ASU Dean’s Medalist connects with and advocates for her community

April 28, 2023

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

Simonne Campos moved to Arizona from the Bay Area and was looking for new challenges and projects she could contribute to that were greater than herself. When she was accepted at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, she found a community she could advocate for and see her impact within. A young woman smiles at the camera Simonne Campos has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' spring 2023 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Transborder Studies. Download Full Image

While researching possible majors at ASU, Campos had an idea of what she wanted to study but didn’t know what program would be best for herself.

“I knew that I wanted to do something that had to do with Latin American studies or Chicano identity. I was going through the majors and I saw this thing called ‘Transborder Chicano/Latino Studies’ and I read the description and thought, ‘Well that sounds really cool and something that I want to know more about.’ It did not disappoint, and I’m very very grateful that I took a chance in pursuing something that I was passionate about and it paid off.”

She found a small but close-knit community within her program. All of the work, she found, was exciting and inspiring, ranging from literature analysis to more introspective work, like asking oneself what it is to be Latino, or doing advocacy and research that looks at broader trends.

While at the School of Transborder Studies, she received the opportunity to work with Francisco Lara-Valencia on the Los Angeles Accessory Dwelling Unit (LAADU) Accelerator Program, which “pairs older adults with homeowners willing to provide a stable home by offering their accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as rentals.” This was one of the moments Campos saw the impact she could have. While working on this project, research and community advocacy mixed as she interacted with program participants.

“It was research. But it was also connection with real people, listening to real stories and taking voices of people who are not often listened to and uplifting them, making their voice heard and implementing change that would help them,” she said.

Campos, who has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' spring 2023 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Transborder Studies, will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Arts in transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o studies.

While nervous to graduate and saying she will miss the community and mentors she found at the School of Transborder Studies, she is ready to pave her own way.

Question: Was there any experience or moment where you realized, “Oh, this is where I’m supposed to be”?

Answer: This is really cheesy so I don’t know if you’re going to be able to use this, but honestly, when I got the email that I was the Dean’s Medalist it made me feel like it was all worth it. It has been a great two years, but it’s also been challenging. It’s been lonely at times; there’s been a lot of hard work and effort that I didn’t know if it was always paying off. But getting some recognition and some appreciation — the support of my faculty, my professors, my mentors — it has shown me that it was worth it. That this is where I was meant to be.

Q: What would you like your future to be like?

A: I just want my future to continue to be an opportunity for me to be my most authentic self and help people through that — whatever that looks like. Implementing real change, listening to real people, making real connections, that is what I’m all about, that is the life that I lead, that is who I am as a person. I know that I can only do the best work if I am my best self. It’s so cheesy, but I can only be the most successful if I know who I am. I know that I am a people person, I know that I like to help others, and so that is what I want for the future.

Q: Do you have any advice to give to incoming students?

A: My advice to incoming students would be to not be afraid of the vast amount of opportunities we have here. Know that any feelings of not being good enough, not being experienced enough, or maybe that “those aren’t your skills,” those feelings aren’t real. You can do it. It was meant for you; it was made for you. That’s why we’re here, so take advantage of it.

Q: Do you have any messages for your fellow graduates?

A: No matter how we got here, no matter how you got here, you should be proud. We should be proud of everything that we’ve done. We all come from so many different backgrounds, we have a vast history, so whoever you are, you should be proud of yourself.

Communications Program Coordinator, School of Transborder Studies

Communication grad and comedian starts stand-up club at ASU

April 28, 2023

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

For Arizona State University students who aspire to be the next Dave Chappelle or Ali Wong, there's a club here for you. ASU senior Luke Rowland performs his stand-up act at a comedy club. Download Full Image

Senior Luke Rowland, a communication major at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, created Sun Devil Stand Up in the fall of 2022 to help aspiring comedians learn the basics of stand-up comedy and apply it to their joke writing.  

Rowland started the club after discovering that ASU already had sketch and improv comedy clubs on campus, such as Farce Side, Tempe Late Night and Barren Mind, but not one that specialized in the art form of stand-up comedy. 

"This club is more of an open gym for comics to get multiple reps practicing their acts among friendly fellow students of comedy before performing said acts before the fellow student body," he said. 

Sun Devil Stand Up is open to all students, and its members are majoring in such diverse areas as communication, sustainability, mathematics, civil engineering, information technology, film, history and psychology. 

Rowland credits his communication classes for preparing him to become a comedian by giving him a foundation of understanding how to successfully interact with the audience in funny ways.  

"More specifically, my public speaking class, interpersonal communication class and relational communication class taught me the 'fundamentals of basketball' equivalent to stand-up comedy, because what is stand-up if not using interpersonal communication to speak in public about my relationships?" he said.

Sun Devil Stand Up has collaborated with multiple other student organizations in a variety of fun and funny ways, says Rowland. 

"We visit other ASU clubs 'on their turf' and learn the skills they have to offer in exchange for our comedians performing some light-hearted jokes via a little travel microphone," said Rowland.

Sun Devil Stand Up member Cosmos Quigley, a film major, performs for the ASU Jugger Club.

"When we met with the ASU Meditation Club, they taught us a breathing technique that can calm down pre-show nerves. When we collaborated with the Jugger Club on a Sun Devil Fitness Club field, they taught us how to play the sport, while we told them jokes during the water breaks. We also went to a poetry open mic at a tea lounge in downtown Phoenix with ASU’s poetry club that was on the same street as a comedy open mic in a hipster cafe.

"Stand-up is an art form that can adapt to any situation, and Sun Devil Stand Up practices this skill of adaptability by collaborating with any kind of club on campus."   

The club's faculty advisor, Hugh Downs School Artistic Director Jennifer Linde — who taught Rowland in COM 442: Identity, Performance, and Human Communication — says communication classes helped him hone his craft. 

"Luke also works with club members on writing jokes and presenting them to an audience. They are getting experience doing audience analysis and speaking in public," Linde said.

Linde noted that several performance studies students have done stand-up comedy during and after being students at ASU. 

"Luke’s classmates chose him to perform at the end-of-the-semester student showcase at the Empty Space theater in the Hugh Downs School," Linde said. "He used comedy to narrate the experience of his grandfather’s death and did an amazing job of weaving grief, laughter and love all into one narrative. His use of humor is that good."

Rowland describes his type of comedy as "poetically existential optimism" and says he likes saying punchlines that make the audience think before they can laugh.

"My humor may be dark; my setups might paint a picture of a half-empty glass. But the punchline will be that the glass is overflowing because I turned the glass upside down. Even if it was half full, the second that it’s upside down it becomes an overflowing glass ... because of gravity. Duh."

Rowland has been performing at comedy open mics all around the Valley of the Sun for over a year now, including at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy in Phoenix, ImprovMania in Chandler and at the Phoenix Center of the Arts.

"I have also performed stand-up comedy in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland," he said.

Rowland believes comedy clubs are still popular and that attendance has only increased since the pandemic.

"People are sick and tired of staying inside looking at their screens all day," he said. "With all the remote work, an overabundance of streaming services and a 24/7 news cycle that is only becoming sadder, people need a reason to get out, socialize and smile about their lives every once in a while. In the immortal words of stand-up legend Robin Williams, 'Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma.' After 2020, I think everybody is at least a little traumatized."

As for the future of Sun Devil Stand Up, Rowland says it will continue after he graduates this spring.

"We just re-registered in Sun Devil Sync, and we are hosting elections this week to figure out the next generation of leadership for the club next year. I’m excited to see what new heights this comedic community can grow to reach."

As for his plans after graduation, Rowland says he will be doing stand-up comedy full time in the Phoenix area, as well as continuing his career as a comedy writer with the sketch comedy production company Patent Pending.

"I will host open mic shows at various locations in the Valley, that can hopefully create a multi-medium creativity collective, but not a cult. More culture, fewer cults, that’s the end goal." 

Ba dum tss. 

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication