Triple major graduates, looks forward to law school
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
Cyrus Commissariat grew up in Los Angeles but moved to Arizona when he was in middle school and has called it home ever since. He is the grandchild and child of immigrants and his family taught him that the value of a good education was critical for succeeding.
“Education was always pushed in my house as among the most important things one can do in their life,” Commissariat said.
He took their words to heart and not only pursued an education, but found that he loved school and learning. After receiving the Achieving a College Education scholarship from Paradise Valley Community College, he was able to transfer to Arizona State University with 30 credits.
“With the generous full four-year scholarship that ASU provided for me, I said I would make the most of my undergrad,” said Commissariat.
And make the most of it, he did. Commissariat will be graduating this semester with bachelor’s degrees in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies and French from the School of International Letters and Cultures.
In addition to his triple majors, he is earning minors in sustainability from the School of Sustainability and public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs and certificates in cross-sector leadership from Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and international studies from the School of Politics and Global Studies.
“It is all about priorities and time management,” Commissariat said. “I got ahead when I could and I took full advantage of A and B session courses.”
We caught up with him to ask about his time at ASU.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)
Answer: I entered ASU as a political science student because I have always loved politics and then gradually added more majors as I took classes with different professors.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: One insight that I have gained from the internships I did around the state legislature is that knowing people and making genuine friendships is more important than any bullet point on a resume. Networking can sound like a very shallow word but I think of it as investing in people and coming through for one another. These investments have really made all the difference in my academic and professional life.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I am a very proud Arizonan and ASU was the more cost-effective choice for me. I was awarded a really generous scholarship with the Next Generation Service Corps, a program committed to creating the next generation of public servants. Additionally, this is a university committed to diversity, innovation and serving the state of Arizona, all of which make this an excellent institution to attend.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: In three degree programs, I have had some really stellar professors whose passion for teaching really shines through. In history, Professor (Stanley) Mirvis makes Jewish history come alive while also grounding his lectures in the real world. Professors (Marie) Winter and (Frederic) Canovas of the French department rapidly expanded my understanding of French culture and language. A truly gifted educator makes all the difference and ASU has no shortage of gifted educators. Indeed among the most gifted educators I have had are Professor (Derrick) Anderson, Congressman (Matt) Salmon and President (Michael) Crow. All three of which taught about policy in the real world with such tenacity that it confirmed I was in the right place studying the right things.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Say "yes" to as many things as you possibly can — while still making your mental health a priority. ASU has so many things to offer, so reach out to the professor who works in the research center you enjoy or go to that event that your CA is putting on. You never know the benefit you might gain. People love talking about themselves so the risk of being rejected is very low and the chance to discover a new passion is high.
This semester was supposed to be an easy one but then one of my favorite professors, Professor Anderson, reached out to me and encouraged me to take the graduate course on science and technology policy that he teaches with Dr. Crow. How could I say no? Being in the hot seat answering Dr. Crow's questions on policy is an unenviable position to be in but I can honestly say it is among the most interesting classes I have ever taken and it has been so gratifying.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I am a history major so definitely Old Main! I love feeling like I am a part of ASU's history and it really is a very pretty spot to hang out for a bit.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I will be attending Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law where I will focus on public interest law.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Education inequity is a real problem in our community and we have to be doing more to make sure the next generation of Arizonans are prepared for a 21st century economy. We are doing some really great things like the teacher academy but when 152 educators are laid off in Gilbert instead of kept on to reduce class sizes, we have a real problem.