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50 years after graduation, alum looks forward to reconnecting with fellow class members

Portrait of Kathy Paul, Golden Grad from the class of 1972.

Kathleene Paul graduated from ASU in spring of 1972 with her bachelor’s degree in political science, and this May, she returns to her alma mater to celebrate her Golden Reunion.

May 09, 2022

In 1972, there were just over 26,000 students enrolled at Arizona State University. Today, more than 135,000 students are enrolled at all four ASU campuses and online.

Kathleene Paul graduated from ASU in spring 1972 with her bachelor’s degree in political science, and this May, she returns to her alma mater to celebrate her Golden Reunion.

Each year, the ASU Alumni Association recognizes Sun Devil graduates from 50 years ago during their Golden Reunion and this year, the Class of 1972 return to Tempe for this time-honored university tradition to reconnect with their classmates, see how the campus has changed and get a glimpse into ASU’s future.

“I’m looking forward to seeing ‘old’ friends, participating in graduation and becoming part of the Golden Circle,” Paul said.

Paul was involved in many groups as a student and embraced every opportunity available to her. During her junior year, she was accepted into Angel Flight, a women’s auxiliary supporting the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC). It was an honor for her to be accepted into this prestigious ASU student group that was awarded the top Angel Flight in the nation, twice, while she was a member. The main focus of this group was to provide service to the Air Force, ROTC, ASU and their community. She was on the drill team and competed in competitions, and she also held the title of commander her senior year.

“When I was at ASU, the Vietnam War was going on, which was very significant,” Paul said. “ROTC was mandatory for all male students and due to the draft, women were allowed to go into the Air Force and ROTC program at ASU for the first time ever.”

One of the Angel Flight service projects Paul enjoyed participating in was providing support to the prisoners of war (POWs). At homecoming, Angel Flight had booths on the mall asking people to support POWs, and Paul wore her POW bracelet every day in support.

“I loved being a part of Angel Flight,” Paul said. “It was service to my school and my country, and it was fun!”

To this day, Paul remains close with a group of women from Angel Flight. They live all around the world, but every Christmas, they get together for a reunion.

In 1971, the Fiesta Bowl was created by Valley leaders due to frustrations surrounding the overlooked Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions not receiving bowl invitations. The ASU Sun Devils played in the inaugural bowl game at Sun Devil Stadium led by the legendary coach Frank Kush, quarterback Danny White and the entire team, which had had an undefeated season. 

Along with the inaugural game was the inaugural Fiesta Bowl Queen Court Contest, which awarded the winner a scholarship. Court members were selected based on their involvement with the community, their persona, scholastic achievements and poise. Paul had been selected for the court alongside seven other women from ASU and the University of Arizona. While she did not win the scholarship, she enjoyed being a part of history.

“It was a fun and interesting experience,” Paul said. “We had to learn a song, participate in a runway show at a dinner the night before; Attorney General John Mitchell emceed the dinner and Margaret Mitchell sat at our table, which was very high profile, and, ASU won the game.”

During Paul’s junior year of college, she was selected to be a part of the Senior Women's Honorary Society, Mortar Board. At the time, this was a female-only group, and each year, the top 10% of female students would qualify to be part of Mortar Board. Qualified students would apply and were selected based on grades, service to ASU and leadership on campus.

Paul said that during freshman year, she happened to see the Mortar Board group walking around Manzanita Hall “tapping” new members and conducting a candlelight induction ceremony in the lobby of Manzanita.

“I thought it was so special and wanted to have that honor, but I didn’t think that was even possible,” Paul said. “However, it did happen, and I was selected to be a part of the group.”

Her group was made up of 20 to 30 women with diverse areas of study, and Paul served as the treasurer for Mortar Board.

Other groups Paul was involved in during her time as an ASU student included the College Trial Board, Natani Junior Women's Honorary, Sun Devil Marching Band, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science honorary, Manzanita Hall Hostess, Women’s Week Banquet Chair, Intercollegiate Association of Women Students (IAWS) Commission Chair, Regional IAWS Convention Resolutions Chair, National IAWS Convention Representative, Alpha Theta Kappa IAWS Honorary, League of Women Voters 50th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage Celebration Steering Committee, State Press Elections News Reporter, Associated Students Activities Board and Memorial Union Christmas Party Steering Committee, and she was also appointed the co-chair for the first ASU Commission on the Status of Women by the president of ASU.

“I loved ASU and the opportunities given to me,” Paul said. “It provided a foundation for everything I have done in life since then.”        

After graduation, Paul went on to be a lawyer for the Arizona legislature with a focus on education and election law for nine years.

To escape the heat, the Iowa native moved to California in 1987 and has been there ever since. She served as a public sector lawyer working for the civil division of Orange County focusing on construction, real estate and procurement law.

She is now retired and living in San Francisco where she enjoys bridge, traveling for ASU football games and hosting ASU alumni student send-offs for incoming first-year students and their families before they move to Arizona to begin their college journey.

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