Marketing director returns to ASU after 25 years, completes online master’s degree
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.
For nearly everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic has come with major life changes, new routines and maybe a different outlook on life. Arizona State University student Kelly Freter is no exception.
“As the pandemic took hold, I was lucky enough to still be working, but I was at home and as everyone knows, everything was different,” Freter said. “During that forced change, I finally paid attention to that nagging feeling of wanting to find what was next.”
What was next for Freter was something she never expected — pursuing a master’s degree in political psychology from ASU at 46 years old. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from ASU in 1996.
“It will be 25 years between my two degrees, and I’ve found myself reflecting a little on this ASU-bookended journey,” she said. “... For me, my ASU story isn’t about how it’s never too late. I think I’m more excited about what comes next, just like I was at 21, although I’m much better at setting boundaries and being brazen than I was back then. I don’t have any plans to graduate again from ASU at 71, but anything could happen.”
Freter, who grew up in St. Louis and currently lives in Los Angeles, completed the master’s program through ASU Online. As the director of marketing and communication for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, she said she found the online program to be a great fit for her.
“Certainly time management is a big challenge in any program. For me it had been a long time since I had to do so much reading and homework,” she said. “But I wanted to jump-start part of my brain and skill set that I hadn’t used for quite awhile, so this program certainly gave me that opportunity.”
Here, Freter shares more about her Sun Devil story and what’s next for her.
Question: Why did you choose ASU?
Answer: My bachelor’s degree from ASU had carried me a long way and done some amazing things for me, but I felt like I needed a boost before I started my next career adventure. I knew ASU had a robust online program and literally just went online to see what was available and found the political psychology program. It was the course outlines and the utility of the online format that really made my decision an easy one.
Q: What’s something you learned while at The College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: The real magic of this program is that so much of it feels like learning about things that were hidden in plain sight. Most of the students in my classes had a high level of political interest coming in, and many weeks there would be a running joke in the discussion boards about what assumption that we came in with was going to get blown up by the new material that week. To be open to new ideas and experiences, you really have to give up the preciousness of what you think you know — which I guess has been the most transformative lesson from the program.
Q: Were there any opportunities that positively impacted your ASU experience?
A: I’m not sure if it was only due to COVID restrictions, but there were a lot of virtual talks and speakers sponsored by my college and the university. Those were amazing conversations to be a part of, and I hope that the virtual format can continue in some way post-COVID restrictions. The conversation with Cecilia Muñoz stands out to me the most.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school or future first-year students?
A: Take advantage of the opportunities that are available. There are a lot of great speakers and events that students can be part of, even online. And this includes being able to connect with your classmates and professors if you have questions or want to feel that you are part of a community, rather than just sitting up alone at night on your laptop doing your work. Also, if anyone is considering doing an online program at ASU: Do it. It’s a well-oiled and seamless online community. In addition to your program, the administrative, IT and financial aid support staff rock.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I’ll be moving to Washington, D.C., from Los Angeles in January to start at George Washington University as part of their Master of Professional Studies political management program. I was also accepted into the Presidential Management Fellows program — it's a two-year training and leadership development program and the federal government’s premiere pipeline for moving advanced-degree graduates into government leadership positions.