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ASU alumna has more than luck to credit for her success

Lucky ASU alumna worked hard for her success.
Lucky Sharma talks about how ASU prepared her for a sustainable career.
November 5, 2015

Editor's note: Leading up to Homecoming, we'll be running several stories a week on ASU alumni. Find more alumni stories here.

Having only graduated with her master’s degree from the School of Sustainability in 2012, Lucky Sharma has already had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies like Apple and US Airways.

And though her name may suggest otherwise, luck had nothing to do with her success.

Sharma, pictured above, participated in interdisciplinary research and also worked as a teaching assistant to help offset the cost of her education — something she says would have been “almost impossible” to obtain without the financial support it provided her.

Sharma has since moved on from Apple to launch a stealth start-up, currently code-named “Project C,” which she co-founded.

Though the San Franciso resident — who recently took a job with Tesla Motors as a commodity manager — couldn’t share any details about Project C, the committed sustainability scientist opened up to ASU Now about her passion for a greener future and how ASU’s emphasis on interdisciplinary study helped her get where she is today.

Question: Why did you choose to pursue a career in sustainability?

Answer: While working as a product manager for a company measuring real-time automobile emissions, I realized my calling to make this world greener. My research to convert the change in driving habits through a dashboard feedback to corresponding carbon-footprint reduction played a key role in uncovering my passion for sustainability. It was the first time I had used math and data-interpretation skills to quantify a miniscule, yet sure step toward a greener future. This realization was incredibly empowering. I was motivated more than ever to learn more about sustainability concepts and how to affect positive change for our generation and the ones to come after us.

Q: How did ASU help get you there?

A: The flexibility in structuring my courses allowed me to choose topics of interest that were aligned with my professional experience and future aspirations. My experience as a teaching assistant was a great lesson in delivering sustainability pedagogy, both from a researcher's perspective and an industry professional's point of view. It helped me in effective articulation of the sustainability practices during my work after graduation. ASU also provides a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research and collaboration. This allowed me to tap into the powerhouse of supply-chain expertise at the business school and marry it with cutting-edge sustainability research at the School of Sustainability. This rare combination helped me land jobs at Fortune 500 companies like Apple and US Airways.

Q: What was it like to work for such high-profile companies?

A: Working for Apple had its perks, especially as a sustainability scientist. I worked in the direct procurement group, which was responsible for the products that are mostly sold to the consumer. This position provided me with the opportunity to influence sourcing decisions and vendor selection. I was thus able to directly and/or indirectly affect the product/vendor selection with sustainability as one of the key metrics to rate one product/vendor over the other. This apart from many other reasons kept my job interesting. 

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in sustainability?

A: Know your key strengths, develop a core skill set and keep yourself abreast of all the best sustainability practices in your industry. Then you can align your professional expectations with your core skill set and incorporate sustainability practices into the job you seek. And get relevant experience under your belt.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: ASU is a great place to jump-start a sustainability career. I am deeply thankful to my School of Sustainability alumni and professors who believed in me. Without the financial support which was given as part of being a teaching assistant, it would have been almost impossible for an international student like me to graduate as a Sun Devil, which I am super proud to be.

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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ASU named best for vets

ASU named to Military Times' list of "Best for Vets" schools in 2016.
Pat Tillman Veterans Center at the core of ASU's nod as a Best for Vets school.
November 9, 2015

The Military Times Media Group announced today that Arizona State University has been selected as one of its “Best for Vets” colleges for 2016.

In another indicator of ASU’s support for veterans, Starbucks will expand the College Achievement Plan for Starbucks employees so that employees who are veterans can extend the benefit of tuition-free college education through ASU Online to a spouse or child.  More than 4,000 Starbucks employees already take advantage of the CAP program.

To earn a place on the Best for Vets list, schools are evaluated with an in-depth 150-question survey designed to explore how institutions accommodate and benefit veterans, service members and their families.

Surveyors gathered information from the federal government and used the survey responses to develop rankings of the institutions that do the most for people with military backgrounds. 

ASU did not disappoint.

“We aren’t just doing what is expected,” said Joanna Sweatt, military and veteran advocate at ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “We are forward-thinking; we are evaluating all the issues and successes that veterans are having in higher education and then implementing programs to take them to the next level of success.”

ASU boasts nearly 4,200 military-affiliated students, including veterans and those still serving on active duty, the Guard or reserves.  Additionally, nearly 1,000 military family members are taking classes at ASU.   

The hub of veteran support is the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. Through the center, students can get G.I. Bill benefits processed, receive counseling and get a wide range of support from an experienced staff that understands the military experience.

“Our staff is comprised almost entirely of veterans,” said Steve Borden, center director and former U.S. Navy captain. “So we know the language, the benefits process and the transition from military to student life.”

The Military Times recognition is the second military-related accolade earned by ASU this month. G.I. Jobs magazine revealed on Nov. 6 that ASU has been named a “Military Friendly School” for the seventh consecutive year.

The university has come a long way in how it supports veterans, according to Sweatt. 

“I was here when the resources didn’t exist and it was really tough,” she said. “We have made it much easier to navigate the system — being an inclusive university matters.”

Sweatt said the university is continuously dreaming up more possibilities to better serve those who’ve served the nation.

“That is really exciting,” said Sweatt, a Marine veteran. “I have never felt limited by the university. You bring them an innovative idea that benefits students and they’re willing to try it.”

ASU’s reputation as a school friendly to veterans and service members is well known throughout the military community.

Jerome Tennille, who postponed college to serve in the U.S. Navy, chose ASU to complete his education after his eight years as an imagery and strike-warfare analyst.

“I remember when I was a kid and Pat Tillman was killed, you know, that’s what I think about when I think about ASU,” said Tennille, a senior ASU Online student studying operations management. “I think about the support they give to veterans. They embrace us.”

ASU’s veteran benefits include access to various scholarships, priority registration and acceptance of credits earned through military courses.

The university also hosts U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs counselors and the federally sponsored Veterans Upward Bound program. Through Upward Bound, low-income vets or those who are first-generation college students can improve their academic skills through free courses in English, mathematics, computer literacy, laboratory science, foreign language and college planning, among others.

Military Times is an independent source of news for the U.S. military community. The company serves all branches of the military through its four flagship publications: Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times.

The Military Times Best for Vets survey is free of charge, and no money is paid by the schools to be in the rankings. There is also no requirement for the schools to advertise in the newspaper, nor does advertisement increase a school’s chances to be listed or ranked higher.

For Sweatt, who is also an ASU alumna, this latest recognition is a source of pride.

“It has been a pleasure working for ASU in this capacity of serving veterans over the last three years,” she said. “I encourage every veteran to attend ASU and to become a Sun Devil.”

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications