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College of Health Solutions graduates take joy in celebrating at in-person ceremony

January 12, 2022

The mood was festive at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe where ASU College of Health Solutions students, their families and friends gathered to mark the milestone of graduation, the first time a convocation ceremony has been held in person since 2019.

With masks on and physical distancing observed, almost 500 students processed, along with Health Solutions faculty and staff, at a Dec. 16 ceremony marked by more bursts of applause than usual as graduates and guests alike expressed their joy at being able to be together to celebrate. Some 2020 and spring 2021 grads also came to walk the stage since the COVID-19 pandemic had limited their graduations to virtual or hybrid ceremonies.

Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions, addressed the crowd, noting the collective experience of living and learning through a pandemic as well as the training and support students received to prepare them to improve health.

“I am truly in awe of all that your generation is already doing to make a difference in the world of health, and I’m confident the future of health is in your very capable hands,” she said.

Keynote speaker Jeff Taylor echoed a similar view about the transformative power of health professionals. A top-ranked Arizona collegiate football player whose life spiraled out of control after a career-ending injury led to addiction, homelessness and prison, Taylor said it was dedicated behavioral health professionals who finally helped him turn his life around.

“I’m here to thank the educators because they taught the professionals who saved my life, and as a result, my 22-year-old son, who is here today, has never known his father to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You have created a miracle,” he said.

Today Taylor is a registered lobbyist and national speaker who writes and promotes policies and laws to combat homelessness and reduce recidivism among Arizona’s prison population.

Relive Fall 2021 Convocation in the livestream recording of the ceremony, and enjoy this special celebration video.

Graduation spotlight

Meet some of the College of Health Solutions' most impressive health leaders:

Read about the career journeys of some of the college's graduates:

And below, learn about the plans graduates shared on the College of Health Solutions' social media channels.

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ASU staff make holidays better for families at service events

January 12, 2022

Nearly 100 business and finance staff from Arizona State University and their family members volunteered their time at two Day of Service events during the holiday season. Sun Devils served dinner to families at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and created gift baskets for the Salvation Army Tempe Corps for children who would otherwise go without presents.

“Both of these organizations provide vital resources and assistance to local community members in need,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, and a volunteer at both events. “ASU believes it has a responsibility for the communities it serves, and I’m proud that so many business and finance staff and their families helped make a positive difference during the holidays.”

Sun Devils can find year-round volunteer opportunities with the Salvation Army and ways to volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul. Full-time, benefits-eligible employees can take up to eight hours of paid volunteer leave annually.

Salvation Army

On Dec. 15, 2021, approximately 70 Sun Devils prepared 865 gift bags for the Salvation Army Tempe Corps. Each bag included about four gifts and a stocking stuffer, and went to a Tempe child who might not have received holiday presents.

Business and finance volunteers spent hours gathering donated bicycles, books, clothes, diapers and toys to create custom gift bags based on each child’s wish list. The event supported the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

volunteers help organize toys and other donated items

Volunteers help organize toys and other donated items for the Salvation Army Tempe Corps. Photo by Emmanuel Padilla/ASU Business and Finance

“All kids deserve to feel some of that holiday magic,” said Maryanne Patterson, business and finance administrative specialist and event organizer. “I’m so grateful that colleagues and their families came together to make the holidays a bit more special for so many children.” 

The Salvation Army’s Tempe Corps also provides emergency and crisis-based assistance to Tempe residents in the Mill Avenue business district. It helps provide food, housing, rent, utilities and more for at-need community members. 

St. Vincent de Paul 

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, 26 business and finance staff and their family members prepped food, set tables and served nutritious meals to local families at St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Dining Room in south Phoenix. It was the second time that business and finance employees volunteered at the family dining room.

volunteers pose for a group photo at St. Vincent de Paul

ASU volunteers pose for a group photo at St. Vincent de Paul.

Unlike other community kitchens, the organization’s five family dining rooms provide a family-style restaurant to serve families with dignity. The organization serves 150 to 300 meals each week at the south Phoenix Family Dining room and 2.8 million meals annually across its five Valley dining rooms and 20 partner agencies. St. Vincent de Paul relies on volunteers to make a difference.

“Volunteers are 95% of the workforce for St. Vincent de Paul,” said Brandon Buck, the organization’s engagement officer. “We cannot fulfill our mission to feed, clothe, house and heal without volunteers.” 

St. Vincent de Paul also provides other vital resources across the Valley, including a 20,000 square-foot resource center for showers and clothing, 85 volunteer-run food pantries and five thrift stores. 

In addition to the business and finance staff volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul, ASU is a valuable partner to support the greater community.

“We have so many students and faculty involved with volunteering, both in-person and virtually,” Buck said.

He noted that ASU professors have engaged doctoral students to help their innovation team with data projects and have had students participate in their Leadership in Action Fellowship program and numerous internships. 

“ASU is fully engaged in our organization.”

Top photo: ASU staff member Patrick Panetta helps create gift baskets for the Salvation Army Tempe Corps on Dec. 15, 2021. Photo by Emmanuel Padilla/ASU Business and Finance

Editor associate , Office of Business and Finance