ASU grad’s gymnastics background inspired her path to physical therapy

May 6, 2022

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

Arizona State University graduate Joyce Yen fell in love with gymnastics as a 3-year-old. She especially loved the thrill of the uneven bars and competed for 15 years, including on ASU’s competitive club in her first year as a Sun Devil. ASU grad Joyce Yen at the Old Main fountain with a graduation cap decorated to say "to the next chapter" ASU grad Joyce Yen Download Full Image

“I battled a crushing ankle injury my senior year of high school, which set me back in terms of my mental and physical health in the sport. However, this injury led me to what is now my current passion,” she said.

This experience led Yen to pursuing physical therapy; she also shared her passions for movement and nutrition as a group fitness instructor (HIIT and abs are her specialties) and a nutrition educator for the Sun Devil Fitness Complex

Yen’s classes were known to fill to capacity, and she also helped grow the Tasty Tuesdays program at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, which encouraged students to fuel their bodies with nutrient-dense foods, stay hydrated and take care of themselves. She said she was inspired to bring this education to Sun Devils because of her experience as an athlete and that the event was very meaningful and fun. 

Yen said she gained confidence and great connections in her student worker roles.

“The amount of growth, leadership skills and confidence I have built within myself from these jobs is truly incredible for me to recognize. … I have gained an immense amount of knowledge and passion from both positions. From time management to discipline and prioritizing my commitments, these roles have made a significant impact on my student experience here at ASU, and I will take these skills and passion to my future endeavors,” she said. 

Yen, who is from San Diego, is graduating with her BS in clinical exercise science with a minor in nutrition and healthy living. In her time working with the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, she also helped pioneer and grow virtual programming such as Tasty Tuesdays, which shared nutritious recipes with Sun Devils. 

Yen earned scholarships through the Dean’s Award, Discovery Fellows Cohort Award and the Super Senior USA Gymnastics scholarship. As she prepared to graduate, Yen shared some of her memories and advice for fellow Sun Devils.  

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: The beginning of my junior year, I realized I love being around people. I love connecting with people and hearing their stories. I also have a huge passion for health and creating a healthy lifestyle through movement and food — I started volunteering at a sports medicine physical therapy clinic and soon fell in love with the job. You get to interact with different people every single day, carry them through various exercises and hear about their stories while making an impact on their day. My hope and goal is to incorporate my passion for nutrition into my future career as a physical therapist as well.

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

A:  I always doubted my abilities to be as successful as I envisioned myself to be. I didn’t think that physical therapy school was even an option until my advisor encouraged me to go the pre-PT route because of my high GPA and well-built resume. 

I would say too, you get out what you put in. In other words, my perspective was greatly changed when I started to realize my highest potential in the classroom, at the gym and in involving myself in various commitments. I have learned resilience, dedication, grit, time management and how to be a committed student, worker and stick to a routine that built my best me each and every day.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the immense amount of school spirit and passion that I saw right away with the school. I was looking for a school that would give me opportunities to grow, go to sports games, make new friends for a lifetime and give me an education on a level suitable for me to succeed. ASU fit all of those requirements, and right away I knew I would be a Sun Devil.

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

A: My BIO 201 professor, Dr. Hyatt, taught me everything from how microtubules work to the grit and dedication that you have to give in a high-level college science class. That was one of the hardest earned B’s I’ve ever achieved. He pushed me and taught me that you have to be willing to work hard and stay persistent for success. I am now graduating summa cum laude and will always remember how hard I had to work in that class to earn my grade.

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

A: Best piece of advice I could ever give someone: You miss every opportunity you don’t take. Go for it. You never know what might happen. You have to grow in order to learn.

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

A: I am a downtown Phoenix student and loved going to the tables outside the law building when it was nice weather! I also loved the second floor of Cronkite — many memories of late-night study sessions there.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I will be taking a gap year in San Diego, where I will be working as a PT aide and finishing my last two prerequisite classes before hopefully going on my next adventure to PT school!

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

A: I would use that money to tackle world hunger. I would go further than just hunger too; I would want to implement food systems that allow access to nutrient-dense food, including fresh produce that would help society not just survive but thrive in their everyday activities.

Hannah Moulton Belec

Digital marketing manager, Educational Outreach and Student Services


A love of computers inspires Yuma native to pursue a degree in information technology

May 6, 2022

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

Growing up in Yuma, Arizona, it’s hard to imagine a life beyond the lush green acres of produce that many families depend upon for income. Generations of farmworkers here help provide more than 90% of the nation’s winter vegetables. It’s a life Arizona State University Polytechnic graduating senior Israel Delgado was expected to pursue. Portrait of ASU grad Israel Delgado. ASU grad Israel Delgado Download Full Image

But Delgado had different plans. As a child, he dreamt of playing baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That changed while attending Cibola High School, where an “aha” moment cemented his life trajectory and decision to attend ASU and major in information technology on the Poly campus.

“I had an IT class, and my teacher, Mr. Felix, introduced me to the wonderful world of IT and all the cool things that can be done in this field,” Delgado said. “I love computers and I also love helping people and being able to combine both is amazing.”

Navigating the college experience alone as a first-generation student was scary and challenging, Delgado said. His parents, Rosa and Eusebio Delgado, are profoundly proud of their son and have supported him in any way possible. But for Israel, it was his participation in the President Barack Obama Scholars Program that made his attendance at ASU a reality.  

“My family are my biggest supporters and come from the agricultural industry, so it seemed weird that I did not want to pursue that. But they have always had my back in my decisions for picking a school and career. Without them, I don’t think I would have had the motivation to pursue a higher education. And without the scholarship, I would not have been able to afford an education,” he said.

As the first person to attend college in his family, it was easy for Delgado to get caught up in the excitement of university life. Meeting new friends, expanding horizons and spending days studying and hanging out at the ASU Polytechnic campus student union cemented his feelings that ASU was the right fit for him. Delgado also helped create a great student experience for other Sun Devils as the supervisor of the Poly student union, coordinating with student organizations and helping host events. Becoming a Sun Devil taught Delgado an important life lesson about balancing school, life and activities.

“Something I have learned at ASU is to have realistic expectations,” he said. “I learned that the hard way during my sophomore year, when I was really overwhelmed with my course load and, as a result, did poorly that year.”

Many students are influenced in the course of their college career by professors who challenge and inspire them, and Delgado is no different. Looking back at the teachers who helped mold him into the successful graduating senior he is today, it was undergraduate program chair Damien Doheny’s sage advice in Delgado’s ASU 101 course that he took to heart.

“Professor Doheny’s networking classes gave me a realistic view to how it is in the (IT) industry, and he is for sure a tough teacher, but man do you learn a ton in his classes,” Delgado said. 

Moving back to his hometown after graduation, Delgado will pursue a career first as an IT technician, and then will work on becoming a network engineer. He will also continue indulging in his love of cars, football, computers and video games. And now that it’s time to put on his maroon and gold cap and gown, Delgado is grateful for the experiences he has had as a Sun Devil and the ability to return home and support his parents as they have supported him.

“The most rewarding part of my college career would definitely be crossing that finish line in May,” Delgado reflected. “Going home and knowing that I am going to be able to support my family and pay them back for all the sacrifices they have made over the years to get me where I am today is so rewarding.”

 Written by Christine Wolfe, EOSS marketing