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Students make a change on Polytechnic campus, in their lives

Planting a tree

Brendan Leach, a freshman from Seattle, creates a berm around a tree at the Polytechnic Community Garden, as part of the Changemaker Central Day of Service, Aug. 19, 2015. The event allows students to volunteer their time and energy into campus projects before classes begin on Aug. 20.

August 19, 2015

Editor's note: As ASU gears up for the start of classes this week, our reporters are spotlighting scenes around its campuses. To read more, click here.

ASU freshman Albert Giovanazzi woke up Wednesday morning knowing he needed an attitude adjustment.

The 19-year-old Pittsburgh native said his high school career was uninspired, unspectacular and filled with regret.

“I spent a lot of my time slacking off, sleeping in, watching Comedy Central or reading in bed,” Giovanazzi said. “Today I didn’t want to sleep in. I wanted to do something meaningful. Opportunity is a matter of choice and I want to change this thinking.”

Giovanazzi had the perfect chance to make a difference in his life and the lives of others Wednesday morning on ASU’s Polytechnic campus during Changemaker Central’s Day of Service. The event, organized by the campus chapter Changemaker Central, brought together 30 other like-minded students working to beautify the campus.

“Changemaker is the hub for service, leadership and entrepreneurship and is located on all ASU campuses,” said Courtney Spivak, coordinator for Student Engagement and advisor for Changemaker Central. “What we do is help connect students with different resources they might need for service and entrepreneurship.”

Additionally, Changemaker Central also helps students explore careers with the Peace Corps, Teach for America, AmeriCorps and other national service opportunities.

Zhikai Liu, an 18-year-old international student from Bejing, China, says he’s using the opportunity to introduce himself to others, become familiar with the campus and brush up on his conversational English.

“If I am to gain success on this campus, one important way is to attend every activity possible,” said Liu, a freshman studying Environmental & Resource Management in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“When two cultures can come together, everybody advances.”

The sentiment was shared by Susan Norton, a program coordinator for University Sustainability Practices. Norton oversees the Poly campus’ community garden where students performed various maintenance projects such as staining benches, clearing out weeds, adding extra guidelines on the grape arbor and adding tree wells and berms.

Each semester the 12 plots in the garden are leased to students, staff and faculty on the Poly campus. The garden is used to teach classes for biology, sustainability and horticulture. Others use the garden to give to other departments or donate to food banks.

Despite a few ant bites and a slight sunburn, Giovanazzi said the work was the perfect antidote for an attitude adjustment.

“It was totally worth it. I’m outside, it’s a beautiful day and I’m standing in the Arizona sun,” Giovanazzi said. “I’m definitely not going to regret this.”

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