Dual bachelor’s graduate finds success through ASU Online


April 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Born to teenage parents and raised by a single mother in Northern California, Stephani Watson learned to support herself from the time she was 17 years old. Stephani Watson holds her ASU grad cap Stephani Watson is graduating from ASU with a BS in political science and a BA in interdisciplinary studies. Download Full Image

At 22, she was hired by Intel. She spent nearly two decades there, gaining knowledge and promotions. But then the recession hit.

At the time, Watson was nearly 40 years old, earning six figures.

“After the recession hit, they were only hiring people that had multiple degrees: master’s degrees, PhDs. On paper — even though my work was good — I couldn’t compete with any of my peers.”

Unable to compete, Watson was terminated and soon found herself in a predicament.

“Where am I going to go get a job that makes that much money, with no degrees, and when my entire adult work experience is with one company? It was devastating,” she said.

She spent a couple of years working on web development for clients but knew she had to go back school, calling it a “no-brainer.” Her first stop was a local community college where she studied interdisciplinary studies, political science and sociology. Her next stop was Arizona State University.

Watson is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in political science and a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies, with two areas of concentration in justice studies and sociology. But her time with and love for the university won’t end after graduation.

“I can’t express how much I love ASU and hope to have a long future relationship with ASU. Once I get into my career and start earning an income, I want to set up pledges for all the scholarships I was blessed to have,” she said. During her time at ASU, Watson said she received support from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Higher Education Program Scholarship, William D. Kavan Political Science Scholarship, ASU Retirees Association Scholarship, and the American Indian Graduate Center.

Watson answered a few questions about her experience at ASU and her plans for the future.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: When I was looking to transfer, I wanted to apply the degrees I had earned at community college, which were interdisciplinary studies, political science and sociology. Unfortunately, our CSU college is more geared toward business and they didn’t have the well-rounded programs that I wanted. I had heard a lot of great things about ASU so I went online, looked at the programs and — because it was online — it was very appealing to me. I started contacting the admissions department; everyone was extremely nice and helpful.

Q: How was your experience as a non-traditional, online student?

A: Going back to school for me was exciting, maybe because I am a non-traditional student and already had a corporate background. I had already worked several years in the workforce and recognized how important a post-secondary degree was. I was really able to dedicate and apply myself so that portion of it wasn’t difficult.

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

A: I think my “aha” moment happened actually not at ASU but right before I transferred. I was attending on-campus classes at my community college with a lot of students that were half my age and they were always coming to me. I would have thought because I was older they would treat me funny or ignore me, but it was the complete opposite. The students were super nice and always wanted to be on my team and always coming to me for advice. I thought, “Wow, if I can help students I would love to do this and teach.” And once I transitioned into ASU, my professors were so phenomenal that I just knew I wanted to be a part of that.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school or considering returning?

A: Really dedicate yourself and don’t settle for mediocre work or mediocre grades. Your grades, your transcripts and how you do at school is like your credit. You have to keep your credit clean so you can buy things. School is like that as well: You have to make sure it’s top-notch so you get the best employment options after you leave school, to be able to do whatever it is you’re truly passionate about.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plans are immediately ASU Law, I’m already registered and start Aug. 16. From there, I’d like to get a professorship at Folsom Lake College; I just finished an internship there and my previous professors want me to come back to teach. My stretch goal is doing the EdD through ASU Online for my doctorate.

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

A: I would try and tackle the problem of education. I think a lot of world problems stem from people being uneducated, and that creates a wealth of other problems because they don’t know how to vote; they start making decisions for the greater population because they just don’t know better. Whereas if you’re educated, you can create solutions.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

480-965-8986

First-gen ASU grad has the world on a string


April 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Hailing from Kirksville, Missouri — a small, tornado-prone city on the Midwestern plains — Trevor Harcrow graduates this semester from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in English (linguistics) and a certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). Graduating ASU student Trevor Harcrow / Courtesy photo "One thing that I learned, rather really confirmed, was that no matter what the task is in front of me, I can achieve success so long as I put my mind to it," said ASU student Trevor Harcrow, who is the first in his family to graduate from university. Download Full Image

You can’t trace a direct line from his beginnings in that green, humid environment to this brown, dry one, however; Harcrow also spent several years in the U.S. Navy, where he traveled extensively.

He will become the first in his family to graduate from university. This doesn’t mean Harcrow hasn’t done a lot of learning elsewhere, though: His experience in the Navy also opened his eyes to the wider world. Having lived and/or worked in more than 30 countries, he hopes to continue learning and teaching overseas after graduating.

Harcrow interned this semester as a second-language tutor for the Department of English’s writing programs, helping non-native speakers through required English courses. His military-honed work ethic has made him a standout in his classes and internships alike.

“He shines as a student in my courses,” said Ruby Macksoud, an instructional professional who directs the Department of English’s internship program, “and his life experiences have helped other students to think outside of the box.”

Harcrow answered a few questions about his inspirations and plans for post-graduation.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field? 

Answer: My "aha" moment was on April 5, 2012. I had just gotten out of the Navy and was traveling in Europe with some friends who also recently gotten out. I was driving our red Mini Cooper D rental down the highway on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden, contemplating my life. I was looking at the clouds in the sky asking myself what I wanted to do with my life, and all of a sudden it hit me. From that day forward, I have dedicated myself to teaching English abroad, whether that is just helping friends improve their conversational English, writing letters to pen pals for practice, or in a formal academic role (which is why I chose to study at ASU).

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

A: One thing that I learned, rather really confirmed, was that no matter what the task is in front of me, I can achieve success so long as I put my mind to it. Being the first of my family to graduate from university, it was a daunting task in and of itself, but while taking 18-plus credits a semester, working full-time and taking care of home responsibilities, I really tested myself, but I rose to the challenge and here I am crossing the finish line.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I recently moved to Arizona (for work) and heard nothing but great things about the veteran center. Pat Tillman had a profound impact on the lives of Arizonans, and being prior military I wanted to be a part of that.

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

A: Stick with it no matter what! While it may seem impossible to you at the time, it will be even harder if you stop. Just like life, there will never be an opportune time to do something, so when things get rough just dig your heels in and always keep moving forward. Life won’t stop for you, so why should you stop for life?

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

A: Most of my time was spent either in the G. Homer Durham Language and Literature building or in Hayden Library. I didn't have a dedicated spot that I would hang out at, but rather on nice days I would just walk around and sit on the benches enjoying the weather (when it wasn't 110). ASU's campus is really pretty, and there are a ton of little hidden gems to see, but you will only find them if you explore.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My immediate plans after graduation include volunteer teaching here in the Valley. My long-term goal is to teach abroad, but being a fresh graduate I want to gain in-field experience first. Also, I have not explored nearly enough of Arizona, so I would like to take a year seeing the sights that the state has to offer before moving on to the next chapter of my life.

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

A: I would use this money to help fight against the growing problem of plastic in our oceans, as well as just the general pollution of our planet. We only have the one planet.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

senior marking & communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611