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Meet recent grads beginning their careers right after commencement

ASU graduates have lots to celebrate, including employment opportunities


A law graduate in commencement regalia smiles from the stage as ASU President Crow stands to the side

ASU President Michael Crow (left) stands with K.J. Russell, who is graduating this May with his Juris Doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Russell will join the Fennemore law firm. Photo by Sabira Madady/ASU

May 08, 2024

This May, nearly 20,700 undergraduate and graduate students will earn their degrees from Arizona State University — the university's largest graduating class to date. 

These graduates will boost the economy in Arizona, California and beyond while establishing themselves in their careers. Many of them received employment offers ahead of their graduation. 

That focus on employment outcomes is why ASU was ranked as the No. 2 public university in the U.S. for employable graduates in the Global Employability University Ranking and Survey (GEURS), released in February.

Fueling the economy

The economy needs about 120,000 semiconductor engineers by 2032 for the U.S. to remain competitive, and this May, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering graduates more than 4,800 students in total, an increase of 16% over last spring. 

An ASU graduate in commencement cap and gown smiles off camera while standing near Hayden Library
Hunter Mantle is earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering this May and is beginning an associate avionics engineer position at MOOG Aerospace Defense. Photo by Manav Prajapati/ASU

One of those graduates is Hunter Mantle, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Before graduation, he accepted a position as an associate avionics engineer at MOOG Aerospace Defense in Gilbert, where he will work on spacecraft control systems.

“In the near future, my goal is to contribute toward the NASA Artemis mission at Moog,” he said. Then, he would like to lead projects and work his way up the management side after being an engineer for a while.

The Fulton Schools, the largest and one of the country's most comprehensive engineering programs, emphasizes quality education, research opportunities and mentorship across all of its degree and certificate programs.

“One of the distinguishing features of the Fulton Schools is our excellence at scale,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools. “We graduate a substantial number of engineers, computer scientists and technologists who are equipped to contribute and lead in any professional setting. I’m most proud of the high caliber of our graduates.

“Hunter is a great example of the type of exceptionally well-prepared graduates we know are making an impact in the workforce because of the rigorous classroom, research and experiential learning opportunities they have access to at ASU.”

Learning from Yuma 

An ASU graduate in commencement regalia and wearing a medal smiles off camera
After graduating with a Doctor of Nursing Practice this May from the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Melissa Vodicka will work as a pediatric nurse practitioner at Mountain Park Health Center. Photo by Sabira Madady/ASU

Melissa Vodicka is among the May graduates from the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. The college is graduating more than 800 students, an increase of about 18% from spring 2023. 

Vodicka said that the Doctor of Nursing Practice with a concentration in pediatric nurse practitioner program provided her with hands-on clinical experiences to prepare her for a nurse practitioner’s life-and-death responsibilities.

“I’ve been a nurse since 2005. I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I possibly can remember,” she said. “My mother was a nurse; my grandma was a nurse. I decided to become a nurse practitioner because I loved working with children and most enjoyed the days I got to spend with patients.”

So, she signed up for the Doctor of Nursing Practice at ASU, which includes leadership and critical thinking about the work environment and how to systemically figure out ways to fix problem areas. The other part of the degree program, the nurse practitioner focus, teaches how to evaluate patients and their health status, with deep clinical training, in-depth assessment and disease processes.

While attending ASU, Vodicka worked as a registered nurse in Yuma, where she and her family live, and completed about 75% of her coursework online with twice-monthly immersive experiences in the Phoenix area with physicians at patients’ bedsides.

“I chose ASU because the program is so rigorous,” Vodicka said. “I needed it to be hard and teach me to be a safe provider at the bedside.”

Up next? She will take her nurse practitioner licensing exam and then move with her family to Phoenix to take a job as a pediatric nurse practitioner with Mountain Park Health Center, a community health organization.

Embarking on careers in numerous industries

An ASU graduate smiles at the camera while holding up a pitchfork gesture
Matthew Janeway, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in business communication from the W. P. Carey School of Business, has accepted an offer to be a district sales leader with Frito-Lay. Photo by Sabira Madady/ASU

Matthew Janeway, a graduating business communications major at the W. P. Carey School of Business, received his employment offer from Frito-Lay in September 2023. He will start as a district sales leader in Boston this July.

Janeway completed three internships while in college, he said. At Chobani, the first one, he worked in a sales internship where he went to stores to do the merchandising. At Kellogg’s, he worked on merchandising and projects that sought to identify reasons for the success behind individual product sales in those stores.

His internship at Frito-Lay in Dallas involved 10 weeks of shadowing a district sales leader who was in charge of the route sales reps while also completing in-office projects and problem-solving. For instance, one of his projects involved improving the precision ordering system.

“I presented that project at the headquarters back in September, and that was part of why I received the job offer so early,” Janeway said. “The degree program prepared me well. Communication plays a huge role in everything.”

An ASU law graduate wearing commencement regalia smiles off camera
After graduating with his Juris Doctor from ASU's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, K.J. Russell will work at the Fennemore law firm. Photo by Manav Prajapati/ASU

On the legal front, K.J. Russell, graduating with his Juris Doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, will join the Fennemore law firm this summer. He said he worked hard to earn four college degrees by age 24.

“I owe a lot of my success to Fennemore,” Russell said. “I interviewed for and was accepted for a fellowship with them. I worked my first summer as an incoming fellow and was able to see many operations of a legal firm, from depositions to wills to business trips. I learned a lot.”

The following summer, the firm hired him as a summer associate and, from there, offered him a full-time job starting this summer after he takes the bar exam.

“My success starts with my grandparents on both sides. My grandma and grandpa on my mom’s side moved to the U.S. when they were 19 and 21. He was an auto body worker, and she worked in a hospital driving from Long Island to Manhattan every day, waking up at 3 a.m.,” Russell said. “My dad’s side came from the South and moved to Ohio to find a better life. I appreciate what they all did to put my parents, uncles and aunts into their situations, and I appreciate my parents for the work ethic and support they gave me and the rest of our family.”

He looks forward to learning more about being a lawyer and eventually helping Fennemore build out a sports law specialty. 

Russell and the rest of these featured graduates are some of the current and recent grads that the university is highlighting on billboards throughout the Valley. Watch for more stories and billboards featuring graduates and alumni succeeding in their careers.

Let us celebrate you

If you’re an ASU grad who would like to be celebrated on a billboard, we invite you to submit a photo of yourself wearing your cap and gown at graduation.asu.edu/billboard.

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