ASU Online offers Air Force veteran flexibility, opportunity to earn film and media degree

April 16, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

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. Peter Rozenberg and his family Peter Rozenberg, pictured here with his family, is graduating from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences summa cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in film and media studies. Download Full Image

This spring, Rozenberg is graduating summa cum laude from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with his bachelor’s degree in film and media studies. It’s an achievement that was years in the making and means a lot to Rozenberg, who is the first in his family to graduate college.

“I almost cried when I saw that diploma come in the mail because it was a culmination of 20-some odd years of pushing it off,” he said.

Rozenberg grew up in Las Vegas and after graduating high school in 1999, went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He said he liked school, but after two years of classes, ultimately decided to leave and join the Air Force. In the years following, he attended classes at various schools near where he was stationed with the military but was never focused on a dedicated degree program.

“When I got out of the military, I got married and school kind of went by the wayside, I had a family and it wasn't anything that was necessary at the time,” he said. “I'm a QA analyst now; I look at websites all day, so a degree wasn't required. … I now have two little girls and I wanted to be an example to finish what you started and to impart on them the value of education and staying in school and learning. I've always loved learning whether it's actually in a degree-granting environment or not. I wanted to give them that same kind of spirit.”

For other students considering a nontraditional path in higher education, Rozenberg said he believes that everyone’s path is different, and the reward is worth the work.

“There's no right or wrong way to go about it, just do what you love and get it done,” he said. “There's no shame in being a 39-year-old grad and I'm sure there's many people that are much older than I am. I'm just so overwhelmed by it, I want everyone else to feel that same overwhelming feeling.”

Rozenberg shared more about his ASU journey:

Peter Rozenberg holds his diploma in his ASU regalia

Question: Why did you choose ASU/ASU Online over other online or local options?

Answer: Primarily, I just liked the reputation that ASU had. I had some friends that had gone to ASU before – I originally grew up in Las Vegas, so I went to UNLV for a little bit — and we had a lot of people that ended up going to ASU. When I finally decided to really pursue my degree in earnest, I knew I wanted a film degree. I looked around at some other colleges that I've gone to before and some other local schools and I thought, well, let me check if ASU has one and they did so I immediately signed up for it.

Q: What drew you to the film and media studies program?

A: I've always loved film. It has been a big part of my life; I've always been involved in either some theater or film to some degree or another. While I don't particularly plan on going to Hollywood and being the next big director or something like that, the history of film and the conceptual parts of it really drew me in. It's something that I was always interested in and I toyed around with different degrees throughout the years but I’ve always gone back to wanting a film degree.

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

A: Philip Taylor — there was just something infectious about his ability to transfer the material to engage us even as an online class. It was by far the best class that I've taken at ASU. What I learned from him was to just love what you're doing. You could tell he loved what he was doing. He had all these life experiences that he shared and his lectures were just chock full of actual, real-world examples, not things that he just read out of a book.

Q: What message or advice would you share with other individuals considering a return to school after a break?

A: Just go for it. Ultimately, unless you die, you're still going to live all those years so at least do something that you're going to be proud of, something that you're interested in. Just go back; just do it. If it's something that you're interested in, if it's something you want to do — there's no reason not to. Financially, you can get the aid if you need it.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Building an inclusive and healthy future for students and global communities

April 16, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

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. While working as a writer for Knowledge Enterprise, a story assignment changed the trajectory of her science research. Already earning a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from the School of Life Sciences, that story led her to pursue another degree, a Bachelor of Science in innovation in society from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society in the College of Global Futures  Maya Shrikant Maya Shrikant Download Full Image

“I was interviewing Associate Professor Lekelia Jenkins for a story on the underrepresentation of women in research,” said Shrikant. “Hearing the way she talked about diversity, education and reimagining systems of care were eye-opening. I looked more into the SFIS program and learned it was an interdisciplinary space with many alumni going into policy work. I didn't know what any of the classes were about, and that challenged me. It made me want to explore what was in it for me, and it seemed like it was an experience that really could be shaped to my individual interests.” 

The program not only complemented her biological sciences degree, it also furthered her goals. She was recently granted the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Research Award to Hungary, where she will work on a project shaped by her experience studying innovation in society.

“I will travel between the University of Debrecen and local Roma settlements, which are the largest underserved minority population in the country, and investigate issues of diversity, access and inclusion in their medical care. Looking at how the development of health care technologies or education curriculums can overcome barriers to minority populations to achieve better health has become a passion of mine within health care. It’s a passion that did not exist before I was an innovation in society major.”

Shrikant wants to be a physician-researcher in the future, as well as a leader and advocate in health care policy. Her research within the College of Global Futures has focused on health care technologies, genetic patent policy and discrimination in medical systems. Health care and innovation was also the subject of her Barrett, The Honors College thesis. She worked with ASU Health Services to study their telehealth platform. 

“I did a demographic analysis of student patient use to see which sociocultural factors are translating to increased use of the platform and which populations may be underserved. Telehealth is this technology that carries promises of bringing medicine to unreachable populations, but innovation often doesn't work like that. Not everyone has internet access, some social groups do not trust the technology, or some conditions cannot be addressed over digital platforms. We need to evaluate the technical and the social systems these technologies lie in to identify and work to combat barriers to access.”

In her few semesters with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Shrikant has made a significant impact. She is a member of the College of Global Futures Council and a part of the SFIS Student Learning Group, which focuses on bringing students within the college and school together through peer mentoring and curriculum reform proposals. She cares about the culture of the school and wants to make sure students are engaged and have a voice.

“I really came into my own when I became an innovation in society major because I found the places that I was truly passionate about. I want to give back to the school that helped me realize what I wanted to do and help other students find those same opportunities.”

Her leadership and influence also extend outside of ASU. She is a mentor and tutor for refugee children in Phoenix and works as a volunteer medical assistant in a Valley clinic. Shrikant is grateful to the school for guiding her ambitions and fueling her curiosity. 

“It's hard not to be curious in this school and college. There are so many amazing projects going on that demand your engagement, and the people in charge of them want your expertise.” 

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

Answer: I'm not from Arizona, so I was not familiar with the intimate history that ASU has with Indigenous and Latinx communities before coming to college. Learning that history was eye-opening, and now it’s a tenet I bring forward in meetings to think about issues related to these communities. I also didn't understand how universities really functioned. After working for ASU in a myriad of capacities, I understand how the university isn't just a school. ASU is vital to the community. It’s an enterprise and patenting all these technologies. In this system, you’re more than just a student if you want to be.

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

A: Assistant Professor Emma Frow has been one of the most impactful people in my life. Her class was the place I had my "aha" moment. She helped me decipher that I don't just want to be a practitioner; I want to be an innovator. I want to be someone that is helping to reconstruct the health systems around us. She has also helped me through the career navigation process and reminded me that it's never too late to change your mind and get involved in what you're passionate about. Also, Assistant Professor Lauren Keeler. In her class, she shared that everyone has expertise in their own experience. To have a professor value our knowledge as students and put us at the forefront was impactful. I use that message all the time in meetings or interviews because I truly believe everyone has something to bring to the table and a unique insight into our world. And finally, Heidi Gracie, my boss in Knowledge Enterprise. She’ll just call me, and we’ll talk for hours. She’s constantly encouraging me to own the power I hold in being an interdisciplinary thinker with a unique skill set. 

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

A: Don't pursue something because you feel like you have to; do things you want to do. If you're trying and working hard, you’re not failing. Assistant Professor Emma Frow has told me that if you're doing something you love, with excitement, passion and hard work, it's going to benefit you. I think that too many kids come to college with this laid out plan, thinking they have to follow this yellow brick road that guarantees success, but those plans change. Just pursue whatever you’re excited about, and you will make your own success.

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

A: I think our country and the world are lacking robust public health infrastructure. I would invest it all into public health research and infrastructure construction because the pill-pushing, industry-centered health business in place now is only worsening the disparities prevalent in society. 

Ashley Richards

Communications Specialist , School for the Future of Innovation in Society