Moeur Award recipient selected for Clinton Global Initiative
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Recent Arizona State University graduate Savannah Prida comes from a long line of college-educated women. However, she’s the first woman in her family to graduate with her bachelor’s degree debt-free.
“To be able to say that I have received a bachelor's degree debt-free is something that is genuinely life-changing,” Prida said. “I am so proud to say that I have gotten my degree from Arizona State University.”
Prida’s lifelong passion for serving others was what initially drew her to the social justice and human rights program offered by the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.
From the start of her ASU journey, she participated in the Next Generation Service Corps (NGSC), a four-year leadership development program where students engage in practical elements of leadership, learn cross-sector collaboration and participate in internships in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Through the NGSC, she was awarded the Public Service Academy Commitment Award, which enabled her to push herself to the next level.
“The Public Service Academy Commitment Award and the Next Generation Service Corps pushed me to really believe in myself and believe in my capabilities,” she said. “As a freshman, I never thought that I would be capable of doing an internship and that a company would take me seriously as just an 18-year-old kid, but I realized that I had to believe in myself before other people were going to believe in me.”
Through the NGSC, she spent four months in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked on policy development and research on human rights issues as a summer intern. Her time there inspired her to complete her honors thesis for Barrett, The Honors College on mass incarceration in South Phoenix and how voter disenfranchisement impacts community ties.
“The work that I did there has truly influenced the rest of my life in the ways that it allowed me to connect real people's stories with the academic curriculum that I have learned,” she said.
This spring, Prida graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in social justice and human rights with certificates in cross-sector leadership and Peace Corps prep. For her high academic standing, she was recognized as a Moeur Award recipient. Here, she shares more about her experiences at ASU and what’s next for her.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study social justice and human rights?
A: I can't say I really had an “aha” moment — I think it was a series of little moments throughout my life that led me to this degree. I was always passionate about service to others, and I think that social justice and human rights just fit really well into my passions.
Q: What’s something you learned while at New College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I think the biggest thing that I've gotten out of the program in social justice and human rights is quite a simple lesson but a reminder that is always necessary for us all: There is humanity within us all, and digging into that and going into that further is a worthwhile pursuit.
Getting an interdisciplinary bachelor's degree is the reason that I was forced to go out of my comfort zone to engage in math, science, English, humanities and philosophy courses that I would never have taken otherwise. I feel like I have come out as a more well-rounded individual who is able to thrive in multiple environments and not just one key area that I’m passionate about.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: In Dr. Jennifer Keahey’s course, she really took a slow learning approach, which is the idea that you take time to digest the material and that you converse with your colleagues and your peers. You allow it to sink in without trying to force something to perform on a test. She applied that lesson to life, and that's something that's really stuck with me. You can apply slow learning to your every day. The only moment we have is the present, and she taught me to lean in to that by truly being in the moment.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Pursue what you're passionate about. If you don't know what you're passionate about, pursue what you like, because going to school is only really worth it if you're going for something that is truly meaningful to you. When times got hard or when I felt like I wanted to give up, I was able to continue because I am truly passionate about what I'm going to school for and the work that I do I find meaningful.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After I graduate, I will pursue my master's degree in social justice and human rights at ASU. I have also recently been selected for the Clinton Global Initiative, and I will be working with the Clinton Foundation to implement a social change project to address high recidivism rates in South Phoenix.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years or more?
A: In 10 years, I hope to have a job that I’m passionate about, that I love the work that I do and that I'm able to travel and be with friends and family. That might look like me being a human rights attorney or being a nonprofit professional or working in the public sector. I'm really not quite sure yet, but ideally, the work would be fulfilling and I'd be passionate about it.