American Indian Studies student to be a voice for her community at UN forum

October 3, 2023

Priscilla Frankson grew up in an Indigenous community in Point Hope, Alaska, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle. 

When it came time for college, she chose the American Indian Studies program at Arizona State University because she wanted to make a difference in her community and others like it. Portrait of ASU student Priscilla Frankson. Priscilla Frankson’s research focuses on sea ice and how the Indigenous community members in Gambell, Alaska, are mitigating the issues caused by climate change. Photo courtesy Priscilla Frankson Download Full Image

The graduate student, whose research focuses on how an Indigenous community in Gambell, Alaska, is mitigating issues caused by climate change, will have the chance to do just that when she travels to Rome this month to participate in the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Forum.

“Many people don’t think we exist up there in Alaska. Therefore, I can be a representative and teach people about my community and the many other small communities like us,” Frankson said. “I am only one person and I reiterate over and over again that I don’t speak for everyone. But the biggest thing for me is to hopefully be a positive representation for my people.”

The U.N. forum brings together Indigenous youth worldwide to discuss the policies affecting Indigenous communities' food and knowledge systems in the context of climate and biodiversity action.

“Having an international forum to meet and talk through different issues that people worldwide are facing regarding food systems with an open dialogue is extremely powerful to me,” she said. “Food is a way that a lot of people connect. When someone shares their food with me from another culture, I always try it. People have really close ties to what they eat.”

In 2022, the forum launched the “My food vision is…” campaign to catalyze the agrifoods system's transformation. The campaign's goals connect to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) "four betters," which include better production, nutrition, environment and life.

The communities Frankson researches in Gambell, Alaska, rely heavily on subsistence hunting as a primary food source. They can have food and supplies sent to them, but the cost of receiving them can add up.

“The island is a subsistence-based community and relies heavily on things they hunt,” Frankson said. “I wanted to learn more about their approach to food and living. I hope to take the research, data and interviews I gather as a stepping stone to eventually shape laws and policies to make hunting and gathering food easier for the community.”

The trip to Rome is an opportunity for Frankson to connect, teach and shine a light on the importance of her research.

“I’m excited to get a chance to connect with other Indigenous youth from all over the world," she said. "I want to hear about how they mitigate different issues around food and learn more about their culture; to me, food does just that.”

Frankson credits ASU's American Indian Studies program with preparing her for this opportunity.

“It’s been huge for me," she said, "because I’ve been able to rely on the advice and experience of the professors and faculty members who know what it’s like to work with communities.”

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU launches project management bachelor’s degree

New industry is amplifying demand for project management professionals in the Valley and across Arizona

October 3, 2023

Arizona is seeing an uptick in regional employment — higher than the national average, according to labor market analytics group Lightcast — and it’s due to a recent boom in industry development. Industry is bringing large-scale projects to the forefront and, as a result, a demand for project managers.

At Arizona State University, this demand has led to a spike in enrollment in the project management master’s degree, or MPM, which has already enrolled 130 students in its first year. This success has led to the recent launch of a project management bachelor’s degree, which enrolled three students the first three days applications opened. Woman standing next to a whiteboard and smiling while looking at another woman facing her, seen from behind. Photo courtesy Unsplash Download Full Image

“A spike in enrollment for the new project management bachelor’s degree is also expected due to the workforce demand,” said Sean Ryan, a clinical assistant professor and faculty lead for the project management program in the School of Applied Professional Studies in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts (CISA) at ASU's Polytechnic campus.

Teaching the foundations of project leadership and how to manage project costs, quality, schedules, resources, risks and people, the program is preparing students for project management careers across all sectors, including aerospace and defense, manufacturing, and bioscience and health care — some of Arizona’s largest industries, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“When doing a job search for project manager, business analyst, manufacturing plant manager, human resource manager or other related job titles, thousands of openings with salaries around $100,000 in Arizona pop up, and we want to help put graduates on a path to fill those positions,” Ryan said.

After seeing the value of project management acumen firsthand in the workplace, ASU first-year student Oscar Alvarado said he didn’t hesitate to enroll in the new project management bachelor’s program.

“I believe that a degree in project management will provide me with opportunities after I graduate,” said Alvarado, who is returning to college after 10 years in the workforce. “I’ve noticed that the ability to lead, delegate, make sound decisions, build teams and execute on time are just a few of the qualities needed across numerous industries and sectors, and this degree will prepare me to do that.”

Who should apply for project management degrees?

“Project management is one of those fields that applies across almost every discipline,” Ryan said.

To that point, the program hopes to partner with schools across ASU, including the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and W. P. Carey School of Business, because “students in these schools engage deeply in project-oriented curriculum and careers, and could benefit greatly by adding project management skill sets to their toolbox.”

Portrait of ASU alum .

Antwon Eason

Along with pursuing ASU partnerships, one of the program’s major efforts is to expand partnerships with local firms and government agencies “to increase the depth and breadth of internships and career-connected learning opportunities for our project management students,” Ryan said.

The degree can also be a natural fit for military veterans, he said.

“Veterans typically come to ASU with a lot of military project experience,” said Ryan, a retired colonel and U.S. Army veteran who spent more than 30 years in military service. “The U.S. Department of Defense now requires that specific project management practices be integrated into the work of those who are awarded defense contracts.”

Leveraging project management curriculum to fortify his existing military skill sets, veteran Antwon Eason (pictured at left) graduated with an organizational leadership bachelor’s degree with a concentration in project management in 2023. He chose this degree because of his military experience in leadership and resource management.

“Just about every aspect of my project management and leadership training was utilized and tested in my first 90 days on the job,” said Eason, who landed a job at Specialized Office Systems in Phoenix. “The project management textbook knowledge that I learned in the classroom is now being applied to my daily life.”

Project management for every learner

In addition to pursuing one of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts' four project management degrees, students have the option to double major, minor, and take electives in project management courses that are offered in person and online, enabling them to customize their academic journey.

“Project management pairs well with various degrees across ASU,” Ryan said. “About two-thirds of our students in the School of Applied Professional Studies at CISA take project management courses, and the remaining third is enrolled in project management degrees. So the combinations of opportunities are wide and accessible to every learner.”

Considering Arizona is a “hot spot” for project management jobs nationwide, according to Lightcast, the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts is prepared to offer ASU students the latest in curriculum and professional experience, including automatic membership in the Phoenix chapter of the Project Management Institute — so students can confidently build a career in this high-demand industry.

Sona Patel Srinarayana

Sr communications specialist, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts