Doctoral project leads to job opportunity for new graduate

May 5, 2022

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

Having a job lined up after graduation is great. Landing a job you helped create is phenomenal. Hannah Challa wears her white nurse practitioner coat with a stethoscope around her neck. A Phoenix native, Hannah Challa is graduating with her advanced nursing practice (acute care pediatric nurse practitioner), DNP. Download Full Image

“I am so excited. It just feels like this is where I’m meant to be. This is my passion and I hope to improve the lives of everybody in my care,” Hannah Challa said.

The Phoenix native is graduating this May with her advanced nursing practice (acute care pediatric nurse practitioner), DNP from ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

Challa already works for Phoenix Children’s, where she started her nursing career seven years ago and where she will continue it but in a new role that she helped design.

“I’ve accepted a position at Phoenix Children’s to become the inpatient complex care program coordinator,” she said. “This is a continuation of my doctoral project.”

The project focused on addressing a gap in care that can happen between the time a child is discharged from the hospital and when they are able to be seen for their follow-up appointment. It’s an issue that Challa has witnessed firsthand. 

“The inpatient setting can’t help you because you’ve been discharged and the outpatient setting can’t help you because they haven’t seen you for your follow-up appointment. So these families are stuck in this limbo which can be potentially life-threatening.”

Creating a position to coordinate that in-between time for patients with complex medical conditions was her solution to closing that gap. Challa’s new role is part of a two-year pilot study so they’ll be collecting data all along the way.

“We’re going to start off in the airway unit and help build this program so there will be a nurse practitioner who follows the child from the inpatient setting and helps them transition to the outpatient setting,” she said.

The goal is to eliminate confusion and medical setbacks for patients and families through this complex care coordination.

Challa says that none of this would have been possible without the DNP program. Below she shares how ASU prepared her to address this challenge and offers words of encouragement for current students.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: I fell in love with pediatrics as a nursing assistant and I knew I wanted to at least be in the hospital setting with kids. I also knew that I wanted to continue to further my education at some point.

After nursing school, I had the privilege to transition into the nurse role at Phoenix Children’s. My passion for pediatrics grew as I served this population. Over the years, I began to identify specific needs of this population which I knew I could address if I became a nurse practitioner. 

This is when I began investigating nurse practitioner programs. I started my search focusing on in-state programs, not even aware that there was a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner program. As soon as I found this program, I knew it was the one ... That was my “aha” moment. I found my profession! And what made me more excited is that it is at my local in-state university! I had found what I am supposed to do and where I am supposed to be!

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

A: I have learned many things while at ASU. One thing I have particularly learned is that your perspective should never remain stagnant. Strive to learn and understand the world with open eyes; don’t assume you have completely understood someone or a problem. Keeping an open mind can change the world.

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

A: Danielle Sebbens and Aimee Bucci. They are both pediatric nurse practitioners, they both work at Phoenix Children’s and they’ve just been so helpful! They encourage you, guide you and help you understand what it means to be an NP (nurse practitioner) and it's such a different feeling from the undergraduate experience. In this program, it was all about "let’s work together to help you get to this goal."

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

A: I would remind them that, yes, this program is hard but it’s worth it and you are not alone. This isn’t something you do by yourself, you do it as a team and that’s why I love mentoring students. Just being their person to bounce questions off of and to encourage them when they’re not sure if they can do it anymore.

Also, I think one of the biggest things people struggle with right now is fear of failure or making mistakes that they think affects their ability to achieve their dreams. But they just need to continue to pursue their dreams and surround themselves with people who will continue to support them and mentor them.

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

A: I would develop some sort of sustainable program that could address mental health. I’ve struggled with anxiety in the past and I have families who come in with children who have medical complexities and they’re struggling too. I feel like tackling this issue would be a win-win. It addresses the patient, parent and providers who are burned out and stressed out and are dealing with everything.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


Federal appellate judge, 2 Arizona groups honored with Pastor awards for leadership, public service

Pastor Center presents Public Service Organization Award in 2022 for first time

May 5, 2022

ASU’s Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service bestowed its highest honor on the chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently at a ceremony that also marked the debut of a new award honoring public service organizations.

Mary H. Murguia, a member of the 9th Circuit Court since 2010 who has served as its chief judge since 2021, received the Congressman Ed Pastor Public Servant Leadership Award April 22 on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Portrait of U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia. Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Official photo courtesy Judge Mary H. Murguia Download Full Image

The Pastor Center is based at Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“Judge Murguia has spent her career mentoring and encouraging women and minorities to consider careers in law,” said Alberto Olivas, Pastor Center executive director. “She has worked to ensure that our justice system is equitable in its treatment of all members of society.”

The Public Servant Leadership Award is given to a public policy leader that embodies Pastor’s leadership legacy: bridge-building, finding common ground, building trust, collaboration and consensus, and a selfless dedication to public good.

Murguia is the second-ever recipient of the award, which was first presented posthumously in 2021 to Ronnie Lopez, a friend of the late U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, the center’s benefactor and namesake. Lopez was a longtime Arizona activist and mentor who died in August 2020.

“I am grateful and humbled to have received the Congressman Ed Pastor Public Servant Leadership Award,” Murguia said in a statement. “Public service has been so rewarding for me; I encourage others to engage in public service as well and hope they will find it as fulfilling as I have.”

Two public service organizations were presented with the new Public Service Organization Award, which recognizes organizations that embody Pastor’s dedication to public service and creating opportunities for those who are underserved and underrepresented in society:

  • Aliento, an Arizona-based organization that assists families of persons who are undocumented, those served by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and families with different citizenship or immigration statuses.
  • Arizona Undocumented Workers Relief Fund, which raises funds for members of undocumented working families.

Jose Patino, Aliento’s vice president for education and external affairs, said the Aliento team is honored to be recognized by the Pastor Center.

“Congressman Pastor was a trailblazer for Latinos, young people and immigrants. Congressman Pastor always championed the rights of people over political gain,” Patino said. “At Aliento, we want to continue to honor his legacy of centering community, service and collaboration despite our differences across all political ideologies."

Spirit of Service Scholarship recipients honored

The event also honored seven ASU students as part of the 2022 Pastor Center’s Spirit of Service Scholarships:

  • Lydia Chew, a student pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree with a certificate in public administration from the School of Public Affairs, is the Debra Friedman Scholar. Friedman, who passed away in 2013, was a former dean of the Watts College and founder of the Spirit of Service Scholars program. The scholarship recognizes an outstanding student in a public policy or public administration program who goes above and beyond expectations to engage others in advocacy and public service. 
  • Emily Wall, a senior on the ASU School of Social Work’s Tucson campus, is the Gabe Zimmerman Scholar. Zimmerman, who received a Master of Social Work degree from the School of Social Work in 2006, was one of six people killed in the Tucson shootings on Jan. 8, 2011, that also wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others. The scholarship recognizes social work students and alumni who, like Zimmerman, are known for their dedication to public service, their belief in democracy and their uncompromising respect for others. 
  • Brianna Stinsman, a senior in global studies, public service and public policy in the School of Public Affairs with a certificate in cross-sector leadership, is the SRP Scholar. The scholarship recognizes a student dedicated to promoting best practices in public administration and cross-sector collaboration in the interest of serving the public. 
  • Amy Ramirez, a junior in public service and public policy, and Claudia Sanson, who is pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree, both from School of Public Affairs, are the Ronnie Lopez Scholars. The scholarship is named for the late Ronnie Lopez, activist, mentor and friend of Pastor. It recognizes students who endeavor to advance civil rights, political representation and other issues of importance to the Latino community. 
  • Stephanie Gerhart, a senior in public service and public policy as well as in management, who is also enrolled in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, is the Greater Phoenix Leadership Scholar. The scholarship recognizes a student for efforts to promote civic engagement and leadership within the next generation of Arizona students.
  • Ariana Afshari, a senior in neurobiology with a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership, is the Justin Capers Scholar. The scholarship is named for the late Justin Capers, a physician’s assistant, volunteer in medicine and community college instructor who inspired others to pursue medical careers and believed everyone should pursue public service. The scholarship recognizes a student in the health care or medical research fields who is dedicated to public service and providing paths for leadership to others.
Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions