Medallion Scholar's zeal for social activism led to law school

Her ASU education inspired her to try to make the world a better place

April 28, 2023

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

Brooke Zanon already was keenly interested in human rights around the world before she entered Arizona State University, so majoring in global studies and political science seemed the obvious courses of study.  Brooke Zanon Brooke Zanon, a Medallion Scholar and winner of the Scholarship Excellence Award, looks forward to Georgetown University Law Center after graduation. Download Full Image

Zanon, an ASU Alumni Association Medallion Scholarship recipient, said that her interest sparked into passion after taking a class in human rights with Simon Adams, president and CEO of the international Center for Victims of Torture. 

“His passion and expertise as a renowned leader in his field, having led advocacy efforts at the United Nations and various governments worldwide to help prevent genocide and crimes against humanity, was infectious,” said Zanon, who is graduating summa cum laude from the School of Politics and Global Studies in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue international human rights as my future career.” 

Zanon, who is receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in both global studies and political science and a minor in French, became an activist as an undergrad. 

She was a political co-chair for the anti-gun-violence group March for Our Lives Arizona, and in February, 2023, she was named a Courage Fellow by the (Gabrielle) Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence group. Zanon is on the board and serves as the Youth Council advisory chair for Arizonans for Gun Safety. This summer, she has a congressional internship with the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute in Washington, D.C.

“Another core memory was when I received the good news that I got into Georgetown University Law Center, my dream school, at a Medallion Scholarship Program event, surrounded by other Medallion Scholars. Everyone was so excited for me,” Zanon said. 

“Needless to say, the Medallion Scholarship Program is unparalleled in its possibilities for students. The past four years have been an amazing blend of professional and personal opportunities that enriched my ASU experience tremendously. I’m so proud to call myself a Medallion Scholar and hope incoming ASU students apply for this excellent program.”

On Monday, April 24, during the annual Medallion Scholarship banquet, Zanon was awarded the Scholarsihp Excellence Award for her high achievement in academic study. She has also received the Moeur Award and the Hispanic Leadership Forum del Oeste Scholarship and is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa.

Medallion Scholars are chosen from incoming Arizona high school students who have received the New American University Dean’s Award (which recognizes academic achievement) and who apply for the Medallion Scholarship Program selection process. More than 200 students apply to the program each year, and final recipients receive a four-year, renewable financial award of $4,000.

To renew the award, the scholar must actively participate in regular meetings and activities, community service and maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. Students must successfully complete a minimum of 30 ASU credit hours for the academic year. 

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

A: While my perspectives constantly evolved each semester at ASU, one of my most significant learning experiences occurred during my junior year study abroad trip. Studying in Lyon, France, I took a class on government and politics in France, where I learned about the country’s institutional, social and political discrimination against Muslim immigrants and communities — even witnessing it myself many times. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Initially, I thought I wanted to attend college outside of the state. But after touring ASU’s Tempe campus during my senior year of high school, I immediately felt like it was home. Additionally, my acceptance into Barrett, The Honors College, generous scholarships from the university and the fact I could remain close to my family made ASU the easy choice!

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

A: Since I’ve had so many excellent professors at ASU, picking just one is hard. However, I would say that my thesis director Isaac Joslin (assistant professor of French, School of International Letters and Cultures) taught me countless important lessons by providing unparalleled instruction, resources and insight regarding my studies. He was also a great support system while I developed my thesis and consistently met with me to mature, expand and correct not just my work but also my personal worldviews.

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

A: Talk to your professors! Introduce yourself, attend their office hours and speak up during class. Getting to know my professors meant I had great resources for letters of recommendation and also led to numerous opportunities. Make sure to take advantage of these benefits as much as you can.

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

A: I’ve always loved the small garden behind the Virginia Piper Writing Center on Tempe’s campus. The entrance is pretty hidden, so I don’t think many people know about it. With pretty greenery and a water fountain, it’s a quiet space where I could do my homework, read or just collect my thoughts.

Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

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