ASU therapeutic recreation grad found calling to help others


December 11, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Graciela Alvarez has known she wanted to earn a degree in therapeutic recreation since she was a community college student. But she didn’t realize she would impact the lives of so many people before she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in parks and recreation from Arizona State University's School of Community Resources and Development. Graciela Alvarez ASU graduate Graciela Alvarez. Download Full Image

Alvarez interned at the Phoenix Veteran’s Administration hospital her last semester to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She worked mostly with veterans recovering from substance abuse. A U.S. Army veteran herself, Alvarez joined the military upon graduation from Mesa Community College and currently serves in the Arizona National Guard.  

Her passion, talents and commitment to serve others also benefited residents of the Westward Ho, a low-income housing complex for seniors and people with disabilities. Alvarez was a fixture at the ASU Collaboratory at the Westward Ho, a central space where ASU students from recreation therapy, social work, nursing and nutrition gained valuable hands-on experience with residents. Alvarez taught weekly guitar, tai chi and chair yoga classes as part of an interprofessional practicum for a semester and continued teaching guitar lessons on a volunteer basis after her class ended.

“Through working with individuals with all kinds of disabilities, I have had the opportunity to empower people to do the things they never imagined they'd be able to do,” said Alvarez.

Like many students in her college, Alvarez is the first person in her family to graduate from college and proud of her accomplishment.

“Being a first-generation college student pushed me outside my comfort zone, tested my ability to figure things out on my own, and taught me to make the best out of what I have been given,” Alvarez said.

Collaboratory on Central
Graciela Alvarez (right) looks on as social work student Andy Pastore welcomes a resident of the Westward Ho to the Collaboratory on Central.

Q. What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

I learned about recreation therapy during a presentation about it at Mesa Community College and switched my major immediately. I never knew I could directly treat people through recreation and thought it was a perfect fit for me.

Q. What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, which changed your perspective?

Just how much need there is not only globally but at the local level. It made me want to become more aware of all the issues that are affecting others and how I can play my part to help in any way that I can.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

Try to get involved in your community where professionals are already trying to make a difference through your profession. It’ll give you continuous motivation to learn as much as you can and will expose you to different areas you could work for in the future.

Q. What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

ASU’s side of the downtown Phoenix post office looking out toward Civic Space Park and the city. It is a great place to see how well an urban area and nature can come together.

Q. What are your plans after graduation?

I have applied at the Arizona State Hospital to gain more experience in mental health. Later on, I hope to get opportunities to work in adaptive sports or outdoor recreation therapy.

Q. Why did you choose ASU?

It is the only school in the state with a Therapeutic Recreation program but I also admire how the school strives for diversity in its students, staff, and education.

Q. If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

I would try to make a dent in the many systems that sometimes lead individuals to homelessness.

Written by Faith Peterson

 

Policing research guides ASU criminal justice graduate


December 11, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Quin Patterson aspires to a career in federal law enforcement. His professors believe he's well on his way. Patterson was selected by the Arizona State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice as the fall 2017 outstanding graduate.The San Diego native earned his undergraduate degree in criminology and criminal justice with a certificate in security studies. Quin Patterson Quin Patterson is the fall 2017 outstanding graduate of the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Download Full Image

“I see law enforcement as sort of an extension of public service and the kind of service that I was doing back in high school,” said Patterson, a former Eagle Scout. “I feel like it’s a good way to leave a positive impact on my community and our nation.”

Patterson chose ASU for the chance to be part of Barrett, The Honors College. It helped that ASU also had a top-ranked criminology and criminal justice program.

A highlight of his time at ASU was working on a police body-worn camera study with criminology professor Michael White. Patterson used the study as the basis for his Barrett thesis.

“He started out doing more basic tasks like having officers fill out surveys and doing some data entry,” said White. “But, we quickly moved him onto more graduate-level work just because of his skill set — he was that good.”

“It was a no-brainer for me to nominate him for this award,” White said.

One of the biggest takeaways for Patterson was the differing perceptions police and citizens have over what a body-worn video camera picks up and what it doesn’t.

Q. What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

My “aha” moment when I realized I wanted to study criminal justice came as a result of being in Boy Scouts and watching crime shows in high school. Being an Eagle Scout, I’ve always felt a sense of service to my community and the people around me, and I view law enforcement as a form of service in that sense. Watching crime shows initially got me interested in criminal justice, but it was because I knew that what was shown on TV was for entertainment and I wanted to know the real reasons behind why people commit crime and how law enforcement agencies deal with offenders.

Q. What's something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Something I learned at ASU that changed my perspective is that there is always more to learn, and there is always a better version of yourself that you can strive to be. What’s important is that you surround yourself with people who support you and can help push you to become that person you strive to be.

Q. Why did you choose ASU?

I chose ASU because of Barrett, the Honors College, and the kind of experience I knew it would be able to provide for me. As soon as I first visited the Downtown Phoenix campus, I knew this was where I wanted to be, and I was impressed by my interactions with faculty from ASU and Barrett, what with all the information they provided and how helpful they were. ASU is also far enough away from San Diego where I feel like I can truly be on my own, but it is also close enough where I can go home just about any time I wish.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

The best piece of advice I’d give to those still in school is to take this experience slowly, one step at a time, and also make sure to set aside plenty of time for yourself. College flies by faster than you think; it still doesn’t feel like I’m two weeks away from graduation, I keep thinking I’ll wake up in my dorm room for the first day of freshman classes again. As stressful as college can get sometimes, there are always people that can help you get through it, and sometimes it’s easier to set everything aside for an hour to get some rest or clear your head.

Q. What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

My favorite spot on campus for studying is the courtyard between the NHI buildings, and if I’m meeting up with friends I like to sit outside Fair Trade Café.

Q. What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I am going to spend the spring in San Diego, then come back to ASU in the fall to begin my Master of Science in criminal justice. Once I get my MS, I hope to go into law enforcement, preferably at the federal level.

Q. If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, I’d try to tackle global warming. Obviously $40 million wouldn’t be enough to solve that problem but I feel like it would be enough to help make progress in a positive direction.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0001