‘It’s not about starting the race, but finishing it’: Second-time ASU grad on finding your own path

Danni Baquing smiling and posing with ASU degree wearing graduation gown and stole in an outdoor setting with maroon and gold balloons behind her.

Last month, Danni Baquing graduated from Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in psychology — her second bachelor’s degree from ASU.


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

Ten years ago, Danni Baquing began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science with the intention of going to law school. Fast-forward to 2023 and Baquing’s plan for her life and career has changed, but her motivation to get there hasn’t.  

Last month, Baquing graduated from Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in psychology — her second bachelor’s degree from ASU.

Baquing completed her first bachelor’s degree in political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies in 2021, but she decided to return to ASU to pursue her passion.

“Psychology and the study of what makes people tick has always been something I was interested in. As the oldest of three girls, I found that even at a young age, I wanted to help and understand why people get angry, sad or happy,” she said. “Whenever there was conflict, I found myself always wanting to be the one to fix it. … I knew then that psychology was my true calling.”

Baquing, who resides in California and was born in the Philippines, completed both of her degrees through ASU Online, which gave her the freedom to work and attend school full time.

“I chose ASU because ASU is No. 1 in innovation — a personality trait that resonated with me. Professionally speaking, I’ve taken pride in thinking outside the box to improve otherwise outdated processes,” she said. “Additionally, it was nice to see that even though I was an online student, my professors pushed for success and set their courses up to enable me to really see that my desire to practice as a licensed psychiatrist in the future is right for me.”

Here, Baquing shares more about her experiences at ASU and what’s next for her.

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

Answer: While at New College, a stats class was a requirement to fulfill the degree. … As I went through the course, I began to see why stats was necessary to at least understand, if not practice for data validation and seeking truth. Stats isn’t just about numbers; it’s about giving evidence-based data on different factors that may or may not affect daily life.

Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way? If yes, how did you overcome them?

A: In 2018, I experienced a layoff, which left me unemployed for about a month. A month may not seem like a long time, but when bills pile up, it becomes very desperate and anxiety-ridden. I had to withdraw from the two classes I had signed up for at ASU back then. So, when 2020 and 2021 came around, I was prepared to contribute to whatever financial aid wouldn’t cover. I am not alone when I say this, but I was also trying to navigate life during lockdown and starting a new job remotely and virtually being trained. 

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

A: My professors were great, and I really feel like they prepared courses that would help me in the future. However, I feel that Professor Shelby Ryan taught me the most important lesson — look at data with a scientist’s eye and mind. Question the evidence and do your own research. Think critically and run your own statistics research so that you can’t fall to false statistics meant to sway the uninformed.

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

A: Everyone has their own life path. It doesn’t matter if it takes you the regular three, four or, if you’re like me, over 10 years to finish a degree — as long as you finish it and you’re proud of how much effort you put forth and can pat yourself on the back because you also did it on top of a full-time 40-hour workweek and doing everyday life on top of a full-time school schedule. I am a firm believer that it’s not about starting the race but finishing it.

Q: What message or advice would you share for future first-year students?

A: The message I would give to future first-year students is to be open-minded and inquisitive. Join a club or two and immerse yourself in the ASU culture. Learn wholeheartedly, even if it means switching up your major because you had a late “aha” moment and even if it takes you a year longer to finish. But most importantly, be present and live life the way that makes you happy.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to pursue a dual master's/PhD program in psychology with an emphasis on clinical psychology so that I am set up for what I want to do in the future, which is to become a licensed psychologist. I have already done research and a PhD is required to practice in California, and I think I am most likely going to stay in California.

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