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ASU was the only choice for outstanding graduate


Headshot of Don Christoff

Don Christoff

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November 21, 2023

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

When asked why he wanted to study at Arizona State University, Don Christoff laughed.  

“Why not choose ASU?” he joked. “Are you telling me that there was another choice?”

Until recently, Christoff lived in Arizona and, for decades, was acutely aware of ASU. He had always been curious about studying here, and he watched his daughter go through the full ASU experience before deciding to enroll himself.

“My daughter is an alumnus, and now we both are,” Christoff said. “It’s very cool.”

He discovered the College of Global Futures in December of 2021 while browsing the ASU website for courses. The College of Global Futures, part of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, provides a variety of degree programs geared towards making a positive impact on the planet’s future, shaped and defined by students. These opportunities piqued his interest.

“As I read more about the programs, the more excited I got about being involved,” he said.

After looking through the degree programs, Christoff found a perfect fit with the Bachelor of Arts in innovation in society from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and a minor in sustainability from the School of Sustainability.

“The last college course I took was over 30 years ago,” Christoff said. “I had no idea if those circuits in my brain still functioned or if I was able to handle college while being employed full time.”

He discovered that his years of experience actually made learning a little easier, and his workplace was supportive of his academic endeavors. Despite spending most of his weekends switching between his kitchen table and his living room couch, listening to music and powering through coursework, Christoff said pursuing his degree was a great experience.

Christoff's plans after graduation are to continue his educational journey with ASU and the College of Global Futures; he is enrolled in the biomimicry graduate program held through the School of Complex Adaptive Systems and ASU Online.

Read on to learn more about his ASU experience in his own words.

Editors note: Answers may been edited for length or clarity

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

Answer: This is a hard question because they all did. ASU educators are among the best in the world, not just because of the knowledge that they transfer, but because of the inspiration they provide. ASU is a positive learning experience. However, a shout-out to three: Dr. Maynard, Dr. Mayberry and Dr. Keeler. You are the best and I thank you for your time with me.

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

A: Be open to all the possibilities and push it until it gives, then push some more. You need to give your best every time, and that’s all anyone can expect of you.

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

A: I don’t think $40 million, or even $40 billion, could do it, but hypothetically speaking I would resolve the climate crisis. The climate crisis is the greatest danger mankind has ever faced, and it is a problem of our own doing. We need to find ways to not only mitigate the problem but to change how we live on Earth. All life, human and nonhuman, has the right to exist and thrive. I hope we can all take that to heart soon.

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