Impact Award winner advocates for girls and women in STEM

April 28, 2023

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

Swetha Manickavasagam’s natural curiosity about how things work attracted her to the engineering field. During her undergraduate studies at India’s Anna University, one of her professors got her interested in semiconductor devices through their lectures. Portrait of Swetha Manickavasagam Swetha Manickavasagam volunteered for organizations that advocate for girls' STEM education and became heavily involved in Arizona State University's chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Photo courtesy of Swetha Manickavasagam Download Full Image

This newfound love of semiconductor devices led Manickavasagam to major in electrical engineering. She decided to specialize in very large-scale integration, or VLSI, circuits, which feature large amounts of semiconductor devices combined to form one system on a single computer chip.

“It’s exciting to see how these different fields come together in VLSI design and how innovations in one area can lead to breakthroughs in another,” she says. “I feel privileged to be at the forefront of this exciting field, and I’m excited to see where it takes us in the years to come.”

For her graduate degree in electrical engineering, Manickavasagam looked for a school that offered opportunities in student organization leadership, meaningful research and rigorous academic programs. With these factors in mind, she chose to attend Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“At ASU, I was able to fulfill those needs beyond my expectations,” Manickavasagam says.

She sought to get involved in extracurricular activities while at ASU. Manickavasagam took on a variety of duties in the ASU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, or SWE, as the organization’s industry relations officer. Through SWE, she participated in the Leadership Development Program and the Global Ambassador Program, mentored high school students in STEM education and became the Early Career Professionals Affinity Group community development co-chair.

Outside of SWE, Manickavasagam embraced her passion for encouraging diversity in science, technology, engineering and math education. She volunteered with educational nonprofit organizations encouraging girls to get involved in the field, including Million Girls Moonshot and Pink Space Theory.

“I strongly believe that attending a university is about so much more than getting good grades and filling up a resume,” she says. “It’s about learning new cultures, making good friends and exploring your independence.”

While Manickavasagam has had many mentors during her education, she names Nikita Tiwari, a senior customer experience engineer at Intel whom she met through SWE, as the most influential.

“Throughout these years, she has always pushed me forward and gave me honest feedback,” Manickavasagam says. “Her mentorship in my life has not gone unnoticed, and I thank her that I have found my voice as a leader and engineer.”

In the longer term, she hopes to continue finding new ways to use her skills.

“I love to thrive and enjoy being bold, taking up roles that demand some level of risk and push me out of my comfort zone,” Manickavasagam says. “But at the end of the day, diversity and inclusion in education are values I strive for. I hope to use my time and skills to do what I can to further those efforts.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2023 class here.


Hobby: Journaling.

Movie: "Twilight."

Activity: Hiking. 

Book: "The Silent Patient," by Alex Michaelides.

Geeky possession: Harry Potter Deathly Hallows emblem earrings.

TJ Triolo

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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