Uber driver finds her passion through second career

ASU Online student, Uber Driver and 2021 Graduate Emily Kuckelman

ASU Online student, Uber driver and 2021 graduate Emily Kuckelman.

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

This is Emily Kuckelman’s second bachelor's degree and second professional career. Kuckelman originally began in elementary education. While she enjoyed teaching, she always had a passion for technology and design, and was amazed when her friends would attend a coding bootcamp and become fully-educated developers when they finished.

Kuckelman decided she needed to find something within the technology industry that excited her. By taking some introductory courses, she found her niche will be graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology with a focus in web development and user experience design. 

Kuckelman came to ASU Online via the partnership between ASU and Uber, where she has been a driver for over four years now. When she learned details about the partnership, she was overjoyed. 

“I couldn’t believe I had the ability to get a bachelor's degree fully online through such a well known and highly regarded school! In this day and age, there are many colleges offering online degrees but none of them has the glowing recommendations that ASU has,” she said. 

When tackling long hours of homework, she found home to be the best place to study.

“I have a home office setup that allows me to not be distracted but also lets my dog lay right by my desk. The best study situation.”

When not working or studying, Kuckelman enjoys hiking, kayaking, and snowboarding where she lives in Montana. 

Throughout her time at ASU Online, Kuckelman’s favorite aspect of being a Sun Devil was finding like-minded, passionate people among her classmates.

“I have made some friends through a few of my classes who I really have come to lean on for guidance and help in my career goals and with school,” she said.

She found a sense of community while finishing school amidst a global pandemic. "It’s a journey none of us planned for when we started school and I feel like I have bonded with a number of classmates in this journey to graduation.”

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

Answer: I learned a lot about the graphic industry's history and how it is really the perfect combination of art and technology. I think that my biggest surprise was how the digital world wouldn't exist the way that it does without art and that by studying it and the patterns that design has evolved from and reverted back to in some ways, can really help you as a designer.

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

A: Prescott Perez-Fox was the most impactful professor for me because his class not only teaches you skills to create a brand identity and portfolio to help you get a job, but also teaches you the honest truth about what searching for a job looks like. He taught life lessons that only someone that's been in the industry as long as he has could teach.

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

A: Finding what you are truly passionate about makes it a great deal easier when you are spending hours upon hours honing your skills and studying every week. Figure out what you care about or a job that excites you and choose a major that will give you the skill set to help you get there.

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

A: Getting my honor cords in the mail was one of my proudest moments. I have always had a hard time with school in the past so getting these cords that represent just how much I have grown as a person and student felt really good.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to become a full-time product designer for the fully remote company that I currently have an internship with.

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

A: I would use the money to help with climate change however I could, whether that be by funding the creation of renewable energy such as wind turbines. There is a lot of really cool research around wind turbines in the ocean and I would fund the creation of more of these across the world to help bring green energy to high populated areas and even bring power to places without reliable electricity.

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

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