December 13, 2021

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize its highest-achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the fall 2021 convocation.

Each semester, departments and schools within The College select outstanding students who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal in honor of their scholastic achievements.

Meet the outstanding fall 2021 Dean’s Medalist awardees from The College.

Alma Atassi

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Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Global studies
Certificate: Cross-sector leadership

Atassi has a passion for global studies, public policy and social sciences. During her time at ASU, her interests in international human rights and justice led her to take on a variety of research, volunteer and internship roles.

Atassi spent over 150 hours volunteering with the International Rescue Committee, providing intake services and translation for asylum seekers. She also spent one month taking intensive Spanish language and culture classes in Madrid. She served as an intern for the Arizona House of Representatives and as a student researcher for the Decision Center for Educational Excellence.

After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate school in public policy. She aspires to start a career as a policy analyst.

Sydney Campton

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Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures
Majors: German, management
Certificates: Cross-sector leadership, international business studies

Campton is​​ a Barrett, The Honors College student, with an interest in international business, migration and gender studies. Her interest in learning and comparing different cultures was reflected in her honors thesis about bias against women in the workplace in Germany. 

As a member of the Next Generation Service Corps, she was able to deepen her understanding of global sociopolitical and economic challenges. During her time at ASU she also served on the board of ASU German Devils and helped direct outreach efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a new platform for interactive online activities.

After graduation, Campton will be working as an account representative for CDW. In the future, she aspires to return to school to earn a master’s degree in business administration.

Anthony Child-Rinearson

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Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: Philosophy (morality, politics and law)

Child-Rinearson is an ASU Online student interested in philosophy. He is a transfer student who attended community college in California, which was where he discovered his passion for philosophy.

After taking a break from school to work various jobs including in fast food and as a courier, bartender and server, he decided he was ready for a change. This led him to leave his job as an assistant restaurant manager, take a road trip across the country and enroll at ASU. He continued to balance work and school throughout his time working toward earning his degree.

After graduation, Child-Rinerson plans on looking for remote jobs as a paralegal or in sales and is considering continuing his higher education journey.

Kathryn Clark

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Dean’s Medal: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
Major: Civic and economic thought and leadership
Minor: Spanish

Clark is a Barrett student who is interested in the study of ideas about human nature and psychology. She has been closely involved with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership during the program’s founding years by being an ambassador for the program at ASU and beyond. 

She served as a Senate page during the 2019 Arizona legislative session and was an intern with the Office of Mayor Kate Gallego. There, she researched and drew up plans to address public mental health issues. In addition, she completed an intensive service project in India, interned in Washington, D.C., and participated in numerous summer academic programs, including the Hertog Foundation program in political philosophy. 

Clark is currently working as an academic programs manager for the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington, D.C.

Megan Corr

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Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Major: Global health

Corr’s passion for serving vulnerable communities has led her to an interest in maternal and child health epidemiology. During her time at ASU, she actively pursued experiential learning opportunities to enhance her understanding of global and public health. 

She worked as an intern for ASU’s COVID-19 case-investigation research team and as a communicable-disease specialist at the Wellness Council of Arizona, a nonprofit community health center in Yuma, Arizona. She also volunteered at a number of organizations including Planned Parenthood and the Aid to Women shelter.

After graduation, Corr plans to pursue a master's degree in public health. As she completes her lactation-consultant certification through ASU and pursues her master’s degree, she hopes to conduct epidemiological research on the health outcomes of breastfeeding within Latino populations.

Sharon Enck

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Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: English (creative writing)
Certificate: Nonfiction writing and publishing

Enck is a transfer student with a passion for creative writing. She is an active member and leader in many literary communities at ASU.

During her time at ASU, Enck served as a student editor at Superstition Review, where she edited creative nonfiction submissions and mentored other students; at Canyon Voices, where she was a poetry reader and social media manager for the magazine; and at Spellbinding Shelf, ASU's student book blog, where she has worked as a staff writer since 2019 and currently serves as editor-in-chief. She has also worked on campus, most recently at the Student Success Center, where she mentors other undergraduate students. 

After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate certificate in nonfiction writing and publishing and a master's degree in narrative studies. She aspires to one day work in the publishing field and hopes to publish her own collection of short stories.

Riley Herrmann

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Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Majors: Justice studies, political science

Herrmann is passionate about addressing inequities within the legal and criminal justice systems. She has been an active participant in campus community life, participating in ASU’s Pre-Law Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Beta Kappa and the Young Democrats of ASU. 

She served as a group leader for a qualitative research project that worked with community organizations to understand their met and unmet needs related to COVID-19. As part of the project, she organized focus-group-based data collection with members of Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health to identify core issues their constituents faced. 

After graduation, she hopes to attend law school.

Jordan Krussell

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Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Major: Economics
Certificate: Applied business data analytics

Krussell is passionate about economics and is part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership that creates an opportunity for Starbucks employees to earn their bachelor's degree through ASU Online.

In addition to working as a Starbucks partner, Krussell served as a research assistant for Professor Bart Hobijn, where he gathered economic data from various databases in preparation for a presentation at the 2021 Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. He also worked as a teacher’s assistant, where he monitored an online discussion forum for introductory economics courses and helped answer student questions on modern economic topics.

Megan McGroarty

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Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and space exploration (astrobiology and biogeosciences)
Minor: German
Certificate: Sustainable food systems

McGroarty is a Barrett student who has been actively engaged in research at the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

She served as a research volunteer in several labs at ASU including in Associate Professor Heather Throop’s Dryland Ecosystems Research Lab, where she designed and implemented a distributed field study that assesses abiotic controls over biogeochemical processes that influence the decay of organic material in deserts in the Western U.S. She worked in other roles within the School of Earth and Space Exploration including as a docent, a teaching aide and a mentor. In the summer of 2019, she studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and France.

McGroarty was also involved with a number of student organizations including Devils Pitching In, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, ASU German Devils and Daredevils Skydiving club.

She plans to continue her studies in graduate school next fall.

Noemi Rodriguez

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Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Major: Psychology
Minor: Family and human development

Rodriguez is a transfer Barrett student who is the first in her family to receive a college degree. She is passionate about promoting the mental health of children, adolescents and their families.

During her time at ASU, she served as a teaching assistant in the Learning and Development Lab, where she assisted in transcribing and coding picture books. She worked closely with graduate students on the project to develop the correct codes to conduct analyses of the transcripts. 

She was also a team member on the ASU SIBS Project, where she worked with children and their families to promote socio-emotional development, and served as a teaching assistant for a course on aging and the life course. In addition, she interned at Mesa High School, where she worked one-on-one with high school students to help them navigate the challenges they face.

After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school. She aspires to work with children in a clinical environment.

Brielle Ruscitti

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Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Major: Biological sciences (biology and society)
Minor: Global health
Certificate: Evolutionary medicine

Ruscitti is a Barrett student with an enthusiasm for research, global health and evolutionary medicine. She worked on research projects in several labs including the Neisewander Addiction Research Laboratory, where she studied the effects of receptors’ roles in substance use addiction, specifically cocaine addiction, and she based her honors thesis on this research.

She founded SOLUR Bridge, a student-led organization dedicated to helping its members build the skills and knowledge to get involved in research, gain lab experience and build a community of researchers. She presented her research at two local conferences and will be co-presenting a poster at this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago.

She also worked with several student organizations including the Barrett Leadership and Service Team, where she served as president, and Changemaker Central, where she served as a change agent lead.

After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.

Arianna Ruth

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Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Major: Communication
Minor: Women and gender studies

Ruth is passionate about communication and women and gender studies. She shows pride for her cultural heritage by advocating for others and taking part in marches and activities across the state to support contemporary issues of inequality.

Using the skills she has learned as a communication major, she has had great success networking, building lifelong relationships, maintaining familial closeness and navigating her way through future career steps. 

She interned at a local telecommunications company, where she worked in the human resources department. She also volunteered at organizations including Jose’s Closet, Feed My Starving Children, the Boys and Girls Club and Liberty Arts Academy.

After graduation, she plans to continue working in human resources with the company that she interned with.

Michael Sauer

Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Majors: Biochemistry (medicinal chemistry), computational mathematical sciences

Sauer is a double major who has a passion for biochemistry and computational mathematical sciences. 

During his time at ASU, he conducted research with Professor Mark Hayes on dielectrophoretic particle capture and bolus sequestration of COVID-19 particles in a microfluidic device. For his outstanding contributions, he has won a number of awards and scholarships from the School of Molecular Sciences.

After graduation, he will continue his education at ASU by pursuing a PhD in biochemistry.

Antonella Semaan

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Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Major: Biophysics

Semaan is a transfer student who is interested in biophysics. 

She worked as a research assistant in the Compact X-ray Free-Electron Laser Lab, where she developed experimental setups for X-ray phase contrast imaging experiments. Her work was integral to the lab, serving as the foundation for many projects moving forward.

Semaan also served as a volunteer for the Summer STEM Academy at Moon Mountain Elementary School and with a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Joseph Simpson

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Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Major: Actuarial science

Simpson’s passion for actuarial science is shown through his outstanding performance in both senior and graduate-level actuarial science courses as well as his campus involvement.

He was involved in a number of research efforts including in the ACT Lab, where he performed actuarial consulting work for external companies and presented results and findings of in-depth research into elements of Medicare and Medicaid risk metrics.

He served as both president and vice president of ASU Navigators, where he organized and planned weekly club meetings. He also completed internships with Nationwide and Optumas Consulting and worked as a tutor for Community and Outreach Advocacy for Refugees, where he assisted fourth and fifth grade refugee students in math.

After graduation, Simpson plans to complete his 4+1 program from ASU and earn his master’s degree in actuarial science.

Cindy Villavicencio

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Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Geography
Certificate: Geographic information science

Villavicencio is an ASU Online student who was drawn to geography for its interdisciplinarity and the ability to leverage geographic information systems (GIS) to create solutions to environmental problems. 

Having previously earned an associate degree in humanities, a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in survey research, Villavicencio came to ASU eager to strengthen her skills while learning new ones. 

During her time at ASU she interned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she used GIS to analyze crops and precipitation. She also participated in research on rain-fed agriculture.

After graduation, Villavicencio will be working in local government with the county of San Bernardino in California as a GIS technician.

Charlotte Wall

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Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Majors: Family and human development, psychology
Minor: Criminology and criminal justice

Wall is a Barrett student who is originally from Ireland. She is passionate about understanding barriers to psychosocial support for parents and children experiencing adversity. While at ASU she assisted in three labs, participating in several aspects of research including data collection, analysis, interviewing and qualitative coding. 

She also completed an internship at a local company that works to foster and improve social functioning of children and adults, where she gained experience in student assessment. Her honors thesis involved conducting interviews with young adults on the autism spectrum about how restaurants and stores can improve their experiences. 

After graduation, Wall plans to continue her work as a research aide for an additional semester while she applies to graduate programs. She aspires to earn her PhD in clinical psychology.

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences