Michigan mom, ASU Online student, finds passion in bones, stones and human evolution


ASU Online student and 2021 Graduate Christina Schroth

ASU Online student and 2021 graduate Christina Schroth.

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

Born and raised in Michigan, Christina Schroth was always intrigued by the archaeological sites of the state's parks and lakes. While acquiring her associate degree at a local college, she took her first anthropology course and fell in love all over again. After receiving an accommodation from her teacher in the field, she thought, “You know what, if I'm going to do a bachelor's, I'm going to do it in anthropology because that's where I belong. It's where things make sense. It's where I feel I fit, where I can contribute to whatever it is I want to contribute to in the world."

With family peppered throughout Arizona, Arizona State University was always on Schroth’s radar. After researching a variety of schools, she ultimately decided on ASU Online because of the university partnerships and the ability to find local internships at schools near her home in Sterling Heights.

Schroth found success in her online classes via virtual tutoring and Sun Devils Connect, a Facebook group to connect online students worldwide. Having a 24-hour tutor available was a game changer. “Math is not my thing and having what felt like a face-to-face tutoring session was amazing.” In regard to Sun Devils Connect, “It’s a constant flow of information. If you’re having problems, someone will help. When the power went out in California, students checked in on each other. When COVID hit, it was a huge support system and everyone was great.” 

Schroth has always felt like a Sun Devil, even as a fully online student. “It’s a big community. While we don’t take on-campus classes, the on-campus students can take classes with us. It’s nice when they are in my classes, it feels like we’re all the same. It’s a big Sun Devil community from all walks of life, different communities, cultures, ethnicities, religions, genders. That’s what I want. I don’t want to be around people who look and think the way I do.” 

The Schroth family will continue to be Sun Devils for generations to come. “My daughter has told me she wants to work for Starbucks so she can go to ASU too.” Schroth is graduating from ASU with her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology. 

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

Answer: The biggest thing was the video work. Whether working on group projects or virtual tutoring, you could log on and be virtually face-to-face with someone. You’re never on your own with classes when virtual office hours are available. These interactions were vital when I took German and math; virtual tutoring was so important for those classes. I’ve never experienced that kind of educational component. One of my classes even had roundtable discussions virtually. We communicated, bonded and were able to better understand the material while the teacher was there to answer questions.

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

A: Several! My math teacher Beth Schlenker. Without even trying, just by being herself, she helped me so much with my math. She was always open and available to help the entire class. Also, several of my anthropology professors: Oana Almasan and Thomas Morgan. If any student is looking to take Bones, Stones, and Human Evolution, you must take it with Morgan. He provides an online textbook with chapter quizzes, he adds music to his lectures, and I always talked to him when I emailed, not an aide or TA. Going through the pandemic this year, all of my professors across the board were supportive. If I needed extra help or time because my kids were now learning from home, teachers completely understood. I’ve had fellow students who live in England or Afghanistan and students dealing with a flood or being stranded and faculty and staff were always amazing. 

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

A: Balance your credits out. For example, if you want to take three or more classes, make sure you take three in Session A and then for Session B, you only take two so you don't overwhelm yourself. Make sure to do that on and off so you don't overwhelm yourself because I have taken three back-to-back classes and it was hard. If you are able to do that, then it really does help alleviate some of the stress. Balance your reading and writing heavy classes with ones that aren’t. Also, make sure you plan your schedule. You don’t necessarily have to have start and end times but it works for me. Break up your day and plan it out. I will work on classes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., have lunch and then spend time with my kids in the afternoon. I also have a planner. I love to cross off homework I’ve completed. A planner is a huge benefit and it really helps. If you have the means, think about getting an iPad and Apple Pencil. Some of your reading will be Adobe documents and you can highlight right on the iPad. You also save paper and money by not printing everything.  

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Because of COVID, I still need field experience. My plan after graduation is to find an entry-level job or internship position within my field. A museum would be great and we have two that are close, including the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Sadly, I was set to visit the English catacombs while learning bioarchaeology but the trip was planning right when COVID began. I hope I can still go in the future.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: My husband brought my desk into the front room of my house. If I need to get something done and the kids are home, I lock myself in that room. If Mom has an open door, the kids will come to me wanting to talk or tell me fun facts. The desk and the space helped me feel like I was back in the classroom. We have a routine now, they are both great until about lunch time. 

Q: Tell us about your best Sun Devil moment or experience.

A: It’s when I applied for my program. You don’t know if you’ll get in and you keep checking and checking and waiting. Then you see it, the “Congratulations.” All I could think was, “Oh my gosh, it’s happening. I’m a Sun Devil.” The next best moment was when I received my ID card. The gold card, my picture, my name, it’s a life affirming $20. I don’t see a lot of maroon and gold in Michigan so it was beautiful to see. I also keep Sparky dolls throughout the house. 

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

A: I feel strong about race inclusion. It’s my anthropology mind. Homosapiens are homosapiens. I try to be aware of racism and how it presents by trying to remember that those of color, and anyone for that matter, is more than just a color. Africa is a big country, and so are the many islands around it with all different cultures and civilizations and ways of life. South and North America, Europe, and Asia, etc., are all full of amazing cultural heritage and are all equally as important. As a society we need acceptance of the idea that "it's ok to be different" and to find the human connections within each culture is not as hard as working against it.

Written by Tuesday Mahrle, earned media specialist for EdPlus at Arizona State University

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