1st student from Afghan refugee group graduates from ASU

May 12, 2023

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

In fall 2021, 148 women from Asia University for Women (AUW) fled their war-torn country of Afghanistan and boarded a flight to the U.S., seeking safety for themselves and their families. After spending four months in a camp in Wisconsin, 61 women relocated to Arizona to start a new life and complete their studies at Arizona State University. They joined three other women who came separately, for a total of 64 students. Maryam Alizada, graduate of W. P. Carey Maryam Alizada is graduating with a Master of Science in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. Download Full Image

This May, Maryam Alizada will become the first of these 64 women to graduate with a degree from ASU, earning a Master of Science in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

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

Answer: I learned that ASU is a huge university and is open to everyone from different backgrounds. ASU is a diverse place that accepts anyone who is passionate about learning and growing. I also observed how professors are helpful and passionate for their work. I can honestly say that it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I've grown and learned so much, both as a student and as a person, and built friendships and memories that can be cherished forever.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?

A: My career plans after graduation are to start working in national or international companies. I believe that my degree and my work experience will open doors to work in large business and explore many possible opportunities. In the next 10 years, I hope to advance in a financial analyst role and build my professional and personal skills. 

Q: What do you think may help your dreams come true?

A: I think having dedication and high ambitions can help me achieve my dreams. I should be focused and try my best to get close to my dreams and goals. Even if I fail, I have to have faith in myself and move forward. I should never stop dreaming and achieving. Moreover, I think I need a good mentor or role model whom I can follow and get encouraged to never give up.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: The best advice that I would like to give to those who are still in school is that work hard and focus on building your skills and knowledge. ASU is one of the best opportunities for you to study hard and make your future bright. At the same time, enjoy the fun part of ASU – building friendships and enjoying different learning events at ASU.

Q: Which teacher/professor/ASU staff member inspired you the most during your time at ASU?

A: At ASU, I cannot give enough thanks to President Michael Crow, who welcomed me and my other Afghan fellow students to continue our education at ASU. It was a huge opportunity for all of us. My degree is a big achievement. I realized that I became more knowledgeable and of course a better person. 

Thanks to other two amazing people, Pam DeLargy and Troy L. Campbell, who helped me adjust at ASU and helped me in this process to graduate with pride. I should also thank my supervisors Tye Thede and Liza del Mundo for always helping me at my workplace. I was lucky enough to work with Tye as he is one of the softest-hearted and nicest people I have ever met in my life.

A bundle of thanks to my supporters Erin Yunt, Rachelle Maxwell, Jennifer Gladwell and Bailey Litherland, who always helped me whenever I need them. I couldn’t be a better person without the help of these wonderful people. I also want to thank my advisor Michael Connelly and all W. P. Carey School staff members who did not only help me, but hundreds of students, to be successful in their academic fields. 

At last but not least, my gratitude to all my professors for what each of them have done for me, which I will never forget. I truly appreciate you all helping me learn and expand my knowledge. I am blessed to have all these amazing people around me. Thank you so much for everything that you all did for me.

Samantha Talavera

Asst. Director, Global Marketing and Communications, Global Academic Initiatives

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Raising the roof on the debt ceiling

May 12, 2023

ASU economist says brinksmanship over national debt will continue due to politics, tax demonization

Since 1960, Congress has raised the ceiling 78 times to extend or revise our nation’s debt.

The fight is on again, this time on President Joe Biden’s doorstep. For the past few weeks, he’s been jousting with top lawmakers, who are pushing for various reforms and spending cuts before they approve raising the debt ceiling again.

The nation’s government debt of $31.4 trillion will have to be raised for the 79th time to avoid default. Republican and Democrat leaders both acknowledge they are nowhere near striking a deal, even postponing talks on May 12 to the following week, such is the gap in their negotiations.

In addition to the amount of debt to agree on, the two sides must also decide how long to push out the next debt ceiling decision. Biden and Democrats are looking for a two-year window, so it won’t impact the 2024 election, while Republicans are negotiating for more significant spending cuts and caps from their colleagues.

Sound complicated? It isn’t, said an Arizona State University economist. He said it is more political theater than real-life drama.

Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business and director of ASU's Office of the University Economist, provided a few answers for ASU News as the two sides continue to negotiate.

Note: Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Man in black suit smiling

Dennis L. Hoffman

Question: What is government debt? How does it differ from personal/household debt? 

Answer: It represents financial obligations made by the government on behalf of U.S. taxpayers. Household debt is the obligation of individual households.

Q: Congress seems to have this debate every couple of years and has voted to increase the debt limit 78 times in its history. What is different this time? 

A: People in the opposition party often choose to make political theater out of this exercise.

Q: What is the difference between a debt default and a government shutdown? 

A: It’s apples and oranges. Actual default sends the message to creditors, and the debt of the United States government is no longer secured, or at least it is at risk of no payment. A government shutdown means that some recipients of government payments will no longer receive them, and many government workers and businesses working for the government won’t get paid. This has long-term implications for credit ratings and the cost of borrowing.

Q: Are there economically viable paths toward avoiding a debt limit increase? 

A: Not in the short run, but in the long run, the limit increases could be slowed. This language is from the U.S. Treasury website: “Congress has always acted when called upon to raise the debt limit. Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend or revise the definition of the debt limit — 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents. Congressional leaders in both parties have recognized that this is necessary."

Q: Anything else you want to add to this discussion?

A: Few people talk about the U.S. debt in a historical context. Looking back to the nation's founding, the pace of borrowing and hence accelerated debt accumulation tended to increase during times of stress, including wars and economic depressions. You can see spikes in the debt-to-GDP ratio dating back to the War of 1812. During more tranquil times, the debt-to-GDP ratio fell. Why? Because historically, in normal times, the pace of deficits (spending exceeding taxes) was slower than the pace of overall economic expansion.

The debt-to-GDP ratio can fall if the economy grows faster than the pace of debt accumulation. During these episodes, the times debt limits need to be increased can slow.

More recently, the pace of debt accumulation has accelerated. Since 1980 or so, we have lost our political will to do what’s necessary to reduce the pace of debt accumulation. Since 1980, tax collections, and taxes in general, have been demonized. When we fight a war — let’s say the war in Iraq, the war on terror — no new taxes are imposed, nor existing programs are cut to pay for it. When Medicare is expanded, no new taxes are imposed to pay for it, and no new current programs are eliminated. When we pay out massive pandemic subsidies, no new taxes are imposed nor programs to pay for it. 

So, if there is no political will to manage the government’s fiscal situation over time, we will repeatedly have debt ceiling debates. This is a purely political problem with significant potential economic consequences.

Top photo illustration courtesy of iStock/Getty images

Reporter , ASU News


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May 11, 2023

ASU business professor: Mother's Day is a moment in the sun for moms and consumerism

Mother’s Day will be celebrated around the country on May 14, when moms will be honored and showered with gifts – perhaps flowers, cards, personal services, meals or jewelry.

According to the National Federation of Retailers, record spending will take place this year — more than $35 billion worth — $4 billion more than last year.

It’s the kind of spending that make economists like Lee McPheters stand up and take notice. McPheters, a research professor and director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center in Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, often looks at spending trends and how consumers select their goods and services.

ASU News spoke to McPheters, to discuss the history of Mother’s Day and what are the go-to gifts this year.

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Lee McPheters

Question: Most people don’t equate Mother’s Day with money, though it is an official holiday where many goods and services are purchased. Can you give us a brief history of Mother’s Day and how it got to this point?

Answer: We can trace celebrations of motherhood back to the Greeks and Romans, but here in the U.S., Mother’s Day was officially established as the second Sunday in May in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. This came about thanks to a years-long campaign mounted by a woman named Anna Jarvis. She envisioned Mother’s Day as a special occasion for people to visit their mothers and perhaps attend church together. Still, once Mother’s Day became official, florists and card companies began to cash in, and now this year, we expect to see total spending of about $35 billion, more than Valentine’s Day. It is ironic that in later life, Anna Jarvis fought against commercialization, even to the point of legal suits against the use of the Mother’s Day name and lobbied to get the presidential recognition reversed.

Q: What types of goods and services are typically given on Mother’s Day?

A: According to consumer surveys, the celebration of Mother’s Day is prevalent, with about 85% of people recognizing their mothers in some way. The top “go-to” gifts are flowers and cards, followed by taking mom on an outing, perhaps to a restaurant. Merchandise items, such as clothing and jewelry, are frequent gifts, followed by housewares and electronics. If you look at the largest amount spent, jewelry is expected to be $8 billion, and $5.6 billion on outings. 

Q: What are some trends you are seeing?

A: Over the past decade, more people have been buying gift cards so moms can spend as they choose. The total gift card expenditures are projected at $3.4 billion, larger now than spending for flowers, which is $3.3 billion. Another upward trend is with spending on personal services, which would be something like a massage session or yoga classes. But overall, flowers, cards and going on an outing are the top spending choices.

Q: What is the most impressive statistic in your mind?

A: Total spending on Mother’s Day is projected to be $35.7 billion, up from $31.7 billion in 2022. So, the increase is 12.7%, a bigger rise than the inflation rate, which is 4.9% so far in this year. Economists would say there is real growth in recognizing motherhood, which is impressive in the current economy, where consumer surveys show weak confidence and high uncertainty.

Q: Are there any other interesting research findings on Mother’s Day?

A: Like many researchers, we have been experimenting with artificial intelligence, so we asked the AI bot to recommend some unique gifts for Mother’s Day. The first suggestion was jewelry with the unique element of a chain or locket with mom’s initials. The second suggestion was a spa day, with AI apparently picking up on the increase in spending on personal services in recent years. The third AI gift idea was a pleasant surprise: a memory book of photos, clippings and other items for reminiscence, which could be put together for little cost. It is quite possible that AI was channeling Anna Jarvis and her wish to de-commercialize Mother’s Day, with this great gift suggestion.

Top photo by iStock.

Reporter , ASU News


New York City is next stop for ASU finance graduate

May 11, 2023

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

A family legacy brought Ashley Torres to Arizona State University, and where she goes from here will be propelled by the knowledge and passion she developed during her time as a Sun Devil.  Ashley Torres celebrates her time as a student at ASU Ashley Torres Download Full Image

Torres is graduating this semester with a Bachelor of Science in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business. She also received a number of scholarships, including the New American University Scholarship, the Obama Scholarship and the Dean’s Award.

Torres said she always enjoyed learning about finance in her classes and discussing things like personal finance with her friends. When she realized she was excited about the prospect of being tested on the subject, she knew it was the right path for her.

“I remember taking my first FIN class and being excited about an exam for the first time ... it really just became a part of my everyday life,” Torres said. 

Much like her professors helped break down the complexities of finance and economics, she hopes to ultimately do the same for others – to make these concepts accessible and remove any intimidation.

Soon, Torres will head to New York City to start her career in finance.

“After graduation, I’m heading to the Big Apple. I will be working at an investment firm, Goldman Sachs, where I will be understanding how various macroeconomic factors (such as interest rates and even recessions) can affect business," Torres said. “I am excited for the next chapter of my life!”

Torres shared more about her time at ASU and the people and places that shaped her experience.

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

A: The biggest lesson I learned was to relax and go with the flow. I have always been a planner and when I decided to join the Sun Devil Fitness Complex as a freshman to get some extra cash, I would have never realized how much I would gain from this experience. Four years later, I cherish the lifelong friendships I have made in addition to the countless lessons I've learned from some amazing mentors. I could have never anticipated for this place and the people who are a part of it to have had such an impact on where I am today. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because my mom and my tia also attended ASU. We're a Sun Devil family.

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

A: The most influential professor has been Kelvin Wong, who teaches ECN 212: Microeconomics. He taught me that large, complex and “scary” subjects can be easily digestible and actually fun to learn. His lectures often included game simulations, props during class and funny but memorable associations for economic terminology. Most people close themselves off when they don’t understand a topic, and economics can be a tough subject as it can get confusing quickly. Financial topics can also seem intimidating, so I carry this lesson with me, and I have made a personal mission to destigmatize the idea of finance being overwhelming. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to students?

A: My biggest piece of advice Is to be curious. Classes and assignments get way more interesting when you have a true curiosity. Instead of learning the material to pass an exam, ask yourself how the material can be used in the real world.    

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

A: My favorite spot on campus to study is definitely the fourth floor of Hayden Library and exploring the lower levels when I need a brain break. However, undeniably the coolest spot on campus is the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. I love it because it's much more than a gym where people lift weights. I can take a cycle class (with the best instructor ever, go Morgan!) or sit and play chess. They even hosted a World Cup watch party, which was really fun.

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

A: This is a hard question. There are many problems and subproblems, some of which have been around for decades and others emerging recently. However, I would say fixing the education system in the United States would create a positive ripple effect. The current public school system is outdated, teachers are expected to be able to teach over 30 students in a classroom. Curriculum is dependent on individual state requirements, county, district standards and even funding. This creates a massive educational gap, leaving many students at a disadvantage. Just because something has always been done a certain way does not mean it’s the best way.

Written by Courtney McCune, copywriter and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services.

ASU sports business graduate winning at the game of life

May 8, 2023

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

You could say scoring a Bachelor of Arts in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business and Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University has always been one of Matthew Joanes' main goals since he entered the game of life. Grad Matt Joanes gets ready for a career in sports business Honors student Matthew Joanes is graduating with his bachelor's degree in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business. This fall, he'll begin pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. Download Full Image

"I knew from a very young age that sports were my one true passion," said Joanes, a native of Mesa, Arizona. "I started playing organized sports in fourth grade, but I had been playing touch football on the playground since I was old enough to throw the ball.

"When I was applying to colleges in high school, I didn’t really know how to get to where I wanted to end up. However, I found out that sports business programs were starting to pop up across the country as I looked for degree programs to be admitted to. Once I saw that ASU was offering a sports business degree, I knew I’d found the right place."

Joanes earned the New American University President’s Scholarship, which is offered to outstanding first-year students.

Joanes' journey toward earning a degree at ASU was pretty much etched in stone from birth, since his parents are also Sun Devil alumni.

"I began my Sun Devil journey in the fall of 2011 when I started fourth grade at ASU Preparatory Academy – Polytechnic," Joanes said. "Even at ASU Prep, Gold Fridays were a tradition that everyone took part in. As I grew up and was exposed to more and more of ASU, I fell in love with being a Sun Devil. My parents graduated from Arizona State and got married at the Newman Center on College and University, so attending ASU just felt right."

We caught up with Joanes to learn more about his experience at ASU and how he plans to use his sports business degree to be one of the stars in his career field.

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

Answer: This is tough because I’ve had some incredible professors in my four years at ASU. Daniel McIntosh, who taught my Intro to Sports Business class, gave me my first taste of being a sports business student. Each week, we’d spend the first 30 minutes of class talking about recent developments in the sports world based on articles from the Sports Business Journal. Professor McIntosh, who went on to become the second reader for my honors thesis, told our class that we should always make sure we know what’s going on in the sports world. Even if you’re not super passionate about a certain area, have enough knowledge about the subject to understand what’s going on if it’s brought up in conversation. That really resonated with me because as I’ve had the chance to talk to more people in the sports industry, I feel much more confident talking to them when I know what I’m talking about. Thank you, Professor!

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give students?

A: Do what you’re passionate about and be authentically you. I started working as an intramural sports official during the fall of my freshman year having never refereed before, but I fell in love with it. Almost four years later, I’ve worked hundreds of games and am the most experienced official in the program, as well as a NIRSA Basketball National Championship official and the 2022-2023 SDFC Basketball Official of the Year. While a lot of my friends don’t understand why I like getting yelled at by players every night, I don’t need them to. I’m doing what I love, and that’s all that matters.

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

A: That’s easy — the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. I’ve worked hundreds of games at the SDFC and played in countless intramural games with my friends. Some of my favorite memories from college were made on the intramural fields and up in the 3-Bay Gym. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if it weren’t for the people I’ve met because of the SDFC.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m very excited to be spending a couple weeks in Omaha, Nebraska, this summer to take in the Men’s College World Series. Starting this fall, I will be pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business in the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law here at Arizona State University. Some of my friends and mentors, including fellow referees Austin Moore and Evan Singletary, have graduated from the program and welcomed me with open arms to the SLB family. Getting the chance to learn more about the sports industry from professionals in the field was simply too great of an opportunity to pass up. Plus, I really wanted to see Kenny Dillingham’s first season from the student section.

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

A: Wow, that’s a lot of money. If I had $40 million, I would try to tackle the issue of youth passion for baseball in the United States. I fell in love with the game of baseball in middle school, so to see such a lack of passion for the game from the young people in the world makes me sad. I’d like to buy tickets for college, minor league and major league games and give them to kids for free so that they can attend games for free. I’d also like to donate a portion of the $40 million to youth baseball programs across the country for new equipment, field maintenance and coaching. Growing the game of baseball must be a goal for the older generations, because without the kids the game is going to start to die off. People who know baseball aren’t better than everyone else, but everyone else would be better if they knew baseball.

Written by from Tremaine Jasper, marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services.

Leading by example: Mother of two graduates with honors, hopes to inspire

May 8, 2023

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

Teona Kurdadze hopes her journey as a full-time mom and full-time student will help inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter how challenging the journey may seem.  ASU Online student Teona Kurdadze Teona Kurdadze is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in business with a concentration in corporate accounting from the W. P. Carey School of Business via ASU Online. Download Full Image

Originally from Surami, a small city in the country of Georgia, Kurdadze relocated to the United States in 2012 for her husband’s job. 

“The move wasn’t easy for me since I didn’t know anyone here and, at the time, lacked English language skills,” she said. “Nevertheless, I quickly signed up for ESLEnglish as a second language. classes, and within a year I applied at a local community college.”

Kurdadze, who had her first child during that time, managed to balance her responsibilities as a mother and student to graduate with honors and start working as an accountant at a venture capital firm. 

The experience of working in accounting inspired her to continue pursuing her education.

“I realized I wanted to learn more about business, accounting and finance,” she said. “I applied to ASU Online and started studying part time. When I had my second child, I did not let that stop me from taking classes. I decided to take a break from work and focus full time on my studies and children.”

Now graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in business with a concentration in corporate accounting from the W. P. Carey School of Business, Kurdadze credits her academic success — including graduating with honors and making the dean’s list twice — to staying focused on her goals and using time management and organizational skills to manage family and school obligations.

“Education should not have to be one of the sacrifices that mothers have to make,” she said. “I am proud to have served as a role model for my children, showing them that anything is possible with hard work and determination. I believe that obtaining a college degree will open up better opportunities for my family’s future.”

Kurdadze shared her ASU Online journey and her advice to others still in school.

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

Answer: I have always been curious about business, finance and accounting, but I never considered pursuing a career in accounting until I took an introductory accounting course in community college. At first, I found the concepts and principles challenging, but as I delved deeper into the subject, I found myself becoming more and more fascinated by it. The way in which accounting provided a language for describing and analyzing financial transactions, and how this information was critical for making informed business decisions, was what initially caught my attention. In addition, my experience working as an accountant in a venture capital firm helped me to see the bigger picture of accounting, and it was at this point that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in business and corporate accounting.

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

A: Prior to my time at ASU Online, I had always thought that online courses lacked the personal interaction and socialization of traditional classrooms. However, I soon realized that the online format opened up new opportunities for collaboration and communication. Through online discussion boards, group projects and video conferencing, I was able to connect and work with fellow students from all over the world who brought diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. I found that I could learn just as much from my online peers as I could from my professors.

I also appreciated the flexibility and convenience of online learning, which allowed me to balance my studies with other commitments, such as work and family. I could access course materials and lectures at any time and from anywhere, as long as I had an internet connection. This allowed me to tailor my studies to my own schedule and needs. 

Overall, my experience at ASU Online taught me that online learning can be just as effective and enriching as traditional classroom learning. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU Online?

A: I chose to enroll in ASU Online because of its reputation for offering the best online degree programs in business and corporate accounting. I needed a program that would provide me with the flexibility and convenience of online learning without sacrificing the quality of education. 

ASU Online, with its rigorous curriculum and cutting-edge technology, allowed me to engage with my coursework and classmates in a dynamic and interactive online environment. I was impressed with the wide range of resources and support services available to online students, including academic advising, tutoring and career counseling. 

I was particularly drawn to ASU Online's online degree in business and corporate accounting. The program provided me with a solid foundation in accounting principles and practices, as well as the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a corporate accounting setting. I appreciated the program's emphasis on hands-on learning and its integration of real-world case studies and projects. 

Overall, I chose ASU Online because it offered the best of both worlds: the flexibility and convenience of online learning, coupled with a top-notch education in business and corporate accounting. I feel confident that my degree from ASU Online will prepare me for success in my chosen career and provide me with a competitive edge in the job market.

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

A: My time at ASU Online was filled with many great professors who taught me valuable lessons, but one professor stands out in particular as having taught me the most important lesson during my studies. That professor was my finance professor, who helped me develop a comprehensive understanding of the principles of finance. Through our interactions, I learned how to analyze investment opportunities, calculate risks and manage assets effectively. In particular, my finance professor taught me the importance of maintaining a diversified investment portfolio, which is critical for minimizing risk and maximizing returns. This was an important lesson that has been instrumental in my work in the finance industry.

In addition to my finance professor, I also learned valuable lessons from my financial statement analysis professor and tax accounting professor. My financial statement analysis professor taught me how to analyze and interpret financial statements, which is an essential skill for any business professional. My tax accounting professor, on the other hand, taught me the complexities of tax law and how to navigate the various regulations and requirements. 

All three of these professors were excellent educators who were passionate about their subject matter and dedicated to helping their students succeed. Their lessons have had a lasting impact on my career, and I am grateful for the knowledge and skills they imparted to me during my time at ASU Online.

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

A: Stay focused on your goals and never give up. Pursuing a degree or certification can be a challenging and often overwhelming experience, but it's important to remember that it is a journey, not a destination.

One of the keys to success in school is to develop good study habits and time-management skills. Creating a study schedule and sticking to it can help you stay organized and on top of your coursework. Additionally, seeking out support from professors, tutors and fellow students can also be beneficial. 

Another important piece of advice is to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. This includes academic support services, career coach services, success coach services and student organizations. These resources can provide you with additional guidance, knowledge and support that can be instrumental in your academic success.

Finally, it's important to remember that education is not just about earning good grades and a degree, but also about personal growth and development. Embrace new experiences, challenge yourself and take risks. These experiences will help shape you into a well-rounded individual and prepare you for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: Studying in a comfortable environment is essential for academic success. For me, the home office is the ideal spot for power studying. The home office offers a comfortable environment with a suitable chair, desk and good lighting. This makes it easy to sit and focus for extended periods of time without experiencing physical discomfort. At home, I can create an environment that is quiet and free from distractions. This allows me to concentrate on the task at hand and avoid disruptions from external factors. The home office is accessible at all times. I don't need to worry about transportation, travel time or availability of resources. Everything I need to study is within reach. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to continue my career in finance, specifically in venture capital. I have a strong interest in this field because it offers opportunities to work with startups, entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. Venture capital also provides exposure to various industries and allows me to learn about different business models and strategies. To achieve my goal, I plan to network with professionals in the industry, attend conferences and stay updated with the latest industry trends. I also plan to enhance my knowledge and skills by pursuing additional certifications and courses. I believe that continuing education is essential in the finance field, and it will help me stay competitive in the job market.

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

A: I would use the funds for disease research, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are to diseases and how important it is to invest in research to develop effective treatments and vaccines. With the $40 million, I would allocate the funds toward research institutions and hospitals that are actively engaged in developing cures for diseases. These funds could help researchers and scientists accelerate their efforts to find a cure for diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries. Additionally, the funds could also be used to improve health care systems around the world, making health care more accessible to all.

Written by Margot LaNoue for ASU Online

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How to stop longing for the path not taken

May 5, 2023

Research-based strategies for moving forward when you’re dwelling on what might have been

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2023 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Written by Rachel Burgess, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business. Her research focuses on employee identity, organizational justice and the work/non-work interface.

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Rachel Burgess

Careers consist of many choices. Sometimes, you may find yourself longing for the life you might have had if you had made a different choice — the forgone career role. 

In my research, my colleagues Jason A. Colquitt, the Franklin D. Schurz Professor in the Department of Management & Organization at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and Erin C. Long, the assistant professor of management at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, and I focused on how dwelling on the notion of “what could have been” can affect employees. We focused on what employees, managers and organizations can do to minimize the negative consequences of that reflection.

For the paper, published in the Academy of Management Journal in February 2022, we surveyed more than 300 U.S. employees to try to understand how they experience and react to forgone identity dwelling, or ruminating on what could have been. We focused on their emotions and the resulting behaviors they engaged in at work. Our results represented a wide variety of current and forgone identities — social workers who could have been veterinarians, architects who could have been painters, and teachers who could have been attorneys. 

In response to forgone identity dwelling, participants longed for the life they might have had. For example, one participant recounted trading a future as a scientist for a career in finance. While happy in his financial career, he said he often thinks about the possible fulfillment he might have found in this forgone identity.

That longing led to withdrawal in the participants and reduced the amount of help they offered their co-workers. While many respondents said they were happy with how their lives turned out, the longing for what could have been kept them from being fully invested and effective in their current jobs. As these findings indicate, forgone identity dwelling is detrimental not only for individual employees but for the workplace as well.

So, what can you do if you feel this way? What can managers do? 

1. Craft your job to make it more fulfilling.

First, our research showed that people who respond to longing for the road not taken with job crafting, or shaping current work roles to make them more fulfilling, were less withdrawn and more likely to help their co-workers. And it boosted their productivity and job satisfaction.

Although some careers are better suited for job crafting than others, it’s almost always possible to find a way to incorporate your passion into your work role. 

For instance, the social worker who thought about becoming a veterinarian could use service animals to help clients dealing with trauma, allowing her to use her love of animals at work. Likewise, a salesperson who gave up a career as a travel writer could work with international clientele, allowing opportunities to travel while still in a stable, high-paying profession.

In addition to your own proactive approach, managers play a role. Managers can identify their employees’ interests and passions and look for ways they can incorporate them into employees’ work roles. For instance, managers can make an effort to tailor roles or assign projects based on the kinds of work employees find most fulfilling.

Naturally, not all jobs can be tailored to a specific individual, but even small changes can help increase job satisfaction and productivity.

2. Cultivate the belief that what happens is because of your own actions.

Second, try to cultivate an internal locus of control, or the tendency to believe that what happens in life is due to your own actions, as opposed to luck or chance. Our findings showed that people with an internal locus of control respond less negatively to forgone identity dwelling. 

To create a sense that you control your destiny, try taking ownership of your past career choices. Focus more on why you made those decisions rather than where you could be today. Reflect on the parts of your life you are grateful for. Research has shown that gratitude improves mental and physical health and resilience to adversity.

It’s natural to wonder what might have been. But to stay productive and fulfilled, move past the longing for that alternative life and learn to embrace the life you have. n

This article has been adapted from a Harvard Business Review feature. 

Learn more

See the full article and other business news and insights at news.wpcarey.asu.edu.

ASU Alumni Association announces fastest-growing Sun Devil businesses

Record-breaking 157 alumni own or lead 125 firms across US

May 3, 2023

In front of nearly 300 alumni, sponsors, faculty and community partners, the fastest-growing Sun Devil 100 businesses were unveiled during an annual awards ceremony on Thursday, April 27, at Mullett Arena.

A record-breaking 157 alumni, who own or lead 125 businesses across the country, were honored as part of the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2023.  Sun Devil 100 Class of 2023 sitting on bleachers together. Meet the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2023, 157 alumni who own or lead 125 businesses with combined total revenues in 2021 of $6.16 billion. Photo courtesy Tim Trumble Download Full Image

These entrepreneurs are proud alumni who are engaged with their alma mater and who applied for the honor to be recognized as a Sun Devil 100 leader. They range from individual business owners to leaders of large corporations from dozens of industries.

The diverse mix of organizations that make up this year’s class has a combined total revenue of $6.16 billion for the 2021 reporting year and employs nearly 114,000 full-time workers, headquartered in 15 states. The group of Sun Devil alumni graduated from 14 colleges and earned 185 degrees.

“Sun Devil 100 honorees, I want to congratulate you on being a member of a prestigious group of highly talented leaders who embody the entrepreneurial experience, innovative spirit and social impact advanced by Arizona State University,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association.

“Your success makes us very proud, because it is proof that what we are doing here at ASU is working. For the eighth consecutive year, ASU is the most innovative university, according to the U.S. News & World Report," she added.

Caleb Lihn, ‘02 BA, co-founder and partner of Taylor & Lihn, said he is grateful he attended ASU because it played a significant role in his business success. Taylor & Lihn was ranked the fastest-growing company in this year’s $250,000–$1.999 million revenue category.

“ASU drove a lot of my entrepreneurial spirit,” Lihn said after he accepted the Sun Devil 100 award. 

“Going back to ASU about 10 years ago was probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Lihn said, because that was when he met his business partner, Emily Taylor, ‘03 BS.

Bob Maguire, ‘13 executive MBA, CEO, co-founder and president of BioLab Sciences, said it was an honor to receive the Sun Devil 100 award for fastest-growing company in the $10 million+ revenue category. 

“It is very humbling,” McGuire said after he accepted the award. “I am proud to represent ASU.” 

To be considered for the Sun Devil 100, companies must be ASU alumni owned or led, have been in business for at least three years, have verifiable revenues of $250,000 or more for each of the past three years and operate in a manner consistent with the ASU Charter.

Representatives of the Top 5 fastest-growing organizations in each of the three revenue categories were called to the stage, congratulated and presented an award. The categories are broken down by revenues of $250,000–$1.999 million, $2 million–$9.999 million and $10 million+.

Baker Tilly, the official accounting partner of the Sun Devil 100, verified and certified the results. 

For a complete list and rankings of the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2023, click here

Here are the five top-ranked businesses and representatives in each revenue category: 

$250,000–$1.999 million category 

  1. Taylor & Lihn, led by co-founders and partners Caleb Lihn, ‘02 BA, and Emily Taylor, ‘03 BS. 
  2. RevampIT AV, Jack Thompson, ‘09 BA, owner. 
  3. Ultra Financial Partners, Logan Varela, ‘11 BA, co-founder and president.
  4. Point in Time Studios, Rami Kalla, ‘99 BS, '99 BA, president.
  5. Kim Joyce & Associates, Kim Joyce, ‘94 BA, CEO.

$2 million–$9.999 million category 

  1. Phoenix Water Solutions, Kyler Colin, ‘18 BA, founder. 
  2. PC Sports Cards, Josh Cohen, ‘05, co-founder. 
  3. Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children, Becky Bell Ballard, ‘04 BA, CEO.
  4. Majestic Water Spouts, Matthew Kayne, ‘09 BS, owner. 
  5. Falcon Wealth Planning, Gabriel Shahin, ‘06 BS, president. 

$10 million+ category

  1. BioLab Sciences, Bob Maguire, ‘13 executive MBA, CEO, co-founder, president; and Jaime Leija, ‘03 BS, co-founder and chief compliance officer.
  2. CCT Research, Nick Bruggeman, ‘10 BA, co-founder and vice president.
  3. James Group, Lorron James, ‘05 BS, CEO and owner.
  4. Paradox, Aaron Matos, ‘95 BS, CEO and owner. 
  5. Dynovis, Bradley Repp, ‘97 MBA, CEO and co-founder. 
Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

ASU Alumni Association welcomes new class of 35 Medallion Scholars, congratulates seniors

Medallion Scholarship focuses on leadership, scholarship, service

May 2, 2023

During an evening of celebration and reflection, 35 incoming Medallion Scholars of the Class of 2027 were welcomed into the program, while graduating seniors of the Class of 2023 were honored for their scholarship and service to others.

In an annual rite of passage, the Arizona State University Alumni Association held the 2023 Medallion Scholarship dinner on Monday, April 24, to celebrate recipients of the scholarship that develops a tradition of leadership and service throughout the span of the students’ academic careers.  Group of Medallion Scholars posing together on a staircase outside. The ASU Alumni Association welcomed 35 incoming Medallion Scholars from across Arizona, members of the class of 2027, and celebrated the beginning of their ASU academic journey. Photo courtesy ASU Alumni Association Download Full Image

“The Alumni Association welcomes the Medallion Scholarship Program Class of 2027,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the association. “You are arriving at an exciting time of continuing innovation, multiple teaching strategies and many opportunities to develop your leadership skills further. At the same time, we congratulate the seniors for their service, pursuit of excellence and future roles as they graduate in just a couple of weeks.”

Chris Hill, ‘86 BS, past chair of the ASU Alumni Association Board of Directors and Trustee of ASU, acknowledged the competitive nature of the application process that narrowed the pool. 

“Congratulations to all of the Medallion Scholars,” Hill said. “I am in awe of all you have accomplished in not only the academic arena but also your focus on giving back to the community through service and volunteer projects. Remember to enjoy the journey and that your connections to your Medallion Scholarship Program cohort, and the ASU Alumni Association, will be there to keep you connected and support you wherever your journey takes you.”

Medallion Scholars are chosen from incoming Arizona high-school students who have received the New American University Dean’s Award, which recognizes academic achievement, and who apply for the Medallion Scholarship program. More than 200 students apply to the program each year, and final recipients receive a four-year, renewable financial award of $4,000.

To renew the award, the scholar must actively participate in regular meetings, activities and community service, and must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and successfully complete a minimum of 30 ASU credit hours for the academic year.

Financial support comes from individual donations and from a portion of the fees paid for the ASU collegiate license plate. The plates cost $25, and $17 from each Sparky and Pitchfork plate sold goes directly to the Medallion Scholarship fund.

“Today, the Medallion Scholarship program is one of the top scholarship programs at the university,” said James Randall, ‘09 BA, ‘11 MEd, ASU Alumni Association director of student engagement and Medallion Scholarship advisor.

“The Medallion Scholarship is more than just an award,” said Randall, who was the master of ceremonies at the dinner in the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus. “It is a comprehensive program designed to connect you to campus and community resources, cultivate your personal and professional development, and immerse you in the Sun Devil experience.” 

To the enthusiastic clapping of the nearly 200 scholars, family members and friends in attendance, each incoming first-year Medallion Scholar was called to the stage and a medallion was placed around their neck. Each also took a photo with Wilkinson, Hill and Sparky to commemorate the beginning of their academic journey. 

“Please, wear this medal with pride,” Randall said. “The Medallion Scholarship has a rich, 55-year history, and over 2,000 Sun Devils before you have been given this honor.” 

Individual excellence awards were presented to four of the 127 Medallion Scholars currently enrolled at ASU.

The Scholarship Award, given to the student who has demonstrated excellence in the classroom and applied what they have learned to their future, was presented to Brooke Zanon. She will graduate summa cum laude, earning a Bachelor of Arts in both global studies and political science as well as a minor in French. She is attending Georgetown University Law Center in the fall after a congressional internship this summer with the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute in Washington, D.C.

The Service Excellence Award was awarded to two scholars. The first was Felicity Hacker, who volunteered more than 100 hours on more than 30 separate occasions. The second was Chase Mathias, who went above and beyond to host two families, each with a parent recovering from a brain tumor, as guests at the UCLA football game.

As is tradition, Medallion Scholars voted to elect the recipient of the Leadership Excellence Award. This year, they selected Ahlias Jones. Jones holds a number of leadership positions, including his role at the Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship, where he is one of the few men of color between the ages of 18–24 who work in local preschools to improve the literacy skills of children in the community. 

Sierra Lockett, Medallion Scholarship leadership council president and graduating senior, presented an address to her peers, lauding them for their inspirational accomplishments and exemplary leadership. 

“This is what it means to be a Medallion Scholar: You work hard, lead by example and express the change you want to see in the world,” Lockett said. “It is not the easiest to complete these four years and to maintain this scholarship. I applaud your perseverance, your strength and know that you will do amazing things after this chapter of our life closes.” 

Each graduating Medallion Scholar was then called to the stage to have the Medallion stole placed around their necks and to shake hands with Wilkinson, Hill and Sparky.

Incoming Medallion Scholars: 

  • Zaianis Alejandro-Martinez.

  • Emiliano Alvarado.

  • Ashlyn Beckman.

  • Anne Marie Bolling.

  • John Anthony Caballero.

  • Kylie Michelle Cavanagh.

  • Roya Wynn Columbe.

  • Kevin Michael Cruz.

  • Kendra Jazlynn Elizalde.

  • Dariana Iveth Garcia.

  • Hailey Marie Garcia.

  • Chinmai Giddigam.

  • Shelby Goodman, Jr.

  • Santiago Griffin Todd.

  • Shelby Hernandez.

  • Gabriel Jesus Ibarra.

  • Nicole Azaiah Irwin.

  • Keya Kotagiri.

  • Valeria Lopez.

  • Aghogho Divine Madagwa.

  • Emily Marie Mccullouch.

  • Taylor Mae Mclane.

  • Lainey Rose Minero.

  • Alexis Marie Miranda.

  • Mel Moore.

  • Myhanh Nguyen.

  • Tydan Ortega.

  • Neha Ponnapalli.

  • Alexandra Maria Sepe.

  • Sophia Smith.

  • Fatima Batool Vardak.

  • Miguel Guadalupe Velazquez III.

  • Maxwell Jakab Weidinger.

  • Dahlia Welter.

  • Krista Faith Wiechmann. 

Graduating Medallion Scholars: 

  • Katelyn Anderson.

  • Neil Bhuyan.

  • Mara Blakslee.

  • Annika Christian.

  • Kaitlyn Davin.

  • Olivia Dow.

  • Sara Downs.

  • Anna Fourlis.

  • Adrian Galan.

  • Felicity Hacker. 

  • Ibraheem Haddad.

  • Tyler Haggerty. 

  • Phoenix Hanes.

  • Gabriella Herran-Romero.

  • Parker Kross. 

  • Sierra Lockett.

  • Ali McAuliff.

  • Ariah Montoya.

  • Danielle Prasad.

  • Yasmine Salehi.

  • Haley Spracale.

  • Elizabeth Thompson.

  • Jade Waters.

  • Seth Riley. 

  • Alex Workman. 

  • Brooke Zanon.

  • Kailah Zinner. 

Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

image title

Can worker loyalty backfire?

May 2, 2023

New ASU study shows that reliable workers are often targeted for unfair managerial practices

Loyalty is a virtue that every employer embraces in its workers.

But in many cases, it is not a two-way street.

According to an Arizona State University academic, there can be harmful consequences for those who are too dependable.

In a new study, Christopher P. Neck, an associate professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, found that faithful and reliable workers are sometimes targeted for unfair managerial practices in the contemporary workplace.

The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology.

Neck is a co-principal investigatorMatthew L. Stanley from Duke University and Christopher B. Neck from West Virginia University were the two other principal investigators. on the study, “Loyal workers are selectively and ironically targeted for exploitation,” which examined several layers of organizational behavior toward individuals who are willing to make personal sacrifices for their jobs.

Neck spoke to ASU News about the study and what employees should know.

Man in black suit smiling

Christopher P. Neck

Question: What led you to conduct this study?

Answer: Most people think about loyalty as a positive moral trait or virtue that is worth cultivating and exemplifying. We venerate and celebrate people who show loyalty to their countries, families and organizations, and we want loyal people to be our friends, partners and employees. The scientific literature has been predominantly focused on the positive side of loyalty. This makes some sense given how we think about and talk about loyalty in our culture. But in taking this narrow focus, we suspected that we were missing a large part of the story regarding how loyalty works in the world.

There are lots of stories of workers feeling like their superiors take advantage of their loyalty. But nobody had systematically and empirically investigated whether this tends to be the case in the world. 

Q: Loyalty seems to be a rare virtue in employees these days, so why are employees/managers exploiting the good ones?

A: I'm not sure we should assume that loyalty is rare these days. We just don't know much descriptively about workers’ loyalty to their organizations, co-workers and supervisors. But, based on our studies, it does seem like managers are more likely to target loyal workers because they expect them to sacrifice for the “good of the company.” This is built into what it means to be loyal in our culture. So, for example, if a manager needs something to get done quickly — perhaps requiring a lot of extra hours of work — they are more likely to pick out their subordinate who seems most willing to do it, even if it means that their subordinate is treated poorly. 

Q: What are some examples, in your opinion, of exploitation?

A: The cases we use in our paper involve working excessively without reward and doing uncomfortable, demeaning tasks without reward. There is some disagreement in the literature about what exploitation is, but most philosophersFerguson & Veneziani, 2018; Zwolinski, Ferguson, & Wertheimer, 2022; Wertheimer, 1996 contend that exploitation involves taking unfair advantage. In our series of studies, we make it clear that workers who are subjected to poor treatment — e.g., working excessively, doing difficult and uncomfortable tasks, etc. — receive no rewards. When management requests that, for example, their subordinates work excessively without reward or perform difficult, uncomfortable tasks unrelated to their job duties without reward, management attempts to take unfair advantage of those subordinates, benefiting at their expense. Subordinates subjected to exploitative requests are also put in a particularly vulnerable position because management controls outcomes vital to them — e.g., income, recommendation letters, connections, promotion, job security, health insurance, bonuses, etc.

Q: Is there a question or litmus test employees can ask themselves if they are being taken advantage of?

A: Not really. There is a lot of complexity and nuance across cases. There is also an additional issue of severity. Sometimes people take advantage of others, but that taking advantage of is relatively minor and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But there are other cases in which people take advantage of others and that taking advantage of is particularly harmful and egregious. 

Top photo illustration courtesy of Pixabay.

Reporter , ASU News