Pursuing a life of purpose
As the academic heart of the university, The College educates and supports the largest and most diverse student population. Students of all ages and backgrounds graduate as socially aware, critical thinkers with the tools and mindset to succeed in their future careers and also in their community and day-to-day life. Read the stories of success of some of our outstanding students, recent graduates, alumni and faculty.
Melissa, bachelor's degrees in history and English writing, rhetorics and literacies
"Although the majority of my academics lies within the humanities division, I've always had an interest in the 'science' side of things, particularly relating to tech - such as coding. As someone who wants to become an intellectual property attorney, I found it important to receive a holistic education and experience during my time here. For that reason, I spoke to my adviser at The College, and he connected me with an organization here on campus called SolarSPELL, which provides offline, online digital libraries for third world countries. These small databases become a source of information for these communities, and while working as a Metadata Fellow, I was given the opportunity to help craft these databases, working with copyright and legal information to ensure content use."
Isabella Conti, bachelor's degrees in philosophy and justice studies, certificates in human rights and socio-legal studies
Isabella Conti was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, but considers herself a New York City girl at heart. She is part of a close-knit Italian family from the East Coast and grew up knowing the value of education. "It wasn't until my second year at ASU, when I added the justice studies major, that I had the “aha” moment of studying human rights. I had the opportunity to work alongside Professor LaDawn Haglund during my internship with the ASU Human Rights Film Festival. From using film to expand my knowledge of human rights issues to working alongside the most influential human rights advocates all over the country, this internship presented me with invaluable experiences that solidified my passion for human rights."
Hanan, bachelor's degree in English (creative writing)
Hanan Robinson began her Arizona State University career while engaged in a nonprofit internship in the social justice arena. During its tenure, she discovered that she leaned more toward the arts. Robinson is now committed to a career in poetry - but she hasn't abandoned social justice. She incorporates her beliefs in humanity and equality into her art. Robinson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English (creative writing) and is serious about entering the world of writing and publishing.
Tom, master's degree in philosophy
Tom Fournier wondered whether 57 years old was too old of an age to return to school. But just two weeks into an introductory logic and philosophy course, he was hooked. After a few more beginner courses, he began his master's degree in philosophy from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "My advice to humanities students is don't let the STEM trend weaken your commitment to the humanities, especially in light of our current global situation," Fournier said. "The humanities are relevant now more than ever. STEM might be the engine propelling much of our modern society, but the humanities have the steering wheel."
Tiffany, bachelor's degree in history, minor in global studies
Tiffany Schwartz graduated in spring 2019 with her bachelor's degree in history and a minor in global studies. She says she never once doubted her decisions in her education because they were driving her toward a challenging and rewarding career path. After spending a summer traveling, she jumped into graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C., the following fall semester to pursue a master's degree in international and intercultural communication with a focus in international peace and conflict resolution. In studying international relations, she hopes to promote progressive, productive dialogue between groups and to build bridges between borders. "My background in the humanities and social sciences allowed me to enter the international sphere with a comprehensive knowledge of a number of regions and cultures as well as a solid theoretical basis in the many facets of international studies," Schwartz said. "This experience showed me how much I love and value education, and one could argue that my experiences in Finland have been a significant influence in my endeavor for a Fulbright grant."
Leah, bachelor's degree in history and a minor in sustainability
Leah Terry, a student in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, had the opportunity to join the Maricopa County Leadership and Education Advancing Public Service (MCLEAPS) internship program. After applying, she worried she wouldn't be accepted because she didn't have a background in environmental services, but once in the role she realized that her skill set and background were enough to serve her well.
"There's a service aspect to it,” said Terry. "It's so important to know the history of what's around you. Growing up in Arizona, there was so much I didn't know until coming to college, but it's so important. Even just learning about the rhetoric of public policy through the years — it matters and it makes a difference."
Seth, bachelor's degree in English writing, rhetorics and literacies
"My 'aha' moment took me longer to achieve than others. Ever since I was young, I knew that I had the capacity to be a good, well-rounded writer. Naturally, I drifted towards classes and subjects that dealt with writing and dissecting literature. At ASU, I initially found myself in film school learning about storytelling and writing scripts. Then, I switched to English with the intention of teaching college and helping others with their writing. It wasn't until I took a business writing class when the light bulb flickered on and I discovered that business writing, technical writing to be specific, was right up my alley. Writing complex topics and communicating them in a simple manner for others was the perfect fit, so I added a technical communication minor my junior year and am on the path to becoming a full-time tech writer after school."
Rebecca, bachelor's degrees in history and English linguistics along with a minor in Chinese
"During my time in university, I switched majors twice before I finally arrived at the intersection of my passions. Because of that, attending ASU was a huge blessing for me, because I was given the flexibility and resources to try lots of different things. My degree in history reflects my love for people and stories and has equipped me with invaluable tools for research and writing. My linguistics degree has helped guide me towards more specific academic interests. Through taking classes, talking with professors who know me well, participating in cross-disciplinary research, and working in various jobs and internships, I now feel fully confident in where my future career is headed."
Trejon, bachelor's degree in film and media studies
Trejon Dunkley's introduction to comedy began when a class on comedy and social discourse asked her to step outside her comfort zone. For the class final, she had a choice to write a paper, pilot or do a 10-minute standup routine. She chose the performance and was surprised by how much she enjoyed the process. "I loved the writing that went into it and ended up having a really good set," she said. "When I got on stage with something I'd worked so hard to produce, I loved that feeling." The realization pushed Dunkley to switch from studying theater to pursuing a bachelor's degree in film and media studies from the Department of English. She graduated in 2017 and now works as a director's assistant and continues to perform stand-up at local venues. It's been five years since that initial class, but Dunkley said she still thinks about the principles she learned there when writing sets and helping with scripts today. "There's a lot of standup comics I know who don't want to think about the theory of performance or the mechanics of their jokes," she said. "But I think it's important to consider how I project myself and what I want my comedy to put into the world. What you say to an audience can affect how they see things; I think that's really important to take into account."
Alexandra Rios, bachelor's degree in English literature with minors in Italian and Spanish
"Rios is a recent graduate who started her journey at ASU as a biology minor, but eventually found her passion studying English literature, Italian and Spanish. As a first-generation American who grew up in a bilingual home, she quickly gravitated toward studying languages and literature. For three years, she has worked at Hayden Library in Collections Care Preservation, helping visiting researchers navigate the special collections. In addition, she co-hosted, co-wrote, co-produced and co-broadcast an ASU radio show called Buongiorno Italian, a program focused on Italian news, culture and music. She was a research assistant for Professor George Justice, researching the use of the word “heroine” in 18th-century online collections. She also worked as a communications intern on a political campaign. Rios plans to pursue an advanced degree in comparative literature, where she can further immerse herself in language, literature and research."
Andrea Yang, bachelors degree in English (literature), minor in Asian languages (Chinese)
"Andrea Yang was an officer with ASU's Cultural Association of Performing Arts, which teaches and performs traditional Chinese dance, and she published a “tiny story” in the State Press, ASU's student newspaper. Yang completed an internship reviewing short films and managing social media for the COPA Shorts Film Festival during fall 2020, for which she earned a 2021 High Impact Internship Award. In their award recommendation, the judges wrote: “She used her internship work to discover that when it comes to telling stories 'who tells the story matters.'” Partly based on that internship experience, Yang realized her love for film — in particular, storytelling. Yang's dream is to work in the field after graduation, helping “promote stories that provide accurate representation for the communities they represent.” Read more. "
Chael Moore, bachelor's degree in English (creative writing)
Moore, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and a Barrett, The Honors College at ASU student, said through writing about her lived experiences as a Diné woman, she strives to honor her family while highlighting a perspective seldom shared in mainstream literature. Moore's motivation to become a writer was solidified after she stumbled upon some nostalgic books from her childhood that were written in both English and Navajo. “I realized that a lot of white authors profit off of these stories and the characters and the culture. That didn't really sit right with me,” she said. “So it was then when I decided I'm going to write these stories myself. Someone who is Navajo should write about Navajo stories.”
Aaron Garcia, bachelor's degrees in religious studies and political science
From a young age, Aaron Garcia knew he wanted to pursue higher education. When he joined the U.S. Air Force and was introduced to a chaplain during basic training, he realized he too wanted to become a chaplain. This led him to transfer to ASU to pursue a degree in religious studies with a concentration in religion, culture and public life as well as a degree in political science. As an active-duty military member and full-time student, Garcia successfully juggled his career with his academic responsibilities. In addition to serving in the military and working toward his degrees, he was also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honors society, and Theta Alpha Kappa, the national religious studies honors society. "I chose ASU because of the diverse set of ideas I would encounter during my time at the university. Many would feel comfortable surrounded by people that think as they do. At ASU, I wanted the challenge and the experience of a diverse perspective from people with different backgrounds." Upon graduating in Fall 2020 he plans on applying to the Master of Divinity program at Grand Canyon University and hopes to one day become an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Sisko Stargazer, bachelor's degree in film and media studies
"Sisko Stargazer, a recent graduate and Barrett student, came to ASU in 2018 as a transfer student from Arizona Western College and an All-Arizona Academic Team member with a full-tuition scholarship. During his time at ASU, he had a particular interest in queer, gender and disability theories. As a facilitator of media relations for the ASU Rainbow Coalition, he was able to connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Sun Devils with resources and their community. During his time at ASU, Stargazer worked to empower future Sun Devils and help them discover a home in ASU. Through his role as a project specialist in Public Allies Arizona for the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, Stargazer connected students and members of the community with this AmeriCorps program that mobilizes community assets to develop solutions to local challenges. Stargazer also worked as a grader and provided support for students alongside professors to help make learning at ASU a more inclusive and accessible experience. "Getting the chance to become a grader in my own department was a big moment of validation for me. The pandemic was difficult and at times I felt like maybe what I was doing didn't matter much, but then I began to hear back from students about how my feedback and reaching out to them helped so much. I value inclusivity and accessibility above all else, so I do everything I can to be helpful and let students know that they can trust their professors and graders. Maybe it may seem minor, but I really treasure those moments where I helped a student because I know what it's like to struggle too, and I want to pay it forward by helping." In the future, Stargazer plans to take some time off and possibly pursue graduate school."
Joshua Robinaugh, bachelor's degree in history
Robinaugh is a recent graduate who studied history with a special interest in medieval history. He was the vice president of Eta Sigma Phi and an undergraduate representative for Phi Alpha Theta. In his undergraduate honor's thesis, “Race, Color and Enslaveability: An Analysis of Slave Buying Manuals in the Medieval Islamic World,” he examined ideas of race and enslaveability in the Islamic world, shedding new light on the relationship between colorism and racism in medieval Islamic frameworks of enslaveability. He served as a research assistant in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies where he helped compile a wide range of both primary and secondary sources from across the globe and from a wide range of time in the premodern period, translating previously untranslated content from Latin into English. After graduation, he will decide between pursuing work as a certified nursing assistant or continuing his education at ASU.
Morgan, bachelor's degree in philosophy (morality, politics and law)
Morgan Leland is congenitally blind and struggled in school at a young age. However, she still had dreams of pursuing higher education. After going to community college, she transferred to ASU at 36. As a busy mother of four, who often volunteers at her kids' schools and helps them with homework, she still managed to stand out and make a difference in the lives of those she interacted with. Ultimately, Leland made her dream of earning a college degree a reality at ASU, and found a passion for philosophy along the way. During her time studying abroad in Greece and Italy, Leland walked away from the experience with more than she ever imagined. "This adventure became so much more than my original desire to experience the places I read so much about. As I planned for this trip, I had no way to know what I didn't know. My biggest fear was getting left behind, but that turned out to be the least of my worries. Now, I know the right questions to ask, a better way to communicate with my peers and professors, and I have more confidence in myself and my unique abilities."
Cyrus Commissariat, bachelor's degrees in history, political science and French with minors in sustainability, public service and public policy, and international studies
Cyrus Commissariat grew up in Los Angeles but moved to Arizona when he was in middle school and has called it home ever since. He is the grandchild and child of immigrants and his family taught him that the value of a good education was critical for succeeding. He took their words to heart and not only pursued an education, but found that he loved school and learning. "I am a very proud Arizonan and ASU was the more cost-effective choice for me," Commissariat said. "Additionally, this is a university committed to diversity, innovation and serving the state of Arizona, all of which make this an excellent institution to attend." He recently graduated with bachelor's degrees in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies and French from the School of International Letters and Cultures. In addition to his triple majors, he had minors in sustainability from the School of Sustainability and public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs and certificates in cross-sector leadership from Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and international studies from the School of Politics and Global Studies. He plans on going on to study public interest law at Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law.
Chenay, bachelor's degree in English (linguistics), master's degree in linguistics and applied linguistics, minor in German and TESOL certificate
Chenay Gladstone knew early on she had an interest in linguistics. At ASU, her passion grew when she completed her own research in forensic linguistics, and completed her bachelor's degree with a minor in German and TESOL certificate in just three years. She also completed her master's degree in linguistics and applied linguistics. Aside from her impressive academic achievements, Gladstone also played volleyball throughout her entire college career. "Aside from my one 400-plus person lecture freshman year, all of my classes have had around 30 students or fewer, which I was not expecting at a school with such a large population. All of my professors were reasonable and shared their personalities with us. They never assigned us busy work and the work they did give us was challenging and clearly meant to help us understand the topics at hand better. Outside of class, I was able to meet people through the outdoors club and the women's club volleyball program. I am especially thankful for club sports because I was able to continue pursuing my passion of playing competitive volleyball and simultaneously attend a big university."
Lennon, bachelor's degree in classics (concentrating in Latin), and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Lennon Audrain is a prime example of a master learner. In the last four years, he has earned an associate degree in elementary education from Rio Salado College, a bachelor's degree in classics (concentrating in Latin) from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, and is completing his second master's degree from Harvard University. His resume would be impressive for any individual, but it's particularly striking because he has completed these degrees all before the age of 21. Audrain plans to return to ASU to pursue his PhD and reflected on the value of earning his undergraduate in a humanities field. "I'm really happy that ASU has a classics department, and I think they need to continue to have one," he said. "It plays an important role in how we think about the development of our civilization and of the United States." Audrain has gained substantial knowledge in the classroom, but some of the insight he's found most valuable has come from the relationships he's built in and out of the classroom. "It's the people around you that will be invaluable in helping you to answer questions and to create solutions to the most pressing problems," he said.
Leah Arambula Terry, bachelor's degree in history, minor in transborder studies
"Leah Arambula Terry was born and raised in central Phoenix, Arizona, to a dad who worked two jobs and a mom who took care of her sister, cousins and herself. She attended a prestigious high school and found the transition into a four-year university natural. “When I was accepted into a full-time internship with Maricopa County, my adviser Amy Kaiman and Professor Catherine O'Donnell helped me register it for course hours and it was a wonderful experience thanks to their help,” Terry said. After completing her MCLEAPS internship, Terry decided to participate in two undergraduate research experiences. She completed one with Professor Julian Lim, summarizing archival documents for her book, and the other with O'Donnell and program coordinator senior Erin Craft, conducting a public history project with the local Emerson School.
Emily, bachelor's degree in East Asian studies with a minor and certificate in Korean studies
Emily Creasman lived in California and North Carolina before her family settled in Phoenix, which she now considers her home. Going into college, she thought she wanted to major in music because she enjoyed marching band and drumline in high school, but she developed an interest in learning Korean, which led to a curiosity in Korean culture. She enrolled at Arizona State University and declared her major in East Asian studies from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and added a minor and certificate in Korean studies from the School of International Letters and Cultures, and received many scholarships including the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, John and Sandra Koo Scholarship Award and the ASU Academic Achievement Scholar Award. "I decided to major in East Asian studies when I first entered ASU. I've thoroughly enjoyed it since the beginning, but if I had to pick one stand-out moment I'd say it was when I studied abroad in South Korea my junior year. I enjoyed learning about Korean culture prior to that, but getting to experience it first hand was entirely new and I believe necessary in confirming for me that I loved my field of study."
Layne, bachelor's degree in Russian
Layne Philipson is an outstanding student, employee and volunteer with an extraordinary talent for languages including Russian, English and Latin. She has a passion for foreign affairs, which she is using to make a difference in the world through public, government service. Philipson is a semi-finalist for the U.S. State Department's highly competitive Critical Languages scholarship for advanced Russian study in Russia and is one of the first students from ASU who was offered a prestigious summer internship as a Russian Language Analyst with the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland. In the fall she will attend University of Oxford to pursue her master's degree in Russian and East European studies. Afterwards she plans on attending law school and hopes to work in the Department of Homeland Security to fight against human trafficking.
David, bachelor's degree in film and media studies
Since 2014, David Lew has been battling stage 4 medullary thyroid cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatments. A working comedian, Lew's motto is “If you don't laugh, you don't heal.” That mantra may have saved his life. With his cancer currently in remission, this proud dad and husband now works to help others reduce their stress and anxiety, having founded #BeThePOP — “Be the Purveyor of Positivity.” Lew, who lives in Fairfield, California, in the Bay Area, received his Bachelor of Arts in film and media studies via ASU Online. Completing the degree signals that he has overcome much. It also means that he is one step closer to being the man — and the dad — he wants to be.
Selene, bachelor's degree in Spanish
"When I first started at ASU Online, I was sure I knew what program was perfect for me. As I dove into my coursework for healthcare coordination, I started to notice I was losing interest in some general education classes that were required for the major. "While I was still interested in healthcare coordination, I had fallen in love with my native language and, not long after I finished that first Spanish class, I had made changes to my educational program. After taking a look at possible minors and majors, I decided to keep Spanish as my major and convert healthcare coordination to a minor. This way I wouldn't have to worry about taking classes that didn't pique my interest, but I'd still be able to pursue something in healthcare. "Going into a program then readjusting to another program you prefer is OK. No one should feel stuck in a program that doesn't make them happy or satisfied. You have the power to study and learn what you want to and what you feel will help you be fulfilled and accomplished."
Austin Davis, bachelor's degree in English (creative writing)
"Since Austin Davis was young, he's found comfort in words. Whether reading the work of some of his favorite authors or writing his own poems, Davis has always used words as a way to process his feelings, connect with others and understand the world around him. During his time at ASU, Davis has published four books, “Cloudy Days, Still Nights,” “Second Civil War,” “Celestial Night Light,” and most recently, “Lotus & The Apocalypse,” a poetry novella about the last day on Earth that was released in March. Inspired by some of the challenges he faced during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Davis said that writing “Lotus & The Apocalypse” helped him to make it through some of his darkest moments. “I started writing these poems at the beginning of the pandemic. It was a pretty rough time for me. My anxiety was really terrible and I really wasn't taking care of myself. I felt like I was climbing this mountain with my mental health. I knew that if I kept climbing and putting in the work, I'd get to a place where I could rest. But I just got too exhausted and I just let go and was free falling for a little bit,” he said. “Then I started writing these poems and it helped me turn around and grab a rock and keep climbing and write this book. I think it saved my life, so I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity and the privilege to write and share my writing with others. Read more."
Mother-son duo pursue English degrees, thrive at ASU
Mother and son Stacey and Micah McCreary had the unique experience of studying English alongside one another at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of English. While Stacey pursued her bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature through The College's 4+1 program, Micah earned a triple major in English, French and political science, with a minor in Chinese and a certificate in international studies.
"There's no age limit on this school. I feel like a lot of people assume that there might be some sort of a stigma, but I don't think that there is. I think that it's an excellent opportunity for anyone at any stage to come back and get a higher education. And I think that my mom has exemplified that." - Micah McCreary
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