2023 summit to convene local, global leaders to further digital inclusion

ASU Smart Region Summit to be held Feb. 1 in Phoenix


January 13, 2023

Smart technology enhances the ways we live with more convenience, safety and inclusive services. When applied to the systems governing campuses, cities, regions and even the world, they can connect underserved communities and respond effectively to local needs and requests.

Imagine broadband access in areas where there previously was little to none, exemplified by the announcement in fall 2022 that Maricopa County was granting Arizona State University and its collaborators $34.6 million to advance broadband, community support, equipment and training across the county. A city skyline against a sunset. The fifth annual ASU Smart Region Summit, to be held on Feb. 1 at the Heard Museum, promises to further the conversations surrounding smart technology. With this year’s theme of “connecting smarter regions focused on innovation and inclusion,” a central part of the programming will be focused on digital inclusion: providing access to, and education on, the tools that define much of learning, working and living today. Download Full Image

The fifth annual ASU Smart Region Summit, to be held on Feb. 1 at the Heard Museum, promises to further the conversations that led to this support and many others that promote the importance of building smarter regions. With this year’s theme of “connecting smarter regions focused on innovation and inclusion,” a central part of the programming will be focused on digital inclusion: providing access to, and education on, the tools that define much of learning, working and living today.

“The Smart Region Summit is a dedicated time for us to strengthen our connections in order to build smarter communities for those who need it most,” said Lev Gonick, ASU chief information officer and host of the annual Smart Region Summit. “We’ve seen productive engagement at the summit over the years, and this year we’ll continue that collaboration to ignite the spark that advances change throughout the world.”

This year, a slate of diverse local and national panels and roundtable discussions will convene with smart-city experts, technologists, faculty and leaders. Matthew Rantanen of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association will serve as the summit’s keynote speaker, where he will share on the work being done to strengthen tribal nations and bring digital equity and access to tribal lands across the United States.

Follow-up panels on Indigenous broadband initiatives and best practices in tribal nations will continue the keynote’s theme, while public-private partnership opportunities, decision-making on local and national policies, smart-city creation and more are the subjects of further discussions.

A showcase of digital equity and inclusion around the world will also apply these concepts to a global scale. Speakers include: Nicol Turner Lee from The Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation; Raquel Bernal, president of Universidad de Los Andes Colombia; Joshua Edmonds, DigitalC; Diana Bowman, associate dean and professor at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; and Erin Carr-Jordan, executive director of digital equity and social impact at ASU Enterprise Technology. 

Check out the agenda on the event webpage to view a full list of speakers. Registration for the event closes on Jan. 18. 

“The breadth of topics really makes the case for how we can bring digital inclusion to communities locally and around the world,” said Bowman, who will also emcee the summit.

One major highlight from 2022’s event was the announcement of ASU as the newest Verizon 5G Innovation Hub, with remarks from ASU President Michael Crow and Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin.

This year, the focus on human-centered innovation and inclusion ensures a steadfast focus on connecting smarter regions for the empowerment of all.

Editorial specialist, University Technology Office

‘I knew that there was a bigger purpose for me’: Online grad reflects on journey as new mom, first-gen student


January 13, 2023

For Maura King, a first-generation student who graduated from Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences last month, the path to graduation was not linear. During her time as an undergraduate student, King faced a number of significant challenges.

“School was definitely hard at first because I had no idea where to start because no one in my family had gone to college. I was working full time and going to school full time,” King said. “I was in a very bad car accident in August of 2019, in the midst of being in college. I had a subdural hematoma, which is a brain bleed, and I lost everything for myself.” Portrait of ASU grad Maura King In December, Maura King received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

As King recovered from her accident, she took time off from school and moved from Arizona to Washington. Then, in February of 2021, King became a mother.

“My daughter is the biggest blessing in my life and she's the one who encourages me to keep going to school. I think that is one of the biggest purposes that I have here — to encourage her to go to college one day. … At one point, I wanted to give up but I knew that there was a bigger purpose for me. I don't think I could have done it without my professors at ASU. They were just very encouraging and really kept me on my toes.”

King completed her program in psychlogy fully online, which she said allowed her the flexibility she needed for her lifestyle. During her time at ASU, King had the opportunity to work as a virtual teaching assistant for Sociology 101.

“That definitely helped show me what I was capable of,” she said. “I was able to take all of these courses, be a mom, a teaching assistant and work at the same time. It was beautiful to see that I was capable of doing that. Providing students with the support that they needed really felt good.”

In December, King received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. 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 psychology?

Answer: I used to be a paraprofessional at an elementary school and I really loved working with special needs children. I had a huge connection with them and I actually ended up working at a home with a brother and a sister who both had autism, providing in-home care and teaching them basic life skills. That really drew me to the human brain and social interaction and human interaction. It really was just that that made me realize I could learn about this for the rest of my life because it's so interesting to me and I feel like there is a really big need in this field. I was also interested in the forensic side of psychology — learning about criminal minds and why criminals do the things that they do and analyzing their behaviors and their past.

Q: What is something you learned while at New College in the classroom or otherwise that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I was very surprised to learn how many people go to online school and how much support that we have online. I would get newsletters all the time and emails from different advisors to get involved or offer help and resources. That was very surprising to me because I think many students feel very discouraged when they decide to get an online degree and they assume they won’t get the support they need because they’re not in person. I was very thankful because the advisors I had were very encouraging and supportive. 

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

A: Professor Shannon Tromp. I was going through a lot when I was having my daughter. It was very stressful — I was running on no sleep, trying to do homework and trying to take care of a newborn. It was very overwhelming and I felt discouraged but she gave me the best advice and really just encouraged me and made me realize that it's OK if I'm tired, it's OK if I procrastinate a little bit. As long as I get my stuff done and do what I need to do, I'm going to be OK — I'm still a great student and a great mom. Her encouragement definitely had a really positive impact on my educational journey.

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

A: Keep moving. Every single day is a new day. … Enjoy the journey and then, when you get to the end of it, there will be a big reward. Don’t give up and just keep trying every single day. Do your best every single day and continue to show up.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I'm currently looking at graduate programs and my goal is to become a forensic psychologist and open up my own business either in Washington or in Arizona. My biggest purpose is to help criminals through counseling as well as to advocate for immigrants. It’s important to me to advocate for immigrants and provide them with the support that they need as well.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences