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August 11, 2017

Six alumni, who graduated from the largest and most diverse college at Arizona State University, have joined forces to create a renewed sense of pride in their alma mater. 

“When I talk to alumni from ASU, they may not even know they were a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Steven Slugocki, a founding member of the Emerging Leaders program. “This program will engage recent graduates, increase awareness of the college and build alumni affinity.”

The Emerging Leaders program, a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, was created to establish a network of talented young professionals who graduated 10 years ago or less from the college. These alumni will invest in the college, encourage alumni involvement and showcase how an education in liberal arts and sciences can make a difference in local, national and global communities.

“I want to make a difference in my community,” said Slugocki, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a history minor in 2007. “Not all of us can write a $10,000 check, but we can give back by staying involved with the college. You’ll get to know incredible people and make a huge impact.”

Slugocki works as a business sales consultant with Wells Fargo and serves as the chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party. He’s the youngest chair of a major county party in the country.

“I hope to make the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as strong as possible,” said Slugocki. “It’s such a diverse college with so many schools and departments. I want to make it a source of pride for recent graduates and people who graduated long ago. They should be proud of their college.”

Amanda Ventura, another founding member of the program, has also been eager to help people feel connected to their college again. She believes it’s important to make sure alumni understand the college and university still have a range of resources to offer them — even after graduation.

“I want to see the foundation of our work give way to a growing network of young alumni who are empowering each other and themselves to make the most out of their careers,” said Ventura, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English (creative writing) in 2011. “I think professional networking with people who are finding practical applications from their university education is really important.” 

Ventura works with communication alumna Jennifer Kaplan, who graduated in the class of ’96 and started her own firm: Evolve Public Relations and Marketing. As a senior account manager, Ventura helps a handful of clients grow their brand through communication and marketing.

“Many alumni want to take their diploma and run,” said Ventura. “We want to reach out to those people and show them why it’s appealing to come back to the university. Our main focus is figuring out how to activate young alumni and bring them back into the support system of ASU.”

Ventura said it has been humbling to come back to campus and see how much the university has changed. She also enjoys working with the other founding members of the groups, especially Slugocki and Samantha Winter McAlpin. 

“I think as an alumna of a very large university, it’s easy to pretend there’s no need for me to get involved because there are thousands of other graduates who are most likely doing what needs to be done, but that’s never the case,” said Winter McAlpin, who received concurrent bachelor’s degrees in Spanish, English and history in 2008. “I’m so happy I’ve found a good way to re-involve myself.”

Winter McAlpin works at Sacks Tierney, a Scottsdale-based law firm, as an attorney who advises clients on estate and tax planning. She has been involved with the Emerging Leaders program since inception. She said she’s very appreciative for the education she received from the college and believes it’s time for the alumni to give back.

“Being a founding member of the program has been a remarkable experience,” Winter McAlpin said. “Our world is changing quickly, and I hope it’s valuable for the college to learn how more recent graduates feel their degree has served them.”

Paul Padegimas, Abraham Hamadeh and Jorge Coss Ortega — who just graduated in May 2017 — are the newest members of the Emerging Leaders program. They’re eager to get involved and connect with fellow alumni from the college. 

“I’ve been interested in getting a little more involved,” said Padegimas, who graduated from the university in 2011 with a master’s degree in geography.

Padegimas said he learned how to tackle complex problems from his degree program, which has been essential in his current career as a transportation consultant with Turner Engineering Corporation.

“I want to help people go further in their education than they otherwise could by helping the program secure funding for scholarships,” Padegimas said. “I also want to continue to help the college and university develop. Both have done a lot of big things and have a lot of great programs. Let’s keep pushing it in the same direction.”

In 2012, Hamadeh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He went on to complete a law degree at University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law in 2016. Currently, Hamadeh is a Second Lieutenant of Military Intelligence in the United States Army Reserve and a board member for ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

“I want to be an advocate and ambassador because I have a real sense of pride in ASU,” Hamadeh said. “I also believe in what Michael Crow stands for in education. It’s accessible to everybody and yet can be so personable. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to give back.”

For more information about the Emerging Leaders program, please contact Lisa Roubal-Brown at 480-965-2617 or lisa.roubal-brown@asu.edu.

The Emerging Leaders program is a subdivision of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, an exclusive group of alumni who help shape the future of the college by staying committed to the highest standards of excellence and innovation in higher education. 

Amanda Stoneman

Copywriter , College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

 
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New San Carlos Apache College aims to preserve culture, prepare for future

San Carlos college has values based on Apache concept of Go’zhoo: to be at peace
August 13, 2017

Tribal values key to new school; ASU staff offered insight to community members on how to create an institution from scratch

When the first students walk into classes at the new San Carlos Apache College on Monday, they’ll not only be learning biology and accounting, they’ll be part of a mission to preserve their language and culture and drive economic prosperity in their community.

Arizona’s third tribal college opened Friday on the San Carlos Apache Reservation after two and a half years of intense planning and preparation, much of it done with the assistance of Arizona State University.

More than five years ago, the chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Terry Rambler, had a vision to create a college, and he asked ASU President Michael Crow for help. The Apaches were able to leverage the expertise of Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU, and Jacob Moore, the university’s assistant vice president for tribal relations.

Chairman Rambler
San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler speaks at the grand opening of the new San Carlos Apache College on Friday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

At Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rambler said that San Carlos Apache College is for everyone in the community — high school students, tribal employees and elders.

“This is the beginning of something great. This is a way to say no to alcohol and drugs by using our minds in a good way and not abusing them,” he said.

“This is a way to regain respect among ourselves. This is a way not to lose our identity as Apaches.”

Hesse is the former president of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and was on the team that founded the college in the late 1980s. So she was able to offer insight to the community members on how to create an institution from scratch, working with the tribe to have a long-term plan in place to ensure they would open on time.

“If you want to start classes in August, here’s what you need to do in July,” she said. “What are the priority hires? If you want to do electrical wiring in July, you need to rip everything out by June. We talked about the program of study and class schedule.

“Even if they start with 50 students, it’s a humongous undertaking.”

Ahumada and Hesse
The college's founding president, Martin Ahumada, thanks ASU Vice Provost for Academic Partnerships Maria Hesse, by giving her a tribal burden basket at San Carlos Apache College's grand opening. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Classes will be held in a stone building in downtown San Carlos that was the previous tribal administrative headquarters. Workers were still renovating the building into classrooms during the ceremony on Friday and expected to work straight through the weekend until the start of classes Monday morning.

At first, the college will offer general-education courses in English, math, biology, chemistry, accounting and computer literacy. Eventually, the curriculum will be expanded and associate’s degrees will be offered. Tuition will be $34.50 per credit hour, so a full-time semester of 12 credits would cost $414.

For now, San Carlos is offering classes as a site of Tohono O’odham Community College, a tribal college in Sells. That allows San Carlos to be accredited until it earns its accreditation independently in about four years.

Accreditation is critically important because it allows students to qualify for financial aid and for their credits to transfer to universities. Like at all Arizona two-year colleges, students at San Carlos will be able to map out their majors to efficiently transfer to ASU.

The college will have core values based on the Apache concept of Go’zhoo — to be at peace.

Tohono O’odham Community College is a good blueprint for how tribal culture is integral to the vision. All students take two classes in “Himdag” — the lifelong elements of culture, values, language and way of life for the tribe. The college has a committee made up of staff, faculty, students and community members that works to incorporate “Himdag” into every aspect of college life.

“They don’t teach anything that’s out of sync with their culture,” said Moore, who is a member of the Tohono O’odham tribe.

Ahumada hug
San Carlos Apache College President Martin Ahumada receives a hug from one of his former mentors following the grand-opening ceremonies. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Martin Ahumada, the new president of San Carlos Apache College, said that preserving culture is vital for the Apaches.

“It has been known for many decades that the knowledge of one’s native tongue and being well grounded in your cultural traditions is important for self-esteem,” said Ahumada, the former interim president of Dine College on the Navajo reservation, the country’s first tribal college, founded in 1968.

Among the San Carlos Apache, few members younger than 35 know the language, according to Cordella Moses, a curriculum specialist for the tribe’s language-preservation department. She helped to design the Apache Language and Culture course, which is offered at 5 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday this semester.

“A lot of people think ‘culture’ refers to ceremonial dancing, but culture means a lot more than that. It’s our art, how we make moccasins and beadwork, and our meditation and our prayers,” she said.

“If you don’t know the language, you can’t pray.”

Ahumada said that besides Apache culture and the general-education courses, he would like to prepare students for jobs in San Carlos, which has a casino and a new medical center.

“We want courses in health sciences, natural resources. We’re going to explore cybersecurity and entrepreneurship,” he said.

“We know the Apache way of life was long anchored in farming, and we want to enable members of the community to return to farming.”

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU

The college received a $1.5 million federal grant in 2014 to get started, and the tribal council recently agreed to fund it with $2.5 million.

ASU’s support for the tribal college is part of a larger agreement between the university and the community, signed in 2013, that will include design and construction assistance when the San Carlos Apache are ready to build a campus; college-readiness and healthy-lifestyle programming for young people; and academic counseling and personal support for San Carlos freshmen and transfer students through the Native American Achievement Program at ASU.

Hesse said that Crow agreed with Rambler’s idea of jump-starting the tribe’s business community with the college.

“He felt like they were like-minded in their shared belief that education brings opportunity and hope to our youth while fueling economic development,” she said at the opening ceremony Friday.

“You can address the workforce training needs for employers, and you can offer lifelong learning opportunities to members of this community.”

Like many reservations, San Carlos faces poverty, unemployment and other socioeconomic challenges, Moore said.

“From a K-12 perspective, any number of our tribal communities have struggling schools. Someone with a more critical eye would say, ‘How can they be a feeder system to a college?’

“But the beauty is this idea of having a vision and some expectation that these students do have someplace to go and a future.”

 

Top photo: Founding President Martin Ahumada (second from left) thanks Tohono O'odham Community College President Paul Robertson by giving him a tribal burden basket at the grand opening of the new San Carlos Apache College in San Carlos, Arizona, on Friday. Tohono O'odham Community College is using its accreditation to cover the new college to allow its students to qualify for financial aid and for their credits to transfer to universities. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

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