Inspired by her family to pursue higher education, Arizona State University transfer student Nora Thompson decided to begin her studies at Pima Community College to better prepare for the academic realities of attending a university.
Although Thompson felt she was never the kind of person who excelled in academics, she knew how proud her family would be if she were to attain her bachelor's degree. Both of her parents and her brother began their studies at a community college as well and could attest to the benefits of starting there to build a foundation for success.
While attending Pima Community College, Thompson majored in journalism and was editor-in-chief of the college's newspaper, the Aztec Press. But during Thompson's final semester at the community college, she interned with an advocacy group that was trying to improve felony disenfranchisement. There, she had the opportunity to meet people in her community who were working toward the same goal and spoke with incarcerated people in Arizona, discussing policies that would enable them to get their voting rights back.
After this experience, Thompson realized she didn't want to only write about politics, but wanted to be directly involved as well. She decided to major in public policy instead, and she never looked back. She graduated from ASU in spring 2021.
While at Pima Community College, Thompson focused on taking the classes that would get her closer to her bachelor's degree by creating her own ASU major map. We talked with Thompson about her motivations for transferring to ASU and about the path that led her here.
Question: Why did you decide to attend community college?
Answer: I was never very good in school. I was super involved with sports and music classes, but grades weren't my motivation. I ended up in a position where I didn't have the grades to be accepted into a university and I didn't want to retake the SAT. So I instead decided to go to my local community college on the advice of my family.
Q: Were you involved in any clubs or organizations at your community college? If so, please share which one(s) and how your participation impacted your community college experience.
A: I was a journalism major while I was in community college. Most notably, I was editor-in-chief of Pima Community College's newspaper, the Aztec Press. This improved my life greatly, as I loved leadership and I loved writing. It was a soft landing ground for me, a place to go when I got to school and meet up with friends. This is where I made professional connections and lifelong friends. I still read their newspaper from time to time when I'm in Tucson or browsing online.
Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major?
A: My final semester of community college I interned with an advocacy group that was trying to improve felony disenfranchisement. I was a journalism student at this point. I had been accepted into the Cronkite School and was planning to be a journalist when I graduated. But after this experience, my life kind of did a 180 and I realized that I wanted to do more than write about politics — I wanted direct involvement. So I shopped around for a little while and landed on public policy. I haven't looked back, I love my major so much.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: In truth I wanted to go to the Cronkite School; it was a good program and I was passionate about it at the time. I ended up changing my major, but I'm still so happy that I did.
Q: How did your ASU pathway program or MyPath2ASU help you?
A: I took classes at Pima Community College that would transfer to ASU based on my major map. I was taking courses that helped get me closer to my bachelor's degree. This was best for me because I always had the mindset that I would be transferring to ASU as soon as I could.
Q: What did you enjoy most about your ASU experience?
A: I decided to write for one of the student publications at ASU and ended up meeting my best friends. I also applied to student government to be a senator — on a whim — and I became the Downtown Phoenix campus student body president, in addition to helping to start the Watts College Council.
Q: Were you involved in any clubs, organizations, research or internships?
A: Yes! I was the student body president and was involved in the Watts College undergraduate research program, working with faculty on a project that I presented on this past April. Over the summer, I also worked at Mayor (Kate) Gallego's office in Phoenix and had been chosen to be a part of the Capitol Scholars program, but due to COVID-19 the program was unfortunately canceled. I was a first-year success coach as well and was further involved with Downtown Devil as a staff reporter.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?
A: You shouldn't stray away from getting involved! Even if it's just getting a job on campus, you should do something to participate in the ASU community.
Q: Plans after graduating with your bachelor's degree?
A: This is a fantastic question. I have no idea. I am leaning heavily towards graduate school for a master's in public administration, but I am also looking for a job in the meantime.
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