Urban planning graduate hopes to make hometown more sustainable

December 1, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

With a hometown known for a booming urban center, it is not much of a surprise that Hanan Alhashmi decided to pursue an education that could benefit its development. Originally from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Alhashmi will be graduating this December with a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree from Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Hanan Alhashmi looks forward to returning home to the United Arab Emirates, where she hopes to use her education to help her hometown. Download Full Image

“I want to be an environmental planning consultant and work with all kinds of stakeholders in the UAE to aid in the country’s process of shifting towards more sustainable development,” said Alhashmi. “I would like to specifically focus on how to secure development whilst conserving valuable resources such as groundwater.”

As urban areas continue to grow around the world, Alhashmi recognizes the need for urban planners to help ensure that cities can continue to function and accommodate their growing populations — no matter where they are in the world.

“I definitely recommend taking this program if you are interested in international development or in planning to make an impact on a more macro-scale,” she said.

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

Answer: I believe that moment was when I first saw the program and learned more about it. It made sense to study urban and environmental planning after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. With planning, I could use my background knowledge in environmental science (hydrology, pollution science and resource management) and apply it to a real-world urban setting. Moreover, growing up in a populated city my entire life made urban planning the most logical choice.

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

A: I learned more practical skills and how to work with government sectors. For example, I was able to intern at Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s office and I learned how to network better as well as improve my problem-solving skills. The academic world tends to be idealistic because that is what we all seek, yet being at ASU taught me how to work across both the academic world and the real world.

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU because I knew it would have certain qualities I was looking for. It is incredibly culturally diverse, has numerous resources for students and has a variety of programs/courses, which all made it easy to find exactly what I was looking to learn.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Joochul Kim taught me that to be successful in the planning world, one must try to be involved in some form of politics so that our influence would have a further reach. This is especially important when striving to initiate change or to implement certain policies.

Hanan Alhashmi came to ASU to earn her Master of Urban and Environmental Planning. She felt this was a great addition to her bachelor's degree in environmental sciences through the University of Arizona.

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

A: Try to make the most of the resources that are provided to you such as tutoring and writing programs at the library. Also, stay in touch with your academic advisor as they will immensely help you with finding the right path for you and can help you pick relevant coursework.

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 the area outside Coor Hall. The concrete and glass feel of it inspires me to work on my projects. My favorite spot to dine with friends is Postino Annex on College and University.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on working in an environmental consulting firm or Dubai’s planning department to lead the way for more sustainable development throughout the city.

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

A: If I could solve one problem, it would be to tackle drought and provide adequate sanitation to those in need. Access to clean water is a basic right and by overcoming this issue, we can ensure equality and eradicate many waterborne illnesses found in developing countries.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


From art to music and back again, graduating student succeeds by persisting

December 1, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

Hye Young Yun traces her story as an artist back to fifth grade, when she refused to let setbacks determine her fate during a national art competition. Photo of art student Hye Young Yun. Hye Young Yun. Photo by Esther Kong. Download Full Image

“I chose an old black bronze statue as the subject of my work, and when I had finished my painting, I was very shocked at what I had drawn,” said Hye Young, who graduates from Arizona State University this month with BFAs in drawing and in painting. “The painting, which I thought was going well, looked nothing like the subject. It was just a busy mess of black on paper, and I had realized this just 40 minutes before the competition ended. However, this wasn’t something that pushed me to give up, because it was my passion.”

She said she set the the competition aside and focused on just finishing the painting.  

“I carefully re-observed the subject and found the subtle changes in black,” she said. “Finally, I started to paint the subject again. When I saw the finished painting, I was very satisfied. In the end, I won the competition, and this became my aha moment.”

That same persistence and hard work is what led Hye Young to ASU and to a second career in the arts.

Before moving to Arizona, she was a musician in South Korea. She received a degree in piano performance from Yeungnam University in South Korea in 1993, and as a music major overcame many obstacles, including a severe muscle injury in her arm. Despite the injury, she worked at a church as an accompanist until 2000, but struggling with her condition, she no longer enjoyed the work. She quit her job and moved to Arizona with her two children. She decided to attend college again by taking the ESL program at Mesa Community College.

“As soon as I finished the ESL program, I jumped straight into a drawing class,” she said. “This was my second chance to achieve what I’ve always dreamed of.”

And as a student in the School of Art in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, she has excelled, even receiving five scholarships this year.

“Hye Young creates drawings of Korean culture and figures that go beyond my expectations as an instructor,” said Heidi Hogden, assistant professor. “Her innovative work in drawing, her scholarship and exhibition record and her passion make her an outstanding student and artist.”

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

Answer: Many art students have gone through this. There comes a hard time to know how to express something that is deep inside through art. In this regard, the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my professors was how to deliver expression through my art.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: There is a kind of a strong relationship with ASU (and my family). My husband had a doctorate degree of music at ASU. My son, Joseph, is a student with a scholarship at ASU. Therefore, I was glad to choose ASU.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: All professors are great mentors and supporters including Professors Hogden, Ellen Meissinger, Mark Pomilio and Henry Schoebel, and Instructors Tim Conte and Turner Davis. Professor Schoebel was the first professor I met at ASU, and I studied with him about the traditional painting method. Professor Meissinger always guided me in how to express the artist’s will while working. Professor Pomilio was a great mentor at the senior exhibition. He helped me to complete the most successful of my works. The work “Be Lost in an Old Memory I” was the powerful outcome that was deep inside me. I am currently working on drawing, and I am falling in love with life drawing. Professor Hodgen is a great supporter. She always encourages me to try something new and that makes me go beyond the limit. I was glad to know how to express many colors on a body with Instructor Conte. I was also glad to draw something that was not in a traditional way with Instructor Davis.

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

A: There were many obstacles to study alone with my children in the U.S., but I was thankful to God for allowing me to be productive every day. I really agree that “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That is why people call it the present.” I would like to say that every day of our lives is a miracle, so give thanks for a little.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After I finish the Post-OPT program that is given to me as an international student, I am going to apply to a graduate program of drawing. I cannot wait for the next step.

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

A: I would like to spend the money for children who don’t have a meal for a day. 

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts