‘Like salt on Fritos’: ASU grad thanks her advising wizard

April 19, 2021

No offense to her fellow classmates, but recent ASU grad Jessie Erbe didn’t like the sound of “Class of 2021.”

To her ear, graduating in an even-numbered year landed better. ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts academic success coordinator Melody Bernstein and counseling and applied psychological science graduate Jessie Erbe ASU academic success coordinator Melody Bernstein (left) and counseling and applied psychological science graduate Jessie Erbe (right) connected for a chat and high-five on Zoom earlier this semester. “I only met with Melody once in person, but I must’ve emailed her close to 500 times during my last year at ASU!” Erbe said. Download Full Image

“Besides, I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done and keep moving forward,” said Erbe.

She had transferred to ASU in August 2019 after earning an associate of arts degree in psychology at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Erbe then moved seamlessly into the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in counseling and applied psychological science, in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU's Polytechnic campus. 

A few days after finishing her first semester in the program, she set about plotting a course to accelerate her degree completion.

“Psychology professor Laura Jimenez Arista suggested I make an advising appointment with Melody Bernstein,” said Erbe. “So I went in with some classes in mind for spring 2020 as well as with my crazy idea to try to finish my remaining 50 credits in a year.

“Mel was on it like salt on Fritos,” Erbe said.

“When Jessie shared with me her ambitious goal, I was completely honest with her that it was going to be difficult,” said Bernstein, academic success coordinator in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. “It would mean taking classes in the summer and getting permission to enroll in more credit hours than typically allowed in a single session as well as some prerequisite waivers from faculty.

“But Jessie was up for it, so we devised a game plan, juggling her remaining requirements with when certain classes would be offered throughout the year.”

From that day forward the two were, to quote Erbe, “On. A. Mission.”

“Jessie obviously needed a lot of ‘yeses’ from CISA staff and faculty to help get her schedule just right to meet her goal,” Bernstein noted. “And it helped that she’d already taken and done well in 10 psychology courses, but that doesn’t diminish the amount of hard work that Jessie put in during her time here at ASU.

“If she ran into an issue with a tough class, she didn’t just give up,” Bernstein continued. “Jessie would reach out to the instructor for help, and study more until she understood the concepts.”

Erbe completed the bachelor’s degree in December 2020 with a 4.0 GPA while working multiple jobs.

“Jessie was a dream student to advise! She showed determination reaching out to so many different staff and faculty members on her own. She advocated for herself but always had us here in advising if things didn’t go as planned,” Bernstein said. “Jessie is passionate, intelligent and thoughtful. I know she’ll be successful with whatever she puts her mind to.”

After reflecting on her accomplishment, Erbe put her mind to composing a note of gratitude to send to Bernstein’s supervisor, Jamie Eggerling. 

What’s up next for Erbe? 

“I’m quitting both jobs next month, packing a backpack and going on an expedition to visit family and friends. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t seen my family in five years!” said Erbe, whose hometown is Joliet, Illinois. “So I’ll visit Alabama, Illinois, Vermont, the Carolinas, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

“I still need to nourish and be present in so many friendships; it’s my responsibility as a friend to love them a bit more than a postcard and Ubereats surprises. Although I am present by being a phone call away, I need to meet their new babies, stand up in their weddings, comment on their new bathroom tile, and break bread with them.”

After that, Erbe’s been considering doing a year-and-a-half online program at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, in Tempe, to get her practitioner’s license in holistic nutrition.

“I believe food and gut health play such a huge role in psychology and would love to bridge that gap,” she said. “Or I may decide to come back and pursue a master’s at ASU. If so, you can guess who my first point of contact will be!”

Maureen Roen

Director, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


ASU honors student planning for military service when he graduates in May

April 20, 2021

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

Community involvement, academics and public service were hallmarks of Patrick DeNero’s student experience at Arizona State University. Patrick DeNero Patrick DeNero plans to serve in the U.S. Army after graduating ASU with honors. Download Full Image

DeNero, whose hometown in Queen Creek, Arizona, is set to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in finance with honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

While a student, DeNero was very busy serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp, extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities, and holding down jobs at a bakery, a restaurant and a movie theater.

Since 2015, he has volunteered with Feed My Starving Children preparing food packages for distribution to needy children. His volunteer work dates back to high school when he went to Mexico to helped out at a men’s homeless rehabilitation center and assist with constructing a church. He also volunteered in China where he taught English, science and American culture to more than 500 youth in four different cities. In 2016 he was given the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for contributions to worldwide community service.

We asked DeNero to reflect on his time as a student at ASU.

Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Answer: In my second semester at ASU, I was able to balance two full time jobs, take 18 credits (6 classes), participate in ASU's Army ROTC program, as well as participate in extra-curricular activities such as the ASU Fencing club and a social fraternity.

Q: Barrett Honors College requires students to complete a thesis or creative project. What was your thesis/creative project about?

A: My thesis title is “An Analysis on Multiple Economic and Social Changes that Occurred within the United States from 1985 to 2019, and How Those Changes Affected the Average College Graduate's (from 1985 versus 2019) Ability to Prepare for Retirement.”

It discusses the major economic and social changes in America as they pertain to the attainability of retirement and whether or not these changes have made it harder or easier for individuals today to retire compared to 35 years ago. 

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized what you wanted to do?

A: While a senior in high school, in my economics class, I fell in love with the field of economics and finance, and through my first finance/business classes at ASU, I knew that finance was the major for me.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU — in no particular order — due to its locality to my hometown, having both one of the top rated business schools and one of the top rated honors programs, as well as having an excellent veteran's center and outreach program. 

Q: What is an important lesson you learned at ASU?

A: I learned this lesson in my ENG302 class with Professor Alex Comeaux: No matter what, no matter how many things you have to do, and have going on, there is always a path to success that is paved with hard work and dedication. 

Q: What is the best advice you have for students still in school?

A: My best advice to those who are still in school, especially to the underclassmen: Take it easy, but take it. Meaning don't over work yourself, but work hard on what you can. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus to read, study or just hang out?

A: The top of "A" mountain is by far the most relaxing, peaceful and beautiful spot on campus. 

Q: What are your plans for after you graduate?

A: After graduation I plan on going into the active duty component of the U.S Army, as I have been in the reserve component for nearly five years.

Q: If you were given $40 million to invest however you wanted, what would you do with it?

A: If I were given $40 million, I would put it towards helping solve homelessness and helping the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. 

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College