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


Nurse practitioner graduate looking to break barriers in emergency departments

April 16, 2021

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

When Reynaldo Kieser was 17 years old, he randomly selected nursing as his major when applying for university in his home state of Texas.  ASU doctor of nursing practice graduate Reynaldo Kieser poses in his white NP coat Reynaldo Kieser has already landed his dream job as an emergency nurse practitioner in a local organization. Download Full Image

“There was no preconceived thought about it. I don’t have any nurses in my family, and I never had any exposure to nursing as a child or teenager,” Kieser said. 

His introduction to nursing may have happened by chance but once Kieser found himself in the program, and eventually in the career, he knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be.  

From the start, he was drawn to emergency medicine. He worked at a high acuity trauma hospital for three years before deciding he needed a change and took a position as a traveling nurse. That job landed him in Arizona, where he has been an emergency nurse for seven years. He loved emergency nursing but started to want more out of his career.

“I knew that I was reaching a point where I wanted to expand my knowledge, scope of practice and what else I could do to help people,” he said. 

As that idea was percolating, he met April Hill, an emergency nurse practitioner and Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation faculty member. She mentioned the college was starting an emergency nurse practitioner graduate certificate program, something she thought he should look into. 

And so, he had another decision to make, but this time he knew exactly what he was doing. He applied and got accepted to the advanced nursing practice (family nurse practitioner), DNP program.

Reynaldo Kieser participates in an immersion experience, opening the airway of a pediatric patient

Reynaldo Kieser participates in an emergency nurse practitioner immersion experience as part of his graduate certificate program.

“ASU is great in that they offer a doctoral program, which is a terminal degree. I can finish the program knowing that I’ll have the highest education level for nurses. And also the whole point of me doing Edson College’s program was the emergency nurse practitioner certificate,” said Kieser.

He continued to work while in school. His drive comes from a place of wanting to prove that nurse practitioners not only belong in emergency medicine but can thrive there too. He says nurse practitioners deserve a spot at the table in any setting. 

By his side, through it, all was his husband, Brock. In fact, Kieser credits Brock for being able to take on as much as he has and for getting through the program.

“My husband is my No. 1 supporter. When I got into the program I knew some things on the homefront would have to move to the back burner and he took it like a champ. He picked up in the areas I was lacking; he’s been my partner, pushing me through the program, supporting me emotionally and encouraging me to continue even on the days when I’m just like, 'I don’t know how I can do all of this,'” he said.

A less intense schedule is just around the corner. Kieser passed his family nurse practitioner exam and was offered his dream job. He starts in August.

Ahead of graduation, he took some time to look back on his experience and the moments that meant the most.

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

Answer: I was planning to do this program with as few extras as possible because I was continuing to work full time, be a spouse, dog dad and a friend. But I kept finding myself involved unexpectedly. For example, I ended up not only getting involved in the Graduate Nurses Organization but becoming the president as well.

The biggest thing I learned was the best way to lead is to serve, and that’s what GNO taught me. You can be an effective leader by who you serve, whether it be a community or fellow students. It also taught me that the team you surround yourself with is the key to success and learning how to trust that team is going to make you more impactful as a leader.

In the family nurse practitioner program, we focus not only on being exceptional clinicians but also leaders in the community. I feel as though I learned a lot about leadership during my tenure as president of GNO. So I’m very grateful for that experience and I’m hopeful those skills will transfer into my professional practice as well.  

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

A: They are all so great it’s really hard to narrow it down but Instructor April Hill for sure has been important. She was a catalyst to me starting, a mentor throughout and has basically guided just about every step I’ve made in this program. I want to follow in her footsteps and make an impact in emergency medicine for nurse practitioners. 

Also Charlotte Thrall, the family nurse practitioner program coordinator. There was a moment with her that I don’t even know if she remembers, but it was something she did that was so easy to do, so simple but it made such a big impact. She said, “You’re going to be a great nurse practitioner,” and then walked away. And I didn’t know that I needed that so much at that time. This was like the middle of the program, I was balancing a full-time load, adding the emergency certificate and leadership role in GNO to what I was already doing, and dealing with the COVID pandemic at work. So hearing that I was like, "Wow, I needed that more than I thought I did." And it just relit a fire that I felt may have been fading at that time.  

I’m a faculty associate as well for the undergraduate program and I use that same idea, understanding that at this point in their nursing program students need to hear that they’re going to be great, that they will do amazing — so I bring that into my own teaching. 

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

A: You are capable of more than you think. That’s the biggest piece of advice I would give anyone starting the DNP program at ASU. And also, you will have more support through this program than you may realize initially. This program is really challenging. It’s a lot of information, a lot of clinical hours. But, it’s not meant to be easy! It’s the highest degree of nursing and for some of us who continue working you can feel like you’re struggling to get by but you have resources to help you.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: There’s a balcony at Mercado C that I like to eat lunch at. It’s nice and shaded, not a lot of traffic — so you can just sort of escape from everything and everyone. That’s been my favorite spot.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I just landed an emergency nurse practitioner job in a local organization here in Phoenix, and I will be the only nurse practitioner in that role across the entire organization’s multiple emergency departments. Currently, the emergency departments are monopolized by physicians and physician assistants. I’m hoping that I can open the door for more nurse practitioners in the department, especially those from ASU. I may be the only one for now but I won’t be the only one forever. 

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation