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Incoming student plans to build a future — and cars — with ASU

Barrett student says she has a desire to learn, study ... and do cool stuff with car engines


Woman sitting on a car bumper with the hood up and engine exposed.
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August 04, 2023

Editor's note: ASU News is highlighting some of its notable incoming students for fall 2023.

Claire Gunderson boasts a multitude of passions and skills. She tinkers with cars and can weld. She’s an artist who's taken hundreds of landscape photos. She is service-oriented and often volunteers in her community. And she’s smart.

Gunderson is a National Indigenous Recognition ScholarGunderson is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Jemez and Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico. and graduated high school with a 3.81 GPA. The New Mexico native is a first-year student at Arizona State University and a Barrett, The Honors College scholar who will study mechanical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Gunderson contemplated the University of Denver, Emory University in Atlanta and Washington University in St. Louis, but chose ASU because of “the boundless opportunities” — including the hope of eventually becoming a member of Fulton’s Formula SAE program.

“ASU has so much to offer with their mechanical engineering program, automotive engineering program and Native American support services on campus, more so than other universities,” said Gunderson, who will also obtain a certificate in cross-sector leadership as a member of the Next Generation Service Corp.

“It was the perfect fit and I instantly felt ASU was the right college for me.”

ASU News spoke to Gunderson on the eve of her arrival at ASU’s Tempe campus.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: As soon as I stepped foot on the ASU campus, I knew it was the college for me. It was the perfect campus bustling with energy and life. There are so many opportunities that come with choosing a college like ASU and I am excited to explore all of it.

Q: What drew you to your major?

A: I always knew I wanted to do something that was very hands-on and engaging. Since I was a little girl I have been working on all the different projects that my dad has come up with, whether that be helping him build his trucks or helping out in the yard.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: I am excited to have new experiences meeting friends and engaging in all that ASU has to offer.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: ASU is the best, who wouldn’t want to go?! I have already received so much support with scheduling classes, housing and orientations to help adjust to ASU.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I bring new ideas and my desire to learn and thrive in the engineering world.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I hope to learn and succeed in whatever I decide to study. I want to create supportive and lifetime friendships. I also plan to take every opportunity I am given.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: One interesting fact that not many people know about me is that I enjoy taking landscape photos and took seven years of photography classes.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I think one problem I would solve would be homelessness. Hopefully from there, crime rates would go down and cities would be safer.

Top photo: Incoming first-year mechanical engineering student Claire Gunderson has always had a passion for working on cars. That drive brought her from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to ASU, where she’ll join the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Barrett, The Honors College. She is a National Indigenous Recognition Scholar and is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Jemez and Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico. Gunderson poses in Gilbert with a family friend’s 1965 Ford Mustang. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

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