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A spotlight on outstanding spring 2024 grads

Maroon and gold graduation regalia
April 26, 2024

This spring, ASU will graduate its largest class in history, releasing nearly 20,700 Sun Devils into the workforce.

Those graduates join their fellow alumni among the world’s most employable grads: A recent survey of international employers ranked ASU the No. 2 public and 13th overall university in the U.S., and No. 34 worldwide, for employable graduates

RELATED: Advice to grads at commencement: 'Spend your time creating new things'

We take a look some of the remarkable achievements of this spring's cohort. 

Woman behind brush
Lauren Haugen

No longer in the wilderness

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Lauren Haugen to take a hard look at her academic career. Her originally plan was to attend college out of state and study marine biology. She ended up staying put in her hometown of Lake Havasu City, where she discovered a passion for the environment where she grew up. Now a park ranger specialist with Arizona State Parks and Trails and will graduate in May with a degree in environmental science.

Anthropology PhD graduate works to highlight range of cultures and backgrounds

Her academic career has come full circle: Once an undergraduate first-generation student at Arizona State University, Mirtha Garcia Reyes is now completing her PhD in sociocultural anthropology.

Nontraditional student hopes to make a change with her degre

A mother of six grown children and a handful of grandchildren, Cat Valluzzo is not your traditional student at Arizona State University. She gave her children the opportunity to complete their education before she decided to go back to school for herself.

Photo of Erin Burgard dressed in lab gear
Erin Burgard

From solar energy to water quality to art, honors graduate fulfilled many interests at ASU

Erin Burgard fulfilled her interests in engineering, solar energy, water quality, languages and art while an undergraduate at ASU. Burgard is graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, a Spanish minor and a certificate in environmental humanities, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. 

Outstanding anthropology undergraduate passionate about Egyptology

Her passion for anthropology, specifically Egyptology, started at a very young age for Tatijana Jovanović. Born and raised in Phoenix, Jovanović knew she wanted to attend Arizona State University, where the School of Human Evolution and Social Change is known for its anthropology program.  

School of Molecular Sciences Dean’s Medalist shares inspiration

Rylee James' journey into the world of chemistry was sparked by an inspiring high school teacher, a chemistry teacher whom James credits for making the subject both engaging and enjoyable.

Photo of Dominique Joseph
Dominique Joseph 

ASU FIDM fashion business management grad lands industry job in LA

Dominique Joseph is ready to make her mark in the fashion world — landing a job in Los Angeles before she has even graduated and laying the groundwork for her long-term ambition to start a company that values sustainability and diversity. 

First-gen graduate earns degree 30 years later

When Adrienne Keller began her freshman year of college in 1994, she couldn’t have anticipated graduating 30 years later. This spring, Keller, a first-generation student, is accomplishing one of her biggest dreams and graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.

Faith and science directed ASU grad on his undergraduate journey

Rafael Ortiz III journey will culminate when he graduates in May with a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. 

Aurelia Taylor smiles at the camera in her maroon and black graduation regalia next to a sign that says Arizona State University
Aurelia Taylor

ASU nursing graduate determined to be a voice for the voiceless

Aurelia Taylor plans to use her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to advance health literacy and provide preventative care for her fellow tribal members and other Indigenous peoples.

Sanford School Dean’s Medalist passionate about serving families, community

Helping families and children succeed in society takes knowledgeable and understanding professionals. Few students exemplify this mindset more than Diana Nguyen, a family and human development major and the spring 2024 Dean’s Medalist for the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. 

Sociology student passionate about preventing domestic and gender-based violence

As a high school student in Hyderabad, India, Rishita Rudraraju was drawn to human behavior and emotions, and psychology seemed like the perfect fit. During her application process, however, she stumbled upon sociology and became fascinated by its interplay between society and human behavior.  

Tiffany Ticlo wearing a dress, her Miss Arizona sash and crown, sits at a desk in front of a classroom, pointing to a presentation screen.
Tiffany Ticlo

Miss Arizona, computer science major wants to inspire children to combine code and creativity

Tiffany Ticlo, a former Miss Scottsdale, was crowned Miss Arizona in June 2023. Combining her love for engineering with her passion for helping children, she dedicated her time to a community service initiative called STEAM: Bringing Science and the Arts to All Students.

ASU grad Bryan Yavari led student team focused on air quality improvement in Mongolia

Of all the things he accomplished as an undergraduate at Arizona State University, Bryan Yavari is most proud of the work he did to address poor air quality inside homes in Mongolia.

ASU social work graduate committed to working with children, youth and families

Morgan Cywinski knows how important play can be to the well-being of hospitalized children, so, as a student at ASU, she developed a resource for them. For her honors thesis, she designed and developed “The Bedside Box of Play,” a box with play activities geared toward 5- to 11-year-old children experiencing hospitalization. 

Portrait of student in front of Old Main on Tempe campus
Ahmed Wali

Dean's Medalist breaks out of shell during senior year

Thanks to his life experiences and learning at ASU, Ahmed Wali realized that he needed to work on his patience, both within himself and for others. Wali is graduating as a Dean's Medalist from the School of Social Transformation with a degree in justice studies, a minor in civic and economic thought leadership, and a certificate in both African and African American studies and socio-legal studies.

Anthropology PhD student's work highlights complexity of human identities, histories

Tisa Loewen considers herself a nontraditional student. She is older than typical U.S. college students, having previously left college and returning years later to complete her undergraduate degree. Now, Loewen will graduate this spring with a PhD in anthropology from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change with a focus in bioarchaeology. 

Engineering grad finds her passion in leadership positions at ASU

Growing up, Raquel Lopez Anchia was fascinated by her father’s career of traveling the world and working on cool projects. This laid the foundation for her passion for engineering and would later bring her to become the first female engineer in her family.

Kailin Kentigian
Kailin Kentigian

Event planning a slam dunk for organizational leadership grad

Kailin Kentigian made an impactful mark during her years at Arizona State University, serving in leadership roles with the Student Alumni Association and even starting an organization on campus. But her involvement reached beyond the scope of campus, too: She began a position with the Phoenix Suns in March 2023 as an events and booking intern. 

A big move leads to even bigger opportunity for ASU grad

Moving, no matter the distance, can be a big undertaking — but moving to another country? That's life changing. Bilha Obaigwa made that life-changing leap in 2019 when she immigrated to the United States from Kenya, Africa. Once settled, she began looking at pursuing a graduate degree.

Dean's Medalist embraces heritage language through poetry

Chris Hoshnic, who also holds an associate’s degree in video production from Glendale Community College, is graduating from ASU with his bachelor’s degree this spring. He is committed to helping others learn or re-learn their own heritage languages and to embracing his culture and community.

Photo of Cordero Holmes
Cordero Holmes

ASU graduate Cordero Holmes’ path to success paved with hardship, redemption and resilience

Cordero Holmes' path to ASU took a circuitous route through a hardscrabble life as a youngster involved in gangs in southwest Phoenix, time spent in juvenile detention facilities and incarceration as an adult. “I have been in and out of institutions since I was a juvenile. As an adult, I was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison. Then, when released, I was a single father of two kids, one being autistic,” said Holmes, who is graduating ASU in May with a bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. 

Grandson of former Sun Devil Football standout Rhoades pursuing sports from a different angle

Benjamin Johnson has been surrounded by Arizona State University culture since he was a kid. Growing up in Tempe, he often attended ASU football and basketball games with his grandfather Frank Rhoades, who played football at ASU for legendary Coach Frank Kush.

Education grad strengthens family's legacy at ASU

For Ahlias Jones, his Sun Devil family legacy runs deep. His mother, father, sister and two brothers all have degrees from ASU. Jones will be joining the alumni ranks in his family when he graduates this May from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with a degree in secondary education (history) and a minor in communication.

ASU graduate Monish Manoj Sahani in cap and gown
Monish Manoj Sahani

International student finds next steps for college and career at ASU

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in information technology at the University of Mumbai in India, Monish Manoj Sahani was working as a software developer. About nine months into his role, he wanted to explore something new and turned to education as his pathway. 

ASU sustainability grad pursues environmental justice, youth education and community empowerment

Initially wanting to be a veterinarian, Katie Spreitzer researched extensively into dietary choices and environment while in high school. This led her to pursue a sustainable lifestyle and a sustainability degree at ASU in hopes of enacting meaningful changes for the future. 

ASU Law’s youngest-ever graduate goes above and beyond

At just 19 years old, Charmaine Chien-Yu Chui will become the youngest graduate in the history of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University when she crosses the stage in May to receive her Juris Doctor.

A woman stands against a dark green background while wearing a black top and a Mona Lisa smile.
Kristen Semedo

Graduating ASU film student befriends the macabre

Kristen Semedo has held many jobs: ghost tour guide, music photographer, community health worker, and most recently, Hollywood prop master. Her graduation from ASU this spring is the culmination of 10 years of higher education, beginning at Salem State and ending on a stage in Tempe, Arizona where she’ll earn her BA in film and media studies at ASU.

Engineering convocation speaker augments learning through extended reality

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in his hometown of Seattle, Frank Wencheng Liu decided to attend the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for his doctoral degree in computer engineering.

ASU grad has a love of the natural world and chemistry

While at ASU, Charles Howell developed a own project aimed at developing a green chemistry way to break down plastics that mimics processes that occur naturally.

Arunima Gupta, a 2024 Master of Global Management graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.
Arunima Gupta

From professor to global leader: Thunderbird graduates' dreams become reality

Arunima Gupta, originally from Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, chose to further her studies at Thunderbird School of Global Management after enjoying a successful career as an assistant professor. It was during her tenure as a professor that she discovered her passion for leadership and management education.

When the coach becomes the student

A cancer diagnosis and treatment didn’t stymie Katie Guerin’s progress or affect her grades. She’s graduating from ASU with a master’s in TESOL this spring, after completing a research internship and a capstone project inspired by her own struggles.

Thunderbird at ASU grad shares inspirational journey from Haiti to global change-maker

Jean Kensle Figaro, a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is set to graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management this May with a Master of Global Management degree. His passion for creating sustainable change in his home country of Haiti and the wider Caribbean region led him to enroll at Thunderbird. 

Humberto Camacho received the Undergraduate Barton Kyle Yount Award. This award is presented to a student who best represents the values and standards envisioned by the founders of Thunderbird in 1946 and is the school’s highest student honor.
Humberto Camacho

ASU grad learns importance of international trade for global economy

Humberto Camacho was born and raised in the border town of Nogales, Arizona. As a Mexican American and bilingual speaker, he always knew he wanted to pursue a degree that would enable him to make a meaningful contribution to U.S.-Mexico relations and global cooperation.

ASU Law grad takes sports dreams to the legal field

Watching his uncle work as an entertainment lawyer and hearing his stories turned Kurt Russell onto a path that let him to ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. He's the school’s Spring 2024 University Outstanding Graduate with concurrent JD and Master of Sports Law and Business degrees.

South African grad draws on lessons his mother taught, desire to work with people

Born and raised in South Africa, Barnard “Bennie” Mthembu grew up with four sisters, a brother and a single-parent mother. She taught him about the struggles often associated with getting ahead in life. He took those lessons to heart as he followed his passion to earn a social work degree from ASU.

Kay shared a presentation on behalf of The Mars Society Student Chapter at Thunderbird Global Headquarters.
Kyle Kay

California roots, global impact: Thunderbird at ASU grad's journey in global management

Kyle Kay was attracted to Thunderbird School of Global Management for its renowned reputation in international management and its hands-on learning approach. He will graduate this spring with a Master of Global Management and as one of Thunderbird’s Spring 2024 Dean’s Circle honorees.

Zimbabwean native graduates from Thunderbird at ASU with passion for big data and machine learning

Ngonidzashe Marvin Kanjere's lineage traces back to Malawi, with his great-grandparents settling in Zimbabwe in the early 1900s. Enrolling at Thunderbird School of Global Management, his goal was to secure a globally recognized management degree, enticed by the school's diverse concentrations.

Global logistics grad hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams

During his time at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Kapil Bhise excelled inside and outside of the classroom, and prioritized getting involved with the student community. He served as a member of the Master of Science in Global Logistics leadership board and mentored undergraduate supply chain students through the Supply Chain Management Association.

Nicole Spreitzer
Nicole Spreitzer

Thunderbird at ASU grad’s journey towards a global career in human resources and event management

Phoenix native Nicole Spreitzer enrolled in the Accelerated Master of Global Management program at Thunderbird School of Global Management, seeing the opportunity to combine a bachelor's degree in global management with a master's degree in the same field for just one additional year of study. 

Honors student recognized with international business fraternity’s highest honor

Since becoming a member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity as a first-year student, Andrew Amazeen has attended conferences in six states, built a national professional network and helped drive Delta Sigma Pi initiatives across the country.

First look at Grand Canyon inspired ASU grad to study parks, recreation

Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time can have some profound effects on people. Meranden Numkena’s experience gazing into the canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, inspired her career choice.

Rory Wilson, spring 2024, Outstanding Graduate, School of Public Affairs
Rory Wilson

Public affairs grad finds fulfillment in using policy to help people

At first, Rory Wilson thought she wanted a career in forensic science, a field she said she wanted to work in since she was in high school. But her interest in police reform coupled with her desire to have an impact in solving community challenges such as homelessness led her to transfer to ASU to study public policy.

Family’s experience with law enforcement led grad to choose career in criminal justice

Perhaps ironically for Yoselin Flor-Aguilar, her family’s fear and avoidance of law enforcement officers led her to study criminology and criminal justice. A career in criminal justice, she reasoned, could allow her to bring them a sense of security “by knowing that someone with the same cultural background and possible understanding is involved in the system.”

U.S. Navy veteran transfers project management skills to a degree at ASU

Full-time student, full-time professional and U.S. Navy veteran Katie Hall has been developing her project management skills in the military and industry since 2019, but ASU brought a new dimension to her capabilities.

Eliza Joy
Eliza Joy

Psychology and neuroscience graduate will focus on mental well-being of youth

Since high school, Eliza Joy knew that psychology was her path, but first-hand internship experience with children who endure mental health challenges shaped her decision to pursue a doctorate in school psychology.

Grad's roles included mental health advocate, student government senator, researcher and volunteer 

Yash Raka, who is most proud of his advocacy for free mental health counseling for students, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical informatics from the College of Health Solutions, a minor in economics from the W.P. Carey School of Business and honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

Graduate uses imagination to explore physics, mathematics, future in quantum information

While Phi Hung Nguyen completed two academically rigorous degrees during a shortened timeline, he still found time to further enrich his undergraduate experience with extracurriculars that encouraged him to impact the ASU community.

Adam Kurth sits on a desk in the Biodesign lab
Adam Kurth

Math and stats grad beats the odds by overcoming serious health issues

Adam Kurth realized he wanted to study math while recovering in a Phoenix hospital bed in late 2020. He soon realized he could also apply math to something health related, so he stuck with it, eventually finding himself working at ASU's Biodesign Institute and as an intern for NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

Graduate wants to get students up and moving

College of Health Solutions doctoral graduate Kylie Wilson is working to improve the community through promoting movement and health in schools.

Veteran doing it all for his family

Arizona native and former Marine Sgt. Clayton Alexander says family is why he is so committed to his degree program, career and everything else. Alexander is graduating from the College of Health Solutions with a bachelor's in sports science and performance programming.

A woman in a red jacket smiling in front of a river.
Cassandra Lyon

Former zoo employee, explores how humans connect with animals

In her dissertation, Cassandra Lyon investigated how zoos navigate anthropomorphism, or the act of assigning human attributes to non-human things. She found that it can be a useful tool in helping zoo visitors connect with animals and get invested in their wellbeing, and ultimately, their conservation.

Nontraditional grad finds her passion in biochemistry

After working as a graphic designer in the corporate world for seven years, Michele Costantino went back to school for a degree in biochemistry, followed by her PhD, demonstrating considerable grit and motivation.

Communications grad made most of time at ASU

During her time at ASU, Sophia Baldino took advantage of the wide breadth of global education opportunities ASU offers. She graduates with a degree in communication through the Hugh Downs School of Communication.

Photo of graduating student, Hannah McGraw, at the Grand Canyon
Hannah McGraw

Biological student chases her dream to become a veterinarian

Growing up, Hannah McGraw didn’t always know she wanted to major in biology when she went to college, but she was certain that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She later learned that “biology was just one of the steps in my plan to get to veterinary school."

ASU graduate's interests, activities included research, coaching and more

Completing two research projects, an honors thesis and earning a perfect GPA are just a few of Sophia DeOrio’s notable accomplishments. DeOrio is graduating with a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing science from the College of Health Solutions.

Leadership and service drove ASU grad's undergraduate experience

Leadership, service and community involvement were the hallmarks of Harrison Sears’ undergraduate experience at ASU. Sears will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in political science and philosophy, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

Coben Bourguet in Sun Devils Football uniform
Coben Bourguet

Sun Devil Football wide receiver graduates with top engineering honors

Coben Bourguet has combined life as a Division I athlete with the rigors of a challenging academic engineering program. He has been named an Outstanding Graduate by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Graduate who pursued PhD for conservation found passion in community building, mental health advocacy

During their college careers, some students either choose to participate in research opportunities or serve their community — but Olivia Davis, who is graduating with a PhD from ASU's biology and society program, made both a priority.

After a long journey to academia, malaria researcher graduates with PhD

Xyonane Segovia is not your average scientist. With three children and an untraditional path into academia, she’s fought harder than most to get to where she is. 

Student standing in front of bookshelves
Nataani Hanley-Moraga

ASU grad dedicated to music, libraries and Indigenous sovereignty

Originally from Window Rock, Arizona, Nataani Hanley-Moraga has always had a talent for music, from participating in band to writing chamber music as part of the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Program.

Outstanding Graduate works to make change happen for communities with food insecurities

Arizona native and College of Health Solutions grad student Tatum Dykstra has a passion for community work and wants to see positive change in low-income communities in the Valley.

Media arts and sciences PhD redesigns community through research in human-computer interaction

Alejandra Rodriguez Vega, who is receiving her PhD from the media arts and sciences program in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, focuses on designing with communities based on collaborative design approaches and user-centered design.

Self-portrait of Bailey Pyritz in foreground, fuchsia bougainvillea blooms in background
Bailey Pyritz

Media arts and sciences grad: ‘I am capable of doing what I previously thought was unthinkable’

Bailey Pyritz, known in the Valley’s local music scene as Kylo Gun, graduates this May with a Bachelor of Arts in media arts and sciences (music) from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

ASU grad found a caring honors community and opportunity at ASU

Hannah Moton’s proudest moment as an Arizona State University undergraduate student came when she saw her byline on an article in Health Affairs, a leading peer-reviewed journal of health policy thought and research.

PhD grad honed interdisciplinary skills at ASU

Graduating from Arizona State University with a PhD in chemistry, John Vant is headed to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he will build models to enhance radiation therapy, which is used to treat more than half of all cancer patients.

Neuroscience students Katrina Ager and Hector Leon study together on ASU’s Tempe campus.
Katrina Ager

ASU honors student explores the depths of neuroscience, machine learning

From understanding cognition to unraveling behavior, Katrina Ager has been enthralled by the complexities and mathematical nature of the brain. This passion led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from ASU’s Department of Psychology.

Graduating student discovered her passion for conservation biology thanks to ASU

Growing up, Fanny Sanchez Villarreal hadn’t heard of conservation biology until she started her biological sciences program at ASU's School of Life Sciences; however, she knew she loved ecology.

Art history graduate student: ‘Here at ASU, I learned just how capable I am’

Sarah “Gigi” Brazeal never thought she would get a college degree from a four-year university. She didn’t try that hard in high school because she knew her single mother could not afford to send her to college. But now, 23 years later, she is finally earning her BA in art history from the School of Art.

Alexandra Wormley smiles at the camera.
Alexandra Wormley

ASU graduate student merges pop culture with social psychology

Inspired by Matt Damon's survival saga in "The Martian," Alexandra Wormley found her calling in social psychology. Fascinated by the idea that our environment shapes our thoughts and behaviors, Alexandra Wormley decided to pursue a PhD in psychology, specializing in social psychology.

Outstanding Graduate supports HIV research and prevention programs

Cameron Decker has always been passionate about helping others, and during the COVID-19 pandemic began volunteering at ASU’s West Valley campus COVD-19 testing facilities collecting biological samples and matching samples to patient portals before becoming a site operations manager.

Double major named Department of Psychology’s Dean’s Medalist

Megan Nelson came to ASU with a clear goal: to get involved. Now, as she prepares to graduate this May with bachelor's degrees in psychology and biological sciences.

A dancer poses with leg extended against a concrete wall
Shayla Eshelman

'I want to make things that I love': ASU grad builds artistry, community through dance

A graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Shayla Eshelman decided to study at Arizona State University after researching different dance programs. During her time at ASU, she has received the Friends of Dance Endowment grant and the Katherine Lindholm Lane Scholarship.

International chemistry grad finds community in ASU peers

With a unique fascination for chemical reactions and a dedicated interest in becoming a chemist, Bryan Kah Jhun Lau made the decision to leave his family and hometown of Rawang, an hour drive north of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, to study at ASU. 

Journalism grad merges photojournalism with sustainability, design

Donovan Johnson carries a passion for photography, sustainability and design. That passion has driven Johnson to excel as a student at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Actor stands in a white shirt with a black shirt over, hands clasped
Ian King

Diné theater student to pursue acting in New York

From a young age, Ian King found friendship and community in theater. This spring, he is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theatre with a concentration in acting from ASU. This fall, King will be living in New York City to pursue an MFA in acting at Pace University.

ASU grad shoots for the stars with technological leadership degree

As an active participant in the ASU Space Student Ambassador Program, Matthew Marquez was part of a tight-knit and diverse group of peers who work together to complete projects that hone vital career skills.

ASU grad tackles global challenges through applied math

Isabel Haas embraces the “master of all trades'' approach when it comes to her education at ASU, pursuing double majors while also minoring in Spanish. 

Jaime Red Willow Richards chats with Assistant Clinical Professor Lorraine Becerra on ASU’s Tempe campus.
Jaime Red Willow Richards (right).

Psychology graduate empowers Indigenous voices, enhances child development

Drawing inspiration from her ancestors, Jaime Red Willow Richards, a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribe from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, she is dedicated to improving the developmental trajectories of children from diverse backgrounds.

Sustainability PhD grad committed to sustainable energy transitions, energy justice

In the face of the current climate crisis, scientists, scholars, lawmakers and corporations in the U.S. and worldwide are speeding up the shift to renewable energy systems and decarbonization. This spring, as a graduate from the College of Global Futures, Rebecca Shelton is joining this energy justice movement.

English PhD grad achieves dream of becoming 'obenfo'

As one of seven children from a working-class family in Ghana, Africa, Mohammed Sakip Iddrisu set his sights from an early age on earning a PhD from a prestigious university and becoming a professor.

A man in a black suit poses for the camera.
Edward Gao

ASU Law grad achieves family’s American dream

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern California and earning an MBA from Loyola Marymount University while working full time, Edward Gao’s next educational step was law school.

ASU grad shares her experiences as a student, worker and creative force on campus

Grace Peserik, a writer for ASU Student Life and a communications aide for the School of Politics and Global Studies, spends her time outside of work writing fiction and playing tabletop roleplay games.

ASU linguist is outstanding humanities grad

You can take a guy out of the South, but can you get rid of his accent? And does it matter? These questions were among those explored by graduating student Ryan Dekker in his doctoral research.

ASU grad Dorothy Jean Tillman II  sits in a theater
Dorothy Jean Tillman II 

Grad who finished doctorate at age 17 heads STEAM program helping underserved youth

Graduating from college at age 17 is no easy feat. Doing so while heading leadership programs around the world? Even more impressive. Dorothy Jean Tillman II is taking part in commencement this spring after completing her online doctoral degree in behavioral health from the College of Health Solutions in December.

ASU Online grad channels hardship, loss to earn degree with honors

Elisha Hernandez overcame the challenge of a late start on her journey to higher education and the immense grief of losing two children, each during pregnancy. Those adversities fueled her desire to earn her degree and, in a full-circle moment, one of her classes helped her turn her experiences of loss into hospital reforms.

College of Health Solutions grad has eyes set on physician assistant school

A first-generation student with a 4.2 GPA, Sireen Ghazawna is graduating from the College of Health Solutions with a bachelor’s degree in medical studies. Born in Palestine and raised in Arizona, Ghazawna always imagined herself as an ASU student. 

Alex Adams

Graduate student’s future is dedicated to music, community and learning

Alex Adams, who is earning his Master of Music in music learning and teaching this spring, is a musician, artist and teacher. He is also a recipient of the 2024 Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts' Outstanding Design or Arts Educator award for his work in music education.

Gym Devil standout finishes five-year ASU career with Outstanding Graduate honors

Hannah Scharf, who completed the Master of Arts in organizational leadership in the School of Applied Professional Studies during her final year of NCAA eligibility, is being recognized as the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts' Outstanding Graduate for spring 2024.

Student lands city economic development director post months before graduating

Since January, Armando Esparza has worked a few days a week as economic development and government relations director in his hometown of San Luis, Arizona. He also spends a few days in Phoenix, studying for his Master of Public Policy degree.

Winston Turner
Winston Russell Turner

Popular music undergraduate launches entrepreneurial career

Undergraduate student Winston Russell Turner said he feels like the universe brought him to ASU for the popular music program, even though he originally enrolled as a journalism student. 

College of Health Solutions grad's long journey gave her a new perspective

Haley Barrong worked part time and interned at nine different institutions over the course of getting her master’s degree. It's paid off, though, and after graduating from the nutrition master’s program she'll take on a position as a dietician at Mayo Clinic.

Grad student reflects on lessons learned at Cronkite School

Hayden Cilley knew in high school that he wanted to attain his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the shortest time possible. That led Cilley to enroll in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Accelerated Master’s Program, which allowed him to receive master's and bachelor's degrees in four years.

A dancer stretches on the floor
Trinity Anne Peek

Dance on the brain: Graduate connects passion for ballet with neuroscience

Most people would struggle to draw a connecting line between ballet and neuroscience, but for Trinity Anne Peek, the two are intrinsically connected. The more she explored neuroscience, the more ASU stood out, and this spring, the Redding, California, native will receive her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience through ASU Online.

From EMT to College of Global Futures' Outstanding Graduate

Kalyn Denton, a sustainability major and the Outstanding Undergraduate from the College of Global Futures, took the scenic route on her path to college. She moved to California from Kansas after finishing high school to serve in AmeriCorps, an experience that gave her a sense of resilience in the face of change.

Air Force veteran finds support, success through online degree program

​Sierra Boyd didn’t have high expectations of going to college while she was growing up. Now, she's graduating with her Bachelor of Science in speech and hearing science, a degree she started while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.

A student poses in front of a film camera with a clap board
Lulu Ruiz

Film grad pursues creative dreams in LA 

Lulu Ruiz grew up as a creative kid with a passion for art and music, creating collages, paintings and zines. Now, Ruiz is poised to graduate this spring with a BFA in film and media production, as well as the tools and social network to turn their artistic passions into a creative career.

Chemistry PhD selected as Outstanding Graduate for The College

Anuja Sharma has been busy: While a graduate student at ASU, she has published four papers in reputed scientific journals — first author on three of them — and has a fifth article under review at Green Chemistry. She has been listed as an inventor on one provisional patent application as well as a second disclosure that is under review.

Grad advocates for education, empathy through sex education work

Melanie Buathier is graduating with two degrees — one in forensic science and one in biology — but when they aren’t hitting the books they're spending time advocating for comprehensive sex education through the Sexual and Relationship Violence Program and Devils in the Bedroom. 

A woman leans on her hand smiling while sitting in theater seats
Crestcencia Ortiz-Barnett

ASU Gammage Scholar and MFA student forges path to her future

Theater was an escape and an outlet for Crestcencia Ortiz-Barnett as a young girl in Detroit. “I learned to respect everyone who puts in the work, from the stage hand to the director, because together we tell these stories.” She graduates with a MFA in theatre directing this spring.

From pizza delivery driver to honors student

​Lucas Glick was delivering pizzas when he decided that wasn’t the life he’d ordered; he wanted more. Although he hadn’t been the best student in high school, low grades wouldn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams. This spring, due to his hard work and dedication, Glick will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in global studies.

W. P. Carey grad earns job offer through internship with tech company

A highlight of Danielle Ostrop’s undergraduate experience at Arizona State University is an internship that has led to a full-time job once she graduates this spring.

Chole Leff processing samples in the lab.
Chloe Leff

Grad's journey from ASU to the frontiers of biochemistry and beyond

There was no singular moment of inspiration that sparked Chloe Leff’s academic journey, but rather a lifelong fascination with science, math and the mysteries of medicine.

Veteran pursues career in mental health to meet demand for more counselors

When Yasmeen Duarte’s time in the U.S. Army as a combat medic was cut short with an honorable discharge after an injury, Duarte was inspired to shift her career goals from treating the physical body to treating the mind — she chose to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in counseling and applied psychological science.

Sustainable food systems grad is a leader in food advocacy

From communications and research to policy frontline, Elizabeth Reilly is working toward contributing to a more sustainable food system for the global future. Reilly is graduating this May with an online Master of Science in sustainable food systems.

ASU innovation in society graduate Ava Steckel poses by the bridge.
Ava Steckel

Innovation in society graduate aims to ensure that the future is for everyone

For Idaho native Ava Steckel, having diverse passions is a strength. So when she attended ASU, she has sought to pursue her different interests in new and creative ways, locally and globally. 

Outstanding Undergraduate makes an impact in small communities

College of Health Solutions online student Katarina Adriano worked to aid small communities through her research while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public health.

ASU grad passionate about people, society earns degree in sociology

Kayla Rene Lynn’s academic journey has been shaped by profound moments of self-realization and a passion for social understanding. Their decision to pursue sociology was influenced by a transformative blend of experiences, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests.

Headshot of Ethan Leventhal in front of Old Main on the Tempe campus.
Ethan Leventhal

Dean's medalist plans to pursue PhD in mathematics

Ethan Leventhal started as a math major because he loved math but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with it. The 2024 Dean’s Medalist soon found a path for himself though and plans to pursue a PhD in algorithms, combinatorics and optimization at Georgia Tech after graduation with the aim of becoming a math professor.

ASU grad with a passion for connection pursues a future in health care

Chiara Fusciello is a biomedical sciences major, minoring in psychology, at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Barrett, The Honors College. She also works as a facilitator with the ASU Sexual and Relationship Violence Program, and seeks a career in health care post graduation.

Double major plans to use Japanese studies in her business career

Racine Merritt is a business-minded, ambitious go-getter through and through, beginning with earning two bachelor’s degrees upon graduating this spring 2024 semester: Japanese and marketing.

Portrait of Mollie McCurdy in an outdoor setting wearing ASU graduation robe, cap and stole
Mollie McCurdy

Grad achieves delayed dream of graduating from a university

Mollie McCurdy was about to turn 21 and was only months away from earning an associate degree when she lost her father so she withdrew from school to help her family. Thirteen years later, she will earn a Bachelor of Science in public service and public policy, with an emphasis on law and policy.

Graduate student creates community, connects with dancers of all ages

For the last year, ASU student Alecea Housworth has been living and teaching at Mirabella at ASU, a senior living center housed on the Tempe campus, as an artist-in-residence. She is graduating this spring with an MFA in dance.

Spring graduate breaks down barriers within the criminal justice system

A first-generation student who has set the bar high for her future, Mora’s passion for criminology and criminal justice started at a young age when she found herself captivated by the many aspects of the field.

Portrait of Eden Smith
Eden Smith

ASU graduate's journey from Zoom to global discourse

Arizona native Eden Smith, a double major in civic and economic thought and leadership and English. started her educational journey at ASU during the COVID-19 pandemic on Zoom and ended by traveling the world.

Data science grad plans to bring passion and expertise back to Minneapolis

Being a part of ASU’s data science program opened many opportunities for research and internships for Katelynn Brandwick, who is graduating summa cum laude from Barrett, The Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in data science.

First-generation grad earns master's degree in social justice and human rights

Rockell Schmidt comes across as a passionate and driven individual with a strong commitment to social justice and human rights. This spring, she is graduating with a master's degree in the field, and was nominated as an Outstanding Graduate.

A smiling woman in graduation robes in front of a fountain.
Ndey Bassin Jobe

Mosquito control researcher to become 'disease detective' with CDC

When it came time to choose a graduate program, Ndey Bassin Jobe realized that she could be directly helpful to those in her home country of Gambia by studying public health. Specifically, she was interested in studying the control of mosquito-borne diseases, as people in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by them at the highest rates. 

Business professor looks to the law for her future

Peggy “Amber” Montz has a Master of Educational Technology from ASU and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Now, she can add a Master of Legal Studies from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU to her list of prestigious degrees. 

Grad earns law degree while overcoming cancer

Scott Tish chose to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to earn his Master of Legal Studies as an online student from the convenience of his Colorado home due to its sterling reputation. But a big roadblock threatened his education mid-degree: He was diagnosed with cancer.

Colin Cossi

ASU grad builds community and inclusion through choral conducting and composition

Graduate student Colin Cossi has been extremely active in the choral conducting and composition communities at ASU. As a conductor he has led the Sol Singers, been a teaching assistant for the Concert Choir and a co-conductor for the ASU Choral Union, and co-taught beginning and advanced undergraduate choral conducting.

Dean's Medalist aims to pursue a path in health law and policy

Rachel Cox made it a goal to complete her undergraduate degree in under three years. She took an interdisciplinary approach to college so she could study many different disciplines and now she is graduating with two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish literature and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

ASU grad crafts her own path in environmental chemistry

Passionate about environmental causes and making a societal impact, learning how chemistry occurred within her everyday life offered Madison Sobol a new lens for which she could view solutions, even though it was challenging at first. 

ASU student Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie smiles off-camera sitting in front of a bookshelf
Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie

California College of ASU grad chooses to move into a new future with cinema degree

Spinal surgery presented retired teacher Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie with a choice: “Wallow in this chronic discomfort, or get up and make a difference.” She chose the latter and is graduating this spring with her Associate of Fine Arts in cinema from California College of ASU in downtown Los Angeles.

PhD graduate combines geological sciences and civic engagement 

If Mara Karageozian were given $40 million to solve one problem on Earth, she would bridge the gap between scientists, funding agencies and the public with STEM engagement and literacy programs. She is graduating with a doctoral degree in geological sciences and a graduate certificate in responsible innovation in science.

ASU Online history grad decides to follow her heart

Alexandra Oldfield always had an interest in history, but it wasn’t until she was on bed rest after a heart procedure, when she had ample time to herself, that she understood she wasn’t just interested in history — she was ravenous for it. 

ASU grad Tristan Tierce smiles in his graduation cap and gown
Tristan Tierce

Grad blends art and entrepreneurship, setting sights on allergy-focused startup 

Tristan Tierce has spent much of his time at ASU forging a unique path between the worlds of art and entrepreneurship. He graduates with a double major in art studies and business entrepreneurship, and with the resources provided by Venture Devils, he launch Allergy Voyage, a concierge service that hosts restaurant menus for users with allergies.

ASU Law grad uses master’s degree to fuel new career

After completing her undergraduate studies at ASU — she earned her bachelor’s degree in business law from the W. P. Carey School of Business — Camdyn Rael decided she wasn’t done pursuing higher education. 

Aspiring family life specialist aims to empower families and children

Desiri King knows the influence a good environment can have on children. Her experiences — including as a preschool teacher and then a therapist at an autism behavior center — have shaped her perspective on the importance of early childhood education and the need for empathetic, knowledgeable professionals in the field.

Aubrey Lines dressed in ASU graduation gear standing in front of Old Main looking out and smiling
Aubrey Lines

A family tradition: Aubrey Lines is fifth-generation ASU grad

It’s not a stretch to call the Lineses the first family of ASU. Starting with Alma Davis, who graduated from the Tempe Normal School in 1901, the Lines family has a Sun Devil lineage that is 123 years old and on May 6 will celebrate Aubrey Lines becoming a fifth-generation ASU graduate.

PhD grad’s work integrates science, technology and society to promote sustainable living

​Technology has the power to help overcome our society's greatest challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges is the climate crisis — but it's a challenge Elma Hajríc, who graduates in May with a PhD in human and social dimensions of science and technology, is willing to face.

Outstanding grad overcomes many barriers to achieve her degree

As a full-time ASU employee, Cheryl Wynn began taking classes part time. But in the midst of her degree, she faced medical issues that forced her to take a break from school. Now, finally, Wynn is graduating from ASU’s School of Social Transformation with a master’s degree in gender, women and sexuality studies, along with a graduate certificate in African studies.

Headshot of ASU student Andrea Salazar Caldero
Andrea Salazar Caldero

W. P. Carey grad finds balance and success at ASU

Andrea Salazar Calderon’s mother encouraged her to further her education at Arizona State University. Now, having graduated this May with bachelor's degrees in business administration and financial planning, she can say she fulfilled that journey.

ASU Online history grad stays close to home while pursuing academic dreams

Tallis Spalding was listening to a friend talk about pursuing a career as an archivist when a spark of curiosity zapped her out of the rut she had been trapped in for a while. 

WWII studies grad turns childhood memories into new career path

Susan Gayle Moster’s interest in WWII history long preceded her acceptance into the World War II Studies online master’s degree at ASU. Growing up in Muenster, Texas, Moster’s grandparents were local farmers near Camp Howze, a U.S. Army infantry training camp and internment German POW camp.

Photo of James Starks
James Starks

From GED to JD, first-generation transfer student looks forward to full scholarship to law school

James Starks isn’t your typical Dean’s Medal recipient. Starks began their collegiate journey at the age of 25 after they earned their GED during the COVID-19 lockdown. This fall, they will be attending the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to pursue a JD on a full scholarship.

Transfer student looks forward to making a difference in her history classroom

Sydney Hott developed an affinity for U.S. history in high school, where she was inspired by a teacher to look at the whole, sometimes ugly truth, of our nation’s past, while also instilling hope for the future. 

Double major, honors student encourages others to seek what is essential

After the unexpected death of her father, Barrett Honors student Jacqueline Schisler learned one of the most important lessons during her time at ASU: that school may be important, but it’s not as important as taking care of yourself.

Jade Buzinski
Jade Buzinski

4+1 master's grad plans to pursue research career in applied mathematics

Jade Buzinski is graduating with a master’s degree in mathematics, after completing the accelerated 4+1 program (in only four years) through the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. During her time at ASU, she discovered a passion for research, participating in a range of projects.

Online history grad aims to fill gaps in students' education

Atticus Powell grew up in rural Kentucky and noticed something odd about his high school history books: the ones in his school told a simplified, contradictory story than those he found in his local library. Powell was disturbed by this disparity and decided to pursue a career in history education.

Grad completes inaugural complex adaptive systems science degree program

Tanya Bils, a graduate of the inaugural master’s degree program in complex adaptive systems science, offered through the School of Complex Adaptive Systems and ASU Online, says they want to change the world — and ASU helped them build the confidence to try.

A man and woman pose for a photo with a sunset-lit ocean behind them
Suzie Willyerd (with husband Anthony)

Two-time Sun Devil finds fulfillment in community, family

Suzie Willyerd loves being a mom. But she also dreamed of earning her degree. This May, Willyerd’s dream comes true for the second time as she celebrates earning her Master of Science in medical nutrition from ASU.

Hugh Downs School grad embraces opportunities and excellence at ASU

Christina Reimche is graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She is also the recipient of the Dean’s Medal from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Academic Achievement. 

ASU Law helps international transplant reach new career heights

Russian native Mariia Sandoval moved to Arizona several years ago after graduating from Saratov State University with a bachelor’s degree in jurisprudence. She will soon graduate from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law with her Master of Laws.

Young woman wearing a that posing in front of colorful circles
Lauren Swartz

Oustanding grad's capstone blends German and architecture, highlighting social justice

Lauren Swartz, who started college as a STEM major, realized her passion laid in a field that allowed her to be more creative. Now, she is graduating from the School of International Letters and Cultures with a double major in landscape architecture and German along with a business minor.

ASU Online graduate is proud to be first in family to earn a degree

Justin Brengel applied the skills and knowledge he gained from ASU Online to his Starbucks College Achievement Plan Fellowship where he worked on the brand public relations team for Starbucks.

Master's graduate uses 'global mindset' for international business management

Taylor Hess’s study abroad trip to Brazil while pursuing an undergraduate degree in marketing at West Virginia University is what solidified her interest in international business. Now, she is graduating with a master's degree in global management from ASU.

A man wearing a graduation stole sits on steps next to his dog
Jonattan Robles

Marine Corps veteran embraces a ‘Semper Gumby’ mindset

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jonattan Robles, said his ASU journey was set in motion in March 2021, when a deployment with the veteran-led humanitarian organization Team Rubicon changed his life direction.

PhD grad combines research for comparative cultures, languages with passion for sustainability

Jacqueline Shea's journey exemplifies how studying a language degree alongside another degree can both complement and enhance your path. 

ASU grad and Marine Corps veteran sets sights on foreign service

Amber Sheardown embarked on her journey at Arizona State University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and has been heavily involved in the community while pursuing her political science degree.

Graduate student Ashish Rajapuram in his element -- camera in hand.
Ashish Rajapuram

Constructing a masterful artist: ASU grad finds inspiration behind the lens

Ashish Rajapuram is graduating with a Master of Science in construction management and technology graduate, but his time in college introduced him to a new passion: photography and filmmaking.

ASU grad finds the intersection between art, photography and storytelling

In addition to working as a photographer and videographer for ASU Student Life, Cronkite School graduate Anitah Diggs co-founded ENVY Magazine with the goal of giving a voice to the Phoenix arts and culture scene.

Young woman with long, dark hair poses for graduation photo on Palm Walk
Devon Baggot

ASU Student Life news producer reflects on her time at ASU

Devon Baggot knew she wanted to attend ASU from a very young age. This spring, Baggot is graduating with her bachelor's degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital and integrated marketing communications from the W. P. Carey School of Business. 

Grad with cerebral palsy tells her story through artwork

Liliana Flores was told by her doctors that college would be “a waste of her time.” But now, as she is graduating with her degree from ASU's School of Art, Liliana has proven that investing in her future is never a waste of time.

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President Barack Obama speaks at Arizona State University's 2009 spring commencement.

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