Students make a change on Polytechnic campus, in their lives


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. 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. Download Full Image

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.”

Reporter , ASU Now

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1st Global Freshman Academy course kicks off


August 19, 2015

Students in the inaugural course of the groundbreaking Global Freshman Academy log in and start class Thursday.

More than 12,400 students from 163 countries enrolled in AST 111: Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy will begin their first lesson of the seven-week open, digitally enabled course. The course is taught by Frank Timmes, who has also taught this course in a traditional on-campus format and for ASU Online. Timmes is a professor in Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration. Intro to Solar Systems Astronomy is the first ASU Global Freshman Academy class ASU professor Frank Timmes will teach the first Global Freshman Academy course, AST 111: Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy, a seven-week open, digitally enabled course that starts Thursday. More than 12,400 students from 163 countries are already enrolled, and enrollment is still open. Download Full Image

Enrollment is still open for students who wish to take the course.

ASU has partnered with edX to give learners anywhere in the world the opportunity to earn freshman-level university credit after successfully completing each course. All courses are thoughtfully designed and taught by ASU faculty on the edX platform, delivering the high-quality education expected from a tier-1 research university.

“We’re thrilled to see such a diverse and large group of students who are eager to take this step in their education,” said Phil Regier, the CEO of EdPlus and University Dean for Educational Initiatives. “The Global Freshman Academy is a new model, showing that a university does not have to be marked by exclusivity, and acts as a critical bridge into quality higher education.”

The Global Freshman Academy is open to everyone and represents a new kind of accessibility in higher education. No application or transcripts are required, and enrollment is instant. Students don’t have to pay for credit until they know they’ve passed the course. 

In October, the next two classes are scheduled to begin: Human Origins and Western Civilization: Ancient and Medieval Europe.

For more information about the Global Freshman Academy, please visit gfa.asu.edu. Students can register here.