Alumna reflects on opportunities seized at ASU and within career

While studying at ASU, Katzman conducted 1st prevalent study on bulimia; she went on to found psychology workplace-consulting firm


October 29, 2018

Melanie Katzman was born curious and said she always planned to study psychology.

During her undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, Katzman worked in a lab focused on obesity and stumbled on the topic of night eating. Melanie Katzman ASU alumna Melanie Katzman is the founder and president of Katzman Consulting, which has a team of psychologists who consult in the workplace. Download Full Image

“Attached to that was something that later became known as bulimia, but at the time it was just diagnosed … When people now hear about bulimia it sounds so common, but at the time no one knew that there were women who were eating and vomiting in secret. It was a new diagnosis, and I wanted to understand why people did that,” she said.

With the desire to research a relatively unknown topic, Katzman said she sought to study with someone that was interested and excited by her ideas.

That somebody was Sharlene Wolchik, who at the time had just been hired by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a new professor in the Department of Psychology, she said. The decision to attend ASU for her master’s and doctoral degrees was an easy one.

“The university had faculty, money and they had people that believed in me, so it was a good package,” she said.

Katzman and her team went on to conduct the first prevalent study on bulimia and received letters from women written on the research papers asking for help and answers.

“By the time I left ASU, I had documented there was a problem, written a treatment manual for professionals, written a treatment manual for patients and also gotten involved with advocacy work — talking to the media and talking with the government — because we were holding data that no one else had,” she said.

To current and future students, Katzman warns against getting stuck in one discipline. While she worked hard as a student, she also took time to enjoy what Arizona as a state has to offer.

“Make sure you’re taking classes and talking to people way outside your comfort zone. I learned so much being out with colleagues who were doing completely different things. I would go out to the river and collect samples of plant life, I would help my friends with tree rings, I went with one of my friends who was a volcanologist to Hawaii. Learn from the people around you,” she said.

Post-graduation, Katzman continued studying eating disorders in other parts of the world, including Hong Kong, where she lived for several years.

“I had gone from studying the development of eating disorders in America to looking at how eating disorders existed in places that didn’t have Madison Avenue advertising pressures. There was a view that people with eating disorders were vain and that it was some kind of rich girl’s illness. I became very interested in documenting eating disorders where it was much more evident that this wasn’t a reaction just to advertising, that this was actually a means of coping and reacting during social change,” she said.

As Katzman’s research progressed, so did her opportunities. A second specialization emerged, and Katzman began consulting to companies on diversity and women in leadership roles.

Today, she is the founder and president of Katzman Consulting, which has a team of psychologists who consult in the workplace.

Katzman said she couldn’t have imagined her career path transitioning from eating disorders to a business and strategic role but always anticipated her career would focus on impact.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always looked for ways to take what I’m learning in the clinical arena or laboratory and bring it out for more popular consumption,” she said. “There’s a lot of discussion about whether people have jobs that have meaning. I know my job has meaning. I see the change I can make in people’s lives. It’s hugely rewarding.”

Kirsten Kraklio

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

480-965-8986

Alumna uses communication skills to tackle new career challenges

From a screen-printing business to magazines to real estate, Halle's path has taken her far and wide


October 29, 2018

Originally, alumna Nikki Halle’s plan was to stay close to home and attend Michigan State with all of her friends. But then her father sat her down and offered a proposition: Go anywhere else in the country and he would pay for it. In other words: Go spread your wings.

“I had never been to Arizona, but I was very intrigued with the desert from photographs — this was before the internet. I went down to our college adviser’s office at my high school and they didn’t have anything on Arizona, so I called and got brochures on ASU and U of A, applied to both and got accepted to both. I chose ASU because of the business college and it just seemed like a better match for me, being close to a metropolitan city.” Nikki Halle Today, ASU alumna Nikki Halle works with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s as a Realtor and as a federal political coordinator with the National Association of Realtors. In that capacity, she works in Washington, D.C., twice a year to present legislation about issues facing homeowners including property rights, taxes and flood insurance. Download Full Image

Halle, who graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a degree in communication in 1988, studied abroad during her time at the college and stumbled upon an idea that would soon set her future career path in motion.

"I was studying abroad my junior year, and I met some girls from another university who were telling me how they designed T-shirts for a rival college, sold them and were so successful,” she said. “When I got back to campus the next semester I noticed that everybody on campus had custom T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts for their club, team, sorority, fraternity. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s opportunity everywhere here.’”

Soon, Big Man On Campus (BMOC), Halle’s screen-printing business, was founded.

After graduation, Halle rented space off Campus Avenue and employed students to help the growing business. She created a catalog and 1-800 number and expanded her influence to universities, clubs and teams across the country, recruiting student salespeople in the process.

As BMOC evolved from Tempe to Tucson and beyond, so did Halle’s opportunities. She bought a newspaper called the Greek Review. And she began collaborating with a tour operator, helping to sell and manage student travel tours.

By this point in life, Halle was 26, nearing 27. She was running stores in Phoenix and Tucson, while managing a network of student salespeople across the country. But she was ready for the next level in life, so she sold BMOC and bought her first piece of real estate. Then she sold both the ASU and U of A Greek Review newspapers and created a travel company called Planet Tours, followed by the creation of Planet Magazine.

Halle said these ventures allowed her to see the world, but it wasn’t very lucrative. So she sold the tour and magazine operations and sought a job opportunity that would allow her to meet key players in the Valley.

From her time volunteering in and after college with various organizations and causes, she had made connections and was offered a position at the American Heart Association. After a year at the association, she was offered a job as director of marketing by one of the largest developers in northwest Tucson and relocated. From there, Halle transitioned further into the world of real estate, both as a real estate agent and then as a Windermere franchise owner.

Today, Halle works with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s as a Realtor and as a federal political coordinator with the National Association of Realtors. In that capacity, she works in Washington, D.C., twice a year to present legislation about issues facing homeowners including property rights, taxes and flood insurance.

Halle didn’t anticipate this is where her path would lead when she made the decision to abandon her plans with Michigan State and said that she’s fortunate and appreciative of all the opportunities.

“[I appreciate] my whole ASU experience, all the doors it opened and what a wonderland it was and continues to be for me,” she said. "[A communication degree] turned out to be a blessing because of all the things I learned from public speaking, nonverbal communication, journalism — it all tied into my career path as an entrepreneur and salesperson.”

Halle’s advice to current and future ASU students is the same as she told her 20-year-old daughter: “Follow your passion. You will be happy if you’re passionate about what you do. If you don’t know what it is, just look at every door as an opportunity.”

Kirsten Kraklio

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

480-965-8986