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Starbucks partner aspires to help kids live purposefully

ASU Online student Hayley Rose posing for a selfie in a wooded, snowy area while wearing a jacket and beanie.

Hayley Rose says that when she was growing up, she was made to feel that she wasn't smart. But pursuing her psychology degree through ASU Online showed her that she was capable of understanding academic material — she just needed tools such as pausing lectures to process what she'd heard. "I realized that being provided with the information I wanted to know and being allowed to learn that information at my own pace was all I needed to love school and change my perspective on learning," she says.

April 28, 2023

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

Hayley Rose will tell you she always felt she vibed better with teenagers than adults. It was no surprise then when the 34-year-old mom of two decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a focus on mental health and suicide prevention for adolescents. 

“I can find a way to connect with kids, make them laugh and see them as their best selves,” she said. “When it seems no one else can connect with them — especially teenagers — I can somehow get them to break out of their shell and share their true selves with me. For as long as I can remember, I have always been able to sit with people in their pain and love them, even when maybe they didn’t feel they were able or deserving to be loved.”

Rose credits her empathy to her own experience with suicidal ideation as a preteen and young teenager. She remembers the depth of pain and what it felt like to be misunderstood, especially by adults. 

Although she was able to conquer those feelings, community college and achieving a four-year degree evaded her best efforts. It seemed college just wasn’t in the cards, that is until Starbucks offered her the opportunity to earn her degree through ASU Online

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership between Arizona State University and Starbucks, offers 100% tuition coverage for eligible U.S. partners.

The partnership between Starbucks and ASU changed everything for Rose.

“I didn’t think I would be smart enough or able to get into an actual university,” she said. “Now I’m graduating! I never thought I would be here today, but I am so glad I am.”

Rose is excited to see what’s in store for her and her family. Her ASU experience changed the perspective she had of herself, proving she is smart and capable. This spring, she is graduating with honors and ready to take on the world. 

“All of my teenage children will come with me to watch me graduate and walk across that stage, and it will be one of the greatest feelings in my life to be able to show them, yes, you can,” said Rose, whose psychology degree is from ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

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

Answer: I think my “aha” moment came even before I started at ASU, about 10 years or so ago. My now almost 14-year-old daughter was around 3 years old when she said something to me that pointed me in the direction I was meant to go. She said, “You always see people through God’s eyes, Mom, and who they want to be inside.” 

That sentence has always stuck with me because it rang like a bell in my mind. She was right. Even the most difficult, ornery individuals, I could find a way to connect with them, make them laugh and see them as their best selves. 

I was suicidal as a preteen and young teenager. I had my son when I was still in high school at 16 years old, and he saved me from wanting to end my life. I am so glad that I didn’t follow through with suicide. I have always wanted to give other teenagers the opportunity to experience life first before they make a decision they can’t reverse, without truly knowing what life is like as an adult. 

So, when my daughter said that to me, it shined a light on what I was meant to do: help teenagers learn how to cope with their environment, learn to survive, learn to live.

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

A: That I actually do like school and online school is most definitely the best way for me to learn. 

When I was growing up, I was often made to feel — or outright told by some of my teachers — that I was not smart and wouldn’t get very far as an adult. This altered the entire course of my life and affected the decisions I made.

In my time at ASU, I learned that I am not incapable of understanding academic material; I just learn in my own unique way, like all of us. I need to pause lectures to process what I heard (something you can’t do in a physical classroom), and sometimes I need to read detailed research three or four times before I can speak intelligently on the subject matter. 

I realized that being provided with the information I wanted to know and being allowed to learn that information at my own pace was all I needed to love school and change my perspective on learning.

Q: Why did you choose ASU Online?

A: I wanted to go back to school for some time, but raising two young children and working full time, I did not have the time, space or money to go back. Also, I didn’t think I would be smart enough or able to get into an actual university. When Starbucks began offering 100% tuition coverage at ASU, it got me thinking again. 

I cannot thank Starbucks enough for giving me the opportunity to gift myself with the blessing of an education and the ability to move forward with my life.

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

A: Hands down, Dr. Jodi Swanson was the professor who taught me the most — not just about the subjects she taught, but about life, school and being a good human being in general.

Academically, I think the most important lesson she taught me was to first ask myself who is my audience and what is my intention. A lot of times, I have these great ideas and the passion to make them come to life, but what is clear in my mind is not clear when I am presenting it to others, either because I didn’t tailor it to my audience or think through my end goal. Starting every project from this perspective helped me be more effective and intentional with everything I do — not just with schoolwork, but in my personal life as well.

She also taught me that it is perfectly OK to be my genuine self and accomplish the academic and professional goals I set for myself. Oftentimes, I have not been taken seriously because of my age, looks or the way I present myself, and it would leave me feeling like I would never make it in the professional world. Her genuine and authentic connection with me and all of her students taught me that you can ... be yourself and still get where you want to go.

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

A: You get what you put in. Instead of looking at each assignment as just one more thing to turn in, give yourself the time to learn what you are reading, watching and hearing because it doesn’t last forever. It took me five years to graduate, but here I am, and one day you will be there too. Each day you are a little bit closer to that finish line and it feels so good when you get there.

Also, giving yourself the gift of education will change your life and the way you look at the world. I was a struggling, poor, teen mom, and life has been hard for me. So many things I was taught and told in life simply aren’t true, and I’d never have known that without going to school, reading the research and being pushed to look at subjects from different perspectives. Don’t give up on yourself or let anyone tell you who you get to be. You choose.

Editor's note: We often ask graduates where their favorite spots for power studying are. In Rose's case, flexibility and ingenuity were key — she said she moved dozens of times with her children trying to get away from a threatening ex-boyfriend, and completing assignments was very difficult.

A: When I think back over my years with ASU, memories of me completing homework flash through my mind: me locked in a car while my young children slept, trying to read and write by the light of my phone; me hiding at a park playground, sitting under the jungle gym while my kids played and I tried to give them attention and also read through research; me working at Starbucks and spending my 10- and 30-minute breaks in my car, using the store’s free WIFI to turn everything in by their deadlines; me stopping at gas stations, hotels, coffee shops, in all different states, armed with slime kits and books and tic-tac-toe games to entertain my kids while I tried to finish a school project before we had to hit the road again.

It was like this until this last year; now I am in my own house and I think my very favorite place to study is out in my own backyard, on my own deck, with my kids sitting beside me at our patio table, completing their schoolwork, safe and calm.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I will continue with Starbucks, at least for a little while. I am a store manager now, with my own store and team of amazing baristas, and it’s nice to create my own environment and be able to provide the type of customer and partner experience that I have always wanted.

However, long term, I would like to be in a position where I can re-create mental health programs for teenagers in my state of Colorado. We are fifth highest in the country for suicides, and it is the leading cause of death for kids ages 10–15 years old. We need a complete overhaul of how we approach mental health in our schools here, and I would love to lead that project.

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

A: I would use that money to create and provide affordable, sustainable housing for as many people as I could. I learned through my years on the run that it’s very difficult to achieve what you want to achieve, and live a life that you enjoy and are proud of, if you don’t have a home base. You can’t get very far in life without an address or a safe place to relax and re-center. Everyone deserves to have a place to rest their head and regroup.

Written by Margot LaNoue for ASU Online

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