ASU remains at military education forefront with another gold rating

Military Friendly School rating indicates ASU is one of the top schools surveyed


April 11, 2018

Arizona State University has been designated a Military Friendly School for the ninth consecutive year, university officials confirmed Wednesday.

The designation comes from Victory Media, a leader in helping connect the military community with education and professional opportunities through their G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse publications.   ASU earned a gold rating from Victory Media, placing it at the top of the more than 1,400 universities surveyed about veterans' education. Download Full Image

ASU earned a “gold” rating, placing it within the top of the more than 1,400 schools that participated in the 2018-2019 survey. EdPlus, ASU’s online education arm, also earned separate recognition as a Military Friendly School.

“Helping veterans and other military-affiliated students get access to quality higher education continues to be our driving force in the Pat Tillman Veterans Center,” said Steve Borden, Pat Tillman Veterans Center director. “We place great value on our military and veteran students, which is part of ASU’s larger affinity toward national defense and public service.”

Universities earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey.  For the first time, student survey data was taken into consideration for the designation. 

“We continually work on innovative ways to make the student veteran’s ASU journey a transformational and not a transactional college experience,” said Michelle Loposky, Pat Tillman Veterans Center assistant director for outreach and engagement. “One of our goals is to help our military students by pointing them toward internships, research, and other opportunities so when they graduate they leave here with a diploma and a broader range of beneficial experiences.”

More than 7,200 military-affiliated students are currently enrolled online and on campus, making ASU one of the largest universities per capita in the U.S. for students earning their degrees with GI Bill and Department of Defense tuition assistance benefits.  

“The support ASU has for veterans is unmatched for public universities,” said U.S. Marine Corps veteran Anthony Lawrence, a communication major with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “That is because the folks at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center care and work hard to support veterans and to get us involved.” 

Over half of enrolled military students are online. The most popular degree programs for veterans at ASU are in engineering, STEM, as well as those leading to continued community service — such as criminology, criminal justice studies, social work, health programs and teaching.

Methodology, criteria and weightings were determined by Victory Media with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

“Our ability to apply a clear, consistent standard to colleges creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges to invest in programs to provide educational outcomes that are better for veterans,” Victory Media’s Chief Product Officer Daniel Nichols said.

Get more information about ASU’s student veteran programs and all of ASU’s overall military initiatives.

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Two ASU juniors win prestigious Goldwater Scholarship


April 11, 2018

Arizona State University juniors Humza Zubair and Meilin Zhu have won Goldwater Scholarships, the most prestigious national award for undergraduates in math, science and engineering. Zhu, a biochemistry major, and Zubair, a biochemistry and biological sciences double-major, are both students in the School of Molecular Sciences and Barrett, The Honors College.

Working in the laboratories of ASU senior faculty and scientists at the Barrow Neurological Institute, their work ranges from neuroscience research to global health engineering with an emphasis on point-of-care technologies. Meilin Zhu Meilin Zhu, a junior majoring in biochemistry in the School of Molecular Sciences, is one of two ASU students who have been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious national award for undergraduates in math, science and engineering. Photo by Mary Zhu Download Full Image

Established in 1986 in honor of former Arizona Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the program seeks to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to the top undergraduate researchers in these fields. Each U.S. college or university may nominate up to four students per year to the program.

According to the Goldwater Foundation, 211 scholarships and 281 honorable mentions were awarded this year, out of a field of 1,280 nominees from over 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Zubair and Zhu were selected for this honor on the basis of their outstanding academic achievement and remarkable research output.

Zubair and Zhu also received assistance with their Goldwater Scholarship applications from the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, housed in the Barrett, The Honors College Tempe complex. Staff at ONSA help students compile and perfect their application materials, including resumes and personal statements.

Kyle Mox, director of ONSA and an associate dean at Barrett, The Honors College, said the Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious award for undergraduates in STEM.

“This accomplishment is actually quite significant, when you consider that each of the other 1,300 applicants was carefully vetted and reviewed by their home campus,” Mox said. “Goldwater Scholars are really the cream of the crop when it comes to our nation’s future researchers. You don’t see a Goldwater nominee that isn’t incredibly impressive, much less a Scholar.”

The on-campus competition for one of the four ASU nominations can be quite intense. This year, nearly 20 ASU sophomores and juniors vied for one of the coveted positions.

“I don’t think any of the campus applicants had less than a 3.95 GPA,” Mox said. “And all of them already had one or two years of research experience and several other awards. Our faculty nominating committee has an incredibly difficult choice to make every year.”

ASU is among the top universities in the U.S. for the Goldwater Scholarship. Over the past decade, 22 ASU students have been selected as Goldwater Scholars, ranking ASU among the top 10 in the U.S., ahead of Cornell, University of Chicago and Yale.

Curtis Peterson, a Barrett student majoring in physics and mathematics with the School of Earth and Space Exploration, received an honorable mention.

A future in neuroscience

Humza Zubair was offered a paid position for a year full time at Barrow Neurological Institute as a research assistant when he was just out of high school.

For four years, Zubair has been working in a lab at the Barrow Neurological Institute studying head movement and gaze coordination in healthy cats. By observing a cat’s movement and behavior, Zubair can gain insight into how the animal’s central nervous system interacts with its visual and sensory systems that affect movement, spatial orientation and balance.

Humza Zubair
Humza Zubair. Photo by Mary Zhu

“If we understand the basic functionality of a healthy system, then that gives us a reference point to understand and possibly cure a diseased system,” Zubair said in explaining his research, which may have implications for the care of humans.

He has presented his research at several meetings of the Society for Neuroscience and is co-author of two research reports published in the Journal of Neurophysiology and the Journal Neuroscience.

Zubair was also selected last year as an Amgen scholar to conduct research at the University of California, San Francisco.

“As a Tempe native, it was my high privilege to represent my hometown school in a nationwide competition, and I am honored to win the Goldwater Scholarship,” Zubair said. “Winning Goldwater has increased my confidence in my academic and professional abilities.  I am now ever more motivated to continue contributing to new scientific literature.” 

Zubair said the scholarship will help pay for another year of tuition at ASU, time he will use in preparation to pursue a doctorate in biomedical studies and medicine.

He also will continue his research into the human neural system, the pathways connecting the brain and the body’s nervous system.

“Deciphering the link between the brain and behavior has been one of the most challenging scientific endeavors. Although we are only beginning to understand the basic functionality of a few neural systems, we face the daunting task of curing diseases associated with dysfunctional neural networks,” he said.

Zubair gives credit to Miles Orchinik in the ASU School of Life Sciences and Irina Beloozerova at Barrow Neurological Institute for helping him win the Goldwater Scholarship by assisting him with sharpening his application and honing his research goals.

Solving global health issues

Meilin Zhu aspires to lead and mentor a team of researchers in engineering global health innovations at an academic research institution. Her research will focus on developing and translating novel point-of-care diagnostic tools and technologies, which will improve healthcare accessibility in developing nations. Ultimately, Zhu aims to disrupt cycles of poor health by providing innovative solutions to the world’s greatest health issues.

Zhu hopes to pursue a doctorate in biological engineering and become a principal investigator at a leading research institution.

“Winning the Goldwater Scholarship has been very exciting and rewarding,” Zhu explained. “The scholarship will definitely help me financially and professionally, as I apply for bioengineering PhD programs this fall.”

“I feel honored and excited to win the Goldwater Scholarship. During my freshman year, I discovered a passion for research and I felt that it (the scholarship) would be an important step in pursuing a research career,” she said. “Being interested in this scholarship, I was determined to put my best foot forward. So, actually winning it is quite the dream come true. I believe receiving this scholarship will be instrumental in pushing my research career forward and pursuing a PhD.”

Zhu said she is grateful for the assistance of “wonderful mentors I have at ASU. Dr. Karen Anderson (in the School of Life Sciences) and Dr. Jennifer Blain Christen (in the School of Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering), along with their lab members, have supported me every step of the way, and I am so lucky to have them as advisors.”

Jennifer Green contributed to this story.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College

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