Nursing, helping others, is a family affair for ASU alumni

November 17, 2016

As a critical care nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Banner Desert Medical Center, Melanie Ryan spends her days caring for premature and critically ill newborns with life threatening conditions.  After spending most of her nursing career in the pediatric intensive care unit caring for critically ill children and adolescents, NICU seemed like the perfect next step.

“The NICU presents countless opportunities to learn and see truly unique cases,” she said. “I’m so blessed that I get to make a difference in the lives of these babies every day and get to see them graduate from the NICU. At times there are those who do not survive and I then work with the families to prepare them for the loss they must work through. This is the most difficult aspect of my job.” Andrew Ryan and Melanie Ryan Download Full Image

Nursing wasn’t always on Ryan’s radar. She began college as an engineering student, but things changed when her sister was killed in a tragic car accident.  “This was a difficult event in my life, but also was the inspiration for me to change course and become a nurse,” she said.  Ryan graduated from ASU’s College of Nursing in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.

For Ryan, nursing has become a family affair.  Her son Andrew recently graduated from ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation with his BSN degree after switching his major from software engineering to nursing during his sophomore year.  As his mother and now a fellow nurse, she couldn’t be more proud, she said.

“Andrew’s father and I were both trauma and ICU nurses,” Ryan said.  “From an early age, he heard many stories of miracles and some unfortunate tragedies from our work as nurses.  Although Andrew always enjoyed and had a natural skill at engineering, he realized that he wanted to help others and make a more tangible difference in their lives.”

Andrew did well in the engineering program, earning academic recognition both semesters, but had become unsatisfied with his major.  He began to wonder how his work would impact people in a positive way, so he took a semester to experiment with science courses.  While he had initially thought about nursing as he was deciding on his major, he felt intimidated by the competitiveness of the program, the number of clinical hours, and the stress involved in the field.

But after changing direction and taking the prerequisite courses for the nursing program, he was hooked.

“I was never bored and I wanted more,” he said. “When I was accepted into the program, I’d spend extra hours practicing my skills in lab, assessing family members, and researching diseases.  I was eating and breathing nursing, and as a graduate from ASU’s program--and a current RN, I am so glad I made this choice!”

Melanie Ryan plans to continue the family’s college-going tradition and return to ASU next spring to earn her Master of Science degree in Nursing with a focus on education.  She also intends to pursue her family nurse practitioner certification with plans to work in an urgent care setting in the community and pursue mission work in underdeveloped countries where children are at risk.

“I currently precept student nurses, new grads and new hires,” she said. “I would like to expand on my teaching skills and become a clinical instructor to share my passion and knowledge with those just starting their careers.  I’ve had many incredible instructors over the years who inspired me and drove me to continue learning and improving at all times.”

Denise Kronsteiner

Director of Strategic Communications, School for the Future of Innovation in Society


Lights, camera, action! ASU film program moves into state-of-the-art studios

November 17, 2016

Twenty ASU film majors attended the first official film degree course a decade ago in a small teaching studio.

Clinical assistant professor Janaki Cedanna has been there since the beginning and runs the production end of the film program from that same teaching studio, a 1,504 square-foot black box space located in the ASU Performing and Media Arts Building. He’s looking forward to moving on to bigger and better studios with a three and half year lease at Sun Studios of Arizona. Sun Studios sound stage with green screen One of the sound stages at Sun Studios of Arizona features a green screen. (Photo courtesy of Sun Studios of Arizona). Download Full Image

“We’re totally excited about this new space,” Professor Cedanna says. “We’re excited that the Herberger Institute (for Design and the Arts) and the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and specifically the film area, now have facilities to expand the education we give our students.”

Sun Studios on West 14th Street, less than two miles from the Tempe Main campus, boasts two sound stages, one 2,500-square-foot stage and another 2,200-square-foot sound stage with a two-wall infinity cyclorama and green screen; a sound-proof audio recording suite; a large selection of props, gear and professional-grade production and recording equipment; and a 150-seat theatre with professional digital projection and surround sound.

“It’s an amazing thing for us because it broadens everything that we do,” Cedanna says. “It takes us to the next level.”

Beginning next semester, students will have the opportunity to work in studios and with professional equipment similar to what you would find in Los Angeles, and the film program will be able to expand what it offers. For instance, Cedanna, who teaches the editing and post-production classes to film majors, says he’s always wanted to do more with sound, and now he has the proper facilities and equipment for that.

“Having the opportunity to work with such a vast amount of industry standard equipment, and to be able to get the necessary hands-on experience within the field, is nothing less than vital to set up students to enter the Industry once they leave ASU,” says junior film student Macy Kimpland. “I truly believe this will change the film program at ASU, by taking an already great program run by great professors and mentors, and propelling them all forward by giving them the tools that can make them succeed.”

In addition to classes, film students will also have access to the space and equipment for their own projects completed as part of their education.

"Sun Studios is such a weight off of all our shoulders,” says junior film student Taylor Blackmore. “The pressure of finding, reserving and paying for materials and equipment for our projects has been lifted. Now we can worry about what we're making, not how we're going to make it."

Cedanna says while Sun Studios is impressive and a benefit, the film program has always been successful and will continue to be.

“We have a ton of students who are doing amazing work in Los Angeles, New York and throughout the United States, and who learned in this space,” he says of the original studio space in the APMA building.

Since that original class of 20 film students, the film program has grown a lot, which is one reason faculty are excited to teach in the new space. For the last two years it has seen its largest incoming freshman classes, both around 140 students. Now, more than 450 students are studying film at ASU, and it’s one of the most popular programs in the Herberger Institute. Cedanna says this is a testament to the film education the students receive at ASU, and Sun Studios simply enhances the program. 

“It’s not necessarily the space or even the tools that we pride ourselves on — it’s the education,” he says. “This is just added value to that education.” 

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts