ASU program paves a path to law school for first-generation Sun Devil


April 29, 2022

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

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Janessa Doyle moved to Arizona the summer before she started high school. Janessa Doyle Janessa Doyle, ASU Law Juris Doctor (JD) graduate. Download Full Image

As a first-generation college student at ASU, she navigated the law school application process on her own. Though Doyle didn’t know what to expect, she was certain of one thing: From a young age, she wanted to be an attorney and nothing was going to deter her from her goal.

Doyle pursued an undergraduate degree at ASU and was part of the first cohort of ASU’s Critical Legal Preparation Program. She credited this program as the support she needed to navigate the preparation and costs related to attending law school.

“I would advise students to take advantage of any and all resources offered at their respective schools and also be proactive in finding resources that might be helpful,” Doyle said.

Wanting to stay close to family, Doyle applied to schools in Arizona and ultimately decided to remain in the Sun Devil community, pursuing her Juris Doctor (JD) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

While at ASU Law, she was heavily involved with her community of peers. Doyle was an executive editor for Jurimetrics, The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology, president of the Federal Bar Association, vice president of finance for the Student Bar Association (SBA), vice president of the John P. Morris Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and a student ambassador.

Doyle participated in a variety of externships, equipping her with the expertise to embark on a legal career after graduation. She interned at the Arizona Supreme Court, the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and the Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Greenberg Traurig law firms.

We spoke to Doyle about her time at ASU Law and what she plans to do next.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study law?

Answer: There was never an “aha” moment. I have always enjoyed learning. At a young age, I made it my goal to attend law school and gain a better understanding of the law and my rights.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned to be open to trying new things. Whether it is trying a new study technique, a new recipe, a new hiking trail or a different practice area. There is no way of knowing whether you like something unless you give it a try!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU Law?

A: All of the professors I have interacted with at ASU have taught me valuable lessons that will help me to become a successful attorney. No single lesson is more important than the other. I appreciate all that my professors have done for me.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Graduation is closer than you think!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is the Reading Room. There is something about being in a silent room filled with students that brings me absolute joy!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to spend my summer studying for the bar exam, and in the fall, I will start working as a first-year associate at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in the firm’s Phoenix office.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would help to end hunger.

Meenah Rincon

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Three degrees toward climate healing


April 29, 2022

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

In answer to the question: “Why English, philosophy and sustainability?” Zane Encinas might say, “Isn’t it obvious?” Courtesy image of graduating ASU student Zane Encinas Graduating ASU student Zane Encinas intends to work as both an artist and a researcher in the field of environmental education. Download Full Image

But here’s the real answer: The Arizona State University student intends to work as both an artist and a researcher in the field of environmental education, with the lofty goal of achieving “collective healing and radical kinship amidst a climate crisis.”

Graduating this spring from Barrett, The Honors College, Encinas is earning three bachelor’s degrees: in English (writing, rhetorics and literacies), in philosophy (morality, politics and law) and in sustainability (policy and governance in sustainable systems)

And because Encinas believes humans’ response to the current climate crisis is, in part, caused by a lack of “an affective relationship with information,” theyEncinas uses they/them pronouns. are rounding out their focus areas with additional informational tools: a minor in sociology and certificates in environmental humanities, environmental education and social science research methods.

Their academic and campus leadership work bears out this view of humanities, arts and sciences as interconnected. Their honors thesis, “Bee-longing in STEM: Refining and Evaluating Movement-based Activities for Bee Conservation Science Engagement and Education for Middle Schoolers,” works to make inclusive pedagogical practices for girls in STEM.

Encinas is the founder and president of Climbing Vines, the nation’s first undergraduate student organization focused on the environmental humanities. They were also vice president of The Faithful City, director of operations of the Sustainability Alliance, president and recruitment officer for the Honor Society for Sustainability, and co-chair of the Sustainability Advocacy and Advisory Board. Their leadership with these student organizations was recognized with a Pitchfork Award for Emerging Student Leader.

They have been an award-winning research assistant for seven different projects across various disciplines researching urban residents’ attitudes toward wildlife, environmental public art, substance abuse, factors that contribute to young adults’ personal understanding of their American identity and Indigenous media rights.

Winner of a dizzying array of honors, which includes a National Hispanic Merit Scholarship and “local” recognitions like the Friends of the Department of English Scholarship in 2021 and a Homecoming Writing Contest Award for scholarly essay in 2020, Encinas is on a trajectory to change the world.

It’s no surprise then, that given this student’s accomplishments, activities, service, GPA and aspirations post-graduation, Encinas was chosen as a Barrett Outstanding Graduate and as The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Medalist in English.

“Zane Encinas is captivated and energized by the application of the humanities and the arts as powerful tools for environmental education,” wrote the Dean's Medalist selection committee.

We caught up with Encinas as they finished their coursework toward an expected 4.0 in all three majors to find out how they will put all these pieces together.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field?

Answer: Admittedly, my initial motivation for my chosen fields of study was premature and narrowminded. I had interests in philosophy, English and sustainability, but I understood them as disparate fields of inquiry. As I took more courses and interacted with faculty and students, I found myself using similar pattern identifying competencies as those used by ancient astronomers looking toward the stars. A constant cycle of “aha” moments revealed new connections between ideas, questions and values across different disciplines that in turn gave way to new discoveries about myself and my passions.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: Over the past four years, I have been taken aback by my recurrent encounters with the domineering pervasiveness of western philosophy and epistemology in each of my fields of study. It manifested itself in the largely unread lines of syllabus reading lists, my entrenchment in the meritocracy, definitions of concepts like literacy, etc. However, schools and colleges on campus like the School of Sustainability have recognized this history of epistemic injustice and are making laudable strides towards generating new pedagogical and research practices. This has greatly impacted my perspective of what it means to be an active participant in academia as a researcher, student, and teacher in relation to the communities I hope to work alongside.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU's Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) has been one of the strongest draws for my continued attendance. EHI is home to faculty who have made some of the most significant contributions to the evolving field. They are not only accessible but excited to mentor and involve undergraduate students in their projects. Their commitment to interdisciplinary exploration and experimentation provided me the resources to navigate the disciplinary intersections that interested me most.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Coming into college, I could have never imagined the possibility of having my personal and career trajectory being changed so dramatically by a single individual as had ultimately occurred once I started working with (Associate Professor) Lekelia Jenkins. Her continued support and mentorship have empowered me to experiment with my own identity as an artist and researcher. More importantly, through her work, she has demonstrated a powerful challenge to the arbitrary artist/researcher distinction. I’ve witnessed both artists being researchers and researchers being artists in ways that I had previously overlooked. I am inspired by and deeply admire her pursuit of lifelong learning to become a better and more ethical mentor, educator, researcher and person.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: As an undergraduate, there seems to be an implicit acceptance that our academic and professional labor does not need to be justly compensated. There are far too many unpaid internships and research assistantship roles that take advantage of the quality work undergraduates produce. My advice is to seek out opportunities that pay or reach out to employers/faculty to see if they have access to any funds to pay you. You may be surprised to see how many faculty are willing to help support you financially for your work if you simply ask.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: I consider myself a connoisseur of study spots on campus, although it is more likely that I am just a highly ritualistic person that has unwarranted preference for obscure places on campus. I’ve spent most of my time this year in the silent study room in the Design Library during the week. During the weekend when there are no classes, I prefer the classrooms in the lower level of Hayden and SCOB (the Schwada Classroom Office Building) 228.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: During my gap year after graduation, I will be working at the Arizona Science Center as a learning and engagement specialist, where I will have the opportunity to work to bring the magic of science to resource-constrained communities. I then intend on attending graduate school to continue my work with environmental arts and education.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Senior marketing and communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611