First-generation ASU Law grad finds home in Phoenix

April 24, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Kristin Leaptrott had been working as a workers’ compensation claims adjuster for five years when she had an “aha” moment.  Headshot of Kristin Leaptrott. Kristin Leaptrott Download Full Image

“That job put me in fairly regular contact with attorneys, and I was fascinated with the work they did on my claims, as well as the legal side of claims handling in general,” she said. “Eventually, I just realized I would rather be doing what they were doing!”

A first-generation college student, she had graduated with her Bachelor of Business Administration in managerial finance from the University of Mississippi and never thought law school would be in the cards for her. She had limited exposure to the legal field prior to starting at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, but she threw herself into the experience soon after arriving. 

A beneficiary of the Simonson/Meyerson Family Scholarship, she completed two externships at Phoenix-based law firm Quarles & Brady and one with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. She also participated in the law school’s Civil Litigation Clinic, where she represented people who don’t have the resources to hire an attorney for cases involving consumer fraud, employment discrimination, unemployment insurance benefits, wage claims and tenant's rights. 

“Law school has given me so many amazing opportunities that I never would have dreamed would be available to me,” said Leaptrott.

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

Answer: I was surprised by how much lawyering is about people — your client, your opposing counsel, judges, juries — and you really have to know how to read people, learn their motivations and tailor whatever you're doing to appeal to them. It's not all about the law.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I initially applied to ASU because I wanted to live in Phoenix, but I decided to attend after visiting the campus. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and I felt immediately at home. Three years later, I can happily say that I definitely made the right choice.

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

A: I definitely learned the most from my clinic professors. I learned so much from them about the practical aspects and the day-to-day of being a lawyer, and that's just not really something you can get from a typical classroom setting.

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

A: Keep going! Try not to worry about what other students are saying about how much they're studying or what their grades are. The only thing you can control is yourself. As much as you can, do what you want to do and don't do what you don't want to do. There are a lot of things that law students do just because it's what law students do, but these three years will go by so fast; don't waste them on something you don't enjoy.

Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?

A: I am so happy I came to ASU, and I would recommend it to anyone who asks, but my best advice for someone who hasn't committed to a law school yet is to choose a school for the location and the people rather than prestige or ranking. Law school is hard enough as it is without being unhappy with where you are living or the people around you.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After taking the bar, I will be working at Quarles & Brady in their litigation practice group. I am so excited to officially join them this fall!

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

A: I would probably invest in meat and dairy alternatives or something similar that would help reduce the amount of animal products we consume. I know not everyone is opposed to eating meat for the animals, but I don't think anyone can really deny that animal agriculture in its current form is terrible for us and for the environment.

Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?

A: It's a huge deal! I am a first-generation college graduate, and being an attorney was absolutely not something I ever expected I could do growing up.

Q: Who, if anyone, helped you get here?

A: My partner moved across the country with me so that I could go to school here, and he has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader over the last three years. I definitely could not have done it without him.

Lindsay Walker

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

More than a video game: ASU digital culture graduate finds power in 'play'

April 24, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

School of Arts, Media and Engineering student Mia Ramos, who is graduating this spring with a degree in digital culture with a concentration in film, said one of the important lessons she learned at Arizona State University was the importance of play. 
Photo of Mia at baseball field. Mia Ramos. Photo courtesy of Mia Ramos Download Full Image

Growing up, I was told video games are childish and boys only play them,” she said. “Assistant Professor DB Bauer teaches that there is more to a video game than just playing a game; it is telling a story, and I want to carry this into my own work in the future through storytelling.”

Ramos turned to the idea of “play” when the pandemic began to close spaces for students to network, collaborate and partake in extracurricular activities at ASU.

Ramos found herself in the right place to create new opportunities. She was a student worker for the School of Arts, Media and Engineering’s Esports Lounge and joined a team led by systems analyst Dan Jackson, who had an idea of how to break through the barriers and build connections. The team worked collaboratively to create a Minecraft server that would allow students to interact virtually and begin building a virtual representation of ASU architecture through Minecraft, a video game that allows users to create various structures.

Ramos served mostly as a communications liaison and shared information campuswide through various outlets that incorporated her studies within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Studies in film allowed her to be creative and share information through storytelling and imagery.

 “This opportunity to work under the guidance of Connor Rawls and Dan Jackson has prepared me for future group projects and, in completion, provided the experience of passing work on and seeing it continue to thrive,” she said.

The Minecraft server continues to thrive. In its initial phase, which launched in fall of 2020, the server was only accessible to students within the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. Today, thanks to the help of student workers like Ramos and their leaders within the Esports Lounge, all ASU students can contact Rawls, the Esports Lounge research specialist, to connect with the server and build.

Ramos said the experience she gained working with the Minecraft project and at ASU will help her as she continues to make her dreams happen.

“My biggest goal is to join the film industry as a character animator,” she said. “I’ve loved films growing up, so character animator would be my dream come true.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I was with my older sister looking at other majors outside of film. Being a first-generation student, this major suited all my wants and needs, and I fell in love with the major as soon as I found it.

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

A: In the past two years, I have learned a lot about myself and who I am as a creative person. My experience in college changed who I was before. I attribute success thanks to faculty at ASU, including Ernesto Reyes of Student Services. Ernesto taught that not everything needed to be perfect before submitting it and to keep trying my best.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of my older sister, Yvonne. I looked up to her for the longest time growing up. She’s 10 years older than I am, and she was the first one in my family to go to college. When I saw ASU and I saw her make all these friends in the community and learning all these lessons, I remember just thinking, I want to go here. Being here reminds me of my sister, and if anything I hope I made her proud.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to students?

A: Learn everything you can, and don’t be afraid to show off what you can do. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and even though the world is judgmental, don’t judge yourself so harshly before you begin.

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

A: The student Memorial Union — sitting down at the tables and people watching. It was one of the few times I liked eating by myself and hanging out with friends. I have so many good memories at (the) MU.

Shane Davis

Multimedia Specialist, School of Arts, Media and Engineering