Both dreams, practicality define path for ASU grad

May 3, 2022

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

Try new things. Always ask for a student discount. Seek out unusual study spots. Courtesy photo of graduating ASU student Andrea Yang ASU student Andrea Yang, an English major, hopes to work in film after graduation, helping “promote stories that provide accurate representation for the communities they represent.” Download Full Image

Those are practical bits of advice from graduating Arizona State University student Andrea Yang, who seems to have the college thing — and maybe life — all figured out.

Yang, who is from Paradise Valley, Arizona, is a student in Barrett, The Honors College, from which she is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English (literature) and a minor in Asian languages (Chinese). She said that choosing a humanities focus has opened doors to many possibilities.

“The versatility of this major has allowed me to apply what I have learned to almost every other aspect of my life, while also permitting me to explore and study my interests outside of literature, such as language acquisition and business,” she said.

Yang delved into business in her honors thesis, in which she worked with a group of students to design a sustainable fashion company based on the “ethical circular economy.”

She also found time to participate in other campus activities; she was an officer with ASU's Cultural Association of Performing Arts, which teaches and performs traditional Chinese dance, and she published a “tiny story” in the State Press, ASU’s student newspaper.

Yang completed an internship reviewing short films and managing social media for the COPA Shorts Film Festival during fall 2020, for which she earned a 2021 High Impact Internship Award. In their award recommendation, the judges wrote: “She used her internship work to discover that when it comes to telling stories ‘who tells the story matters.’”

Partly based on that internship experience, Yang realized her love for film — in particular, storytelling. Yang's dream is to work in the field after graduation, helping “promote stories that provide accurate representation for the communities they represent.”

We asked Yang a few more questions about her time at ASU and how she’ll translate that practical experience into success in her future endeavors.

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

Answer: I think my "aha" moment was in my senior year of high school. I took AP literature and our teacher had us read Khaled Hosseini's “The Kite Runner.” What struck me was how engaged everyone was with the material. Even the students who did not normally enjoy reading were excited to discuss the story and analyze it together. That class left a deep impression on me and convinced me to study literature. As much as I love writing, I love analyzing writing and the stories we tell about ourselves.

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

A: Taking the chance to just try new things, even if you don't think you're qualified for it. Deciding to just try new things has led to so many new opportunities — and plenty of mistakes — that have allowed me to learn more about myself and the people around me. As cliché as it sounds, just trying new things has changed my perspective and given me confidence because it has allowed me to see that most people don't really know what they're doing. This thought process has allowed me to relax a bit more and embrace new experiences that I might otherwise have enjoyed. I am now more willing to be more ambitious and go after what I want instead of being afraid of it.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: To be honest, I was only accepted to one other school aside from ASU, which was more expensive and had fewer options for studying subjects outside of my major. I enjoy studying different subjects and subverting expectations — I hate being put into a box — so I decided to pick ASU. I also have multiple food allergies, so my parents felt better having me close by as I was living on my own for the first time.

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

A: In my screenwriting class this semester, (Lecturer Christopher) Bradley gave us a bit of advice that has helped pull me through the end of the year. He told us to picture our dreams or what our dream lives or dream goals would look like. If you continue picturing it, you’ll keep working towards that dream and get there eventually. Your dream will exist as a safe space to retreat to when life gets difficult. This advice has helped motivate me when I hate everything and want to give up. Although I can’t say it definitively works, I think it’s a great piece of advice.

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

A: Take advantage of all the student discounts. You have access to so many resources as a student that it's a shame not to take advantage of them. I am almost tempted to go to grad school just for the student discounts.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: Because of COVID, I mostly studied in my room. However, I would say my most frequented spots were Ross-Blakley Hall, Hayden Library and the new Durham Hall building. A recent find that has been my new favorite is the Music Library. It has limited hours, but typically there aren't many people there. Plus, you can listen to a record player while studying.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: As of now, I am looking for and applying to full-time positions. I don't have any official plans in place, but my goal is to move to New York City. In the long term, I'd like to work in film, but in the short term, I'm just looking for employment.

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

A: As nice as it would be to achieve world peace, I think I would aim for a more realistic issue like gender inequality or climate change. However, I think $40 million would run out fairly quickly, so I might focus on something like sustainability in the fashion industry and providing ethical solutions and an infrastructure that other people and companies would be able to build onto.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Manager, marketing + communications, Department of English


Dean's Medalist has passion for statistics and sports

May 3, 2022

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

Trent Lindstrom is the Dean’s Medalist for the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. He is a third-year senior and will graduate this month with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a concentration in statistics, a minor in political science, and a certificate in sports, culture and ethics. Trent Lindstrom Download Full Image

Lindstrom is a Chandler, Arizona, native and during his early years of high school decided to study statistics.

“I have loved math for as long as I can remember, and I always wanted to pursue a degree in a math-related field,” he said.

Honored as a National Merit Scholar, Lindstrom chose to attend ASU because it offered him an opportunity to graduate from a university debt-free while living close to home. He boasts an impressive mathematics GPA of 4.14 while taking some of the most challenging senior-level mathematics courses, as well as a couple of graduate-level statistics courses. In the fall he plans to return to ASU to complete his master’s degree in statistics as part of ASU’s 4+1 program.

Lindstrom is a huge sports fan and is almost always watching some sporting event. 

“My weekends are typically spent watching sports from when I wake up until late in the evening,” he said.

It is no surprise that many of his ASU projects have been centered on sports. As a student in Barrett, The Honors College, Lindstrom completed his honors thesis titled “Data Analytics in College Sports: How Statistics Can Be Used To Predict Sun Devil Success.” He created a regression model to predict the result of Sun Devil football games.

Larry Schneider worked with Lindstrom on two different Barrett Honors contracts and his thesis project.

“I think that one quality that Trent has been able to use so successfully is his time management skills. He has an innate ability to know how to pace himself, so that he can complete exams and projects on time, while still challenging himself to go beyond what is expected for the assignment. This is a critical skill which had helped him excel at ASU and when he is working in private industry,” Schneider said.

Lindstrom has worked as a data analyst at the W. P. Carey School of Business' Technology Strategy and Operations department since he entered ASU as a first-year student in 2019. He assisted with data collection and analysis on a modeling project centered around different business school rankings, along with providing general IT support for faculty, staff and students, especially during the pandemic.

“I love statistics because it provides an opportunity to analyze the world around us in a consistent, quantitative fashion. Statistics can be used in almost every academic setting, workplace, or even just an individual’s daily life to optimize performance or just learn more about how something or someone works,” Lindstrom said.

Schneider points to Lindstrom's attention to detail as one of the reasons that he is such an excellent student and has been so successful at ASU.

"This skill along with his ability to ‘think outside the box’ will make him successful in any field, but particularly in a field as thought provoking and challenging as statistics," Schneider said.

We asked Lindstrom to share more about his journey as a Sun Devil.

Question: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

Answer: My biggest piece of advice would be to always give yourself time off of schoolwork to focus on things you enjoy. Whether that be an hour or two each night to relax and decompress with a movie, or time on the weekend to spend with friends, it is very important to not allow school to consume your entire life.

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

A: Professor Laurence Schneider taught me the most important lesson at ASU, which was to pursue projects that I am passionate about while utilizing the skills I have learned. This helped me greatly in his class on regression, as well as giving me a platform for working on my honors thesis project.

Q: What do you think is most misunderstood about math or statistics by the general public?

A: I think most people misunderstand statistics because they do not have a good understanding of probability. The foundation of statistics is based on a sound idea of probability, and without that, it becomes very difficult to understand how to interpret the work of statisticians.

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

A: While $40 million would not solve the problem on its own, I would use it to tackle the issue of how we vote across the U.S. The pandemic provided an opportunity for many throughout the country to use mail-in voting for the first time, and I strongly believe that a push towards providing numerous different ways of voting and making it easier for everyone to access the ballot box will benefit the country in the long-run.

Q: Looking to the future, if you could wave a magic wand and see yourself in your dream job, what would that be and why?

A: My dream job would be working in the analytics department for a professional sports team in the U.S. I have been a huge sports fan my whole life, and the recent explosion of data in the sports world inspired me to become a statistics major. I hope to one day be able to combine my passions for statistics and sports into a career that allows me to apply what I have learned while obtaining my degree into the competitive world of professional sports.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences