Outstanding graduate encourages students to try everything, fail often, learn always

John Rudebeck, recipient of the outstanding graduate award from within the College of Global Futures

John Rudebeck completed two capstone projects and was a new student ambassador throughout his time at ASU. Photo courtesy John Rudebeck


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

John Rudebeck remembers selecting his major vividly. He had every intention of starting school as an undecided student, but needed to choose a major due to a scholarship requirement. 

“You’d like this one,” his mother had said while scrolling through a list of programs and finding Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Without much further consideration and with the understanding that he could always change it later, he agreed. 

“As it turns out, my mom is definitely the prime source on my interests because when I started taking classes, I immediately knew that this was so right for me,” Rudebeck said. 

Originally from Normal, Illinois, Rudebeck said he was seeking an educational experience that was anything but normal. He had a variety of interests he wanted to pursue and turned to ASU to explore those fields. 

While Rudebeck started his college career with a flexibility regarding his area of study, he found himself very engaged in his classes and student life while obtaining his bachelor’s degree in innovation in society at the College of Global Futures. Over the course of his time at the college, he has completed two capstone projects, started a temporary student organization that participated in School for the Future of Innovation in Society curriculum discussions and served as a new student ambassador. He is scheduled to graduate from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society in the fall of 2022. 

“I don’t know if I would consider myself an ‘outstanding’ graduate, but I would say that I’m thankful to have had the opportunities I did to grow,” he said. “I would tell students starting out to try everything, take the opportunities as they come and learn as much as you can.” 

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

Answer: Education, for me, has been so much more than just getting a certificate. There is a concept in philosophy that explores this idea of not understanding the first premise you’re given until you’ve also read the second and third, and so forth. It all culminates so that once you’ve reached the end, you look back and understand them. That’s how I see my college experience on both a personal and academic level. I came out of high school feeling very much like I was going to college so I could get a diploma. Now I see that it wasn’t so much about the destination as it was the journey. My worldview and my idea of how I can interact and exist in the world have definitely been broadened. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: The biggest pull for me was that my family was moving to Phoenix. But the climate, politics, music scene and regional location of Phoenix were all good fits for me. I liked the feel of the campus and, what was really important for me at the time, was the range of study areas I could choose from. I wanted to explore a variety of interests and felt like ASU had a really good framework to do that. I was able to do self-guided minor areas of study in industrial design, especially socially and environmentally responsible design, and moral philosophy.

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

A: The balcony/roof of the Student Services Building is always empty, it's shaded and windy, and has a great view.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: Find work, see my family back home, travel the world, the lifelong pursuit of learning and the goal of making positive change in the world. Getting a degree and using it to impact the world is such a noble and worthy pursuit, and I’m looking forward to applying the soft and hard skills I’ve learned into the workforce. SFIS put me on a good path, and I’m in a place where I have a good understanding of what I’m looking for in my career and the contributions I want to make. 

Q: What have been some of your favorite projects or stories from your time at ASU? 

A: I really enjoyed my capstone project through SFIS. I worked on a team and came up with a report looking at the future of verified credentials and its impact on higher education. We did data-driven scenario planning and were able to interview field professionals to explore how verified credentials could play a role in higher education reform, then we presented the report to about 250 people. My other stories of note from my time at ASU have more to do with the time I spent with other people. ASU was a great experience for formal, academic learning and also for social learning. Spending time with other students, getting to know people I might not have met otherwise, has definitely shaped a lot of my favorite memories here. 

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

A: Try everything. Talk to everyone. The first week of school everyone seems to be in such a frenzy to meet people but once they’ve formed their groups, they close the doors. There are so many friendships to be made outside of those first few weeks. Go out more. There are so many opportunities for social and academic learning, and going to college is about the social aspect just as much as it is about the certificate. College — and life — is a huge process of discovery; try everything, fail often, learn from it and move on to try something else. Always allow yourself to pivot directions, don't feel locked into your choices. The more things you try, the more paths in life you have to take, the more you expand your interests and opportunities.