Leading by example: Mother of two graduates with honors, hopes to inspire

May 8, 2023

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

Teona Kurdadze hopes her journey as a full-time mom and full-time student will help inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter how challenging the journey may seem.  ASU Online student Teona Kurdadze Teona Kurdadze is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in business with a concentration in corporate accounting from the W. P. Carey School of Business via ASU Online. Download Full Image

Originally from Surami, a small city in the country of Georgia, Kurdadze relocated to the United States in 2012 for her husband’s job. 

“The move wasn’t easy for me since I didn’t know anyone here and, at the time, lacked English language skills,” she said. “Nevertheless, I quickly signed up for ESLEnglish as a second language. classes, and within a year I applied at a local community college.”

Kurdadze, who had her first child during that time, managed to balance her responsibilities as a mother and student to graduate with honors and start working as an accountant at a venture capital firm. 

The experience of working in accounting inspired her to continue pursuing her education.

“I realized I wanted to learn more about business, accounting and finance,” she said. “I applied to ASU Online and started studying part time. When I had my second child, I did not let that stop me from taking classes. I decided to take a break from work and focus full time on my studies and children.”

Now graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in business with a concentration in corporate accounting from the W. P. Carey School of Business, Kurdadze credits her academic success — including graduating with honors and making the dean’s list twice — to staying focused on her goals and using time management and organizational skills to manage family and school obligations.

“Education should not have to be one of the sacrifices that mothers have to make,” she said. “I am proud to have served as a role model for my children, showing them that anything is possible with hard work and determination. I believe that obtaining a college degree will open up better opportunities for my family’s future.”

Kurdadze shared her ASU Online journey and her advice to others still in school.

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

Answer: I have always been curious about business, finance and accounting, but I never considered pursuing a career in accounting until I took an introductory accounting course in community college. At first, I found the concepts and principles challenging, but as I delved deeper into the subject, I found myself becoming more and more fascinated by it. The way in which accounting provided a language for describing and analyzing financial transactions, and how this information was critical for making informed business decisions, was what initially caught my attention. In addition, my experience working as an accountant in a venture capital firm helped me to see the bigger picture of accounting, and it was at this point that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in business and corporate accounting.

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

A: Prior to my time at ASU Online, I had always thought that online courses lacked the personal interaction and socialization of traditional classrooms. However, I soon realized that the online format opened up new opportunities for collaboration and communication. Through online discussion boards, group projects and video conferencing, I was able to connect and work with fellow students from all over the world who brought diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. I found that I could learn just as much from my online peers as I could from my professors.

I also appreciated the flexibility and convenience of online learning, which allowed me to balance my studies with other commitments, such as work and family. I could access course materials and lectures at any time and from anywhere, as long as I had an internet connection. This allowed me to tailor my studies to my own schedule and needs. 

Overall, my experience at ASU Online taught me that online learning can be just as effective and enriching as traditional classroom learning. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU Online?

A: I chose to enroll in ASU Online because of its reputation for offering the best online degree programs in business and corporate accounting. I needed a program that would provide me with the flexibility and convenience of online learning without sacrificing the quality of education. 

ASU Online, with its rigorous curriculum and cutting-edge technology, allowed me to engage with my coursework and classmates in a dynamic and interactive online environment. I was impressed with the wide range of resources and support services available to online students, including academic advising, tutoring and career counseling. 

I was particularly drawn to ASU Online's online degree in business and corporate accounting. The program provided me with a solid foundation in accounting principles and practices, as well as the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a corporate accounting setting. I appreciated the program's emphasis on hands-on learning and its integration of real-world case studies and projects. 

Overall, I chose ASU Online because it offered the best of both worlds: the flexibility and convenience of online learning, coupled with a top-notch education in business and corporate accounting. I feel confident that my degree from ASU Online will prepare me for success in my chosen career and provide me with a competitive edge in the job market.

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

A: My time at ASU Online was filled with many great professors who taught me valuable lessons, but one professor stands out in particular as having taught me the most important lesson during my studies. That professor was my finance professor, who helped me develop a comprehensive understanding of the principles of finance. Through our interactions, I learned how to analyze investment opportunities, calculate risks and manage assets effectively. In particular, my finance professor taught me the importance of maintaining a diversified investment portfolio, which is critical for minimizing risk and maximizing returns. This was an important lesson that has been instrumental in my work in the finance industry.

In addition to my finance professor, I also learned valuable lessons from my financial statement analysis professor and tax accounting professor. My financial statement analysis professor taught me how to analyze and interpret financial statements, which is an essential skill for any business professional. My tax accounting professor, on the other hand, taught me the complexities of tax law and how to navigate the various regulations and requirements. 

All three of these professors were excellent educators who were passionate about their subject matter and dedicated to helping their students succeed. Their lessons have had a lasting impact on my career, and I am grateful for the knowledge and skills they imparted to me during my time at ASU Online.

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

A: Stay focused on your goals and never give up. Pursuing a degree or certification can be a challenging and often overwhelming experience, but it's important to remember that it is a journey, not a destination.

One of the keys to success in school is to develop good study habits and time-management skills. Creating a study schedule and sticking to it can help you stay organized and on top of your coursework. Additionally, seeking out support from professors, tutors and fellow students can also be beneficial. 

Another important piece of advice is to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. This includes academic support services, career coach services, success coach services and student organizations. These resources can provide you with additional guidance, knowledge and support that can be instrumental in your academic success.

Finally, it's important to remember that education is not just about earning good grades and a degree, but also about personal growth and development. Embrace new experiences, challenge yourself and take risks. These experiences will help shape you into a well-rounded individual and prepare you for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: Studying in a comfortable environment is essential for academic success. For me, the home office is the ideal spot for power studying. The home office offers a comfortable environment with a suitable chair, desk and good lighting. This makes it easy to sit and focus for extended periods of time without experiencing physical discomfort. At home, I can create an environment that is quiet and free from distractions. This allows me to concentrate on the task at hand and avoid disruptions from external factors. The home office is accessible at all times. I don't need to worry about transportation, travel time or availability of resources. Everything I need to study is within reach. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to continue my career in finance, specifically in venture capital. I have a strong interest in this field because it offers opportunities to work with startups, entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. Venture capital also provides exposure to various industries and allows me to learn about different business models and strategies. To achieve my goal, I plan to network with professionals in the industry, attend conferences and stay updated with the latest industry trends. I also plan to enhance my knowledge and skills by pursuing additional certifications and courses. I believe that continuing education is essential in the finance field, and it will help me stay competitive in the job market.

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

A: I would use the funds for disease research, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are to diseases and how important it is to invest in research to develop effective treatments and vaccines. With the $40 million, I would allocate the funds toward research institutions and hospitals that are actively engaged in developing cures for diseases. These funds could help researchers and scientists accelerate their efforts to find a cure for diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries. Additionally, the funds could also be used to improve health care systems around the world, making health care more accessible to all.

Written by Margot LaNoue for ASU Online

ASU sports business graduate winning at the game of life

May 8, 2023

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

You could say scoring a Bachelor of Arts in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business and Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University has always been one of Matthew Joanes' main goals since he entered the game of life. Grad Matt Joanes gets ready for a career in sports business Honors student Matthew Joanes is graduating with his bachelor's degree in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business. This fall, he'll begin pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. Download Full Image

"I knew from a very young age that sports were my one true passion," said Joanes, a native of Mesa, Arizona. "I started playing organized sports in fourth grade, but I had been playing touch football on the playground since I was old enough to throw the ball.

"When I was applying to colleges in high school, I didn’t really know how to get to where I wanted to end up. However, I found out that sports business programs were starting to pop up across the country as I looked for degree programs to be admitted to. Once I saw that ASU was offering a sports business degree, I knew I’d found the right place."

Joanes earned the New American University President’s Scholarship, which is offered to outstanding first-year students.

Joanes' journey toward earning a degree at ASU was pretty much etched in stone from birth, since his parents are also Sun Devil alumni.

"I began my Sun Devil journey in the fall of 2011 when I started fourth grade at ASU Preparatory Academy – Polytechnic," Joanes said. "Even at ASU Prep, Gold Fridays were a tradition that everyone took part in. As I grew up and was exposed to more and more of ASU, I fell in love with being a Sun Devil. My parents graduated from Arizona State and got married at the Newman Center on College and University, so attending ASU just felt right."

We caught up with Joanes to learn more about his experience at ASU and how he plans to use his sports business degree to be one of the stars in his career field.

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

Answer: This is tough because I’ve had some incredible professors in my four years at ASU. Daniel McIntosh, who taught my Intro to Sports Business class, gave me my first taste of being a sports business student. Each week, we’d spend the first 30 minutes of class talking about recent developments in the sports world based on articles from the Sports Business Journal. Professor McIntosh, who went on to become the second reader for my honors thesis, told our class that we should always make sure we know what’s going on in the sports world. Even if you’re not super passionate about a certain area, have enough knowledge about the subject to understand what’s going on if it’s brought up in conversation. That really resonated with me because as I’ve had the chance to talk to more people in the sports industry, I feel much more confident talking to them when I know what I’m talking about. Thank you, Professor!

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give students?

A: Do what you’re passionate about and be authentically you. I started working as an intramural sports official during the fall of my freshman year having never refereed before, but I fell in love with it. Almost four years later, I’ve worked hundreds of games and am the most experienced official in the program, as well as a NIRSA Basketball National Championship official and the 2022-2023 SDFC Basketball Official of the Year. While a lot of my friends don’t understand why I like getting yelled at by players every night, I don’t need them to. I’m doing what I love, and that’s all that matters.

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

A: That’s easy — the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. I’ve worked hundreds of games at the SDFC and played in countless intramural games with my friends. Some of my favorite memories from college were made on the intramural fields and up in the 3-Bay Gym. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if it weren’t for the people I’ve met because of the SDFC.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m very excited to be spending a couple weeks in Omaha, Nebraska, this summer to take in the Men’s College World Series. Starting this fall, I will be pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business in the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law here at Arizona State University. Some of my friends and mentors, including fellow referees Austin Moore and Evan Singletary, have graduated from the program and welcomed me with open arms to the SLB family. Getting the chance to learn more about the sports industry from professionals in the field was simply too great of an opportunity to pass up. Plus, I really wanted to see Kenny Dillingham’s first season from the student section.

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

A: Wow, that’s a lot of money. If I had $40 million, I would try to tackle the issue of youth passion for baseball in the United States. I fell in love with the game of baseball in middle school, so to see such a lack of passion for the game from the young people in the world makes me sad. I’d like to buy tickets for college, minor league and major league games and give them to kids for free so that they can attend games for free. I’d also like to donate a portion of the $40 million to youth baseball programs across the country for new equipment, field maintenance and coaching. Growing the game of baseball must be a goal for the older generations, because without the kids the game is going to start to die off. People who know baseball aren’t better than everyone else, but everyone else would be better if they knew baseball.

Written by from Tremaine Jasper, marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services.