ASU graduate has 4 majors, 2 minors, 3 certificates and long list of extracurriculars

April 24, 2023

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

Anusha Natarajan has made a splash at Arizona State University as a leader, diligent student and involved community member.  Anusha Natarajan is photographed standing in front of a tree wearing a warm jacket. Anusha Natarajan Download Full Image

She has been featured in ASU News previously for being a Killam Fellow, being selected for the Henry Clay Center College Student Congress and for winning the 2022 John Lewis Youth Leadership Award from the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. However, this barely scratches the surface of what Natarajan accomplished while at ASU. 

Natarajan is graduating this semester with four concurrent bachelor’s degrees in history, political science, sociology and applied quantitative science, along with minors in Spanish and geography and certificates in international studies, political economy and social science research methods.

“I initially started off as a business major, but I realized there was not as much flexibility in the school with all of the interests that I have, so I decided to major in sociology and history,” Natarajan said. “Eventually, I became interested in wanting to strengthen my quantitative background, so I added the applied quantitative science degree and social science research methods certificate to get more proficient in that.”

On top of her studies, she was a journalist for State Pressa research fellow for the Center on the Future of War, and a student representative on the Civic Engagement Coalition. She also worked within Changemaker Central at ASU and was elected to the Barrett Honors College Council.

Additionally, as a student she started an organization called Culture Talk, which seeks to educate the larger community about culture and she was the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Digital Humanities Journal, an online journal for ASU students to publish their research in history, philosophy and religious studies.

Outside of campus, Natarajan serves on the student advisory board at Campus Vote Project and is involved with Girl Up, a leadership development initiative focusing on equity for girls and women in spaces where they are unheard or underrepresented.

She is also the winner of 14 scholarships and awards, including the Spirit of Service Scholarship, the Lily K. Sell Global Experience Scholarship and a PULSE Scholarship.

“My time at ASU has been a great way for me to learn how I can combine different fields together, whether it be through research or my academic experience,” said Natarajan.

We caught up with her to discuss her time at ASU, her advice for current students and her plans for the future.

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

Answer: I would say close to junior year when I decided that I wanted to add on the other degrees to become more proficient in data analysis and other data collection methods. I took some statistics classes in my junior and senior year that made me realize the importance of having data in our lives and how to make that relatable to social issues, like economic inequality or misinformation. Data is needed now more than ever in the social sciences, especially in our ever-changing world. 

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

A: During my time at the State Press, I was able to learn about how ASU has been harnessing its charter to build partnerships with the State Department and other big companies to make education more accessible and open to the world. I was able to learn how ASU values the importance of universal learning through my reporting work on ASU’s partnership with Crash Course and creating the ASU for You platform during the pandemic. Universal learning is a process where we continue to learn, and I like how ASU provides opportunities for academic enrichment regardless of where one might be in life.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the academic opportunities, specifically Barrett, The Honors College, and extracurricular activities, like the State Press. I also liked how my college experience has gotten me ready for the professional and academic world, especially when it came to getting involved with the various research opportunities during my time here. I like the focus that ASU has with research, and I have been able to get a lot from that in my academic and extracurricular experiences.

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

A: This is kind of general, but going to my professors' office hours has been really great towards my planning for the future because I have the opportunity to get to know them one on one. All of my professors have taught me about the importance of office hours, and they are important because you take a lot of information away, especially when it comes to an assignment or your next step after undergrad.

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

A: I would say get involved on campus. You will be able to find a lot of opportunities for growth. You meet people from outside of your major, and you also gain a lot of professional skills that the classroom might not give you, especially leadership skills. It is also a great way to start building your networking skills because that will be important after graduation.

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

A: I really like the Hayden Library, especially the reading room on the first floor. I like it because it is quiet and also it's nice to see people moving around and about throughout the day. I also like the wide-ranging genres for books that are available for students to continue learning.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to enroll in a data science program either at Columbia or Vanderbilt to strengthen my quantitative background en route to a PhD program to further research about comparative election misinformation. 

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

A: I would love to tackle education equality as many people around the world still don’t have access to it. I would invest resources in building scholarships for underrepresented women globally for them to get funding for their higher education and also investing resources for textbooks, paper and appropriate technologies to ensure that schools are properly equipped to teach their students and for teachers to feel confident and prepared in teaching. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious gaps in our education proficiency, and I want to ensure that future generations don’t suffer from those setbacks.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

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