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

Headshot of Andrea Salazar Calderon

Andrea Salazar Calderon. Courtesy photo


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

Andrea Salazar Calderon’s mother encouraged her to further her education at Arizona State University.

“Growing up, my mom used to drive me past campus and talk about how much she liked ASU. She always knew I was going to be a Sun Devil,” said Salazar Calderon, who graduated this week with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and financial planning from the W. P. Carey School of Business, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

But Salazar Calderon's mom didn’t get to see her become a Sun Devil and graduate.

“In 2020, my mom passed away unexpectedly and my life took a turn. I was not sure what my next steps were going to be, but I had a full-ride scholarship and the opportunity to fulfill my mom’s dream,” said Salazar Calderon, a first-generation university student.

“At this point, attending ASU was a no-brainer. It was one of the easiest decisions I ever made,” said Salazar Calderon, who was a student at the Polytechnic campus.

Salazar Calderon's path was a circuitous one that took her through attending medical school in Peru, earning a pilot’s license in Florida, volunteering around the world, and attending Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, before landing at ASU as a member of the All-USA Academic Team.

She was an intern with the Target Corp., an academic peer program for leadership engagement at the W. P. Carey School of Business, and director of student development at GROW Academy, a nonprofit that provides financial literacy education to youth. 

She completed an honors thesis titled “How to Increase the Presence of Leaders Academy at the Polytechnic Campus,” which explores growing W. P. Carey Leaders Academy at ASU Polytechnic campus through first-year engagement, assisting commuter students, and student-centered events.

Salazar Calderon was active in the W. P. Carey Leaders Academy, Women in Aviation, and Beta Gamma Sigma International Honors Society.

She took time out to reflect on her undergraduate experiences. Here’s what she had to say:

Question: What are you most proud of in your ASU career?

Answer: I am most proud of my ability to balance all of my responsibilities and activities while still taking care of myself. I have made the most out of my time at ASU while having two jobs, leading organizations, volunteering, working on my thesis, getting involved in student organizations, and still maintaining a perfect GPA. I now know that I can truly organize myself to meet my goals. I have never felt this productive before. The main accomplishment is getting some closure after seven years of higher education. I never really cared about getting a diploma, but I must admit it feels good to be done for a while.

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: I do not think there was ever an “aha” moment when deciding on my major. I believe in the power of education and personal development. I chose business administration and financial planning because I wanted to find a balance between technical and leadership tools that would help me grow. I did not pick my majors based on the career I wanted to follow. I based my decision on skills that would lead me to succeed. I enjoy reading a book or attending a lecture on any topic, so concept learning comes easy to me. That was not what I was looking to gain out of my college experience. I came back to school to strengthen my soft skills and learn from others’ experiences.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I have learned that everyone has different ways to view and measure success. It took me some time to understand that not everyone has the same priorities while going to college. During my time at ASU, I have learned to appreciate people with completely different experiences, goals, and backgrounds. I respect everyone's path. I value and admire people who want to give back to the community, lead the corporate world, express their art, raise a family, or achieve their own definition of success.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU, and what was that lesson?

A: Without a doubt Debra Radway, associate teaching professor in the Department of Finance. The most important lesson I learned from her was to always find a way to help our people. After learning about a new concept or strategy, she would always share her personal experiences and tell us why it is important for us to share information with our family. I can think of several people that I have helped because of her.

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

A: It is really hard to think of the best piece of advice, since my time in college has been full of experiences. My favorite ones would be to take advantage of social and networking opportunities, try a class or event outside of your comfort zone, and learn that it is okay to say "no" and prioritize yourself.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: It is time for me to leave the classroom to focus on my professional career. I am ready to explore different opportunities that allow me to serve others and keep learning. I am leaning toward the world of human resources, and I am hoping I can keep the aviation spark in me.

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

A: I believe that the first step to solving most of the problems on our planet is education. I would first tackle financial literacy. We live in a world that does not set us up for financial success, and a big part of it is due to a lack of education. I want more people to make responsible financial decisions every day. One of my biggest personal goals is to lead others toward financial freedom.

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