendly atmosphere for success

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