Changing the world one student at a time

May 27, 2020

Wendy Peia Oakes is an associate professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, and has been a faculty member since 2012. Her research and teaching continue a mission she undertook nearly 30 years and three degrees ago as a middle school teacher in a self-contained special education classroom: improving educational access and outcomes for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

But the much older students she teaches today, along with her faculty colleagues, will attest she invests as much time and energy working to support the ASU students in her classes as she did in her 13 years as a special education teacher. Oakes knows that the quality of education that children with special needs receive tomorrow depends on nurturing their prospective teachers now. And she says the relationships those teacher candidates experience with each other and their professors are vital to their future success in one of public education’s most challenging specialties. man and woman posing and smiling Dan and Wendy Peia Oakes, creators of the Oakes Peia Scholarship. Download Full Image

“As special educators, every day we have an opportunity to positively impact the life of a child and their family,” Oakes says. “It is a profession in which every day is exciting, challenging and rewarding. Special education teachers are a talented group of professionals committed to creating positive learning experiences for each child to grow and develop.”

Oakes’ students may not be aware of the commitment she shares with her husband, Dan, to working outside the classroom to enable their success; a commitment they demonstrate by financially supporting scholarships for MLFTC students. And this year, they went a step further, with an endowment that created the Oakes Peia Scholarship, which will be awarded to students who plan to enter the special education field.

The scholarship bears both names of this couple who met more than 30 years ago when Daniel Oakes and Wendy Peia were students at the University of Maryland. Wendy’s roommate, who had worked with Dan, introduced them. Four years later, they were married.

Since leaving the pre-K–12 public school system, Wendy completed her PhD at ASU in 2009, then became an instructor and research associate for the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University before returning to MLFTC in 2012. Dan is chief operating officer for Randstad SourceRight, a North American talent acquisition firm that’s part of the Dutch multinational, Randstad.

Three years ago, Dan and Wendy decided the time was right to start donating to scholarship support for MLFTC students. What made the time right, Wendy says, was, “... when our youngest graduated from ASU! We were finished paying for tuition for our girls” — they have two — “and we thought we could help support other students completing their degrees.”

“Helping others has always been a strong value in our family,” agrees Dan, “and we are extremely fortunate to be in a financial situation to do so. I’m always saddened by the stories I hear from Wendy or her students about the hardships of getting to their teaching placements or buying supplies, and of how difficult it is to stay in school.”

That’s part of what motivated the couple to give an additional gift to the Dean McGrath Scholarship fund this year. The McGrath Scholarship provides emergency assistance to MLFTC students facing unforeseen circumstances — lack of food or transportation, or unexpected outstanding fees — to help them stay on track to earning their degree. “We hope that gift gives someone a financial lift that enables them to keep pursuing their teaching dreams,” Dan says.

The McGrath scholarship has been doubly vital this spring as the coronavirus pandemic has upended not only ASU’s academic year, but the American economy. Wendy says, “We know many of our students hold multiple jobs — including in businesses that have closed. And many of them have families and small children and are already living on tight budgets as they attend school. We knew the need would increase for the emergency funding. We are fortunate that both Dan and I and both our daughters are still employed.”

Creating a scholarship after years of gifts to others seemed like a natural step to Wendy and Dan. “At the time we had decided to support the immediate needs of students,” Wendy says, “but we really liked the idea of a long-term ability to support future teachers as well.”

Still, a natural step is not always a small one, and while Wendy says the MLFTC development staff made the endowment process easy, it is a substantial commitment — one the couple felt strongly was right for them.

Dan says, “President Obama spoke at Wendy’s graduation at ASU when she received her doctorate, and he challenged the graduates to go out and change the world. The work Wendy does now, and has been doing since I met her 30 years ago, is so inspiring to me. So providing a scholarship with which we can help other teachers and students achieve their dreams and be able to change the world was an easy decision.”

Wendy says the best thing she could hear from a graduate who receives the Oakes Peia Scholarship and enters the field she has devoted her life to, is “... that they love their work! And I look forward to hearing about gains made or successes by their students or a student’s family.”

The long-term result Dan hopes for is, “... that we help students achieve their dreams of becoming teachers, and that they are able to touch the lives of many of their students — changing the world one student at a time.”

 Written by: Erik Ketcherside

Shayla Angeline Cunico

Student digital content specialist, ASU Enterprise Partners


Donor support helps ASU Law students in wake of pandemic

May 11, 2020

An ASU Law student was in the United Kingdom for an externship when the coronavirus swiftly began shutting down countries.

When the United Kingdom was added to the U.S. travel ban list on March 14, the student was notified by ASU that she would need to make arrangements to leave as soon as possible. Seven weeks of the spring semester remained. Beus Center for Law and Society exterior building photo The Beus Center for Law and Society, home of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Meg Potter/ASU Now Download Full Image

“I was not at all prepared to incur such a last-minute expense,” she said.

Five thousand miles away, Rick Berry was considering how best to lend a helping hand as the world around him faced a new, stark reality. Berry decided to reach out to his alma mater.

He already had a student scholarship established at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. But he wanted to do more. That’s when he learned about the Law Annual Fund, which supports the most urgent needs of the college at the discretion of the dean.

A longtime admirer of Dean Douglas Sylvester’s leadership, Berry was immediately sold on the idea: Support as many students in need as possible as quickly as possible.

“For those families that don’t have traditional support that I’ve always enjoyed,” Berry said, “it’s really tough. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to help.”

Back in the United Kingdom, the ASU Law student was alerted that her airfare would be paid for by the law school. She would also be receiving funds from ASU Law that would cover an Airbnb rental she could stay in upon her return during the mandatory two-week quarantine period for those having traveled abroad.

The emergency support provided by the Law Annual Fund was critical.

“I am deeply appreciative of the donor's generosity that made it possible for ASU Law to provide much-needed support during these incredibly tumultuous times,” she said. 

Berry’s generosity was felt in many other corners of the ASU Law community, as well. More than 40 additional donors have since stepped up and made a gift to the fund.

“I am graduating in a few weeks, and hopefully taking the bar in July,” another ASU Law student said. “With all the uncertainty surrounding that exam and the legal economy, it is a great blessing to have people like Mr. Berry generously donating to help students."

Berry, who earned his bachelor’s degree in insurance (1969) and a Juris Doctor degree (1973) from ASU Law, has been practicing law in the Valley for more than 40 years. He has consistently supported ASU Law during that time, pointing to the university’s inclusive spirit.

“Everyone has an opportunity to be successful at ASU’s law school, no matter what background you come from,” he said. “Everyone is welcome.”

 Jane Lee

Copywriter, ASU Enterprise Partners


InvestU gains traction as a catalyst for Arizona’s venture ecosystem

March 10, 2020

Arizona entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about bringing a new technology to market face many obstacles, but many agree the biggest determinant to developing their vision is funding. 

“Outside of New York and California, raising capital to start a technology company is very difficult,” said Paulo Shakarian, founder of Cyber Reconnaissance, Inc. (CYR3CON), a new, Arizona-based technology startup. “The venture markets are less mature in Arizona than in other parts of the country.” InvestU entrepreneurship pitch event, venture capital Participants in InvestU's pitch events have the opportunity to make meaningful investments in the growth of companies that will fuel Arizona's economy. Download Full Image

To support Arizona’s venture ecosystem, Arizona State University Enterprise Partners and the former Thunderbird Angel Network joined forces to increase access to early-stage funding for growth-oriented startups through InvestU

“InvestU played a key role in overcoming this challenge by bringing investment and entrepreneurial stakeholders together — driving innovation,” Shakarian said. “CYR3CON has successfully raised capital and integrated with the local community through InvestU. It has proven to be a key step toward maturing Arizona’s innovation community.” 

The lack of capital for technology ventures not only hinders a company’s potential for success, but also slows Arizona’s ability to drive economic growth and build enterprises for greater societal impact. As an angel investing platform focused on advancing the vitality of Arizona, InvestU sources and curates a selection of state and university originated or affiliated startups to connect with accredited investors.

"It's incredible to see the caliber of companies that are coming out of the university and Arizona community," said Marcel Valenta, head of enterprise development at ASU Enterprise Partners and InvestU executive board member. "We're proud to be the convener of top talent among the entrepreneurial and investment communities and connecting them with the resources and innovation that ASU and Thunderbird have to offer. InvestU's pitch events provide an accessible and effective forum for leaders from the venture community to come together as a like-minded community and make meaningful investments in the growth and success of companies that will fuel Arizona's future economy."

InvestU leverages its connection to the No. 1 most innovative university and No. 1 graduate school for global management to give investors unique access to technological innovations that directly or indirectly arise from students, faculty or the more than half a million alumni around the world. In turn, investors provide capital and mentorship to help accelerate startup growth and catalyze economic development through job creation and innovation. 

“It’s in Arizona’s and the nation’s best interest to have strong and continual sources of innovation,” said Ji MI Choi, associate vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. “It’s a necessary part of not only economic development, but also community development. Thriving and continually renewing ecosystems are sustainable and cultivate stronger and more resilient communities.”

Since its inception a year ago, InvestU has had a tremendous year of success. The program held four pitch events with seven technology startups vying for capital investment. Each pitch event saw on average about 75 to 100 community and business leaders who support innovation and entrepreneurship. The pitch events resulted in over one million dollars in capital being committed to startups poised for significant impact.   

Building a dynamic environment supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur Bret Larsen had an innovative idea to transform the way health care providers deliver care to their patients. He founded eVisit, a virtual care platform providing technology and infrastructure for large hospitals and physician groups, to connect with patients remotely for improved outcomes and revenue. 

Larsen showcased eVisit at an InvestU pitch event in October 2019. eVisit received approximately $300,000 of investment capital from the InvestU network of angel investors. Since inception, the company has grown to serve patients in all 50 states, enabling health care systems to simplify the care they provide through virtual visits. Further, the company landed partnerships with leading health systems in the nation, such as Banner Health and Honor Health.

“As an early stage company going after a huge market, we spend a lot of time pitching to investors,” Larsen said. “InvestU has connected eVisit with various investors that we would not have met otherwise. They also went beyond capital investment and leveraged their network to help accelerate our company’s growth. They helped us get access to local health care leaders, which has been very valuable.” 

In 2012, Larsen graduated with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and marketing from the W. P. Carey School of Business. He expressed gratitude for the InvestU program because it helps catalyze high-growth entrepreneurial activity from the state and university. Additionally, it expanded the impact of eVisit. 

“I’m grateful to be a beneficiary of InvestU’s commitment to Sun Devils,” Larsen said. “I think any angel investing group focused on helping Arizona technology companies succeed and grow is what Arizona needs. We have a lot of opportunity here and a lot of really good talent in the market.”

Shakarian, who is also a Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, was also grateful to raise funds for his faculty-affiliated cybersecurity startup through an InvestU pitch event.   

CYR3CON harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to predict the use of software exploits. The cybersecurity platform allows large enterprises to allocate security resources in a way that prevents cyberattacks before they happen.

Since attending the pitch event in March, CYR3CON has seen tremendous success. Last year, the company’s annual recurring revenue more than doubled and more than half of its non-government revenue was earned in the fourth quarter alone. CYR3CON was also selected as a distinguished vendor in the 2020 TAG Cyber Security Annual.

“The first piece to building a dynamic entrepreneurial investment community is exposing entrepreneurs to the right investors who are willing to take risks and bring new technologies to the market,” Shakarian said. “People need to network. They need to get to know each other. That’s how you grow the community and increase the availability of capital. It also increases the level of trust between entrepreneurs and investors.” 

ASU alumnus Rashad Jazzar was one of the first investor members of InvestU. He works for HHB, a family owned and operated investment firm in the Valley with more than 60 years of combined real estate, construction and investment experience. Jazzar noted the firm is always looking for ways to diversify their portfolio and provide a greater benefit for the masses.

“Arizona is the stomping grounds of institutions renowned for being the leader in innovation and having the top global management program, respectively,” Jazzar said. “Creating a healthy venture ecosystem to surround and potentially support such a high caliber of output is the component that will lead to the materialization of great ventures in science, business and technology.”

Since becoming an InvestU member, Jazzar has found getting access and exposure to quality startups and ventures in their early stages of funding has been “as easy as attending a catered event and listening to reputable accomplished speakers.” He said the InvestU process is more approachable than going through the traditional route, and he’s been pleased with the program’s affiliation to ASU.

“I haven’t seen a company pitched through InvestU that I didn’t think was interesting and had the right amount of traction to seek further funding. This tells me that the vetting and criteria placed by InvestU is of high standard,” Jazzar said. “And of the companies I’ve actually invested in, I’m very pleased to say that it has been a positive outcome with the companies seeing growth and achieving milestones.”

Preparing future leaders to drive the continued growth of Arizona’s venture ecosystem

During the past year, graduate students from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the W. P. Carey School of Business have played an integral role with InvestU. Through ASU’s startup investing course, students partake in the startup vetting process.

The InvestU operating team sources and screens a number of startups for consideration. The team puts together a curated list of investment opportunities for the students to complete additional research and due diligence on. Students then present their findings to the InvestU Advisory Board, which selects the company finalists for each InvestU pitch event, and a handful of students present their research findings during the event to investors.

The graduate-level startup investing course gives students the opportunity to examine opportunities in different early stage firm settings. Students conduct a broad spectrum of research on the entrepreneurial firms who are applying for candidate status at InvestU. They look at markets and growth potential, products and competitors, business models, management teams, financial projects and deal structures.

“Having students involved in due diligence research makes the InvestU process more valuable for investing members because they receive an immediate and independent outlook about the candidate firms,” said Gary Gibbons, a clinical associate professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management. “The investors, who are typically a part of the ASU community, also have the opportunity to interact with and mentor these students. So, it also provides a nonmonetary benefit that’s engaging for investing members.”

The course enables students to be part of the investing process outside the theoretical world of lectures and classrooms. Students gain practical experience and have the unique opportunity to see real clients, firms, investors and capital transacting. Students also learn how the venture ecosystem is a crucial part of the business landscape and how they play a role in the continued growth of the ecosystem in Arizona.

“Arizona has a lot going for it,” said Gibbons, an expert in investing and corporate finance. “We have one of the most innovative environments in the university ecosystem. We also have industries very high up in world rankings, such as semiconductors and health care. Those two sectors represent very large portions of our gross domestic product here in the state, so we need an ecosystem that’s independent of other regions if we want to continue to develop those sectors and other technology sectors.”

Amanda Stoneman

Senior Marketing Content Specialist, EdPlus


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POSTPONED: What do you care about at ASU? Show your support on Sun Devil Giving Day

March 6, 2020

March 15 update — ASU friends: We have made the difficult decision to postpone Sun Devil Giving Day. In light of the many challenges this pandemic has placed on our university, our state and our country, we believe it best to not distract people from their highest personal and professional priorities right now. More information will be made available at a future date.


On March 19, the Sun Devil family will join together for the eighth annual Sun Devil Giving Day, a one-day celebration of generosity in which Arizona State University supporters give to their passions through the university. 

Last year, more than 9,300 supporters gave a record-breaking $11.4 million to support ASU students, faculty, staff, programs and causes. 

Sun Devil Giving Day graphic

“Sun Devil Giving Day is a great way to give to any person, program or cause that you care about at ASU,” said Andrew Carey, associate vice president of donor outreach for the ASU Foundation. “It gives ASU the margin of excellence it needs to innovate and elevate the university experience for all students, faculty and staff.”

For example, donors to the ASU Family Scholarship enabled civil engineering student Messar Mustafa to pursue her goal of attaining an engineering degree.

“Becoming an engineer was one of my dreams as a kid, but with the cost of college and everything it can be a little overwhelming,” Mustafa said. “The scholarship has allowed me to achieve my dreams.” 

ASU student Messar Mustafa

Donors to the ASU Family Scholarship enabled student Messar Mustafa to pursue her goal of attaining a civil engineering degree.

The ASU Family Scholarship requires recipients to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete volunteer hours that they dedicate to ASU events. Mustafa says those hours greatly enhanced her college experience.

On Sun Devil Giving Day, supporters impact not only the lives of students, but also research and learning across the university. 

In the Department of Psychology, Professor Clive Wynne leads the Canine Science Collaboratory, which seeks to improve the lives of millions of dogs who live in shelters.

Through Sun Devil Giving Day, donors have supported research that helps reduce the stress of the animals' lives and find them lasting homes.

Sun Devil Giving Day donors have increased access to the arts through their generosity to ASU Gammage. Their gifts to the Cultural Participation program have enabled people of all ages and economic backgrounds to experience community arts programs and world-class artists.

For many children, the Cultural Participation program is their first opportunity to experience the performing arts.


Video by ASU Enterprise Partners

There are many ways to participate in Sun Devil Giving Day: 

• Join the discussion and enjoy stories, videos, games and trivia on social media by following ASU Foundation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

• Share a story using the hashtag #SunDevilGiving and encourage family and friends to do the same. 

• Students can vote for the cause they’re most passionate about between March 9-19 through My ASU.

• Anyone can make an online gift on March 19 at to any area of ASU.

Everyone is invited to show support for the causes they are passionate about, including first-generation students, clean-water projects, the environment, arts and culture accessibility and cancer research.

Written by Shayla Cunico

Shayla Angeline Cunico

Student digital content specialist , ASU Enterprise Partners


Cantelme Scholars demonstrate a passion for public service

February 18, 2020

Breanna Smith can’t wait to put on events. She’s organizing a fairly good-size one now. More on that in a moment.

A junior studying tourism development and management in Arizona State University’s School of Community Resources and Development, Smith identifies herself as “one of those people.” As in, “one of those who are really involved students,” she said. Cantelme Scholars, Arizona State University, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions 2019-2020 Pat Cantelme and the 2019-20 Cantelme Scholars. Download Full Image

The kind of student whose sheer volume of activity makes them stand out to the people who award scholarships and travel opportunities. But as active as she is, Smith said being tapped as a Cantelme Scholar caught her off guard.

“I was incredibly surprised,” she said, adding that she does what she always does. “I’m one of those people who sees something that needs to be done and I just do it.”

That good-size event she’s hunting for volunteers for? It’s a combination “culture/pop block party” involving the West Valley cities of Avondale and Goodyear to be held in late March at Estrella Mountain Community College, where Smith attended before transferring to ASU.

Breanna Smith, Cantelme Scholar, ASU Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Breanna Smith, a junior majoring in tourism development and management, is a 2019-20 Cantelme Scholar.

She plans to use the experience as the basis for creating a permanent volunteer program among community college and high school students interested in events work.

The Cantelme Scholars are named for retired Phoenix Fire Capt. Pat Cantelme, who is co-founder, president and chairman of the board of the CDH Charitable Foundation, an Arizona-based private foundation that focuses largely on scholarship funding for Arizona residents attending the state’s public universities with a demonstrated passion for public service.

Cantelme, who became a fire captain at the age of 25, was president of the United Phoenix Firefighters, Local 494. He was significantly involved in restoring the historic buildings on West Van Buren Street that are now The Van Buren concert venue and State 48 Brewery.

The Cantelme Scholars program resides within the Public Service Academy, which is administered by the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. This year, the CDH Foundation provided generous tuition funding for 10 ASU students who graduated from Arizona high schools and provided stipends allowing students to take part in ASU Study Abroad programs.

Within the Public Service Academy, 172 majors are represented among students who, like Smith, want to make a difference in society by engaging in such activities as joining the Peace Corps, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Vista, the U.S. military and the National Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in addition to several public, for-profit and nonprofit entities, said Public Service Academy Executive Director Brett Hunt.

In addition to the requirements of their majors, Public Service Academy students take six more classes through the academy resulting in a certificate in cross-sector leadership. Smith is also pursuing a certificate in special events management.

Cantelme’s dedication to his community is a passion Smith said she wants to share with others.

“When I read about who Pat is and all his achievement at such a young age, it’s something I really connect with, his finding a need and filling it,” she said.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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ASU alumni pay it forward by endowing scholarship for master's in aging program

February 17, 2020

A new program at Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation is preparing students to advance the well-being of our aging society.

That program, the Master of Science in aging, caught the attention of Dianne and Alan Perry, ASU graduates from the Class of 1974.  

The idea of elevating care to address the multidimensional aging process and the specific needs of older adults across disciplines was particularly appealing to the couple. 

Dianne, an alumna of the nursing program and longtime hospice nurse, has witnessed a disturbing trend when it comes to the treatment of older patients.

“You’re no longer acknowledged and what you say no longer has meaning when you get older in the current system,” she said. 

That, coupled with the very personal experience of seeing their own parents suffer in this system as a result of their age, moved the Perrys to start thinking of ways to help address this issue.

Alan, an alumnus of the engineering school, had his own successful career running a construction company. The couple, who met in high school, are both grateful for the education they received at ASU and, since they’re in a position to give back, they began exploring their options.

On a visit to Edson College, they learned more about the master's degree in aging and were impressed by the faculty expertise and the work already underway to tackle this issue. Then, they had the chance to meet some of the students and see their dedication to this work up close.

“I was blown away by the passion of the kids there who really want to change the world they live in, and I believe that they can do it," Dianne said. "That’s the kind of thing that we want to support.”

And so, in memory of their parents, the Dianne and Alan Perry Scholarship was created for students who enroll in the master's degree. 

With this generous endowment, the Perrys are the first donors to support this program, and they’re thrilled about it.

“We have to change the medical system, and ASU is focusing in that direction, to change medicine for the better and not leave this population behind,” said Dianne.

Students who meet the criteria for the scholarship will have a nursing background, financial need and a passion for working with the aging population, assisting them to live active and meaningful lives.

While they're taking the extraordinary step of endowing a scholarship, Dianne is quick to point out that giving to a collegiate program or issue you care about doesn’t have to be as grand to make an impact.

“Anybody can do this. You don’t have to donate at the level we did; we were blessed to be able to do that. Even if you have an extra $10 and you put it aside every month, in a couple of years you’ll have some cash to give. And if you feel very strongly about a cause or program, you need to participate in a monetary way because all of these things cost money. We would love for it not to be that way, but in reality it does and we have to be aware of that and financially support these efforts.” 

If you are interested in contributing to the Dianne and Alan Perry Scholarship or creating a scholarship for Edson College students, please contact

Top photo: Alan and Dianne Perry, ASU Class of 1974, have endowed a new scholarship for the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation's Master of Science in aging program.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist , Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


Watts College names two ‘community champions’ as liaisons to Maryvale neighborhoods

February 17, 2020

Two women with strong ties to the Maryvale community in northwest Phoenix will serve as "community champions," working with faculty, staff and students of Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions on improving the lives of those residing there.

The college’s appointment of Karolina Arredondo and Rosie Espinoza as liaisons to and from Maryvale is part of a long-range plan to enhance the area’s quality of life, managed by a partnership of the college and local residents and institutions. The effort is funded by a portion of the $30 million gift to the college in 2018 from Mike and Cindy Watts, who grew up in Maryvale and for whom the college is named. Maryvale Town Hall October 2019 Watts College Maryvale residents discuss issues at a community town hall co-sponsored by ASU's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the Arizona Town Hall in October 2019. Download Full Image

Maryvale residents confront many challenges, including lower education levels and academic test scores as well as decreased household income. The One Square Mile Initiative seeks to organize and apply the community’s many assets to help improve local life and give residents more chances to succeed.

Arredondo and Espinoza will each represent a separate square-mile area of the community.

Arredondo is the community champion for an area called the Isaac One Square Mile, named for the Isaac Elementary School District in which it is located.

Arredondo is a preschool teacher at Bret Tarver Isaac Preschool. She is experienced in coordinated outreach to the community in early childhood education, voter registration and family engagement. She has supported community outreach for Early Head Start, One Arizona, Neighborhood Ministries and the Isaac district. Arredondo also has acted as a direct liaison to the Maryvale and Isaac community, families, schools and children, which gives her deep knowledge about local education issues and culturally appropriate strategies for successful community outreach.

Espinoza is the community champion for the Cartwright One Square Mile. She is the wellness administrator for the Cartwright School District.

, ASU Watts College Maryvale Community Champion

Rosie Espinoza

Espinoza is experienced in coordinated outreach to the community in wellness, health and family engagement. She grew up in Maryvale and still lives and works in the community. Her work developing, recruiting and facilitating community events in health, nutrition and physical fitness provides key expertise for the initiative. Espinoza is also a graduate student at Watts College, working toward a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management.

“The community champions are members of the Maryvale community through their work and life activities,” said Erik Cole, director of the Watts College’s Design Studio for Community Solutions, which is spearheading the Maryvale initiatives. “Both Karolina and Rosie have a deep passion for supporting their neighbors, and we are excited about the powerful link they provide between the Design Studio and residents and local stakeholders in each One Square Mile geography.” 

Allison Mullady, the Design Studio’s program manager, agrees.

“The champions will be cultural advisers,” she said “They will be building trusted relationships with residents, faith-based groups, local businesses and schools to document the aspirations of the residents of Maryvale.” 

, ASU Watts College Maryvale Community Champion

Karolina Arredondo

Arredondo said she knows many young people in Maryvale and is happy to be in a position to acquaint them with university resources to help them apply for postsecondary education.

“When I was younger, we had good opportunities. Now we need the right resources to help kids today. A lot of people don’t know (the resources) are there,” she said. “I have co-workers who live in the neighborhood. One had no knowledge of what was next once her kids left high school. To have ASU have people share that knowledge with parents, it gives more students the chance to be able to go to college.”

Arredondo said the university is working with area entities such as churches, as residents might more easily reach out to their local leaders with questions or requests for information.

Espinoza said her having lived in Maryvale so long allows her to approach her new duties with a sense of pride.

“I’m very passionate about Maryvale,” she said. “I know Maryvale like the back of my hand. I feel very proud that I also get to work there. I like to think my position is a fun position.”

For Espinoza, success will come from engaging residents to build more of a connection with other like-minded individuals, as well as from encouraging conversations about things they would like to see change for the better.

“There is a lot of beautiful and positive in Maryvale. But there are other issues that, growing up and being part of the community now, I would like to see improved,” Espinoza said. “The first step is voicing those concerns and figuring out how to move forward, learning how to get something changed in your neighborhood, then asking, 'What are the next steps?'”

Espinoza said she sees the role of community champion as a great opportunity to represent both the university and community, to build trust and relationships.

“I want to let (residents) know they will actually be heard and their conversations will actually be relayed back to the university,” she said.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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15 years later, ASU’s sustainability efforts continue to look forward

February 14, 2020

When the idea of “sustainability” as a practice was established and defined in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development in what is now widely known as the Brundtland Report, the roots of sustainability research and education at Arizona State University were just beginning to grow.

“We did not have degree programs in environmental science, let alone sustainability," said Charles Redman, founding director and professor at the School of Sustainability and Virginia M. Ullman Professor for Natural History and the Environment. "We had some pieces of programs that were related to the environment, but none of those programs used or even focused on sustainability.

“The reality is when Michael Crow came here (in 2002), he was intent upon building sustainability.”

ASU President Crow identified the beginnings of a larger sustainability-oriented program with the Center for Environmental Studies, a research center then run by Redman.

“A lot of his interest did focus on the center, and a big step for us had been in 1997 when we were awarded the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research project to focus on Phoenix and the region. It was a real recognition of the intertwined and interdependent nature of society and ecology,” Redman said.

Having a center in place with a significant grant behind it that integrated an interdisciplinary approach by bringing in architects, engineers, economists, social scientists and others provided ASU with a forward-looking foundation. What was still needed was a consensus on how to proceed.

Dr. Charles Redman

Charles Redman, a longtime leader of urban sustainability and anthropology research and studies, is the founding director of the School of Sustainability and one of the two charged with establishing the Global Institute of Sustainability.

“With that backdrop and those programs underway, President Crow really went the last mile on trying to put sustainability on the map at ASU, and the platform for that was the landmark meeting at Temozón,” Redman said.

Temozón, a municipality in the state of Yucatán in Mexico, was the site of a landmark convening of 14 of the world’s leading ecological, environmental and climate scientists and stakeholders in May 2004. By the invitation from Crow, German atmospheric physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Harvard sustainability science Professor William Clark, this group convened for a two-day workshop to explore issues faced by leaders of institutions dedicated to sustainability research and education, and ways institutions can best collaborate to meet the challenges of bringing science and technology to bear on sustainability issues.

Also present at the Temozón meeting as an observer, quietly yet diligently watching the formation of a program dedicated to sustainability? Julie Ann Wrigley.

“People discussed how important it was that sustainability was a key issue — and perhaps an issue that was more important to promote than the environment alone, because the environment seemed to be caught in a trap of being characterized as people versus the environment,” Redman said. “Sustainability, still in a less developed stage, was not seen that way as it viewed human well-being alongside protecting the environment and dealing with climate change.”

Redman recalls going into the Temozón meetings thinking the outcome would lead to an international consortium of sorts for a global movement toward sustainability. What developed was a consensus that ASU should lead this charge because of the commitment of the university’s president. What also came to pass was a directive from Crow for Redman and then-ASU Vice President of Research Jonathan Fink to establish this sustainability institute.

“President Crow said to us, ‘You will do this. We will rename your center for something to do with sustainability, it will be more interdisciplinary than it already is, it will be more applied than it’s ever been, it will be more global and we will create a degree-granting program at all degree levels in sustainability,’” Redman said.

Dr. Charles Redman welcomes the first School of Sustainability graduate.

Redman congratulates the first graduate of the School of Sustainability, Brigitte Bavousett.

It took more than a year from that point to develop and establish what would become the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, with a first class of students enrolling shortly after that in the newly established School of Sustainability. What was consistent throughout the process was the need for this program and all of its components to be outside the normal structures of a traditional academic program.

“President Crow didn’t say how to do it,” Redman said. “It wasn’t a micromanaged situation. He wanted to see the outcomes and to understand the big goals, but it wasn’t how it should look or what it should be called or any of those things, and this led to an active and interesting debate.

“There was pushback in the deliberation on the definition of ‘sustainability science’ because ‘science’ sort of implies some things that maybe exclude social science, literature, humanities and arts — things that we don’t know are important yet. What tipped the balance was that the engineers were uncomfortable with ‘sustainability science’ because they thought it was an affront on the engineering-versus-science dichotomy, so we went simply with ‘sustainability.’

“We also agreed not to define ‘sustainability’ at that time because we wanted to be inclusive and not exclusive. By defining it, we could be sending people away from the table and at the moment we wanted to avoid that. Then and today, ASU offers the most eclectic and inclusive sustainability program that exists.”

From that moment on, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability thrived on developing strong partnerships and focusing on key initiatives around cities, water, arid landscapes and energy. Each of these initiatives, along with many others that have evolved since the institute’s formation in 2005, are not simply looking to sustain the world we live in, but also to develop applied solutions that support all of Earth’s inhabitants for generations to come.

As for Redman, he remains committed and involved with the institute through his various research programs.

“I’m really supportive and positive about the direction of sustainability education and research here at ASU,” he said. “I think the hardest thing to preserve and to nurture is this sense of radical change and excitement that what’s being done has to be done, because the world needs it to be done and it’s not being done anywhere else. I don’t feel in any way that we have been left behind, but like anything else I think we can continue to improve to be the best place dedicated to doing what we do.”

Redman also recognizes the importance of external support from philanthropic friends in positioning ASU as a global leader in the discipline of sustainability — which ASU, in essence, founded.

“I think this string of gifts from Julie, the gifts from the Waltons and the Swettes, those are significant milestones because they lead people to believe that something special is going on — something they want to be a part of,” Redman said. “I think one shouldn’t underestimate the impact of private investment because of the attention beyond resources that it provides. It gives the sense that it is special.”

Celebrate 15 years of GIOS

What: A free, public celebration to honor the institute's achievements and envision our collective future. Remarks by Michael Crow and Peter Schlosser, followed by a conversation with Kristin Mayes and Bryan Brayboy. Special message by Johan Rockström, co-chair of the Earth League.
When: Monday, Feb. 17. Reception is at 4 p.m.; remarks and panel discussion from 5-6 p.m.
Where: Marston Exploration Theater in ISTB IV, Tempe campus.
Details: RSVP on the event page.

Learn more about the GIOS journey

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications , Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives


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Celebrating 15 years of Julie Ann Wrigley’s commitment to sustainability

February 14, 2020

Since 2004, Julie Ann Wrigley’s impact on Arizona State University and its sustainability education and research endeavors has been profound. But for her, the important thing isn’t what has been done over the past 15 years — it’s what lies ahead.

“I recognize the need to continuously engage to stay ahead of the game,” Wrigley said. “We need to continue to think outside the box. No one is in a position to start getting comfortable with the old — even with the accomplishments of the last 15 years.”

But to illustrate Wrigley’s commitment, we need to rewind. Fifteen years ago, her world collided with ASU President Michael Crow’s. From this meeting of the minds came what’s now known as the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability — the hub of sustainability research and solutions at ASU, and the birthplace of the nation’s first comprehensive School of Sustainability.

 sits on a log and smiles toward the camera

Julie Ann Wrigley

Through the Julie A. Wrigley Foundation, Wrigley has invested more than $50 million in the university to pursue sustainability topics and solutions. Without these contributions, ASU would not have been able to become a global leader in sustainability to the extent it is today. The institute is home to hundreds of experts forging paths to a more resilient, more harmonious, more equitable future, and it’s training the next generation of leaders passionate about making positive impacts on complex environmental and human systems.

And Wrigley’s investment goes much further than the financial commitment.

“When President Crow and I started working together, we both recognized that my commitment was about not only an investment of dollars but, more importantly, an investment of time and passion,” Wrigley said. “I encourage others to also dedicate their time and experiences, so we can all work together to create a thriving world.”

Wrigley could’ve invested her resources and time anywhere — but it was ASU that truly spoke to her beliefs and ambitions. She specifically cites the university’s drive to lead the world, in both research and education, on engaging with serious global challenges.

“It was the first place that I found in my lifelong search that was willing to tear apart old educational models and commit to dealing with real-world issues,” Wrigley said.

Since she was a child, noticing abalone grow scarce on the beach she grew up on, and watching smog diminish the view of a nearby island, Wrigley has been committed to protecting the environment. Collaborating with ASU is one way she’s fulfilling that personal pledge.

Wrigley thanks all of the constituencies of ASU, “including and especially all of the wonderful people who work at the university who have made the ASU Wrigley Institute possible.” She’s grateful that ASU’s students, staff, faculty and administration at the highest levels have embraced sustainability as a value system campuswide.

Specifically, Wrigley said it has been her “pleasure and honor” to work with Gary Dirks, who directed the ASU Wrigley Institute for seven years. Now, Dirks is the senior director of the Global Futures Laboratory and LightWorks, two related ASU initiatives. “I am a better person and the world is a better place because of his amazing talents,” Wrigley said.

Though the ASU Wrigley Institute has helped to embed sustainability into ASU’s DNA, there is still much work to do. But major, recently established initiatives such as the Global Futures Laboratory and the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems are bringing forward new ways of thinking about and collaborating around long-standing problems that affect everyone on Earth.

The university is abuzz with the energy of change and the fight for a better tomorrow. Julie Ann Wrigley stands at the forefront, alongside ASU’s faculty, students and researchers, ready to forge on.

Celebrate 15 years of GIOS

What: A free, public celebration to honor the institute's achievements and envision our collective future. Remarks by Michael Crow and Peter Schlosser, followed by a conversation with Kristin Mayes and Bryan Brayboy. Special message by Johan Rockström, co-chair of the Earth League.
When: Monday, Feb. 17. Reception is at 4 p.m.; remarks and panel discussion from 5-6 p.m.
Where: Marston Exploration Theater in ISTB IV, Tempe campus.
Details: RSVP on the event page.

Learn more about the GIOS journey

Kayla Frost

Communications Specialist , ASU Knowledge Enterprise


School of Molecular Sciences undergraduate changing the world one trip at a time

February 13, 2020

Julia Jackman, an Arizona native and a junior in Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences, is pursuing her concurrent bachelor's degree in biochemistry and global health, along with a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership. Her support system consists of her family (including her twin sister, Olivia, and older sister, Emily), whom she thanks for helping her reach her goals and dreams.

“I have made it a priority in my college education to travel as much as I can,” explained Jackman. “I feel that hearing new perspectives and learning about how others live has given me a new outlook on life and what I want to do in my career. While I love giving back to my local community during the school year, I enjoy experiencing new things and challenging myself to apply my learning on an international level during the summers.” Julia Jackman, ASU School of Molecular Sciences Junior Julia Jackman, a junior in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences, traveled to Peru (after freshman year), Israel and Palestine (after sophomore year) and soon to Switzerland, Italy, Jordan, Israel, and Ethiopia (after junior year) at no cost out of pocket. She highly encourages students to take the opportunities such as scholarships that are available to them. Photo by Mariela Lozano Download Full Image

She has traveled to Peru (after freshman year), Israel and Palestine (after sophomore year) and soon to Switzerland, Italy, Jordan, Israel, and Ethiopia (after junior year) at no cost out of pocket. She highly encourages students to take the opportunities such as scholarships that are available to them.

Starting off her journey very early, Jackman found a great interest in the Electoral College and defended her thesis, "Presidential Elections: Implications of a National Popular Vote," in November of 2019. With the guidance of her two mentors — thesis director and Assistant Professor Zachary German and her second reader, state Sen. Sean Bowie — she was able to defend her thesis successfully. Jackman's research consists of quantitative research on presidential candidate campaign behaviors and the winner-take-all method. She presented her research at a conference in April 2019 and will be presenting a poster about her research in Chicago this coming April. Learn more about her research by reading her thesis.

Jackman was also awarded the Barrett Global Explorers Grant, along with one of her best friends, Amal Altaf. Their mission for the trip will be to research the barriers of refugee participation in higher education through the scope of ASU’s Education for Humanity program. The lack of effective and inexpensive online education platforms for refugees first drew her interest to this project.

“We were awarded the $10,000 grant, and we will be traveling to Geneva, Switzerland; Tel Aviv, Israel; Amman, Jordan; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to complete the research. Our goal is to better understand the world of refugee higher education so that we can alleviate the burdens that currently prevent refugees from attending college, since only 1% of refugees currently have access to tertiary education,” said Jackman.

Question: How has being a part of the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU helped propel you in your career?

Answer: The School of Molecular Sciences has been my home for the past three years, and I am so appreciative for all of the opportunities I have been given. Upon first applying to ASU, I was planning on studying biomedical engineering. I had done some work with 3D printing and I knew I wanted to go into medicine, so I thought engineering was the right route for me. However, the summer before I began school at ASU, I met with the advisers in SMS, including Tom Avants and Orenda Griffin. They helped me to change my major to biochemistry, a decision I am extremely happy I made. I have been fortunate to have had incredible chemistry professors, including Peter Williams, Ranko Richert, Ian Gould, Po-Lin Chiu and Kevin Redding; they have not only motivated me in my classes, but also gave me so many skills that have been transferrable to my other classes and to life in general. I have felt supported and motivated to continue down the path to becoming a physician.  

Q: How do you plan to make a difference in the world with your experience and degree after you graduate?

A: I am hoping to pursue experiences working in human rights and refugee studies after graduating from ASU. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead me in the short term, but in the long term, I plan to attend medical school to attain dual degrees — master’s in public policy and doctor of medicine — so that I can work with underserved populations both locally and abroad.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: I currently am one of the co-executives for the Refugee Education and Clinic Team (REACT). It is a partnership between ASU and Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine where we provide health-related educational workshops to refugees and asylum seekers in Maricopa County. We are currently in the process of establishing our brick-and-mortar clinic, which we hope will be established by the end of the year. I hope to continue to work in contexts such as these in the future. In five years, I hope to be in medical school, continuing to work within public policy and humanitarian contexts by practicing medicine. 

Q: Do you have any tips for other undergrad students?

A: One piece of advice that I wish I received was that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Freshman year was an incredibly challenging and overwhelming year for me. I thought that if I were to achieve my goals of becoming a doctor, I would have to do everything all at once as soon as I got to college.

As a pre-med, the pathway to medical school is well-defined; you must do research, you must have clinical experiences, a fantastic MCAT score ... the list goes on. It is really easy to get caught up in this pre-med rat race where you are simply driving yourself to do the things you think you should do, not the things you want to do. For me this created a really toxic mentality that didn’t set me up for sustainable success in college.

My piece of advice would be to pursue the things you love while working to engage in your classes with the content and with the professors. The relationships and experiences you gather in college will likely be among the best in your life, so don’t spend the time doing things you feel obligated to do. Study the things you love and get involved in activities in which you feel energized. Go travel, study abroad, complete a cool project that has nothing to do with your major. Start a new club or join some that look intriguing! Just put yourself out there in the activities you enjoy and everything else will follow.

Q: What made you choose ASU and the School of Molecular Sciences? 

A: As an native Arizonan and a younger sibling to someone who went to ASU, I always knew that ASU was a fantastic school. In high school, though, I was determined to go to an out-of-state university to get a new experience. In the end though, I ended up at ASU because of ASU’s fantastic scholarship program for in-state students.

I am so grateful that I chose ASU, for an endless list of reasons. The major reason, though, is that I truly feel that I have been supported in every step of my journey, by my professors, classmates and mentors. The fact that I’ve been able to attend school for free (because of my merit scholarship and job as a community assistant at Barrett) has opened up so many doors to me in the future as well.  ASU fosters a collaborative atmosphere that has influenced me to engage with my community in a deeper way than I ever thought possible. The amount of opportunities at ASU are endless, and SMS has offered me incredible resources and mentors that have challenged me and changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to put into words. 

Written by Mariela Lozano, communications assistant, School of Molecular Sciences. Jenny Green contributed to this story.