ASU grad carries on her mother’s legacy of working with children


April 19, 2021

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

Growing up in a small town in Washington, Cate Marken knew from a very young age she wanted to make a difference in her rural community. Her mother, a second grade teacher, instilled in her a love of learning and showed her how to serve others daily. Cate Marken Photo courtesy of Cate Marken Download Full Image

With the help of several scholarships — including the Brandon Scott Koetje Memorial Scholarship from her hometown, the New American University  Scholarship, and the Dean’s Circle Scholarship— this small-town girl was ready for a move to a much bigger city.

The lead community assistant in Barrett, The Honors College, 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.

Marken acquired her love of research at ASU. “I’ve had the privilege to work with Sarah Lindstrom-Johnson for the past two years,” she said. “I started out as just a microbiology student. I thought that research would only be sitting in a lab with your goggles and test tubes, but she showed me a whole other side of research that is working with people, which is what I love doing.”

She often had a front row seat in witnessing the efforts her mother and other teachers made in their community by sharing ideas on how to impact students’ lives. She hopes to carry on her mother’s legacy in working with children in her own way, by helping them become their best selves.

“One person can make a huge impact on (kids) just by caring. Caring can get them the community resources available to help them change direction.”

Marken shared more about her experience at ASU.

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

Answer: When I was in sixth grade, Paul Tough wrote an article for The New Yorker called “The Poverty Clinic” about Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris and adverse childhood experiences. Fast forward to my first year of college and I took human development as an elective. As soon as I heard our professor utter the words “adverse childhood experiences,” I knew I was in the right place, and that day I added family and human development as a double major.

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

A: The best lesson I got from my time at ASU is that it’s OK to lean on other people when you’re struggling. I thought I constantly had to be an academic powerhouse to get by, but after all of my personal struggles, I started realizing I could be so much happier — and more successful — if I let friends, family and colleagues support me through challenges. Overall, I think that boils down to letting yourself be vulnerable with the people who love you.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: At first it was because I wanted to be in a big city. Moving into the dorms and starting classes let me realize going to school out-of-state was a chance to become independent and learn about myself after being raised in such a small town.

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

A: During my thesis this year, Dr. Lindstrom-Johnson made a great point that the work I do now won’t be the best I ever do, because I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me to improve as a scientist. 

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

A: My best advice would be not to judge yourself too harshly. College is the time to learn our strengths and weaknesses, and failure is a natural part of that experience. Giving yourself some grace is always a good choice.

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

A: I love the Academic Court in the Barrett Complex. Especially for the sake of social distancing, I always have a great time sitting in the grass with my friends to catch up or do homework.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m headed out to some of the national parks around the Southwest to take a breather with my friends, then I’ll be working as a medical assistant and studying for the MCAT. I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned over the last four years and put that into clinical experience.

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

A: One of the issues I’d love to tackle is getting doctors and health care professionals into rural areas of the country. Our national physician shortage has negatively impacted the people who need high-quality care the most, and putting $40 million dollars into training pediatricians and family doctors would go a long way. Needless to say, the highest quality training we can provide for new doctors includes learning about their own biases and adapting their practices to a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

Shelley Linford

Marketing and Communications Manager, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

ASU Online sociology grad plans to help other students achieve their dreams


April 19, 2021

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

After becoming a new mom, Quenette Martinez knew she wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree. However, she 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. Quenette Martinez Photo courtesy of Quenette Martinez Download Full Image

“It is because of the support of ASU staff and faculty through the online program that I am now able to say that I have achieved my dreams of completing my bachelor’s degree, not only for myself, but for my daughter,” Martinez said.

She feels a huge reason for her success is the constant care from one of her professors, Beverly Carlsen-Landy. Martinez was able to take a couple courses taught by Carlsen-Landy and moved on to become her teaching assistant.

“I’ve never had a relationship with any professor,” she said. “I truly never thought it was possible. You just go to class, do your work and go back home. But she goes above and beyond to make those connections with her students, even in the online setting. She really encourages us to connect with other students, as well.”

Listen: Beverly Carlsen-Landy talks about online teaching.

Another resource Martinez is grateful for during her time at ASU is the support from her success coach. Going to school as a new mother was challenging at times and having someone to talk to helped keep her motivated. She recalls the time she was in the hospital in labor during finals week. Her coach called her at the right moment and encouraged her to keep going and to finish the course as best she could. Martinez studied in the hospital and took her finals. This impactful experience inspired her to give back to other college students by coaching them to achieve their goals.

Martinez excelled in her studies and was on the Dean’s List every semester. She is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in sociology. We talked to Martinez to learn more about her experience at ASU.

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

Answer: When I began my first sociology class at ASU, I knew that I wanted to major in sociology. Exploring the theories and structure of society reminded me that in order to see an effective change in society, first I must understand the history that has led to what society is now. Once I was exposed to the theories on how society functions as a whole and how individuals within the society significantly impact social norms, I knew I wanted to pursue my bachelor’s in sociology. 

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

A: While at ASU, a majority, if not all, of my classes required students to complete research using peer-reviewed journals. Throughout this process, I recognized that a lot of information that we receive through various (media) outlets are simply not true, but rather based on opinion and noncredible sources. This changed my perspective of social media because I realized that while individual opinions do matter, they can be misleading and create false narratives of the world. I learned the importance of doing research and fact-checking as a tool to better understand society and implement effective change.

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

A: I have learned various lessons from multiple professors during my time at ASU,  but there is one professor who taught me a very important lesson that I will carry with me. Dr. Beverly Carlsen-Landy taught me that empathy can move mountains. I enrolled in her course during the pandemic, a time of uncertainty and doubt. However, she encouraged her students to keep moving forward and went above and beyond to ensure that we were successful in her class. Dr. Beverly Carlsen-Landy taught me that professors are human too, and it was exactly what I needed. At that moment, I knew that I had the support of ASU to walk me on my journey to completing my bachelor’s degree. 

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

A: My advice to students in school would be practice time management and set a weekly schedule, read your course syllabi and ask questions when you do not understand something.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: As an online student, I had to set the tone for my study sessions at home and in the community. My favorite place for power studying was at a local coffee shop — prior to the pandemic. Creating a safe space where I could focus and feel peace was critical to me as an online student. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I plan to expand my life coaching business. My passion is to serve as a life coach to college students, while providing emotional and academic support. I will be doing more networking and providing low-cost group sessions to support students in their personal and academic lives so that they too can experience the joy of graduating.

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

A: If I had $40 million to solve one problem on our planet it would be emotional and mental health. I believe that some of the largest issues in our world stem from the lack of emotional and mental health. Therefore, I would use the $40 million to conduct research on the mental and emotional health of children and how it impacts adulthood, in hope of creating resources and continuous support to bridge the gap between the traumas of childhood and adulthood.

Shelley Linford

Marketing and Communications Manager, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics