Justice studies grad reflects on seizing opportunities, overcoming imposter syndrome

April 16, 2021

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

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. Tylie DiBene Tylie DiBene will graduate from Arizona State University this spring with a bachelor’s degree in justice studies, a minor in criminology and criminal justice and a minor in women and gender studies. Download Full Image

“Thank you for teaching me to be the person that I am, giving me the confidence to follow and chase my dreams. If it weren't for being in such a great and accepting community, I don't think I'd be where I am today and going for the goals that I had set for myself a long time ago,” said DiBene, who will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in justice studies, a minor in criminology and criminal justice and a minor in women and gender studies.

Having grown up in Nogales, Arizona, DiBene said many of her peers went to the University of Arizona due to proximity. But she had her heart set on ASU and quickly built a community at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I was very fortunate to build my community right before I came to ASU. I enrolled in the Early Start program for justice studies and through that I was able to connect with professors, peers within my college and set a foundation,” she said.

DiBene’s involvement on campus continued over the next four years through ASU’s First-Year Success coaching and as a chartering member of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter at ASU.

“My involvement in Greek life and Greek life leadership has impacted my ASU experience by teaching me more about myself and my ability to be a leader. I gained such a strong community and it taught me to be the best version of myself and shaped me into the person I was always meant to be,” she said.

DiBene shared more about her experiences at ASU:

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I decided to come to ASU really early on. I’m from Nogales, Arizona, which is about an hour away from Tucson; everybody was going to the University of Arizona and I was the stubborn one saying, “No, I'm going to go to ASU, I love ASU.” I ultimately made the decision in my senior year of high school when I toured the campus and I saw how great it was and I was able to speak to so many people and learn about all of the resources ASU had and the different options that I had for my career and major paths. Actually being on campus and seeing it and seeing so many friendly faces made me decide that this was the community I wanted to be in.

Q: How did philanthropy impact your ASU experience?

A: I received a scholarship coming out of high school from the Nogales scholarship association and one in college from the Phoenix Panhellenic Association. Both scholarships were so important to me because it tied me back to the communities I am most passionate about and helped in furthering my education. In receiving both scholarships, I felt that I had a community that believed in me and trusted in the fact that I would make the most out of my education.

Q: Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study your major(s) or what drew you to the degree program?

A: My senior year of high school, when I was looking into the different degrees that I could go into, I knew that I wanted to do something that would help people. I was looking at different career options online and found justice studies. I researched it a little bit and saw that it was all about social justice and figuring out how the world works for people and how we navigate it and how we can make it a better place for everyone with different identities. That made me decide that this is exactly what I wanted to go into. Especially since at a very young age, I realized that I wanted to go to law school. I wanted to be the defense attorney to help people that don't always have the voice amplification that they need. With justice studies, I knew that that was exactly what I needed to do to get to where I want it to be.

Q: What opportunities or classes have helped prepare you for your future career?

A: Fall of 2019, I took Justice 465 Death Penalty in the U.S. with Professor Susan Corey. Taking class with her was really important for me because it gave me a lot of insight as to what the job of a criminal defense attorney really entails and the type of people that I would be helping, and ultimately why I want to go into that field.

Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way? If yes, how did you overcome them?

A: A lot of the obstacles that I experienced were related to imposter syndrome that I had. I was constantly looking at my peers and thinking: They're working at law firms; they're doing internships. I had a lot of moments where I took a step back and asked, “Am I supposed to be here? Am I smart enough to be here? Am I good enough to be here? Do I belong here?” What helped me overcome that is actually becoming a First-Year Success coach. Talking to students who were like me, feeling the same things, and then telling them that they do belong here helped me teach myself the same lesson.

Q: What was the most valuable lesson or skill you learned while at ASU?

A: The most valuable lesson that I learned at The College was actually taught to me by my First-Year Success coach, Aishwarya. I went into a meeting with her and was feeling really anxious because all of my peers were already looking into internships and job opportunities. I explained this to her and she reminded me that my path is completely unique to me — at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what my peers are doing because whatever I do is going to lead me to where I need to be and I just need to focus on that. That was life-changing for me.

Q: What message or advice would you share for future first-year students?

A: Enjoy every single moment. Your four years go by quicker than high school. I know in high school, we all thought that was the fastest thing ever, but in reality college is. There are so many opportunities — there's clubs and organizations, job opportunities, resources with your professors, study abroad and research opportunities — that you can go into. So do that, take every chance you can. But with that being said, always evaluate yourself. Always make sure that you're not pushing yourself to an extent that you can't go, because if you don't rest, your body will pick a date to rest and it won't be the most convenient of times. Know that it's OK to take a break.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I was going to go into law school right after undergrad in fall 2021 but then the pandemic happened and I just realized that I needed to take a step back and kind of regain my steps, find myself again. So I found a really great job opportunity as a legal assistant and after graduation I will work there full time and prepare for law school in fall of 2022.

Kirsten Kraklio

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


Dean’s Medalist observes the early universe with fearless enthusiasm

April 16, 2021

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

This May, Junehyoung Jeon will be graduating from ASU with a Bachelor of Science degree in astrophysics from the School of Earth and Space Exploration with honors from Barrett, The Honors College and a minor in physics. He is also 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.    School of Earth and Space Exploration Dean's Medalist Junehyoung Jeon. Download Full Image

Jeon was born in Seongnam, South Korea. His father's work sent his family to Liberia, where he attended the American International School and finished elementary school.

“My parents thought that I wouldn't fit very well coming back to Korea, so they enrolled me in a school in New York to continue with the American school curriculum,” said Jeon. “I decided that I wanted to study astrophysics during that time and graduated high school. Since then, I have been just trying to achieve my goal which led me to Arizona, and after graduation, I will be moving to Texas.”

At ASU, Jeon was active in Professor Rogier Windhorst’s cosmology research group and in Windhorst’s AST 322 course (Introduction to Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics). As part of the AST 322 class, Jeon wrote a Python solver for the set of Friedman equations that govern the expansion of space in general relativity. 

“Junehyoung Jeon has been one of my very best undergraduate students in my research group at ASU in the last 34 years,” said Windhorst. “He single-handedly took it upon himself to model and address how much ionizing radiation can come from galaxies in the first billion years as observed with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and has submitted his paper for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

Jean has been accepted into the doctoral program for astronomy at the University of Texas in Austin, where he will work with faculty to use the James Webb Space Telescope to build on this important work. 

“Keep an eye on him,” said Windhorst. “A lot more good work will be forthcoming from him.”

 Jeon answered some questions about his time here at Arizona State University.  

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: It was around middle school when I started thinking about what I wanted to do in the future. Science always interested me, and among the different fields of science, physics seemed the most interesting being a more fundamental natural science. In physics, astrophysics seemed to be a topic with the most interesting phenomena and objects to learn about and study, so I chose to study astrophysics since then. 

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

A: I thought before that research was something you'd mainly get involved in at a higher level of education. However, by contacting and working with different professors at ASU, research has been my main work, apart from my classes, especially towards the last few semesters. If you are able to dedicate the time, you could start to work on things you want to in the future, as the faculty here supports you through it for as much as you need. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I was accepted into the Barrett Honors College, which I knew was a unique opportunity. Furthermore, ASU offered me a New University Scholarship, which was a rare opportunity for an international student like myself who could not apply to many scholarships offered only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. 

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

A: Professor Rogier Windhorst was the most influential to me at ASU. He guided me through writing of my senior/honors thesis, which also is becoming my first publication. It's not a single piece of advice or a tip that Rogier gave me, but a general lesson on doing research in astrophysics and presenting the results.

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

A: Ask for help when needed. The professors helped me when I wanted to be involved in research. The classmates helped me through classes. The university houses other various people who are willing to help you, so ask for help, maybe even asking to find who you can go to for help.

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

A: The Noble Library was located between many of the buildings where I usually had classes, with comfortable seats and an environment for studying. I used it for versatile reasons: studying for my classes, resting before moving between buildings on campus, or meeting with others for various reasons.

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

A: As someone interested in astrophysics, I would use the funding for machine learning or creating simulations of astrophysical objects. With the Hubble Space Telescope and the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, the data available in astrophysics is getting too large to be handled by people alone, and machine learning would be the logical next step to better analyze the observational data. We need powerful computers to run complex simulations of globular clusters, reionization and such to discover how the universe evolved and to help solve intellectual questions and problems that currently exist.

Media Relaitons and Marketing Manager, School of Earth & Space Exploration