2 ASU students awarded Udall Scholarship

ASU leads nation in number of Udall Scholarships awarded to students

May 24, 2022

The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement (ONSA) has announced that two Arizona State University students, Katie Pascavis and Dylan Bia, have been awarded the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, a major federal fellowship for college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.

ASU student Nicole Kaiser has also been named an honorable mention. Portrait of ASU student Katie Pascavis. Katie Pascavis, a junior who is pursuing dual degrees in mechanical engineering and public health, with a minor in sustainability, has been named a Udall Scholar. Download Full Image

Since the program’s inception in 1997, a total of 41 ASU students have been selected as Udall Scholars, ranking ASU first among all U.S. institutions, ahead of the University of Montana, Cornell and Yale. The most recent previous ASU recipients are Nathanial Ross in 2021 and Nekiyah Draper, Tahiry Langrand and Grant Real Bird in 2020.

The Udall Scholarship is a program of the Udall Foundation, which was established by the U.S. Congress as an independent executive branch agency to honor Rep. Morris K. Udall's lasting impact on this nation's environment, public lands and natural resources, and his support of the rights and self-governance of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 2009, the name of the foundation was amended to include Stewart L. Udall, who served as secretary of the interior from 1961 to 1969.

The scholarship provides up to $7,000 for eligible academic expenses, access to the Udall Alumni Network and an invitation to a five-day scholar orientation in Tucson, where the incoming cohort of Udall Scholars participate in networking and professional development activities.

The award is open to full-time sophomores and juniors at any accredited academic institution in the U.S.

Students may apply in one of three areas: tribal policy, Native health care or environment. Those who apply in the policy or health care categories must be Native Americans or Alaska Natives.

“What I admire about the Udall Scholarship is how inclusive and values-driven it is,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean of national scholarship advisement. “Udall Scholars are selected on the basis of how they demonstrate their commitment to civility, integrity and consensus. These are the values demonstrated by the Udalls in their public service careers, and I think we can all agree that they are qualities that we want to promote in the next generation of leaders.”

A junior at Barrett, The Honors College, Pascavis is pursuing dual degrees in mechanical engineering and public health, with a minor in sustainability. A Flinn Scholar, she also received the Goldwater Scholarship earlier this year in recognition of her outstanding achievements in STEM research.

An honorable mention for the Udall Scholarship in 2020, Bia is a member of the Leadership Scholarship Program at ASU and is both a Pat Tillman and Chief Manuelito Scholar. He also has participated in research at ASU-Banner, the University of Utah and the University of Arizona with various initiatives addressing Native American health issues.

“The news was a humbling experience to share with my family members and advisors,” Bia said about hearing he had been awarded the scholarship. “Being an honorable mention from the previous year made the news so much more rewarding knowing the extra effort put in was worthwhile. I am honored to receive this prestigious scholarship and appreciate the support from my family and advisors on my journey.”

Another step in the journey

Portrait of ASU student Dylan Bia.

Dylan Bia. Photo courtesy ONSA

A member of the Navajo Nation, Bia plans to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and become a physician and work in rural, tribal communities to provide better access to quality health care.

“I had various influences that made me pursue medicine,” Bia said. “My parents taught me the importance of serving native communities and I observed my grandfather as a traditional medicine man healing community members. My older brothers completed their education in medicine and solidified my intentions of pursuing medicine by all my family influences.”

Bia began the journey toward a career in health care by going through the medical assisting program at the East Valley Institute of Technology while finishing high school at Corona Del Sol in Tempe, Arizona. In addition to his efforts relating to medicine, Bia also serves the ASU community with roles in organizations such as Changemaker Central and the Alliance of Indigenous People Coalition.

“Being heavily involved in the Indigenous community was my personal goal when I started here at ASU,” Bia said. “I had the honor to be one of the main facilitators for the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, a coalition that represents an open community for Indigenous students. My involvement has expanded my connections, community support, and increased my skills as a student leader.”

Pascavis (pictured above) plans to become a university professor and create research groups that will continue her current work in clean-water technologies.

“Access to water and sanitation is such an important issue throughout the world,” Pascavis said. “It's important that we prepare for how global climate change is going to worsen the situation. I want to pursue environmental engineering to help protect the health of both global communities and the environment.”

She has served as president of Engineers Without Borders and spent several years as a student researcher in the Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Engineering Research Center to discover new methods for eliminating bacteria in water, such as a “Germicidal Jellyfish,” a floating device that emits bacteria-killing UV light.

During the pandemic, Pascavis put her commitment to public health and sustainability, combined with her engineering and research skills, to work with the Luminosity Lab at ASU. These efforts have led to new methods to sanitize masks, the design of N95 alternatives and PPE advising to local hospitals. Currently, she is looking to leverage her technical expertise and assume national leadership roles.

“I was recently selected to the Global 4-H Youth Committee and am currently starting an initiative to encourage 4-Hers to pursue their own environmental action projects,” she said. “While it's a recent activity and it's still very much underway, I am incredibly excited at this idea because I grew up in 4-H, and it was such an important part of my life that taught me to take action in my own community.” 

In August, Pascavis and Bia will travel to Tucson to participate in a five-day Udall Scholar orientation, which brings together the entire cohort of Udall Scholars from across the country to participate in leadership development programming, professional networking and in-depth case studies.

“The Udall orientation and the alumni network are really the most valuable parts of the scholarship,” Mox said. “Through these channels, the Udall Scholars can connect with other motivated, like-minded students from across the U.S. The experience helps to accelerate them toward their professional and personal aspirations.”

A community of support

Applicants for the Udall Scholarship must be nominated by their institution, and each college or university is limited in the number of students that it may nominate. At ASU, the process is managed through ONSA, which organizes a faculty committee to review and approve applications for nomination.

The primary recruiting and advising of applicants is done by Shay Masterson, program manager for outreach and inclusion at ONSA. To identify and then prepare likely candidates for the Udall Scholarship, Masterson collaborates with many different units at ASU, including the School of Sustainability and American Indian Student Support Services.

“Without the support of our partners throughout ASU, we would not be as successful at identifying, encouraging and guiding strong candidates for the Udall Scholarship,” Masterson said. “Faculty and staff with these units have been integral from the beginning of the application process through the end. Since they work so closely with the students in their respective units, they are able to connect ONSA with likely nominees, and often, they go even further, providing one-on-one mentorship to applicants, as well as serving on the selection committees.”

Kaiser, a junior in the College of Life Sciences and Barrett, The Honors College, was identified as an honorable mention. She has collaborated with Tempe City Council and Hoverlay to increase the bat population near Tempe Town Lake. Kaiser also assists with researching the dynamics of infectious diseases at the ASU Biodesign Center of Environmental Health Engineering. After completing studies at ASU, Kaiser plans to do further research abroad before pursuing a PhD with an emphasis on biodiverse systems.

Current ASU students who are interested in applying for the Udall Scholarship in a future cycle can visit onsa.asu.edu to schedule an advising meeting.

Story submitted by the Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

Understanding, accepting people who stutter focus of film by 2 ASU students

May 24, 2022

George Ramos and Jesus Ledezma think stuttering is a misunderstood condition and that myths about it should be dispelled.

They agree that people who stutter are neither less intelligent nor less productive than others, and that in some ways, they are smarter and stronger than other people because they have to navigate through an impatient world that stigmatizes them. ASU grad George Ramos (left) wears his graduation regalia while standing next to current ASU student Jesus Ledezma. George Ramos (left), who graduated from ASU in May, and Jesus Ledezma, a rising senior double majoring in filmmaking and health care compliance and regulations, made a documentary film focusing on the experiences of people who stutter. Photo courtesy George Ramos and Jesus Ledezma Download Full Image

Ramos, who graduated from Arizona State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science with honors from Barrett, The Honors College, and Ledezma, a rising senior honors student double majoring in filmmaking practices and health care compliance and regulations, worked together on an honors creative project focusing on people who stutter.

The project, called “A Conversation on Stuttering,” is a documentary film aimed at raising awareness about stuttering. Still not fully understood by modern research, stuttering (called stammering in the United Kingdom) is a diagnosis often accompanied by ridicule, shame and misconceptions.

According to The Stuttering Foundation, a nonprofit organization helping people who stutter, there are 70 million stutterers worldwide and about 3 million of them are in the United States. U.S. President Joe Biden and King George VI, father of Elizabeth II, the current queen of England, are two well-known stutterers.

Ramos and Ledezma, both from Mesa, Arizona, set out to interview researchers, clinicians and people who stutter to gain insight into the impact stuttering can have and to promote acceptance and understanding of stutterers.

Ledezma said he and Ramos spent nearly a year working on the project, doing in-depth research, finding and interviewing subjects, and filming and editing. People who appear in the film include an artist, a managing director at a technical school and a young Arizonan who stutters, as well as a speech language pathologist and a researcher.

The film captures conversations on a range of experiences from sometimes emotional interviews with people who stutter.

Ramos said that through this project, he and Ledezma hope to further open dialogue about the themes of identity and understanding differences and diverse perspectives that can make for a more accepting world.

Ramos, who plans to stay at ASU to pursue a master’s degree in communication disorders and ultimately work with clients who have speech fluency disorders, said that working on the film “taught me the importance of listening to people and really taking in who they are and how they feel and making time with them count.”

Ledezma said that as a filmmaker, “this was my first time dealing with a topic this sensitive, and I learned how to be more empathetic through filmmaking practices by incorporating editing techniques and flows that helped convey the genuine responses and messages the interviewees had for the documentary."

In the film, Jaclyn Boyes, managing director at Per Scholas in Phoenix, talked about her experiences as a person who stutters.

“The video did a wonderful job of balancing the real-life experiences of adult stutterers and the clinical perspective. The result is an educational film that also promotes empathy in viewers,” Boyes said. 

“We all share a fundamental human desire to be understood by others. The video does a beautiful job of sharing the stuttering experience. My hope is those who watch it will be better able to understand and connect with people in their lives who stutter,” she said.

Eric Sundt, an artist who stutters, from Apache Junction, Arizona, also appeared in the film. He said he wanted to help shed light on a condition many people are not familiar with and “to have people know what it’s like to be in my shoes and what I have to do to deal with their not understanding.”

Myra Schatzki, a clinical associate professor of speech and hearing science in ASU’s College of Health Solutions who advised Ramos and Ledezma on the project, said more information about what it’s like to live as a stutterer is needed to promote understanding and lessen the stigma placed on people who stutter, and “A Conversation on Stuttering” helps fill that need.

“Gaining perspective on the emotions and struggles behind stuttering directly from stutterers has value in how we, as a society, can be more supportive of our differences. From a therapeutic perspective, the project adds the emotional element to stuttering that we still need to understand and develop in how we can support our clients,” Schatzki said.

Schatzki said stutterers face lifelong challenges in a world that has expectations of fluent communication and that health insurance does not cover the cost of therapeutic treatment and other services for them because stuttering is seen as a developmental disorder.

“If our society continues to have expectations of fluent communication, then we need to support their treatment,” she said.

Jennifer Buckler, a speech pathologist and clinical assistant professor at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, who appeared in the film, said stuttering has been making its way into the public eye recently with films such as “My Beautiful Stutter” and people who stutter – like President Biden and singer Ed Sheeran – sharing their experiences publicly.

“We have a long way to go. Those who speak differently still experience bullying and are targets of jokes or dismissal of themselves as individuals because of their differences. By making the discussion of stuttering something that all feel free to engage with, it creates understanding and alliances,” she said.

“Stuttering is just a different way of speaking. It is not something a parent did or some calamity that the person experienced. It is not contagious and it is not something a person can just ‘think about’ or ‘breathe through’ to change. It is a part of who they are. I’d like the world to be more patient, compassionate and better listeners, not just with stuttering, but with getting to know and accepting others,” she said.

Ramos and Ledezma screened a 42-minute version of the film in April and received great interest from ASU faculty members who wanted to use it as a teaching tool. The film already has been shown to ASU speech and hearing science graduate students and members of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association at ASU, a professional organization for speech and hearing science students.

Ramos and Ledezma plan to re-edit the film to add more footage. They hope to present the film at the 2023 conference of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, enter it in festivals and offer it to educators in the field of speech and hearing science for classroom use and training.

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College