An early love of hiking and exploring led to a passion for geology


April 30, 2018

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

This May, Chad Kwiatkowski will be graduating from ASU with a bachelor of science degree in Earth and Space Exploration – Geological Sciences. He is also the School of Earth and Space Exploration Dean’s Medalist for 2018, having earned this award through his stellar academic record, his skills as a leader, and his drive and energy in pursuing his academic passions.  Chad Kwiatkowski Chad Kwiatkowski's goals include teaching at a community college and establishing an animal/farm sanctuary. Download Full Image

An avid hiker and explorer, geology was a natural fit for Kwiatkowski. And having grown up in the northern part of Phoenix, choosing geological sciences for his major gave him a chance to study the landforms that had surrounded him during his childhood, like the McDowell Mountains.

That love of being outdoors also led Kwiatkowski to the realization that learning could take place in the classroom and also on his own free time, during weekend hikes around Arizona, ultimately blending work and play and doing something that he loved.  

In the future, Kwiatkowski hopes to earn a master’s degree, teach at a community college and establish an animal/farm sanctuary. 

He answered questions about his time at ASU:

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

Answer: I needed a science credit while pursuing my associate’s degree at community college, and my girlfriend recommended that I take geology. I already enjoyed hiking and exploring the wilderness near my hometown, so geology was a natural fit. It made the whole world seem to make sense, while also filling my mind with questions.

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

A: While at ASU, I learned that learning takes place both in and out of the classroom. It is important to pick a major you are passionate about, so you have the drive to pursue it further in your free time. For me, this involved going on weekend hikes in the mountains surrounding Phoenix, armed with geologic maps and reports of the area. Doing this, I learned many things that there simply wasn’t time for in the curriculum. If you do what you love, work and play will blend into one and you will live a happier life.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU is a leader in many branches of geoscience, and its location in the Southwestern U.S. makes it ideal for a range of geological studies. Additionally, I grew up on the northern fringe of metropolitan Phoenix, so studying at ASU gave me the opportunity to learn about the landforms I grew up around that held a special place in my heart, such as the McDowell Mountains and the Tonto foothills. 

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

A: When you begin college, take a diverse assortment of classes. This will help you find out what interests you the most. If I hadn’t branched out and done this, I may never have discovered my passion for geology. Many adults come back to college after working for decades in a field they didn’t enjoy. If you happen to be near the beginning of your college career, that is an especially perfect time to branch out and find a field that suites you. 

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

A: My special spot on campus was under a big, beautiful tree outside of the PS-F (Physical Sciences Center F-Wing) building. In the shade of its leaves, I spent countless hours reading my textbooks, doing homework, and meditating, which kept me balanced during the inevitable collegiate chaos.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: Upon graduation, I will be pursuing a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University. After graduate school, I hope to attain a teaching position at a community college in the Western U.S. and establish a farm/animal sanctuary with my girlfriend.

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

A: I would strive to solve the educational crisis by funding education research. If we can understand how our students learn most effectively, we can more efficiently allocate current resources, in addition to seeing specifically where more resources are needed. The students of today will solve the problems of tomorrow, and putting in the time, money and effort to understand what students need to thrive should be a major focus of our society.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration

480-965-9345

Navy veteran sails away with ASU linguistics degree


April 30, 2018

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

Arizona State University student Ryan Lee graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in English (linguistics); in some ways, this has always been his path. He has had a love of words his whole life — his friends used to call him a “walking dictionary” — and he thrilled to rigorous language research once introduced to it. ASU English (linguistics) graduate Ryan Lee / Courtesy photo Graduating ASU student Ryan Lee, a U.S. Navy veteran, poses with his violin, which he says he used as a "coping mechanism" when feeling lost after leaving the service. Download Full Image

A U.S. Navy veteran, Lee’s interest in linguistics was further piqued during international deployments to Greece, Turkey, Dubai, Bahrain, Oman and France. At ASU, he studied Japanese and had the opportunity to survey languages like Kabardian and Old Egyptian in his upper-division course work.

French author Marcel Proust said: "The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Lee’s experience certainly bears this out: combine military travel with ASU language training and an appreciation for diverse cultures and voila! A linguist is born.

Hoping to become an international liaison, Lee won’t return to his hometown of Rialto, California, after graduation but instead will remain in the Valley of the Sun to attend the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.

We asked Lee a few more questions about his time at ASU and plans for the future.

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

Answer: Once I had traveled abroad, I knew that I wanted to be in a field that would allow me to expound my word knowledge, learn languages and travel frequently. When I began to show affinity for learning languages in college, I was introduced to linguistics as a field of study. It encompassed everything that I was looking for, and that's when I had my "aha" moment.

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

A:  When I took “English in its Social Setting” with Patricia Friedrich at ASU’s West campus, it completely changed my mind about the English language. It demonstrated the importance of why it is better to describe and observe language than to correct the way that a person speaks. I learned about the dialectical variations of the English language and how language works in modern society. A few classmates and I were led to research in political discourse and applied linguistics in the following semester, and analyzed the impact of technology and language in modern political discourse. [This] led me to study even more words, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU to further my academic endeavors because of the number of programs and the number of foreign languages that I could study. I had been out of the U.S. Navy for about a year and was finishing my associate's degree at a community college in Virginia. I wanted to escape the cold and my family was back West and was looking to move again. I had a friend who was a student and needed a new roommate around the same time, so I drove from Virginia to ASU after I got accepted and could not have made a better decision. 

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

A: One bit of advice that I would give to those in school is to make sure that they align their degree with a job in mind and couple their degree with a few years of experience because the job market has definitely shifted over the years. Those students who are still in school should really know why they are in college and earning the degree that they are pursuing.

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

A: My favorite spot on campus is definitely the [Durham] Language and Literature building (LL) because that's where most of my classes were, and it's the one place on campus where many different languages are spoken from learners to native speakers. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am proud to say that I have been accepted into Thunderbird School of Global Management's Master of Global Management program for fall 2018. I am looking forward to the "global mindset" education and the networking possibilities. After I went to Thunderbird's preview day and met so many people from all over the world, I knew that Thunderbird was the place that I wanted to complete my graduate degree. It has been a long journey from active duty to veteran, community college to university, and now going off to graduate school. I couldn't be happier with this decision, and look forward to making an impact as an international liaison and consultant and can increase my chances at becoming a polyglot.

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

A: With $40 million to solve one problem, I would want to assist the veteran community and tackle homelessness and mental health issues. These are some of the main issues plaguing the veteran community. I remember when I first got out of the service, it was difficult to reinvent myself and switch careers. I believed in my education and used my violin as a coping mechanism so that I could focus on making my educational aspirations come true. I want veterans out there to know that they are not alone and that there are positive outlets available to help with the transition from service to society.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

senior marking & communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611