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
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.
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.