Pursuing a life of purpose
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."
Amalie, bachelor's degrees in Spanish and biological sciences
When Amalie Strange shares with people that she majored in both the sciences and humanities, she said she often receives weird looks and questions about the combination of academic paths. But to Amalie, the two paths benefited each other well. "The tools that I've used to write an essay about literature have ended up helping me when I write about science to make it more exciting, interesting and have more personality. Then the analysis that I've learned through science writing has also helped me write about literature and really get to the central core of what a text is about," she said. "So they've actually ended up helping each other a lot more than I ever expected." Amalie said studying literature helped her learn about different perspectives and made her sensitive to the plight of others. She is continuing her science career path, now pursuing her PhD in animal sciences at ASU, and said she's excited to collaborate with others in her field. "I definitely have to say that my humanities background has helped prepare me for that with collaboration and everything. I'm really excited to start to use that in a professional way."
Micah, bachelor's degrees in English (literature), French and political science
Micah McCreary is a self-proclaimed overachiever, which helps explain how after transferring to Arizona State University, he ended up pursuing three degrees––English (literature), French and political science––one minor in Asian languages (Chinese) and one certificate in international studies. "People will tell you all the time that being bilingual is a really big step up in society. I guess I didn't realize until I was bilingual and then trilingual that it's actually even more of an advantage than you think. It doesn't just open up job opportunities or those sort of utilitarian things. It also opens up your mindset and your ability to embrace other people in other cultures," McCreary said. To those considering a humanities degree, McCreary says to remember that your opportunities are close to endless. "I think that stereotypes are unfair to humanities students. Don't let that get in your way — pursue it with zest and vigor."
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."
Basil, PhD in English literature and certificate in medieval studies
"The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies was a big part of why I decided to come to ASU. Between the Huntington Library fellowship, to Dr. Thompson’s efforts to connect faculty, staff and students — the center ensures students receive the support they need for their studies. My involvement in ACMRS is already helping me learn more about the shape of medieval studies and enabling me to do what I love."
Diane, bachelor's degrees in Spanish and biological sciences
Diane Wilson is double-majoring in Spanish and biological sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with her sights set on becoming a doctor. Wilson got a first-hand look at what that career path may hold when she participated in the Heal International study abroad program, which takes students to the town of Tengeru, Tanzania, to educate the local communities on preventing HIV and AIDS. In preparation for the trip, she and her colleagues engaged in teaching about HIV in the Valley. "I would visit people's homes, dorms and classrooms throughout Tempe," she said. "I also spoke to Mexican immigrants at a Migrant Headstart in Queen Creek solely in Spanish about the importance of health, such as testing and treatment for HIV." Pursuing a degree in the humanities and natural sciences allows Wilson to gain skills that will aid her in her dream career. "In my future career as a doctor, I’ll need to connect with people and help them realize that making a change in their health will help them better succeed at what they are committed to," she said. "I hope to empower people to take charge in having healthy lives."
Patience Huntwork, board member of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies
Patience Huntwork became interested in the legal reform and empowerment of former Soviet countries in the 1980s, which decades later led her to get involved in the Critical Language Institute at Arizona State University. Part of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, the institute focuses on less commonly taught languages deemed important to national security and international affairs. With seed funding from Huntwork and her husband, James, the institute introduced Ukrainian as its 12th language in 2017. "The language is becoming increasingly important, and it shows," she said. "Today, the people you see taking Ukrainian at the Melikian Center are very diverse. One young man took classes at the center because he is going to Ukraine with the Peace Corps. Another is graduating with a degree in international business development and simply wants Ukrainian skills in his portfolio. Another wrote a novel based in Ukraine and another is training to be a medic in response to the country’s war. I think the importance of this language is proved by the fact that students from so many different backgrounds are taking part, and I hope to see that grow even more." To Huntwork, the power of learning a language –– Ukrainian or otherwise –– is clear, no matter what field students end up in. "The Ukrainian language is something so attuned to national identity, for example, so we send a powerful message by embracing it. That is also the case for all the other languages at the Melikian Center and the Critical Language Institute. I also think that ASU prides itself on being able to positively impact the world — speaking a language gives you the power to do that."
Neal Lester, Department of English professor
Neal Lester has been a professor of English at Arizona State University since 1997, with specialization in African American literary and cultural studies. Lester served as dean of humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2010-2012. His first year as dean was in the midst of an economic downturn, in response, Lester launched Project Humanities. "The first order of business was to demystify the humanities and talk about why it’s good for our society," said Lester, who first put together a weeklong series of events that involved panel discussions and symposia that integrated a cross-section of scholars, professionals and national figures. It went over so well that the following year, the series of humanities-focused programming became monthlong. Today, Project Humanities offers impactful programming year-round. The second order of business, Lester said, was taking the humanities out of the sometimes-believed-to-be exclusive university setting and going into the various communities. It was a move that endeared him to Valley residents and community leaders alike, and it helped the initiative to develop a strong following. "Part of the reason for our success is that we don’t come to people as a savior. We say, 'We want you to be a part of what we’re doing. We want your voices to be vital, and we want to learn from and with you,'" Lester said. "We also don’t want people always coming to us — we go to where they are." Every other Saturday, Lester coordinates anywhere from 20 to 60 volunteers in downtown Phoenix to distribute various items, including clothes, toiletries, shoes, sandals, backpacks, books and magazines to the homeless population as part of Project Humanities' Service Saturdays.
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Regents Professor and Jewish studies program director
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, who has long been commmitted to academic scholarship and public outreach, began leading The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Jewish studies program in 2008. Tirosh-Samuelson's work examines intersections of philosophy and mysticism, Judaism and science, and Judaism and ecology, the interdisciplinary nature of Jewish studies transcends traditional academic divisions and highlights the contribution of Jews and Judaism to many aspects of Western culture. "Jewish studies is an ideal program in terms of interdisciplinarity because the inquiries about Jews and Judaism belong in the humanities, the social sciences and even the natural sciences," she said. "To be a student in Jewish studies is actually to be a student of history, religion, philosophy, art, psychology, political science and other subjects, all of which contribute to one’s intellectual and emotional growth. To study Jews and Judaism requires one to reflect on the human condition."
Devoney Looser, Department of English Foundation Professor
Devoney Looser has taught at Arizona State University since 2013 and was named a Foundation Professor in 2018. She is well-known for her expert knowledge on the writings of Jane Austen. In addition to the scholarly impact Jane Austen has had on Looser's life, her work led to Looser meeting her husband George Justice, who is also an ASU English professor and Jane Austen scholar. Looser said she's been grateful for the support she's received working in the humanities at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "It’s rare for a university to give its faculty the opportunities to pursue wide-ranging — even quirky — interests," Looser said. "ASU is unusual in its encouraging faculty to take research risks and in helping us share our work, beyond the university, in innovative ways."
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."
Delaney, bachelor's degree in biological sciences
Delaney Bucker started her journey at Arizona State University as an athlete — swimming, biking and running her way to two NCAA National Championships on the women’s triathlon team. After accomplishing this impressive feat, she reached each new heights on her academic path. With a passion for community development, educational access, curriculum development and science communication, Bucker took a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to her studies — finding a place for the humanities in biology. "One big lesson I’ve learned is that we're all learners and we're all teachers. I felt I grew and changed in a positive way the most when I had professors who kind of acknowledged that they were still learning as well, and that their students were teachers to them. Having smaller classes, particularly in contrast to the large lectures, helped me realize how much I appreciate an approach to teaching where the teachers themselves were learners. It also inspired my own learning when I could come to the classroom and have something to teach to the class that the professor themselves was open to hearing."
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.
Victoria Jackson, lecturer in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Victoria Jackson, lecturer in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, is a former NCAA national champion and Nike-sponsored professional track and field athlete. Jackson collaborated with fellow faculty to create a new certificate program: Sports, Cultures and Ethics. The certificate is meant to enhance a variety of sport-related undergraduate degree programs while helping students to understand and articulate how the games we play and watch inform the communities — local, national and global — in which we live. "The certificate's liberal arts courses, many of which are humanities courses, provide history, philosophy, social sciences and interdisciplinary liberal arts training that encourage students to think about the broader impact and implications of sport in society, in a diversity of cultural contexts and across time and space."
Christina, bachelor's degrees in Spanish and psychology
"At ASU, I had my soccer community, athletics community, Spanish community, psychology community and classroom pals. Although I am a social butterfly and love meeting new people every day, consistency with friends and family has become very important to me as well. I have been fortunate enough to have explored 11 countries before turning 21, which has taught me how small the world really is. Each place is just filled with numerous communities, we just have to find ours."
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.
Joshua, bachelor's degree in English
"For me, it wasn’t a poetry degree, it was redemption. Part of that college experience was hearing no a whole bunch of times. What I learned from the degree was how to think about problems and solve them in different ways. People aren’t hiring poets, but if you have the skill set of being able to solve problems creatively, you have an amazing opportunity to work on things that don’t have established answers. You can solve them in ways people haven’t thought of yet."
Dulce, bachelor's degree in English linguistics
"I remember growing up not knowing what linguistics was, but I knew I wanted to be able to live in another country. I had discussed the idea of teaching English abroad since sixth grade, and one of my friends enlightened me on how linguistics correlated to that dream job in high school. When I finally took my "Intro to Linguistics" course at ASU, I realized it was definitely the route for me. It wasn't necessarily an 'aha' moment of realizing I wanted to study in the field; it felt more like a relief that I had picked something I found interesting."
Dimiana, bachelor's degree in English (literature)
"I chose Arizona State University because of their phenomenal English department. I knew I wanted to stay in the state, but what really brought me to ASU was the prestige of the English department and the opportunities that the Phoenix metropolitan area had to offer. [Professor] James Blasingame in the Department of English is someone I wanted to mention specifically, as he is an incredible professor and creative mentor who I was honored to work with in my undergraduate studies. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if my novel would be where it is today."