Fourth-generation Sun Devil finds her own path at ASU


April 25, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

As a fourth-generation graduate and the 22nd member of her family to attend Arizona State University, Legacy Scholar Anya Pressendo has considered herself a Sun Devil since the day she was born.  Download Full Image

This year, Pressendo’s grandmother will have graduated from ASU 60 years ago, and they are excited to celebrate such significant milestones together in May. Pressendo will graduate with degrees in psychology, and family and human development, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Pressendo’s parents have been actively involved with the ASU Alumni Association. Her father was the chair of the ASU Alumni Association, her mother was on the Medallion of Merit Scholarship committee and both were past presidents of the Phoenix alumni chapter.

“Because of my parent’s involvement, I grew up attending countless ASU events. I remember watching football games from the president’s skybox, participating in the homecoming parade, having lunches with Sparky and so much more,” Pressendo said.

After moving to Virginia, she continued to feel pride for the maroon and gold nation and ASU was the only out-of-state college to which she applied. Pressendo recalls touring the campus with her dad and him sharing memories he had made as a student.

“I remember how worried my dad was that I would choose ASU just because he wanted me to, but I fell in love with the campus on my own,” Pressendo said. “Becoming a Sun Devil has been one of the best decisions of my life.”

Pressendo found her passion for her first declared major, psychology, while taking AP psychology in high school. With her degree, her goal is to become a counselor. 

“What brings me the most fulfillment is understanding other people and doing whatever I can to help them,” she said. “I have loved learning about the different processes, stages of development, experiences and interactions that shape people into who they are today.”

She initially added family and human development as a minor, but committed to the major when she realized a double major was attainable. Pressendo has loved learning more about relationships, patterns and outcomes across people’s lifespans.

One of her favorite college lessons came from Professor Denise Bodman in a Personal Growth and Human Relationships course.

“In one module, we learned about the importance of talking to strangers. We were challenged to talk to people who we didn’t know during that module,” Pressendo said.  

She shared that the interesting interactions she had through that course and beyond have allowed her to find connectivity and fulfillment within the ASU community. 

“That lesson instilled in me how each person has something to offer,” she said.

With her passion for mental health, if Pressendo was given $40 million to solve a problem, she would help make quality mental healthcare more accessible. 

“I think everybody deserves access to counseling and similar resources without the barrier of cost,” she said. 

She hopes for mental health to one day be seen as equally important to physical health.

Outside of her studies, Pressendo remained involved in her sorority, Delta Gamma, throughout her time at ASU. 

“Being a part of such a supportive, driven group of women is something I will forever be grateful for,” she said. 

She credits her sorority for helping her grow into the person she is today, and finds inspiration from seeing her sisters accomplish their goals.  

Pressendo’s advice to those still in college is to find what is best for you and your own journey. 

“Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and learn how to set your boundaries,” she said. “Once I found how I best operated, I found it much easier to balance the responsibilities of being a student, sorority member and friend.”    

Upon graduating, Pressendo plans to work and focus on applying to graduate schools to receive a masters in counseling.

“I am very excited to get professional training on how to best help other people navigate the trials and tribulations of life.”

Pressendo received the New American University Provost’s Award, Sun Devil Standard Award, ASU Living and Learning Award, and ASU Alumni Association Legacy Scholarship.

Macey Sierka

Student assistant, ASU Alumni Association

First-generation student dedicated to community impact


April 25, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Margarito Hernandez Fuentes is fascinated by biomedical engineering because it’s virtually everywhere — from the patient monitors used at hospitals to the contact lenses worn by countless people every day. Portrait image of Margarito Hernandez Fuentes Margarito Hernandez Fuentes Download Full Image

He also appreciates the research opportunities that framed his experience as a student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Those included a project he conducted as part of the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, exploring malignant pleural mesothelioma with Assistant Professor Christopher Plaisier.

Hernandez Fuentes additionally highlights a summer project with the National Institutes of Health focused on population health disparities, during which he learned about the frequency and value of unexpected outcomes.

“You learn about multiple failed experiments and realize that being a scientist is not always about winning,” he says. “It’s also about learning how to accept failures and then grow through them.”

Hernandez Fuentes says he is grateful for the mentorship and friendship of Laura Grosso, a program manager for ASU’s Biodesign Institute and his supervisor as a student worker.

“Through her guidance, I learned how to believe in my abilities,” he says. “She allowed me to manage a scholarship program and more than 20 volunteers for one of our events. As a result, I significantly improved my leadership skills.”

Hernandez Fuentes says it is important for first-generation college students like him to have support from someone who enables them to make an impact in their educational community, and he feels Grosso has been that person during his time at ASU.

With that confidence, Hernandez Fuentes served as vice president of ASU’s Biomedical Engineering Society, co-chair of the student board for the biomedical engineering program and treasurer of the university’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In addition, he became the lead recruitment assistant for the engineering outreach department during his final year.

Following graduation, Hernandez Fuentes plans to pursue graduate studies with the goal of becoming a physician-scientist who both treats patients and conducts research in a hospital setting.

“I really want to provide life-saving medical solutions for patients facing aggressive health issues through regenerative medicine and tissue engineering,” he says.

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2022 class here.

Gary Werner

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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