Leadership and service drove ASU grad's undergraduate experience

Harrison Sears graduates this spring with bachelor’s degrees in political science and philosophy


Photo of Harrison Sears

Harrison Sears served in student government and on the boards of several organization during his time as an ASU undergraduate. Photo courtesy of Harrison Sears.

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

Leadership, service and community involvement were the hallmarks of Harrison Sears’ undergraduate experience at Arizona State University.

Sears will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in political science and philosophy (morality, politics, law) from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

“During my time at ASU, I immersed myself in a variety of activities both on and off campus, demonstrating a strong commitment to leadership and service,” Sears said.

He was active in Undergraduate Student Government Downtown (USGD) and served as student body president at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, where he led initiatives to enhance the student experience and foster community engagement.

He was a member of the Leadership and Service Team at Barrett Downtown, an organization that focuses on leadership development, social service, and supporting major honors college events, and was a member of the Sun Devil Athletics Board, ASU AA Young Alumni Council, ASU Corporate Engagement Network and the Sun Devil Fitness Board of Governors.

“These roles not only honed my leadership and organizational skills, but also deepened my understanding of the diverse needs of our student body,” he said.

He received the New American University Scholar Award, the Sun Devil State Award, the Student Government Leadership Scholarship and the Calvin M. Holman Political Science Scholarship.

Sears, also volunteered for St. Vincent de Paul, worked part-time, and enjoyed the outdoors and photography.

Sears took time out to reflect on his undergraduate experience and what lies ahead. Here’s what he had to say.

Question: What is an interesting moment, story, or accomplishment in your ASU career? What are you most proud of?

Answer: One of the most memorable accomplishments in my ASU career was the day I attended an event at each of ASU's four Phoenix-area campuses (Downtown, West Valley, Polytechnic, Tempe) in a single day. It was a challenging yet rewarding experience that allowed me to fully immerse myself in the diverse and vibrant communities at each campus.

Winning Homecoming Royalty during this year's Homecoming Week was another significant moment in my ASU journey. It served as an affirmation of the hard work I was accomplishing at ASU and beyond. Being recognized by my peers in such a meaningful way was a truly proud moment for me.

However, what I am most proud of is my team at Undergraduate Student Government Downtown. I have never met a more passionate and dedicated group of individuals who are truly committed to serving their community. Working alongside them has been an inspiring and fulfilling experience, and I am proud of the impact we have been able to make together.

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

A: During my freshman year of college, I enrolled in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. As part of my elective courses, I took POS 110 (political science) with Dave Wells. This class proved to be pivotal as state representatives were regularly invited to speak with us. These conversations ignited my passion for politics and deepened my curiosity about the complexities of our world. This experience was instrumental in shaping my academic and career interests moving forward.

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

A: During my time at ASU, I came to realize the immense potential of the students around me to positively impact the world. This realization was particularly evident at ASU's annual Change the World event, where hundreds of students gather to showcase their projects, talents or ideas aimed at creating positive change. Witnessing the passion and creativity of my peers not only reassured me about the future but also inspired me to cultivate a network of like-minded individuals dedicated to making a difference.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU for several reasons. First, I was attracted to the vibrant academic environment and the opportunities it offers for interdisciplinary study. ASU's commitment to innovation and its diverse student body were also major factors. Additionally, the resources and support available through Barrett, The Honors College appealed to me as I wanted a challenging and enriching educational experience. I also recognized the impact the university has on communities around the world. Also, I saw the multitude of resources that were offered to students and alumni. Notably, I recognized that the Sun Devil community extends past graduation and into a lifetime. I wanted to be a part of this bond. ASU being a reputable and highly recognized university was also a plus.

Q: Why did you choose Barrett, The Honors College?

A: I chose Barrett Honors College because of its reputation for academic excellence and its unique opportunities for intellectual growth. I was drawn to the small class sizes, personalized attention from faculty, and the emphasis on research and critical thinking skills. Being part of Barrett has allowed me to engage with a community of like-minded students and pursue a more rigorous and enriching academic experience.

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

A: One of the most important lessons I learned during my time at ASU is that as students, we have the power to effect change in communities far beyond our immediate surroundings. This valuable lesson was imparted to me by Instructor Kelly Rutt and Assistant Teaching Professor Anne Kotleba, who taught the class NLM 160: Voluntary Action and Community Leadership. Through their guidance and teachings, I gained a deeper understanding of the impact that individuals, even students, can have on communities and society as a whole.

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

A: Prioritize your personal growth and well-being alongside your academic pursuits. While it's important to strive for academic excellence, it's equally important to take care of your mental, emotional and physical health. Remember to find a balance that works for you, seek out opportunities for personal and professional development, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Also, remember that setbacks and challenges are a natural part of the learning process, so stay resilient and keep pushing forward toward your goals.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is the Student Center at the Post Office on the Downtown Phoenix campus. It's not only a great place to hang out with friends and play arcade games or pool, but it also serves as a hub for various clubs and activities. I've spent many hours there, both socializing and getting work done, and it's been a central part of my college experience.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduating, I'll be interning in Washington D.C. through ASU's Capital Scholars program. Following the internship, I plan to embark on a gap year, traveling to Europe and Asia. During this time, I'll be exploring different cultures and gaining new perspectives before pursuing further education. Ultimately, I aim to attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, possibly alongside obtaining my MBA. My long-term goal is to work as an attorney and eventually run for a local office to contribute to my community.

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

A: If I were given $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, I would tackle homelessness. a complex issue that affects individuals and communities worldwide. I would use the funds to invest in affordable housing initiatives, support services, such as mental health and addiction treatment, and programs that provide job training and placement assistance. Additionally, I would prioritize community outreach and education to raise awareness about homelessness and reduce stigma. By taking a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of homelessness and provides comprehensive support, I believe we can make a significant impact and help individuals and families experiencing homelessness regain stability and independence.

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