April 16, 2021
Meet some of the exemplary students about to become Sun Devil alumni
Thousands of students are set to graduate from Arizona State University on May 3. Here's a look at some of those excellent soon-to-be alumni, the roads they traveled to get here and the stories that shaped their time at ASU.
Conservation club puts ASU grad on path to protect the environment
When she first started as a Sun Devil, Medallion Scholar Sara Donaldson knew that she wanted to pursue a degree in science. While she was searching for ways to get involved on campus, she found the Central Arizona Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and found her passion truly was in protecting wildlife and the environment.
History student who researches slavery in the medieval Islamic world earns Dean’s Medal
In addition to his scholastic involvement in the university, Joshua Robinaugh also served as a community assistant for university housing and worked as a course grader for Global Launch on campus.
Preparing for water crises and making cities more resilient to drought
Leah Jones is researching ways to make cities better prepared for water crises, earning her PhD in sustainability at the School of Sustainability in the College of Global Futures.
ASU grad carries on her mother’s legacy of working with children
Cate Marken will graduate this spring with a dual major in medical microbiology and family and human development. She plans to attend a medical school that offers a dual program with a master’s degree in public health, ultimately becoming a pediatrician and doing research that will benefit rural areas like her hometown.
Philosophy, political science graduate finds passion in local politics
Hannah Willes is earning her bachelor's degrees in political science and philosophy.
Global health grad found inspiration and purpose at ASU
Medallion Scholar and spring 2021 graduate Consuelo Arroyo is devoted to helping her community through science.
During COVID-19, Consuelo Arroyo assisted with contact-tracing efforts. She said helping Arizonans, particularly the Spanish-speaking community, in a time of crisis has been extremely rewarding.
Grad student combines film and digital culture to expand the Black experience in film
Jay Williams wants to use all the tools at his disposal to tell the stories popular media often ignores.
Cronkite School grad wants to improve Muslim representation in the news
Journalism graduate Farah Eltohamy saw a problem with representation in the news media. "The only way you can really fix that is by having more Muslim journalists in this field who can tell the stories of the Muslim community as it is."
About-face: Grad reverses path with love, Navy and ASU
Brandon Myer nearly dropped out of school in sixth grade and settled for a D-average his sophomore year of high school. You’d never guess it if you met him today. He’s now a high-performing ASU student completing his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology this spring with plans to complete a master’s degree in 2022.
Computer-loving graduate programs his future to impact health care
Up all hours, late into the night, Basam Alasaly has spent the past five years modifying apps, writing code and developing medical technology without pay, first while earning his Bachelor of Science in biomedical informatics, and then as a master’s student in the same program at the College of Health Solutions.
Second-generation graduate inspired by others to succeed
Ethan Duncan will graduate this May with a double major in astrophysics and physics from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and at Barrett, The Honors College.
Active military member, student graduates with two degrees, eye toward a doctorate
Chad Brack has remained an active military member while earning his concurrent bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and religious studies online from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.
Designing justice: Graduate aims to break barriers in architecture field
Rayven Cannon who graduates this May with her master’s degree in architecture is finding her voice and amplifying the voices of her fellow classmates in the field.
Honduran pianist realizes his dream at ASU
Music has been a crucial part of Joel Adalid Martinez Lorenzana’s life for as long as he can remember. This spring, he will graduate with a Master of Music in performance with a concentration in performance pedagogy.
Religious studies graduate earns doctorate for research on Indonesian singer
After the Sept. 11 attacks James Edmonds said he was confused and concerned about the way people were viewing the Islamic religion. So when he went to college, he decided to study religion. Now he is earning his PhD in religious studies.
New ASU graduate was taught from early age to advocate for herself
Amber Cook’s parents taught her to advocate for herself — a skill that has served her well while in college. She is graduating this semester with a degree in art studies from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, with a minor in design studies.
ASU biology grad pursues her passion for law
Natalie Azar reflects on her experiences in the prestigious Arizona Legislative and Government Internship Program.
Chicago Bears chairman becomes three-peat ASU alum with Master of Laws degree
Chicago Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey will become a third-time ASU alumnus as he earns his ASU Law Master of Laws (LLM) degree this spring, following his earlier ASU Law JD and ASU undergrad degrees.
ASU doctoral grad seeks to improve education for marginalized students
Dawn Demps always knew she was going to be a teacher. Next month she’ll be doling out scholarly expertise as a college professor at another university. But not before she collects her PhD in education policy and evaluation from ASU on May 3.
Dawn Demps is the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Outstanding Graduate student this semester.
ASU Polytechnic campus grad finds her purpose in the environment
When it came time to go to college, Arizona State University seemed like a natural fit for Hannah Cherry, who had family in town, and her mother is an alum. What was not a natural fit was a campus where there are as many people in the student union as there are in your entire home town.
34 years after earning her first degree, nursing alumna set to become a two-time ASU graduate
Vicki Sowards has put her BSN from ASU to good use, excelling throughout her three-decades-long nursing career. So when she got the itch to go back to school for a master’s degree she knew she wanted to return to her alma mater.
Grad from Sun Devil family took advantage of all ASU had to offer
Ciera Babbrah grew up in a Sun Devil family. With both of her parents being ASU alumni and having a sister who currently attends the university, she knew that ASU could offer her endless opportunities.
First-gen grad pioneers his passion to earn dual degrees from ASU
This spring, Stone Woodham will be the first in his family to graduate from a university, earning dual bachelor’s degrees — one in astrobiology and biogeosciences and the other in communication.
ASU film grad is a shining example of survival
Omar Hashem never gave up. Now, a year and half after his second double lung transplant, he is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and media production from The Sidney Poitier New American Film School.
ASU grad earns dual degrees, driven by desire to protect the environment
Growing up in San Diego, Alexandra Kepler had experienced several droughts and wanted to find a way to protect and save the environment. Her decision to attend ASU was based on the wide range of extracurriculars, classes, minors, majors, and opportunities that allow for every individual to find what they are truly passionate about.
ASU graduating senior inspired to become a doctor through son's illness
David Reed’s life changed in February 2018 when his son, Isaiah, less than a year old, was in the intensive care unit. Watching how the doctors worked together, Reed — then a worker in an aluminum mill — realized he could do more with his life.
ASU Law student views online MLS pursuit as ‘rocket ride to the moon’ in furthering career, life goals
Robert Gilliam looks forward to taking his years of hands-on trade work – which he says exposed him to a unique set of challenges in a highly competitive, political and foreign environment – to using his ASU Law MLS degree in furthering his passion.
ASU student graduates at 18, ready to launch a career in research
Isabel Alcazar has already published research findings, will complete her second medical internship this summer and is graduating with two college degrees. It might seem like a lot for an 18-year-old, but it runs in the family.
ASU Online offers Air Force veteran flexibility, opportunity to earn film and media degree
In the two decades since he graduated high school, Peter Rozenberg joined the Air Force, married his wife, had two daughters and started a career as a quality assurance analyst. Now, the ASU Online student is adding another milestone to his life’s story: college graduate.
ASU Law grad is taking a lifetime of rigorous athletic training to an aspiring career in sports
A gymnast starting at age 3, Heather Udowitch says pursuing her Master of Sports Law and Business degree at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law helped her learn how to balance her life while staying focused on her dreams.
Attending ASU was a 'no-brainer' for Cronkite School convocation speaker
After attending the Cronkite Sports Broadcast Boot Camp the summer before his senior year of high school, Harrison Zhang’s mind was made up. He was going to ASU.
Nurse practitioner graduate looking to break barriers in emergency departments
Reynaldo Kieser is on a mission to show that nurse practitioners belong in all areas of health care. And he's already landed his dream job.
Reynaldo Kieser just completed the Edson College of Nursing and Health InnovationDNP program, and he starts his dream job in August.
Outstanding grad expands approach, goals through MBA program
“W. P. Carey taught me how to tackle problems from several perspectives at once, and once you’ve learned that method, you start to apply it to everything you do,” said Matt Totlis, who is earning his MBA this spring.
Dean’s Medalist observes the early universe with fearless enthusiasm
Junehyoung Jeon is the School of Earth and Space Exploration Dean’s Medalist for 2021, having earned this award through his excellent academic performance, his collaborative spirit doing research and his fearless enthusiasm toward solving new problems.
ASU Law online grad gains the legal skills needed to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams
Nicolo G. Muniz recognized that his ongoing quest to be an entrepreneur meant he needed to learn more about the law. And the online Master of Legal Studies program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU was just the way for him to do it.
Volunteer gig at hospital leads ASU grad to the field of science of health care delivery
Saigayatri Darira grew up in Prescott, Arizona, and is a May 2021 ASU graduate who majored in the science of health care delivery from the College of Health Solutions. She received the ASU Alumni Association Medallion Scholarship all four years and the New American University Scholarship.
Civil engineering grad found diverse opportunities at ASU, both academic and social
For engineering major Hartley "Tre" Pinn III, one of the reasons he initially chose to attend ASU was the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Solving problems through the lens of sustainability
In high school, Dylan Ellis competed in the nationally recognized Science Olympiad — a competition that paved a path for this learner's journey at ASU, and his pursuit of a degree in chemical engineering.
ASU playwright uplifts neurodiverse voices
Dave Osmundsen graduates this spring with an MFA in dramatic writing, and he is already making a name for himself in the theater world. He is one of two recipients for Ucross and the Blank Theatre's inaugural Future of Playwriting Prize.
JD grad applies Tibetan practices to navigate law school
Vanessa Kubota, a former translator and interpreter for the Tibetan language, looks forward to taking her ASU Law JD to make a difference in the public sector.
Outstanding astrophysics grad reflects on the importance of mentors for success
Delondrae Carter's interest in the universe first began in fourth grade when he worked on a project demonstrating the vast scale of the solar system. From there, he was inspired to learn as much as he could about astronomy and astrophysics.
Political science and global studies major recognized as spring 2021 Dean’s Medalist
Bianca Navia, who has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences spring 2021 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Politics and Global Studies, took full advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of ASU as a research institution.
ASU honors student planning for military service when he graduates in May
Community involvement, academics and public service were hallmarks of Patrick DeNero’s student experience at Arizona State University.
Serendipity and tragedy drew first-generation grad to ASU
It was just luck of the draw that Guadalupe Segovia happened to take a sports medicine class at her Phoenix-area high school. It was luck again — the bad kind — that left one of her loved ones with a spinal cord injury. Both events influenced Segovia's choice of major.
ASU Law JD grad focuses on making a difference for other first-generation students
A first-generation American and the first in her family to attend college, Alejandra Curiel Molina has worked hard to provide minority and low-income students with opportunities to feel welcomed in higher education.
A first-generation American and the first in her family to attend college, Alejandra Curiel Molina is earning her ASU Law JD this spring.
Anthropology graduate took her education across the Pacific
Though Morgan Kempf’s favorite place to study is on a tropical beach near her home in Guam, her journey to graduation was not always a breeze.
ASU graduate inspired by father’s cancer diagnosis to pursue medicine
Navneet Kumar was in middle school when her father was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. It sparked a desire to learn everything she could about health sciences.
A teenager when she started law school, ASU Law dual grad looks ahead to a bright future
An ASU Law student at just 19, Jada Allender has taken her passion for sports business to earning a dual JD and MSLB degree this spring.
ASU grad uncovers a love of archaeology
Nearly two decades after graduating from high school, Nicolas Hansen went back to school as an investment in his family’s future — discovering a passion for archaeology along the way.
Justice studies grad reflects on seizing opportunities, overcoming imposter syndrome
As Tylie DiBene prepares to graduate from Arizona State University this spring, she has a message of gratitude and thanks to the university that she said provided her some of the greatest years of her life.
Outstanding Cronkite School student became a leading voice on campus diversity, social justice issues
In the space of three years, graduate Kiarra Spottsville went from being a shy freshman to being a leading voice for students on diversity and social justice issues.
Graduating biochemistry senior credits researchers with his drive for success
Deciding on a college is an important decision that will impact a student’s career opportunities. Bryan Ugaz, who is graduating from the School of Molecular Sciences this semester, came to ASU because of the reputation of the researchers and the variety of interesting research taking place.
ASU Law grad takes sports law degree and lands dream job in baseball
After five years of working in sports, Alyssa Hudler recognized she needed more to pursue the career of her dreams in baseball. And the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law was the way to do it.
Triple major graduates, looks forward to law school
Cyrus Commissariat is the grandchild and child of immigrants and his family taught him that the value of a good education was critical for succeeding. Now he is earning degrees in history, political science and French.
Double the Sun Devil pride: Twins graduate ASU with Bachelor of Science degrees
The Eltze family has reason to be doubly proud: Twins Lara and Maren Eltze are graduating this spring from Arizona State University with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. Lara will receive Bachelor of Science degrees in biological sciences and psychology with a minor in Spanish. Maren will receive a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering with a minor in German.
ASU grad inspired by fatherhood to research child development
As a young father, Cullin Howard became fascinated with different child outcomes and how home environments and family influences impact their development. He knew then that he wanted to pursue a career that would contribute to the research in this area.
ASU grad inspires on and off the court with her 'mamba mentality'
When writer Martiana Byrd was offered a basketball coaching position with the city of Tempe, it sparked a passion: working with youth. Right then, she decided to change her major to family and human development, but committed to never stop writing.
Martiana Byrd lives her life by the "mamba mentality" that demands you live your life without fear and with purpose no matter what happens – the good and the bad.
Sociology grad’s academic journey to social work began with a childhood illness
A first-generation graduate, Natalee Lauro is well on her way to making her dream of becoming a social worker come true. She is graduating this spring with a major in sociology and a minor in communication.
Undergraduate multi-instrumental musician discovers his place with jazz
Benjamin Cortez has been playing music for most of his life. He grew up in a musical family and took classical piano lessons from age 3 to 6, but his training and coursework at ASU has completely changed the way he now approaches music.
Required first-year class leads to dream career for ASU data analytics grad
During her first year at ASU, Narda Paulina Lizárraga Leyva was required to take a beginners computer information systems course, which made her nervous due to her lack of experience in the area. However, that course made her realize she had found her passion in data analytics and computer science.
East Asian studies graduate reflects on time abroad before COVID-19
Going into college, Emily Creasman thought she wanted to major in music because she enjoyed marching band and drumline in high school, but she developed an interest in learning Korean, which led to a curiosity in Korean culture. Now she is earning her bachelor's degree in East Asian studies.
ASU grad and future politician focused on the head, heart and hands of civic engagement
Trey Leveque knew that at ASU he would be able to graduate debt-free through scholarships he received from the university. He also knew that ASU offered him remarkable opportunities to help him develop as a leader.
ASU grad passionate about a career in child protective services
Even though life hasn’t always gone the way she planned, Angelica Lopez has a courage and strength about her that is contagious. She’s had to take on a lot of responsibilities that could have derailed her dreams of a higher education, but she has persevered.
Music learning and teaching graduate strives to be a changemaker
Jalen Jorel Montgomery believes that one should not just talk about the work of equity but lead the way with action.
ASU computer science graduate learns to invest in himself
While at ASU, computer science major John Gebara discovered his true potential. After reflecting on all that he has balanced throughout college — his coursework, jobs, extracurricular activities and relationships with friends and family — he realized that he is capable of more than he thought.
Sociology grad finds calling in academia, aims to teach those who will help underserved communities
Jolivette Williams started at ASU with the goal of becoming a certified clinician. But soon she found a calling for a career in academia. "Instead of becoming one, I could influence many who could effectively fill the void of successful mental health care for this population.”
‘Like salt on Fritos’: ASU grad thanks her advising wizard
After finishing 50 credits in a year's time to accelerate her degree completion, counseling and applied psychological science graduate Jessie Erbe shared a joyful email of gratitude with her CISA academic adviser and "some kind of jigsaw puzzle master" Melody Bernstein.
ASU Online sociology grad plans to help other students achieve their dreams
After becoming a mom, Quenette Martinez wasn’t sure how she could attend classes on campus with a newborn. She needed an online program that was cost-effective. ASU became her top choice because it is one of the only universities that offers a sociology bachelor’s degree fully online.
W. P. Carey Outstanding Graduating Senior pairs global perspective with individual impact
The W. P. Carey School of Business is proud to bestow this year’s Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Award to Shakki Bhat. Graduating with degrees in business global politics and supply chain management, Bhat aspires to be a leader who advocates for equitable and ethical business practices.
From ‘unschooled’ to undergraduate: How first-gen ASU student persevered to earn communication degree
For many first-generation students, navigating the world of academia can be challenging and filled with unknowns. For Molly Joy Lode, the task was made even more complicated by the fact she was raised in an “unschooling” environment, meaning she had no formal education growing up.
Real estate and construction management grad grateful for experienced faculty
Medallion Scholar Chase MacDonald is a May 2021 ASU graduate who majored in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business with minors in real estate and construction management. If he received $40 million to solve one problem in the world, he would utilize his background in real estate to help create affordable and sustainable housing.
Undergraduate music student shares her passion for learning and teaching, engaging others
Eliana O’Brien thrives in environments that require personal engagement and creative flexibility. In May, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Music in music learning and teaching.
Sociology grad plans to fight injustice and inequality through law career
Ayesha Ahsan attended a STEM high school and always thought she would go into the medical field, but she couldn’t see herself as a doctor. She knew she wanted to help people but wasn’t sure how. She took a sociology class and fell in love with the subject.
Astrophysics graduate looks forward to making a positive impact on those around him
Jake Hanson knew he wanted to study astrophysics after a visit to Kitt Peak National Observatory the summer after graduating from high school. He is graduating this spring with a PhD in astrophysics from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Complex adaptive systems grad plans to bring biomimicry to his home country
When Louwie Gan learned of biomimicry, he knew it was the key to engineering more symbiotic, sustainable solutions to infrastructure woes, particularly those within his home city of Manila, Philippines. But it wasn’t always this way.
EMT reflects on journey to earn degree while balancing demands of two jobs
This spring, Dustin Vang is graduating cum laude from Arizona State University, an achievement he accomplished while balancing the demands of working two jobs.
ASU School of Molecular Sciences military veteran graduates this summer
Nicola Osgood began her ASU career while still on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. Fortunately she was able to enroll as a biochemistry major in the School of Molecular Sciences’ world-class online degree program, and Osgood took full advantage. She was frequently found studying at work, on the rifle range — in fact anywhere she could squeeze in a moment or two with a textbook.
ASU graduate discovers her own degree path through double majors
Victoria Froh approached college with the mindset that the “normal path” was to choose a single major and finish in four years, but her experiences at ASU proved otherwise.
Broadening perspectives in space policy
Collaboration between space agencies is needed to make decisions and negotiate different interests because what happens in space affects life on Earth. It’s a complex issue that’s become the subject of ASU May 2021 graduate Jenna Robinson’s research.
First-gen communication grad on juggling schoolwork, motherhood and a full-time job
After working for over four years in the nonprofit sector at a local community health center, Crystal Medina decided to pursue her bachelor's degree at ASU to advance her career.
Graduating chemistry student’s health resulted in passion for science, remarkable accomplishments
Ellen Streitwieser’s interest in chemistry started out very personally, the result of an autoimmune disorder and metabolic failure. “After experiencing a profound dysfunction in my own body’s biochemical function,” Streitwieser recalls, “I found a driving curiosity to understand the ‘why’ of how my body works.”
Outstanding undergraduate finds rebirth at ASU and sweet spot between science and art in user experience
Even as a kid, Sanjana Ponnada was always really good at two things: asking questions and getting her hands messy. These interests turned into passions for both the sciences and arts, she said: "Both are explorations of what it means to be human and how we make sense of our universe (and our place in it). In my quest to find the best of both worlds, user experience (UX) design stood out to me as a field hovering in the sweet spot between these two sides of myself."
Destined for the district
School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Dean’s Medalist Cameron Vega didn’t always know he was destined for a career in Washington, D.C. But a last-minute decision to take part in the model United Nations Conference changed his trajectory forever.
ASU graduate wants to mentor next generation of engineering students
Cindy Rogel Bahena remembers when a professor asked if there were any students in class who knew about a medical service for people in lower socioeconomic circumstances. “I was the only one in the room who raised my hand to talk about it,” Rogel Bahena says. “After that day, I knew my life experience, knowledge and opinions brought different perspectives to engineering, and I needed to learn how to develop my knowledge to impact the technologies of tomorrow.”
ASU grad credits communication classes for internship success
At the beginning of the pandemic, communication major Van Westcott assumed, like many of us, that things would be back to normal after a few months. When all of his in-person courses transitioned to remote learning, he quickly realized that this was how the remainder of his time at ASU would be spent. Over time, however, he says he was pleasantly surprised.
Communication graduate Van Westcott was a recipient of the Louis and Louise Menk Endowed Scholarship from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.
Retired movie producer pursues master's degree from ASU Online, sets sights on helping next generation of storytellers
This spring, retired movie producer Mark Wolfe will receive his master’s degree in advanced study in film and media from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Outstanding Graduate finds community at ASU after caring for ill parents for six years
When Stephanie Pham enrolled at ASU as an undergraduate, at first she felt alone. She said it was within the School of Community Resources and Development that she found people who became her family and community.
First in social work, then in public administration, ASU grad was struck by desire to serve those who struggle
“There are so many people lost within the cracks of society and disregarded or deemed unworthy of help,” says Tiffany Thornhill, the spring 2021 Outstanding Graduate for the School of Public Affairs. “I believe everyone deserves a chance to better themselves regardless of their past transgressions. That is why I ultimately pursued social work and became a helping professional.”
Grad pursues degree during Middle East deployment to prepare for role as police chief
Jose Pelaez was in the Middle East as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve when he realized he wanted to be more involved in emergency management and homeland security planning. So he enrolled in ASU Online.
Second-generation Sun Devil on how extracurricular opportunities enriched her college experience
Rachel Caldwell comes from a family of Sun Devils: Both of her parents are alumni, and her mom works at the university. Now, it’s Caldwell’s turn to carry on the legacy — this spring, she will graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and women and gender studies with a minor in history and a disability studies certificate.
Switching major 2 weeks before starting at ASU proved right choice for grad
Just two weeks before she moved into her freshman dorm at ASU, Carson Swisher surprised her mother with an announcement that would alter the course of her future: She was changing majors. She wanted to study criminal justice.
Treatment of marginalized groups helped lead grad into social work career
Danielle Bosma’s journey into the study of social work began about 10 years ago, when she began to question her church’s view of people identifying as LGBTQ.
Civil engineering grad impacts environmental, diversity challenges
Edward Apraku found a passion for the environmental side of civil engineering through applied projects at ASU and beyond. He also fostered diversity in engineering through outreach and mentorship activities to inspire the next generation of engineers of color.
Graphic information technology excelled at extracurriculars, academics, professional roles
Graduate Ashley Fuller excelled in academics, extracurricular activities and professional roles during her time at The Polytechnic School and will begin her master's degree in the fall.
Utilizing a love of nature to overcome sustainability challenges
A love of the outdoors is something that runs in Andie Wilkerson’s family. That connection to nature and the environment is part of what drew her to major in sustainability at ASU.
ASU aeronautical management grad connects education to passion for aviation
With a lifelong passion for aviation, Spencer Pomerantz decided to fulfill his dreams of becoming an air traffic controller with an aeronautical management technology degree from The Polytechnic School. He looks forward to beginning his master's degree in the fall.
Space missions to icy worlds in the outer solar system on the horizon for geological sciences graduate
Recognizing the School of Earth and Space Exploration’s interdisciplinary program as one of the highest ranked in the country, Vishaal Singh applied to the ASU graduate program with a goal of working on instrument development for future missions.
ASU outstanding graduate uses narrative studies master’s degree to fuel her soul, prep for publishing career
Kendall Dawson, the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said she has always had an interest in “people, culture and the way both mix to influence our actions.”
Collaborations inspire music graduate to compose music for stage, film, dance ensembles
Alicia Castillo is a composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter. Her compositions range from concert music to guitar works and her collaborations encompass various interdisciplinary mediums. In May, Castillo will graduate with a Bachelor of Music in composition.
Aspiring musician combines composition, music theory, performance degrees
Vashawn Arora’s intellectual curiosity and musical drive have challenged him to explore snippets of musical styles that have intrigued him and led him on a path to create his own unique style.
Graduate shares how ASU pre-health opportunities helped influence career in medicine
Bayley Brennan knew she wanted to pursue a career related to health and wellness early in life.
ASU applied biological sciences major graduates at 18, starts medical school in July
Nathan Reed’s eagerness to begin the next step toward a career in medicine is deeply rooted in wanting to begin the specialized training he needs to make a difference in the lives of others.
ASU honors graduate packed her schedule with academics, leadership and service
Elon Graves is graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication with a public relations focus, a cross-sector leadership certificate, and honors from Barrett, The Honors College.
For creative writing grad, poetry is community
Hanan Robinson incorporates her beliefs in humanity and equality into her art. Robinson is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English (creative writing), and is serious about entering the world of writing and publishing — keeping social justice in mind.
English grad is writing for clean water
Brinton Carlson is graduating from ASU this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English (writing, rhetorics and literacies) and will begin working toward his law degree at the University of Idaho this fall. “I would love to become an environmental lawyer someday,” said Carlson.
Online student masters the lingua franca
Already a highly educated student when he arrived at Arizona State University’s online campus, Luis Benavides believes passionately in learning. He holds bachelor’s degrees in graphic design and education and a teaching certificate from universities in Chile. His Master of Arts in English, which he is earning via ASU Online this spring, will put Benavides on a path to someday teach at the college or university level.
‘Believe in the power of your story’: PhD grad celebrates heritage, ancestors, culture
Stories can be funny. Stories can make us cry. Stories can teach us. And sometimes, stories can change our lives and the lives of those telling them. This is what ASU student Monica Baldonado-Ruiz discovered in her doctoral program.
ASU Dean’s Medalist to continue her passion for linguistics to show the world the beauty of classics
In addition to being a highly accomplished undergraduate philologist, Elisa Jennings also pursued a deeper breadth of knowledge about the field by taking a range of other classics. Furthermore, she served as the head grader and tutor in the classics program, helping train and guide her colleagues.
ASU interdisciplinary studies graduate brings love for design, Japanese language and culture, and mindfulness to portfolio
You may not know spring 2021 ASU graduate Taylor Kephart by name, but if you’ve engaged with ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts or Sun Devil Fitness over the last several years, you’ve probably been moved by her standout design work.
From Early Start to graduation, first-generation student makes her way
Going to university can be very overwhelming, especially for students whose parents have not attended college. It is challenging to navigate these new experiences on their own. Spring graduate and first-generation student Catalina Lopez Jimenez took advantage of ASU's Early Start program to ensure her success.
How the 2016 presidential election led this ASU grad to Columbia Law
When Nicole Morote was 6, she and her family moved from Lima, Peru, to the United States. After moving around the country, her family settled in Georgia, which is where she lived before she visited Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. This spring, she is graduating with her degree in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and after graduation, she plans to attend Columbia Law School in New York City.
Dean's Medalist combined her interests in sports culture, film, gendered communication for honors thesis
Undergraduate Sarah Mogytych is the spring 2021 The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalist for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and will be graduating with a bachelor's degree in communication and a certificate in sports, cultures and ethics.
ASU graduate aims to use his difficult journey to inspire others
Christian Kainoa Spenser is set to graduate from Arizona State University on May 3. When he receives his diploma, it will be the end of a four-year journey with nearly insurmountable obstacles in his way.
At the end of Christian Kainoa Spenser's sophomore year at Seton Hall University, he began feeling ill. After returning home, he was put in a medically induced coma for three weeks and awoke to find necrotizing fasciitis had claimed his legs and soon parts of his hands. He began the process of healing — a journey that would take him to an internship in the governor’s office and a degree in civic and economic thought and leadership from ASU. Photo by Joe Martin/ASU
Double major aspires to make impact on Latino community through immigration law
Emily Xiomara Linares is a first-generation Arizona State University student who aspires to bring awareness to social justice issues that impact the Latino community. This spring, she will receive dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and justice studies with a certificate in socio-legal studies from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
A Sun Devil education: Middle school teacher earns master's degree
Alexandra Paul is earning her second pandemic-era degree this spring: a Master of Arts in English via ASU Online. She’ll also be participating in her second online commencement. “It has been quite an adventure,” she said.
Graduating fiction writer and translator starts from ‘a place of love’
This spring, James Bennett is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing (fiction) from the Department of English and a certificate in translation studies from the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU. His writing reflects his view of himself as a global citizen; among other projects, he plans to translate Mozambican authors into English.
2021 nursing graduate Lauren Aldana driven by passion for health care
Lauren Aldana knows the power of positive affirmation from someone she respects and admires. As an undergraduate nursing major, Aldana received a letter from ASU President Michael Crow praising her involvement in a course focusing on care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dean's Medalist discovers creativity and mathematics go hand in hand
Benjamin Jones graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a certificate in cryptology. He has an outstanding cumulative GPA of 4.02, achieved with many challenging graduate level courses.
Psychology Dean's Medalist setting her own path to health care career
Jasmin Ray, the 2021 Dean’s Medalist for the ASU Department of Psychology, is graduating with a major in psychology and a minor in biology and plans on going into graduate school to become a physician assistant with an emphasis in child behavioral studies.
ASU grad strives to fight for issues that impact Indigenous communities
Angel Nosie became more aware of social justice issues through her justice studies courses at ASU. As a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of the Hagosteele Clan, she grew increasingly interested in studying the injustices Native American communities face.
Michigan mom, ASU Online student, finds passion in bones, stones and human evolution
Christina Schroth found success in her online classes via virtual tutoring and Sun Devils Connect, a Facebook group to connect online students worldwide. She is graduating with a BA in anthropology.
Longtime Red Cross volunteer earns degree with help of Starbucks College Achievement Plan
The goal to finish college seemed less attainable every year Monty Burich waited to go back. Then, while working at Starbucks, he learned about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and the company’s partnership with Arizona State University and his hope was renewed.
Through volunteering, dual grad finds career path in Latino, reproductive health advocacy
Carla Naranjo came to ASU knowing she had two passions: advocating for the Latino community and reproductive freedom. What she didn’t know was how those passions could translate into a career.
Uber driver finds her passion through second career
This is Emily Kuckelman’s second bachelor's degree and second professional career. While taking some introductory technology courses, she found her niche and will be graduating from ASU with a Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology.
For ASU film grad, laughter really is the best medicine
David Lew, a working comedian who lives in the Bay Area, is earning a Bachelor of Arts in film and media studies via ASU Online this spring. Completing the degree signals that he has overcome much. It also means that he is one step closer to being the man — and the dad — he wants to be.
First-generation ASU grad discovers passion for political science, public service and policy
Keala Busse is a first-generation Arizona State University student who entered college unsure of what major or career path she wanted to pursue. Eventually, she found her true passion in political science, public service and public policy.
Forensic science, bugs and all, fascinates ASU honors graduate
You could say Andrew Noblesse had a buggy time at Arizona State University. Noblesse overcame his lifelong fear of bugs and completed a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.
Small study partners inspire ASU doctoral grad to complete degree
A brilliant linguist hailing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is one of the newest graduates from Arizona State University. Bonus: Like most moms, she’s great at multitasking. Not only did Rayya Aljarallah finish her PhD in linguistics and applied linguistics with a groundbreaking project, she did it during a pandemic, in a foreign country, often alone, with two children.
ASU graduate tells story of how she discovered that linguistics was always her destiny
Madeleine Stewart, who initially started a major in theater, had a revelation when she was watching the movie "The Arrival" and saw how complex but enriching linguistics can be. At that moment, she knew she wanted to switch majors and study Spanish linguistics in the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU.
Hugh Downs School graduate enhances communication skills through county internship
Communication graduate Kendra Schoenick says this past year has been unforgettable in many ways. Although it was tough to finish off her studies virtually, she made the most of it.
In pursuit of global impact, geography Dean’s Medalist to study planetary surface processes of Saturn moon
By the end of his freshman year, Michael "Colin" Marvin was hooked. After taking his Introduction to Physical Geography course, he approached his professor asking if he could participate in research.
PhD grad shares how impact of hurricanes led her to ASU and her plans to support US-Mexico border communities
Hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting Puerto Rico was life-changing for Anaís Delilah Roque in many ways. Universities across the U.S. – including ASU – extended offers to students at the University of Puerto Rico to apply and continue their studies. Roque journeyed to ASU and found herself changing the focus of her research.
Business entrepreneurship grad fuses interests in business, creativity
Brad Biehl wanted to study study something in school that was built both durable and flexible enough to withstand inevitable curiosity and growth. He saw majoring in business entrepreneurship as an opportunity to make his college experience practical, to infuse a b-school education with autonomy and self-exploration.
Communication and political science graduate says her dual degrees prepared her for law school
At the beginning of the pandemic, Amanda Andalis was initially sad that she and her classmates were likely going to miss out on a lot of “lasts” due to COVID-19. She noted, however, that as time passed she has learned to be grateful for her experiences and found the silver lining in an otherwise negative situation.
ASU organizational leadership graduate recognized for boundless capacity for service to others
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” That advice, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, characterizes well the lived experience of ASU spring 2021 graduate Leah Elise Thompson, whose involvement beyond academics only seemed to grow her capacity for leadership and serving others.
Graduate empowered to achieve and serve through adversity
After an injury cut short Nicole Haikalis’ Marine Corps career, she began an impactful new journey at Arizona State University. Through a double major in biomedical engineering and neuroscience, she is prepared to help others gain independence and bodily autonomy. She has also been motivated to advocate for her peers and leave ASU a better place than she found it.
Computer science grad develops communication technology for the deaf community in ASU classrooms
Dylan Lang — graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in computer science — developed the idea for his venture, EqualComm, across ASU classrooms. EqualComm takes English to sign language through a virtual avatar. Upon graduation, he will work on growing his startup and work with retailers to get his products into stores across the United States.
Dylan Lang found his career path at a young age through creating mods for his favorite video games.
Business entrepreneurship grad launched successful pool family game while at ASU
Jaron Lodge honed his natural talent for selling and creating at ASU. Through resources like the Makerspace at ASU Library, Venture Mentors and pitch competitions through the Venture Devils program run by the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, he launched a family pool game, Skip-NN'-Hole while at ASU.
Grad develops online peer tutoring platform during time at ASU
Michael Wang was inspired to create a venture through his and his brother's stress with difficult academic subjects in high school. While attending various pitch and startup events at ASU, he realized he could create a mutually beneficial solution for students and schools through his online tutoring platform, PeerSquared.
Health entrepreneurship and innovation grad pursues passion after an injury
Dana Rasmussen became hyper-focused with how the body works and how to optimize its functioning after tearing her ACL in high school soccer. This was a primary driver for the focus of her career.
A challenging year brings clarity for community health graduate
Kaitlyn Weeks’ path to earning a bachelor’s degree had a few more detours than she expected. But she found her focus during a time when it would have been easy to give up and has even bigger plans for the future.
ASU grad shows all students that they belong
Education major Tasmia Alam, graduating senior and a leader in Devils 4 Devils, helped teach Sun Devils about empathy and mental health.
Gila River ASU grad found her place after transferring
ASU grad Priscilla Terry, the first in her family to earn a four-year degree, found her calling in marketing after starting her education at Mesa Community College.
Outstanding math student earns Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize
Jackson Carpenter is the recipient of the 2021 Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize, the highest honor a mathematics undergraduate can receive. He is graduating this month with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a minor in Spanish.
ASU grad’s career inspired by experience with police
Criminology and criminal justice grad Daniel Sanchez was inspired by a high school experience to pursue a career in law enforcement or firefighting.
ASU grad learned powerful lessons at ASU Thunderbird and in Greek life
Carolina Tovar learned important lessons in leadership and life through her time in Latina sorority and in her coursework at ASU Thunderbird.
Future engineer is ready to make moves after ASU graduation
Mechanical engineering ASU grad Cortez Davis always knew he wanted to be an engineer. Now he plans on immersing himself in the industry right after graduation.
ASU grad prepares for career helping people navigate the health industry
ASU graduate Monica Medina is bringing her experience with ASU student government to her future career in the health industry.
ASU meteorology grad finds community in Sun Devil Weather and Climate Club
Julia Marturano is a founding member of ASU’s Sun Devil Weather and Climate Club — a student-run organization created in the spring 2020 to connect like-minded weather and climate undergraduate and graduate students.
ASU grad found a path in Greek life and international business
ASU grad Suzannah Whitlatch wanted to give back to Greek life because of her great undergraduate experience, and now she’s starting a career in global management.
Coast Guard veteran combines fitness passion with academic pursuit
Student veteran Conner Acri credits the U.S. Coast Guard with instilling in him the drive to tackle any challenge life throws at him, and this semester the Kansas City, Missouri, native has done just that as he completes an educational journey at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus.
Building an inclusive and healthy future for students and global communities
A double major in biological sciences and innovation in society, Maya Shrikant considers herself a science nerd with a twist. With her work in science communication and anthropology, she’s able to share her knowledge of the subject with others.
Dance and English double major to pursue passions in Spain
When Shannon Smith needed to choose a major, she couldn't pick just one. “I chose ASU because I was able to stably pursue multiple degrees within different areas of study,” Smith said. “Each one has formed me into the person that I am today and have informed each other throughout the past four years.”
Being a role model for kids motivates father to get math degree
After experiencing trauma in his youth, Justin Bennett did not want a similar life for his own sons, which is why he decided to pursue higher education — for stability.
Digital art grad activates and honors Indigenous perspectives
John Joe, who is Irish and Irish and Diné (Navajo), will continue his creative practice and working with Indigenous communities after graduation. “I plan on working with Indigenous communities because that is important to me. I think it is vital to growing our people in good ways.”
Grad seeks to impact local communities and amplify voices of Black planners
As a Phoenix-area native, Kendra Ellner has seen the Valley’s urbanization change before her eyes. Now she seeks to use her education to influence it further and be an advocate for more inclusivity within the urban planning profession.
RTG Fellowship prepares stats PhD grad for ‘dream job’
Lauren Crow studies the movement of motor proteins inside cells to better understand why patients suffer from Alzheimer’s. “I love how math and data are a part of everything,” said Crow. “... I find it fascinating how math can be used as a tool in endless areas.”
Digital transformation strategist prepares to use her two degrees to provide internet service to rural areas
Sarah Booth, a graduate with a “business mind and service heart,” shares the successes and discoveries of her ASU Thunderbird career.
ASU Thunderbird grad wants to improve life in her home country of Peru
Thunderbird 4+1 graduate Ana Paula Chavarry Pizzorno shares how she made the most of her studies at ASU.
ASU Thunderbird grad hopes to complete journey from small-town student to global business leader
Outstanding graduate Sierra Gullette is joining Amazon in a director role after winning Thunderbird’s Barton Kyle Yount Award.
Math PhD grad earns top research and teaching awards
Mathematics was not David Polletta’s first choice of major; he was originally drawn to both music and philosophy. Now graduating with his PhD in mathematics, Polletta is the recipient of the Graduate Research Award and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Fail again, fail better: Theater grad on what she learned at ASU
For Ausette Anderies, theater is more than entertainment – it’s a way to communicate.
Top photo by ASU