ASU music learning and teaching graduate strives to connect classrooms, cultures

December 16, 2022

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

William Manuel, a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, will graduate with a Bachelor of Music in music learning and teaching from the Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre. Portrait of ASU grad William Manuel. Download Full Image

He not only acknowledges the land that ASU sits on but, at the same time, thinks about how he can support Indigenous learners in music and how music education can connect to Native youth and schools.

“In his classes with me, Will was outspoken about issues of equity and diversity, and championed the voices of all his classmates in group discussions,” said Sandra Stauffer, vice dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and professor of music learning and teaching in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

Stauffer said that even in his student teaching, Manuel applied his ideals about equity in practice and made his lessons about supporting diverse learners and engaging with multiple cultures through music.

“Will measures his success by whom he includes in the music classroom,” she said.

Manuel said he wishes to bring something constructive back to his community and, in turn, strengthen the sovereignty of the nation.

“I wish to restore lost, broken or forgotten culture and bring that to the children and the future of the (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) Nation – to connect cultures, not exclude or prioritize,” Manuel said.

In addition to his music teaching and learning courses, Manuel also studied piano under Robert Hamilton, professor of piano in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, for the past two years and was a student in Hamilton’s piano studio.

“There are many words I could use to describe Will; 'enthusiastic determination' comes to mind first,” said Hamilton. “His work ethic and progress are in the top group of my class, something I have not seen in a non-performance piano major since I began university teaching in the 1960s. Also uncommon is the unusually strong originality and creativity of his work. He is a wonderful young person with great potential.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study music education? 

Answer: Dr. Christina Novak, ASU alumna and professor at (Scottsdale Community College), modeled the educator I want to be and also had a conversation with me that not only opened my mentality to opportunity, but also set me on the path of music education.

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

A: How important it is to not only bring my culture and what I know to the classroom, but to also bring in multiple perspectives when dealing with a culture, as well as exposing the children to cultures other than their own

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) had a higher education program that supported me through my entire degree, and this scholarship had a preference for ASU. Also, the people I looked up to, many of them professors, all went through ASU to get their degree. 

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

A: Every professor I have had one-on-one time with has taught me something essential to not only my career but the path I chose to follow in my lifetime. They have all made pursuing achievements greater than what I could have imagined myself doing a possibility.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: Be memorable, develop professional communication skills, turn in quality work, and make sure the professors you have respect for know your name. The network built through ASU will take you further than anything you could do independently. The ASU professors are key to creating greater futures for their students, and they will sometimes move mountains for their students when possible. And do not sweat the small, administrative stuff.

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

A: The practice room — or nearby coffee shops that had free refills on tea. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Substituting in Tempe District 3 and eventually teaching primary general music education for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Q: Did you receive any scholarships while at ASU, and if so, which ones? What did it mean to you to be able to receive this funding?

A: I received a tribal scholarship, the Pell Grant and a university grant each semester. This gave me the ability to pursue higher education, chase my dreams and personally grow in more ways than just academics. These scholarships gave me a life I find worth living.

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

A: Indigenous representation – in arts, sports, academics, the sciences and, most importantly, legislation. Not only for Native Americans but also for Indigenous peoples around the world. 

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


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2022 in review: ASU's top stories

December 16, 2022

With the full return to campus, in-person commencements, a lively Homecoming and buildings opening near and far, time seems to be moving awfully fast these days. The close of the year is a good time to take a moment to appreciate all that the Arizona State University community has achieved and experienced in 2022.

So stay out of the chilly weather, pour a cup of something warm and enjoy many of the notable moments from the past year.


While some news from the previous month continued to get lots of notice — such as the arrival of the Afghan students and NASA awarding $130 million to the Orbital Reef space station — January held plenty of news of its own, including ASU again ranking among the nation's top research universities. New faces joined the Sun Devil community while ASU honored the legacy of those we lost near and far.


Russia's invasion of Ukraine this month had us turning to many of our experts for help in understanding the context, the trauma, the politics and more.


Though ISTB7 would have its grand opening later in the year, we were introduced to its architecture bridging our past to our thriving future this month. We also as a community began learning about ASU's Science and Technology Centers, a key component of the New Economy Initiative.


As the university neared commencement time, we began celebrating notable graduates, including one student who was earning five bachelor's degrees and another who was the designer behind the iconic "No Pity for the Kitty" T-shirts. We also toured a newly renovated and rededicated Durham Hall.


A month marked by exciting moments — including ASU's first in-person spring commencement since 2019 and a new dawn for supercomputing at the university — also saw its share of losses. The ASU community mourned several deaths, including those of a promising young scholar and a noted paleoanthropologist.


The supply chain continued to have hiccups — the latest shortages being tampons and fireworks — while the Interplanetary Initiative honored one underresourced Guatemalan team's very big accomplishment.


The Sun Devil community welcomed eight new Flinn Scholars and mourned the passing of Lonnie Ostrom, remembered for his service to students, colleagues and donors. Meanwhile, the rise of monkeypox around the world left people with many questions; an ASU epidemiologist had answers.


ASU set new records with its fall enrollment as the Arizona Board of Regents celebrated President Michael Crow's first 20 years as ASU president with accolades, testimonials and a new title. Meanwhile, generous gifts expanded the reach of the Luminosity Lab and the Department of English's creative writing program to underserved students.


In other places, this month heralds the start of autumn with changing leaves and crisp weather. But here at ASU, September marks the season of innovation rankings — this year, the university was named No. 1 in innovation for an eighth straight year. It was a banner month, as ASU also was ranked eighth worldwide for utility patents, earned its second Seal of Excelencia certification and was awarded the lead of a new National Science Foundation I-Corps Hub.


ASU was named a top university for community and national service this month. Sun Devils put that spirit of service to work in many ways, including creating an app to help caregivers at this year's Hacks for Humanity event.


ASU continued its efforts to serve students, including ranking No. 1 in the U.S. for hosting international students and exploring new ways offer military students a seamless entry into university. And the community was again hit hard by loss, marking the passing of generous philanthropist Leo Beus and Nobel-winning economist Edward Prescott.


Sun Devils were hard at work to close out the year, and a rainy forecast turned into gorgeous skies for the fall commencement. December also brought a slew of space stories, including a rundown of Mastcam-Z's latest discoveries, research on the faint "ghost light" around our solar system and a study on stunning galaxy views taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.