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Federal commission meets at ASU to discuss equitable outcomes for Hispanic students

September 14, 2023

University, local, state and federal leaders spoke at meeting held during Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week

A federal advisory commission on education equity for Hispanics met at Arizona State University on Tuesday and voted on four priorities to send to President Biden for consideration.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics gathered at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus to hear from university, local, state and federal leaders.

Last year, ASU was designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, and the President’s Advisory Commission’s meeting was held during Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona addressed the meeting via video, saying: “HSIs serve more than two-thirds of our Latino students nationwide.

“They provide inclusive campus communities for everyone involved, including immigrants, Dreamers and first-generation college students.

“We know we must do more to put college within reach of Latino families and families.”

Vanessa Ruiz, deputy vice president for education outreach at ASU, told the commission that the university was the appropriate place for them to meet.

“The commitment we have at ASU to comprehensively support our Latino students and families, and our faculty and staff, is truly a testament to our success in enrolling over 15,000 first-year, undergraduate Latino students last year, a record for us,” she said.

“Many of us are here today because of what our university charter compels us to do, and that is to open the door of opportunity to those we serve. And we do so with a full continuum, beginning with K–12 programming and initiatives across our state and embedding a college-going culture in our high schools, right through the admission process into the university, where students come in and find that they have a community of support here.”

Women speaking at advisory meeting

Vanessa Ruiz, ASU's deputy vice president for educational outreach, delivers welcoming remarks at the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics meeting, held Sept. 12 at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

The four recommendations the commissioners voted to send to Biden and Cardona for consideration are:

• Elevate and expand the Raise the Bar: Lead the World initiative launched by Cardona, which focuses on improving K–12 education, eliminating the teacher shortage, investing in student mental health, ensuring a pathway to college and career, and promoting multilingualism.

• Support community colleges, which are experiencing declines in enrollment, by increasing financial aid, increasing graduation rates, improving transfer to four-year institutions and promoting dual enrollment.

• Improve career pathways, particularly in areas of critical need, such as teaching, health care, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, where Hispanics are underrepresented.

• Increase the number of Hispanics in leadership positions in higher education by raising the number of Hispanics in post-graduate degree programs and leadership-development programs, and track the data.

During the daylong event at the Beus Center for Law and Society, the commissioners heard several presentations on the state of education and economic opportunity for Hispanics.

Highlights include:

A pivotal moment for equity

The government is making enormous investments with initiatives such as the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which will create tens of thousands of jobs that need to filled. At the same time, political divisiveness and inequity are flourishing.

• Tom Perez, senior advisor and assistant to the U.S. president: “We’ve never had this level of investment, in CHIPS, in broadband, at one time, and that’s why the unemployment rate for Latinos is as low as it is. But we have way too many disproportions in health status, educational opportunities and home ownership. … My parents taught me, and the evidence teaches us, that education is the great equalizer.”

• Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Council director in the White House: Tanden said the administration is working to ensure that Latino workers and businesses benefit from these federal investments. “We are seeing successes with some of the plants coming online, that the workforces are more diverse than we’ve seen,” she said.

Helping Latino students thrive

Beyond the critical issue of financial aid, post-secondary institutions need to help Latino students feel welcome and succeed on campus.

• Amalia Pallares, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Chicago and the incoming vice president for inclusive excellence at ASU: “When you come from a community that is very collective, it’s very hard to enter academia because academia is very individualized. While one-on-one mentorship is great, it’s important to create communities.” The University of Chicago created a summer institute for Latino second-year grad students in which they received support and participated in a research project. “By the time they were done, they knew a community of people who were doing work they were excited about and they didn’t feel isolated any more. When you create that community, they generate their own leadership and agency.”

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Thunderbird School of Global Management graduate student Cecilia Alcantar-Chávez speaks during the advisory commission meeting. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

• Cecilia Alcantar-Chavez, a Master of Global Management student at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and former student body president of the Polytechnic campus: Alcantar-Chavez gave several examples of Latino students who faced obstacles on the path to a college degree, including health issues and the need to reject prestigious but unpaid internships. “I was in my junior year when I came into class and the professor was talking about a study abroad trip. I’m scrolling through and wondering what the price is and I see it’s $17,000. I closed the tab and thought, ‘I can’t do that.’” A few months later, she learned that another student won a scholarship for the trip. “I messed up. I shouldn’t have closed off that opportunity. … We should be giving students the resources to make the best decisions for themselves.”

Experiential learning is key

Latino students and families need to see themselves in college and in 21st century careers.

• Octavio Heredia, director of global development, global outreach and extended education for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU: Heredia cited several university initiatives, including the $270 million Materials-to-Fab prototyping facility with Applied Materials Inc. that will give ASU students hands-on experience with specialized equipment and the AZNEXT accelerator, focused on apprenticeships and experiential learning. “We have a Rio Salado College partnership where students in the manufacturing and nanotechnology certificate program come to ASU to access a clean-room facility and equipment that makes the program richer by giving them hands-on, applied learning.” He also discussed ASU’s Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program. “That’s really about providing the tools and resources to families with first-generation students and low-income students to have the knowledge and skills to see themselves as successful in a higher education environment.”

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Octavio Heredia, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering director of global outreach and extended education, speaks during the advisory commission meeting. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

• Leah Palmer, executive director of the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute at the Maricopa Community Colleges: Palmer shared how the community colleges developed a 10-day “boot camp” for certification as a semiconductor technician, charging only a $15 registration fee. Of 600 enrollees, 598 finished. Of those, 60% were people of color. “We recognized that only by removing barriers could we get more students to see semiconductors as an option for them,” she said.

• Gabriela Cruz Thompson, senior director of university research and collaboration at Intel: “It’s important to give students access to touch the equipment, put on a bunny (clean-room) suit and feel what the tools are like. A lot of students, especially in high school, think they need to be math geniuses and that’s not the case. We need carpenters and welders and all kinds of people, and we have not done a great job explaining that to the public.”

Top photo: Members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics listen to a speaker during a meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at ASU’s Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU Thunderbird alum creates scholarship to send students on Semester at Sea

September 14, 2023

Karen Simon, a retired banking executive and distinguished alumna from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, has made a generous donation to create the Karen J. Simon '83 Semester at Sea scholarship for Thunderbird undergraduate students.

This philanthropic initiative aims to provide Thunderbird undergraduates with the opportunity to embark on a transformative global journey through the Semester at Sea program. Woman smiling in front of a backdrop of flowers. Karen Simon, a 1983 graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and founder of the Karen J. Simon '83 Semester at Sea Scholarship for Thunderbird undergraduate students. Photo courtesy Karen Simon Download Full Image

Simon's deep appreciation for her European ancestry, fueled by her father's post-World War II immigration from Berlin, Germany, inspired her passion for international experiences. After graduating from the American Graduate School of International Management, now ASU Thunderbird, in 1983, she joined a global financial institution, which eventually led her to relocate to London, where she resided for over two decades. 

In 2019, after a 36-year career at J.P. Morgan, Simon retired as vice chairman in investment banking, during which she conducted business in over 50 countries. Today, she serves on the board of directors for three public companies, two of which are in Europe and one in the United States. 

Recently, Simon was invited to join the Semester at Sea board of trustees, which sparked her idea to establish this scholarship due to the strong synergies between Semester at Sea and Thunderbird, both of which emphasize international leadership education.

"I always wanted to live overseas and explore diverse cultures," Simon said. "My goal with the (Semester at Sea) scholarship is to encourage as many T-birds as possible to learn about the Semester at Sea program and, hopefully, sign up for this magical study abroad opportunity — with or without financial assistance. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if I can pay it forward and inspire others to pursue an international career, that is an added bonus!"

Semester at Sea offers students a unique opportunity to gain insight into diverse cultures, economies, geographies and artistry. Beyond the traditional on-campus experience, students develop valuable life skills, such as handling travel challenges, interacting with host families and collaborating with peers from different backgrounds. These experiences foster self-confidence and resiliency, and provide a first-class academic education.

Portrait of ASU Thunderbird student .

Paw Na

Simon's Thunderbird degree opened doors to a fulfilling international career. Reflecting on the advice she wishes to impart on current and future T-birds, she said, "You have more power than you think. Seek out what brings you joy and be persistent in pursuing your goals. It took me seven years to get transferred to London! Remember to take risks and develop constructive relationships."

The impact of the Karen J. Simon Semester at Sea scholarship is already felt by Thunderbird students Paw Na, Jesse Marquez and Emma Salazar, three of the recipients whose lives and academic journeys have been significantly influenced by this initiative.

Na, a current Bachelor of Global Management student, shared her experience and said, "I once thought Semester at Sea was impossible until I attended a Thunderbird seminar about the Karen Simon scholarship. It became a dream come true during my junior year of college.

"I feel very privileged and fortunate to be a member of a community with such a dependable networking environment that always gives back to their community. Thunderbird has taught me the value of always giving back and remaining humble."

Portrait of ASU Thunderbird student .

Jesse Marquez

Marquez is a first-generation Mexican American and the first person in his family to attend college. He is enrolled in Thunderbird's Online Bachelor of Science in International Trade degree program through the Uber and ASU online partnership and is passionate about creating a more prosperous and peaceful world.

“Growing up in poverty, I know firsthand the struggles that come with a lack of financial resources and access to education. Breaking the cycle of poverty for as many people as I can is something I am deeply passionate about,” he said. 

"Being awarded this scholarship has proven to me that there are good people in the world who continue to pay it forward. In Karen Simon, I see a role model of what I hope to achieve someday. I want to do the same someday and provide scholarships that financially empower dedicated students to help them achieve their goals."

Portrait of ASU Thunderbird student .

Emma Salazar

Salazar is a current Bachelor of Global Management student pursuing the international business, language and culture track, which requires two years of foreign language study. She has traveled a lot already in her life and has always had a sense of wanderlust for more.

“I am excited to truly challenge myself and see how everything in my life will affect how I take on this journey. This scholarship allowed me to see a better future for myself, full of opportunities, and look out for positives because you never know how life will gift them to you.

"I want to set an example as a scholarship recipient who made the most of this experience. I am sincerely grateful for Karen Simon; she has truly improved my life, and I can’t wait to make her and my family proud,” Salazar said.

Dasi Styles

Senior Media Relations Officer, Thunderbird School of Global Management


ASU global health student researches the importance of community-rooted birth workers in Arizona

September 14, 2023

A woman dies every two minutes from pregnancy or childbirth, according to a 2023 report from the United Nations, and up to 45% of new mothers experience birth trauma. One Arizona State University researcher is studying how ancestral knowledge and cultural practices of birth workers may help lower those numbers. 

Bringing attention to maternal morbidity as a category of traumatic childbirth and the impact of colonialism in rising birth inequities is what Frida Espinosa Cárdenas’ research is about.   ASU PhD candidate Frida Espinosa Cárdenas smiiling in front of a wall with the words "Institute for Medicaid Innovation." Frida Espinosa Cárdenas completed a health policy and research internship with the Institute for Medicaid Innovation. During her time in Washington, D.C., this summer, she also was a presenter at the Birth and Beyond Summit. Courtesy photo Download Full Image

“Despite our technological and diagnostic advancements as providers and as public health professionals working to improve health care systems, maternal morbidity has increased,” said Espinosa Cárdenas, a global health PhD candidate with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change

“Between 1993 and 2014, maternal morbidity has increased by 200%, and we continue to be on this upward trend.”

Espinosa Cárdenas once was undocumented, growing up as an immigrant rights organizer during the SB1070 era, and has worked for over a decade in public health. From informing public policies to working with judges on the reunification of deported mothers and helping refugee families navigate the health care system, she has seen a lot. 

With her new research, the Arizona Birthkeepers Project, Espinosa Cárdenas hopes to bring more awareness to the erasure of effective and safe, culturally grounded practices and practitioners by the biomedical system.

“My study aims to identify Indigenous feminist principles in current advocacy efforts and doula training programs in Arizona to inform a culturally restorative framework that advances birth equity policies and practices,” she said. 

“As a transterritorial mother of mestiza Mexican heritage, raised on Tohono O’odham borderlands, my study allows me to engage in a reflexive research process and establish my own Indigenous feminist practice, as a scholar and member of my home communities in central Mexico, Tucson and Phoenix.”

With a background in public health, Espinosa Cárdenas hopes to bring awareness to the voices of midwives and doulas and current legislation in Arizona that can lead to increased visibility and equitable compensation for these community-rooted birth workers and knowledge keepers. 

Research has shown that having doula care is one of the most effective tools to improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities, explained Espinosa Cárdenas. 

“In Arizona, severe maternal morbidity rates in Black, Indigenous and LatineA gender-neutral term for Latino. birthing people are 1.5 to 3.5 times higher than white communities,” she said. “Rates are even higher for people of color on Medicaid. Medicaid funds 47% of all births in Arizona, which demonstrates we have the opportunity to improve perinatal and birth outcomes on a large scale.”

Espinosa Cárdenas explained that she intentionally uses the term "birthing people" because not all people who give birth identify as women. 

She has worked closely with the Cihuapactli Collective, a Phoenix nonprofit organization that offers the Sacred Community Birthworker Training program. 

“Cihuapactli Collective embodies my heart work and now is a partner of my academic work as well,” said Espinosa Cárdenas. “Together, we are the recipients of the College of Health Solutions Maternal and Child Health Translational Research Team mini-grant, which will fund the data collection phase of my dissertation project.” 

Encouraged by her elder and mentor, Patrisia Gonzales, Espinosa Cárdenas returned to her ancestral homelands for part of her research last summer. She has conducted over a dozen interviews with birth workers in central Mexico. 

Her current goal is to conduct several public listening sessions and talking circles, or pláticas, to share the perspective and priorities of Arizona doulas and midwives with policymakers and birth equity stakeholders. She wants her work and information sessions to be accessible to everyone. Emphasizing her research belongs to the community and the importance of co-constructing knowledge in her work.    

“The reason I center not only on gender, but Indigenous epistemologies — which is at the center of decolonial theory — is because Indigenous peoples, wherever you stand, have historically been the caretakers of the land,” she said. “So for me, it’s important to center our relationship with the land as the source of knowledge and the source of well-being and justice.” 

Nicole Pomerantz

Communications specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Research Plus Me connects volunteers with research studies

September 12, 2023

From creating new cancer drugs to developing more effective teaching methods, research plays an important role in improving our lives. But researchers can’t do this work alone; many studies depend on members of the community volunteering to participate. Finding those volunteers, however, can be difficult and time-consuming.

Research Plus Me is a new online platform at Arizona State University created to address this challenge. It was designed and developed with support from the ASU and Common Spirit/Dignity Health collaboration. Researchers can post studies that need participants, making it easy for ASU students, alumni, staff and the public to connect with studies on topics they care about. Some of the studies also offer financial compensation to participants. A woman with a sensor device on her head walks on a treadmill while a researcher monitors readings on a computer Photo courtesy National Institutes of Health Download Full Image

“ASU conducts about 3,000 studies with human participants a year. The way we recruit for studies is disadvantageous to researchers and participants,” says Amber Hedquist, program manager for Research Plus Me. “Interested participants have no central way to find and stay updated on study opportunities. Similarly, researchers struggle to meet their enrollment, timeline and diversity goals. Research Plus Me is designed to overcome these difficulties.”

Research Plus Me is inspired by the ASU Charter, which prioritizes research and discovery of public value. Determining public value requires continued collaboration between researchers and the communities they serve. ASU is measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed. Including study participants with diverse life experiences and backgrounds — such as age, race/ethnicity, gender and education status — produces research findings that transform our society.

Diversity is important because research findings need to be generalized across a larger population. For example, research on heart attacks only included men for a long time. As a result, guidance about the signs of a heart attack only included symptoms common in men. Women experiencing heart attacks often did not seek help — or were sent home from hospitals — because their symptoms didn’t match expectations.

Even studies that focus on a narrow demographic group present challenges for recruitment.

Gabriel Shaibi is a professor in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. He studies obesity-related health in high-risk and vulnerable populations.

“We always think about recruitment as the most challenging aspect of enrolling human participants into our studies, particularly clinical trials,” he says. 

For example, in one of his past trials, Shaibi needed to recruit children with obesity as well as pre-diabetes, all from Latino populations. His team had to reach out to over 1,000 families to enroll the final sample of 120 participants.

“You’re spending hours and hours of time, energy and effort to even have the opportunity to talk to somebody who might be interested,” he explains. And many of those interested people won’t meet the criteria needed for the study.

The design and development of Research Plus Me was informed by ASU Clinical Professor Aparna Rao and Professor Shelley Gray, who created a participant recruitment tool for the College of Health Solutions. With their guidance and expertise, ASU Knowledge Enterprise scaled their efforts to serve researchers across the university. 

Research Plus Me offers tremendous benefits to participants and researchers alike.

“If we can increase access to trials and state-of-the-art interventions for underrepresented populations, that provides an opportunity to address and reduce health disparities,” Shaibi says. “From a researcher’s perspective, the resources that we would otherwise spend on recruiting participants could go further to implement the trials and potentially disseminate the results back to the community.”

Who can join Research Plus Me?

Anyone can sign up for an account. You do not need to be affiliated with ASU to join.

After you enter some demographic data and your areas of interest, you will receive notifications about studies that may be a good fit for you. You can also peruse all of the studies on the website. Some studies require you to participate in person, but others can be completed online.

Each researcher is responsible for determining whether a specific volunteer meets the study’s requirements and for obtaining the necessary consent.

Sign up to participate.

Does it protect my safety and privacy?

Every study posted on Research Plus Me must be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that it complies with all applicable regulations, meets ethical standards and protects participants.

Each study will provide easy-to-understand information about what is required from you, how the data collected will be used and protected, and whom to contact with any questions. You can stop participating in a study at any time without penalty.

The information you enter into the Research Plus Me portal is stored in a secure database and will never be sold, lent or otherwise given to any vendor at any time.

View the privacy policy.

Who can post a study on Research Plus Me?

Any ASU researcher with an IRB-approved study can post on Research Plus Me at no cost. This includes student researchers, if they are working with an ASU-based principal investigator.

Post your study.

How can educators use the site?

Research studies can be educational for participants as well as researchers. For that reason, Research Plus Me includes a section for teachers with suggestions for using participation and the platform itself as educational opportunities. The team is currently developing a curriculum to help teachers better leverage this resource in their classrooms.

Explore educational opportunities.

Research Plus Me was created by ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise, with significant contributions from community members and ASU researchers. For more information, contact

Director, Knowledge Enterprise Development


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ASU hosts multiple events for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 12, 2023

Celebrations a time to bring people together to honor varying cultures

For Stella Rouse, Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t just about celebrating a culture. It’s about understanding similarities rather than differences and turning them to our collective advantage.

“Because we are so heterogeneous in where we come from, oftentimes people within the Latino community focus on those differences rather than how similar we really are,” said Stella Rouse, director of the Hispanic Research Center and professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies. “This month is an opportunity to come together and discuss our commonalities across the beauty of varying cultures.

"We already spend a lot of time in society focusing on how groups are different. ... How we can learn from each other’s cultures to better understand ourselves as human beings is important.”

Woman with red hair smiling

Stella Rouse, director of ASU's Hispanic Research Center

Every year, Arizona State University observes Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicks off Sept. 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Chicano, Latino and Hispanic individuals whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Several ASU colleges, departments and academic units across the university are planning a variety of events in recognition of the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities.

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts will kick off the month with two days of of festivities that celebrate Mexican Independence Day, beginning with an event that will feature art, workshops, lotería games, face painting, salsa lessons, music and food from Salsa Bites from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the ASU Art Museum. On Sept. 16, there will be a concert that features the ASU Symphony Orchestra plus two mariachi groups at 5 p.m. at ASU Gammage. 

Another signature event for 2023 is “The College Tour en Español,” which takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 1 at ASU’s West campus. The event will feature music, dance, student club and vendor information, food trucks and a 30-minute screening of a new film about the real-life experiences of 10 Hispanic/Latino ASU students and recent alumni that will stream on Amazon Prime this year.

More than 800 Hispanic/Latino high school students and family members, counselors, community members and other supporters who are interested in learning more about applying for and attending ASU are expected to attend.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to ramp up the recognition and celebration of all that our Latino students, families, faculty and staff contribute to the fabric of ASU,” said Vanessa Ruiz, deputy vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services. “It’s important to note, however, that at ASU, we support and highlight their contributions year-round. We are proud that the university works hard every day to provide opportunities for success, access and excellence to all of the communities we serve.” 

Starting in 1968, the United States began observing Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. Twenty years later, it was expanded by President Ronald Reagan to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic/Latino people make up about 18% of the United States population, which accounts for nearly 60 million individuals. At ASU, those numbers are equally significant.  

One in four ASU students identifies as Hispanic/Latino, totaling more than 31,000 students. Those growing numbers follow a year where ASU was recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, earned a second Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education and joined the Presidents for Latino Student Success.

“We take pride in these national recognitions. They draw attention to the community of Latina/o students and scholars at ASU who contribute so significantly to the success of our university,” said Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost. “This monthlong celebration provides us the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the impact Hispanic students, faculty and staff are making through their educational pursuits and research excellence.”

This year has special significance for the Hispanic Research Center, which empowers Latino and Hispanic individuals and communities by generating and disseminating knowledge of public value, and creating programming and partnerships that support the success of a multicultural society.

Rouse said Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way for the center to reintroduce itself to the ASU community. They’ll host an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 in their offices at the Interdisciplinary A building. She said the open house will include an art exhibition, book fair, raffles, and paletas (Spanish popsicles) and other light refreshments.

“The center was formed in 1985 and has historically been known for its Chicano artwork and bilingual press, which has provided a lot of opportunities for Hispanics and Latinos to get published and exhibit their artistic skills,” said Rouse, who was hired from the University of Maryland in July. “Our goal for the center is to continue to honor the rich art and literature, but to reach out to any entity on campus that does work on issues impacting the Hispanic population to expand the center’s reach and become a community hub for Hispanic interests.”

Rouse said that in her first few months at ASU, the center has collaborated with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research, within the School of Politics and Global Studies, where Rouse is also a professor.

With ASU’s 2022 designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institute, Rouse can – and has – committed to conducting research on behalf of the center.

“The designation opens up a bunch of opportunities for grants and funding by the U.S. government, and particularly the Department of Education,” Rouse said. “There are also student opportunities for research and education.”

Currently, the Hispanic Research Center is conducting research thanks to one grant and a sponsored study.

The first allocation was a $10,000 seed grant from the Institute for Humanities Research to help the center digitize its extensive collection of Latino art. The second is a sponsored project with funding from Latinos Por La Causa for a Latino economic mobility study. This project is led by the Seidman Research Institute in the W. P. Carey School of Business, in collaboration with the Hispanic Research Center and the School of Transborder Studies

Anita Huizar-Hernández, the associate director of the Hispanic Research Center, was born and raised in Tempe. She said this month should be an important time of reflection for all people who live in the Copper State.

“Arizona has a long and complex history when it comes to the Hispanic community,” said Huizar-Hernández, who is also an associate professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures. “Something we can all agree on is that Arizona would not be the place it is today without the Latinos who have called it home for centuries.”

Signature Hispanic and Latino events

Mexican Independence Day
5–8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15
ASU Art Museum, Tempe campus

¡Viva México! (ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Mariachi)
5–7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16
ASU Gammage, Tempe campus

Writers in Conversation featuring Norma Cantú and Denice Frohman
6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21
Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union, Tempe campus 

Hispanic Research Center Open House
2–5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21
Interdisciplinary A, second floor, Tempe campus

Sun Devil Football Hispanic Heritage Night
Time TBA, Saturday, Sept. 23
Mountain America Stadium, Tempe campus

Movies on the Lawn: "Encanto"
6:30–9:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30
Fletcher Lawn, West campus

The College Tour en Español
1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1
La Sala Ballroom, West campus

Top illustration by Alex Davis/ASU

Reporter , ASU News


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Summit outlines strides ASU has made as part of LIFT Initiative

August 29, 2023

Set of actions adopted in 2020 to support the success of Black students, faculty and staff

Arizona State University has made enormous progress on the set of actions it adopted in 2020 to support the success of Black students, faculty and staff. 

Several dozen ASU faculty and staff members gathered to hear about hiring, student engagement and data collection for the action items, called the LIFT Initiative — for Listen, Invest, Facilitate, Teach. The LIFT Initiative was created to accelerate meaningful change at the university and in the wider community.  

ASU President Michael Crow addressed the LIFT Summit, held at Mountain America Stadium, telling the community that he uses the phrase “the sum of us” when discussing inclusion at the university and in the world.  

“It’s about success more than fairness. It’s about moving forward rather than remedying the past,” he said.  

Man speaking to audience seated at long tables

President Michael Crow delivers the keynote speech at the ASU LIFT Summit held at Mountain America Stadium. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

“We will not be successful until the entirety of our species is able to be fully engaged in laying down the foundation for where we’re going. We’re going to find a way to advance the country to higher levels of the sum of us.” 

The three years of hard work on the LIFT Initiative have been quantified. Christine Buzinde, director of the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU, has been a Provost Fellow for the past year and a half, collecting metrics on LIFT Initiative results, which she presented at the summit. 

“This is living proof that these initiatives are not collecting dust, but rather, this is a living document and we’re able to showcase what has been done,” she said. 

The LIFT Summit covered progress ranging from the straightforward, such as creating a website and a logo for the LIFT Initiative, to the complex, such as reimagining the ASU Police Department to increase training, accountability and diversity.

Much effort has been devoted to recruiting graduate students, postdocs and retaining faculty members from underrepresented communities. For example:

• Over the past three years, 52 Presidential Graduate Assistantships have been hired and 27 Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows have been appointed, with four former fellows hired as tenure-track faculty at ASU.  

• Clustered hiring of 13 faculty members has been done in four discipline areas to improve recruitment and retention. 

• An ongoing data-collection project called Faculty Inclusion Research for System Transformation is tracking career life-cycle differences by race, class, ethnicity and gender. This will give a clearer understanding of which professors achieve tenure and at which point in their career, as well as what happens after that. 

Woman speaking behind lectern

Christine Buzinde, director of the School of Community Resources and Development, speaks at the 2023 ASU LIFT Summit. Buzinede  has been collecting metrics on LIFT Initiative results, which she presented at the summit. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Several initiatives have worked to increase engagement by Black students. 

• The number of student organizations in the Black African Coalition is on track to increase from 24 last year to 35 by the end of this year.  

• Sankofa, an annual welcome experience that connects students to the Black community and resources at ASU, saw an increase in the number of students who return for their next academic year. Persistence among participants went from 71% in fall 2018 to 94% in fall 2022. This year, Sankofa will become a year-round experience. 

• The number of students who participated in the Black African Convocation has increased year over year.  

• The RISE Leadership Institute, a college-readiness program for high school students, nearly doubled its participation rate.  

• The Greater Phoenix Urban League – Young Professionals Partnerships program has seen the number of Black student mentees increase from 44 in 2020 to 200 in 2022, and the group’s members have become more engaged with students at ASU. 

One of the broadest projects is the Black Student Success Initiative. ASU is working on that as part of the University Innovation Alliance, a consortium of public universities that share and scale best practices to increase graduation.  

Cassandra Aska, deputy vice president and dean of students for the Tempe campus, is the co-chair of the initiative, in which ASU focused on increasing the retention rates of first-year, full-time Black students.  

The work started with workshops for the participants, who included college directors, academic advising administrators and students. 

“We were creating an environment where people could ask the difficult questions,” she said. “They didn’t know how to focus on targeted efforts for our Black students. They didn’t know what was allowable.” 

The group worked with the academic deans of several colleges to review the data for their Black students. 

“Which Black students are persisting and graduating? Why or why not? It was understanding the Black population within their community to make some informed decisions,” she said. 

Kenja Hassan, assistant vice president for government and community engagement, has spent the last eight months as a fellow at the ASU Foundation, where she’s worked to build bridges between the Foundation Enterprise Partners and ASU faculty.  

One of her goals was to highlight Black Philanthropy Month and support fundraising for the LIFT Initiative. More than $6,000 has been raised during the Black Philanthropy Month of August.  


For ASU alums Jerry and Ruth Bell, service comes above self

• ASU student on the importance of Black generosity

Participants also heard about areas for growth, including the fact that while nearly 8,000 Black students attend ASU either in person or online, there are fewer than 15 full professors who identify as Black. 

Chris Howard, executive vice president and chief operating officer, noted that the admissions policies of elite universities have been in the news lately, but in reality, most students, including most Black students, go to universities that accept 75% or more of applicants, so the focus should be on student success. 

Man listening to woman ask a question during event

Chris Howard, ASU Public Enterprise executive vice president and COO, listens to a question during the ASU LIFT Summit. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

“It's not the admissions part. It’s the retention and the graduation and the persistence and then what they do afterwards,” said Howard, who is leading a working group at ASU to partner with HBCUs — Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  

Crow said inclusion is critical to build an educational environment focused on the success of ASU students who comprise one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. The university has students of all backgrounds, from all 50 states and about 150 countries around the world. 

While the summit focused on recent efforts, Crow noted that he used the word “inclusion” in his first speech as president in 2002 — and it’s been central to the university’s charter for 10 years.  

“It’s in granite and steel and in every document we have and on a monument on every campus,” he said. 

Top photo: Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs and co-leader of the ASU African and African American Faculty and Staff Association, speaks during the 2023 ASU LIFT Summit held at Mountain America Stadium. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU, Latino Donor Collaborative launch research partnership

Seidman Research Institute to deliver new insights on the economic impact of US Latinos

August 25, 2023

Today, during a LinkedIn Live event, Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business announced a new research partnership with the Latino Donor Collaborative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reshaping the perception of Latinos.

As part of the partnership, the W. P. Carey School's L. William Seidman Research Institute will release the 2023 Latino GDP Report, a seminal series that underscores the profound impact and growing influence of Latinos across a broad spectrum of industry sectors, including business, finance, education, media and technology.  Exterior of the W. P. Carey School of Business building on Arizona State University's Tempe campus. Download Full Image

The report, now in its sixth edition, will be the most comprehensive one ever produced, with deeper analysis, previously unreported details and new variables to report in the months and years to come. It will be released at the L’ATTITUDE Conference in Miami on Sept. 27.

During the LinkedIn Live event, ASU President Michael Crow joined Ana Valdez, CEO and president of the Latino Donor Collaborative, and Sol Trujillo, co-founder and chairman of the board of the collaborative, to discuss the impact and goals of the collaboration.

“The Latino community in the United States has become this unbelievably powerful, creative and hard-working economy in and of itself,” Crow said.

“One of the things we are excited about in the success of the design of the United States is, what would a country be like if all of the talents and all of the energies of all of the people that make up the population can be fully realized and fully activated? We can already see this in the Latino community and so we can imagine, how can that be accelerated even more and connected into other places of impact? Our work together here will help us move in that direction," Crow said.

ASU was named a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education in the summer of 2022. The department defines a Hispanic-Serving Institution as an institution of higher education with an enrollment of Hispanic undergraduate full-time equivalent students that are at least 25% of the overall student body.

“Our collaboration with the (Latino Donor Collaborative) is another way we are demonstrating our commitment to the diverse communities we serve,” said Ohad Kadan, dean of the W. P. Carey School. “We are incredibly grateful to partner with the LDC on this important initiative that showcases the business and economic impacts of the growing Latino population across sectors.”

The Seidman Research Institute is the consultancy arm of the W. P. Carey School, currently offering a diverse range of business and economics consulting services to public and private sector clients throughout North America.

“The Seidman Institute is looking forward to releasing the newest Latino GDP Report next month,” said Dennis Hoffman, director of the institute and ASU’s Office of the University Economist. “Arizona State University is pleased to put its resources to work including new methods we are employing in the report and we look forward to being of service in this groundbreaking partnership.”

Jose Jurado, research economist at the Seidman Institute, is leading the work on the report.

“The LDC is a trusted information broker on the economic impact of U.S. Latinos across all industries and levels,” he said. “This report doesn’t sit on a shelf, but influences major economic decisions with impacts across the country.”

Institutions such as the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee, and myriad Fortune 500 corporations often cite the report to harness its data, project business trends and appeal to Latino demographics.

"In cementing this partnership with Arizona State University, we reinforce our commitment to shedding light on the foundational role of the Latino community within the economic fabric of our country," Valdez said. "Our united efforts will magnify the undeniable influence and significance of Latinos across the vast landscape of American enterprise."

Emily Beach

Director of Communications, W. P. Carey School of Business

(602) 543-3296

ASU student on the importance of Black generosity

August 24, 2023

Editor's note: This article is part of the ASU Foundation's ongoing work to celebrate Black philanthropy at ASU.

Jason Amoako-Agyei started his college career as a nursing student but soon realized that the bedside wasn't the right place for him. He remained passionate about the field in which much of his family works but decided that he was more inclined to work behind the scenes. Today, Amoako-Agyei is a rising senior in Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions, where he studies health care administration and policy. Portrait of ASU student Jason Amoako-Agyei. Jason Amoako-Agyei is on a mission to bring ASU 's Black communities together. Photo courtesy Jason Amoako-Agyei Download Full Image

When Amoako-Agyei isn't in class, he spends much of his time connecting Black communities at ASU. He currently serves as external vice president of ASU's Black African Coalition, which works to unify students of African descent to support the success of Black community members, increase the visibility of Black life and be an advocate for the interests of Black students and organizations.

Here, Amoako-Agyei discusses ASU's Black communities, his leadership experience, the importance of philanthropy and more.

Question: How did you get started in this community?

Answer: I started in my junior year, so quite late, but that was mostly because of the impact of COVID. I was exposed to more of Black ASU around my junior year, which showed me the importance of highlighting Black ASU and the Black experience at ASU. 

At a school this big, it's difficult to find your footing, to find where you belong if you don't know where to look. I was new to the school. I didn't know if I fit in. I still doubted whether I should have gone to a historically Black college or university (HBCU) to be in a place where I felt more comfortable. But after I found this space, although it was smaller, it felt like home. And because it was small, you could get to know everyone very well.

You're able to host events where everyone can feel included, to create a family-like environment. Our goal is to create the feeling of a mini HBCU where we can feel that we belong, that we have a tradition, that we have values and that we have things that you'll find at universities established in the cultural context.

Q: How did you get involved with the Black African Coalition?

A: I actually started in the Black African Coalition as part of the African Student Association this past school year. I was the vice president of community engagement and recruiting for the African Student Association. It was our first year back on campus after the pandemic. And so, in working with the African Student Association, I became much more involved on campus in the Black community. 

We were registered as part of the Black African Coalition, so we worked closely with many Black leaders on campus and hosted many events highlighting the diaspora. Since then, I've become more involved and joined the board directly as the external vice president. 

Q: What do you do as external vice president?

A: As external vice president, my responsibilities include being in contact with organizations and entities outside of just the Black African Coalition. We focus on highlighting the existence of students of any minority or any marginalized group here on campus. And then I also work with alumni organizations that get involved with, for example, bringing speakers to campus. And then I also work on anything involving philanthropy. 

Q: What does philanthropy mean to you?

A: Philanthropy is going to be my main focus for this next school year, and I've thought about this in depth. Everyone wants to be involved in philanthropy, but they don't know how they can get involved. Philanthropy is just providing anyone who has a dream the access, resources and opportunities to achieve that dream.

Your time, money, contacts — anything you can give someone to help them achieve a dream — is a form of philanthropy. When looking at Black philanthropy on campus, donations are incredible, and donors are highly valued in our organization. But so are people who can provide their time and come to speak to students about career and life advice. As college students, we're in the most transformative years of our lives, and it's really important that we have guidance and mentors to ensure we're going in the right direction. 

Q: Have you benefited from philanthropy?

A: I'm on the New American University Scholarship, so my tuition is covered right now. And to be honest, that's really provided me the opportunity to get more involved on campus. It's allowed me to focus on matters that aren't necessarily financial, which has been a game changer.

I don't know how my college career would have been different if I had to focus on my tuition while also trying to be an involved student. So having my tuition covered and not having to focus on that has truly been a blessing. 

Q: What does mentorship mean to you?

A: I'm currently a mentee in the YP Connect mentorship program. It's part of the Urban League of Young Professionals, and this is a program I believe every single Black student at ASU should apply to. 

In working with the Urban League of Young Professionals, I grew my competence immensely and learned everything I needed to know about starting my career in corporate America. I practiced my interviews. I learned financial management. I learned how to create a LinkedIn profile — I didn't have a LinkedIn profile before the Urban League. I was able to land my first internship. I was able to connect with incredible people. 

And that's going to be a lasting partnership. I was in a cohort of only five other students, and there were way more mentors available than there were mentees. If more students applied to be in this program, I can't even imagine how much of an impact they would have. They'd be incredible.

Q: What would you tell a student — especially a Black student first coming to ASU?

A: I would let them know that they are not alone. It can be very easy to get lost at such a big school. But it's a beautiful school because it's so big. There are so many opportunities everywhere you look. Don't be afraid to branch out. This is your time to shine. And as long as you know who you are and that there are people here to support you, you'll do just fine.

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Wide range of voices to address societal issues in ASU series

August 22, 2023

Project Humanities fall event schedule begins Aug. 24

Dispelling myths about being deaf. Examining poverty porn. Reflecting on a Texas town torn apart when a mosque is burned to the ground.

Those are just some of the topics that will be discussed during the fall series of Project Humanities, an Arizona State University initiative that brings together individuals and communities to facilitate conversations about issues in the world.

The fall series begins Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tempe History Museum with "Poverty Porn 101," which will examine what issues arise when influencers drive through and film encampments of unsheltered people. All of Project Humanities’ events are free to the public. The event schedule can be found here.

ASU News talked with Project Humanities Founding Director Neal Lester, who is a Foundation Professor of English at ASU, about the fall schedule.

Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Question: For people who don’t know, please explain what Project Humanities is.

Answer: There’s a series of diverse formats where there’s workshops, panel discussions, our Hacks for Humanity event, homeless outreach, lectures, symposiums. … The idea is how do we create a space where people can talk about disciplines, across generations and across professions around issues that matter.

Q: Your first event is Thursday with "Poverty Porn 101." What will be discussed then?

A: This is a workshop that grew out of a previous program that Project Humanities did about two years ago that covered everything from tourism and voyeurism and all these kinds of structures that create spaces where typically wealthy people go to these poor places as though they’re on field trips, and they feel good about themselves and the experience. They may or may not write a check, and then they go on with the rest of their lives.

Through our homeless outreaches, we take pictures of our clients, and the idea was that we’re showing people, “Oh, look at what we’re doing.” I have since learned that we weren’t asking for permission, and we were actually looking for the thing that showed the greatest need in order to show us sort of swooping in and saving folks. So, this is as much about an evolution of how we try to talk about our clients in the homeless outreach to how this becomes something larger at institutions.

There’s a certain kind of narrative that causes people to write checks. And what we’re going to do in this workshop is go beneath those narratives and those images that really become more about the person observing than the people trying to be supported.

Q: You have a wide range of voices in your workshops and panel discussions. How crucial is that?

A: It’s essential. We want to create a space where people can start looking at what we disagree with through the lens of people we don’t often have anything in common with. At our Hacks for Humanity event (Oct. 6–8), I’m looking at judges for the competition. I’m asking community college presidents to be judges. I’m asking people at the multicultural center downtown to be judges. I’m asking somebody from the Phoenix Suns. To me, that kind of diversity is not just about representation, but about the whole experience of diversity.

Q: Is one of the goals of these events to get people to maybe look at issues in a way they haven’t done before?

A: That is exactly what it is. All we want people to do is think about something differently than when they came into our space. We are not telling people how to think, but we’re encouraging people to think. It’s making this an intellectual experience. It’s also about bringing more compassion to whatever that event is. One example is the PBS partnership screening we had of “Love in the Time of Fentanyl.”  I was one of those who thought that somehow if you create a space where people essentially could shoot up safely, that we were somehow encouraging that. And, so, learning more about the issue from the documentary and looking at it from a slightly different perspective convinced me very easily that people who overdose aren’t trying to die.

People who are overdosing are people who have an addiction. And if you can keep people safe, then you can bring some compassion to this addiction.

Q: On Oct. 19 you have a workshop titled “What’s in a Name?” — what is that about?

A: Everybody has a name, and that name connects you to someone else, whether it’s a family name or a name that you’ve given yourself, or a nickname or a pet name. There’s something about naming that also identifies people’s humanity. And it’s in this moment where people refuse to use correct pronouns or changing names, particularly if there are names that we can’t pronounce. This happens with international students a lot. If you can’t pronounce it, we’ll name you John or Scott because that’s easier. So, we’re looking at the psychology of naming as well as the politics of naming.

Top photo: ASU Professor Neal Lester speaks at a Project Humanities event honoring the work of the late poet and playwright Ntozake Shange in 2019. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU News

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News

Thunderbird at ASU welcomes most diverse cohort of students

This year's Master of Global Management cohort hails from nearly 40 countries

August 21, 2023

The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University welcomes a new era of future global leaders and managers, and marks the start of the fall 2023 semester with a record-breaking cohort. 

The fall 2023 Master of Global Management (MGM) and accelerated MGM cohort is the most diverse in Thunderbird's recent history, with more than 84% of the class coming from a country outside of the United States. Incoming Thunderbird students will also be joining more than 15,000 international students at ASU at large.  Patricia Baez presenting the flag of Ecuador in front of a large blue and white sign reading "Welcome to Thunderbird" Incoming student Patricia Baez presented the flag of Ecuador at the Opening Flag Ceremony during Foundations, Thunderbird's new student orientation, at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Download Full Image

With the fall 2023 cohort, Thunderbird experienced more than 80% enrollment growth (compared with fall 2022), the highest of any unit at ASU. Through a variety of new degree programs and a unique student experience, Thunderbird attracted more than 400 new students this fall. 

“On behalf of the faculty, staff and student community, I am thrilled to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome as you embark on this exciting new chapter in your academic journey,” said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. ”You are about to become part of a dynamic community dedicated to shaping future global leaders who will drive positive change in our interconnected world and make a lasting mark on a global scale.” 

The inaugural cohort of Thunderbird’s newest degree offering, the online Doctorate of Professional Practice in global leadership and management, also started classes this fall. With nearly 30 students enrolled, this first-of-its-kind, professional doctorate program is poised to make an impact in the global business and leadership sectors. After completing the 60-credit program (45 credits from DPP courses and 15 transfer credits obtained through a master’s degree), graduates will emerge with a greater understanding of leading and managing global organizations, systems change, digital transformation in a global economy and more.

Originally from Nigeria, Aisha Ndahi, an incoming MGM student, shared her motivations for choosing Thunderbird over other graduate schools. 

“I was drawn to Thunderbird for three reasons. Firstly, to improve my global managerial skills. Secondly, to understand more opportunities that the Fourth Industrial Revolution offers, particularly in terms of creating safer living conditions within developing countries. Lastly, but most importantly, I came to Thunderbird because of its diversity.”

Likewise, Andrew Kalthoff, an incoming Master of Global Management student from the United States, credits Thunderbird’s global and diverse community as a major reason he enrolled in the program.

“I knew Thunderbird would give me the opportunity and tools to work within a global industry where many colleagues have unique perspectives and cultures,” he said. “The school has a historical reputation for creating the most capable leaders to handle the world's most challenging problems. Thunderbird has given me access to global-minded colleagues that will continue to challenge how I view the world.”

The cohort represents nearly 40 countries, including India, Taiwan, China, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Saudi Arabia. This diverse assembly of scholars embodies Thunderbird's commitment to fostering a global community, where cross-cultural interactions and collaborative efforts are nurtured throughout a week of events at Thunderbird's new student orientation, Foundations. The innovative orientation week is designed for students to forge connections with the Thunderbird community before embarking on their academic journeys.

The fall 2023 Foundations event took place Aug. 9–11 at the F. Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird Global Headquarters on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. During Foundations, staff, faculty, alumni, student leaders and volunteers welcomed new Master of Global Management and accelerated MGM students beginning their academic careers, and shared valuable insights and tips on how to be a successful T-bird. Highlights of Foundations included the ThunderOlympics, where teams of students compete in various athletic contests, and the Opening Flag Ceremony, both cherished Thunderbird traditions.

Dasi Styles

Senior Media Relations Officer, Thunderbird School of Global Management