ASU graduate’s volunteer work solidified desire to make a career of service


December 7, 2018

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

For many people, fitting travel into a busy schedule of work and school may be just a pipe dream. But fall 2018 Arizona State University graduate Nicole Rock made it her reality by attending an online degree program and she is using invaluable experience gained abroad as a foundation for her career. As she worked remotely toward a master’s degree in Global Technology and Development (GTD) in ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS), Rock found time to do the things she loves: travel and volunteer — all while working a full-time job. Nicole Rock Fall 2018 graduate Nicole Rock. Download Full Image

Rock’s passion lies in working with remote communities, specifically those in Central America, to exchange ideas and discuss new ways to improve public health, health education, sanitation infrastructure and more. In her travels, Rock aimed to integrate into local communities, eschewing typical tourist accommodations in an effort to gain a greater understanding of local culture and values. In doing so, she often saw unique aspects of communities that helped inform her volunteer work. After many fulfilling experiences abroad, she has decided to pursue a career in service.

After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in global health from Arizona State University in 2017, Rock volunteered in Nicaragua with Global Brigades, a nonprofit that aims to empower communities in developing countries. Inspired by her experience, she started the ASU chapter of Global Public Health Brigades, which provides students opportunities to work in countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Ghana and others. In addition to studying abroad in Nicaragua, Rock carried out field research for her applied project in Honduras and participated in ASU’s Global Intensive Experience Study Abroad Program in Ecuador.

“Nicole embodies the qualities of a GTD and SFIS graduate,” said Professor Mary Jane Parmentier, chair of the degree program and lead faculty on Rock’s Study Abroad experience in Ecuador. “She is strong academically and passionate about effectuating positive change in marginalized communities.”

Rock volunteers on a daily basis, and her experiences have solidified her desire to build a career focused on service with goals emphasizing partnerships with local organizations to increase capacity and co-developing solutions that positively impact communities. Her dedication to service resulted in her selection as a winner of the 2018 ASU Student Shine Contest, which highlights the achievement and success of ASU students who excel in any one of ASU's six values: Career, Culture, Engagement, Service, Spirit/Affinity and Wellness.

Rock encourages other people to jump into service, even if they are hesitant at first.

“You may be tired on the weekend, you might have classes, but if you can make the time to volunteer, it’s such a great feeling to know that you’ve made an impact on someone else’s life,” she said.

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

Answer: My "aha" moment for selecting GTD happened after I attended a volunteer program in Nicaragua that focused on sustainable development, partnerships with communities and utilizing basic tools and technology to increase overall quality of life. I enjoyed volunteering so much that I wanted to continue my education. I did my undergraduate degree in global health at ASU, so I was hoping to find a way to gain more knowledge on the technology and international development aspect. That compelled me to explore options with ASU, so I did extensive research on the courses available to find out what aligned best with my interests, and that led me to the GTD program in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society!

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

A: The most impactful thing I have learned, especially since I am interested in program implementation in other countries, is the importance of taking into consideration the needs and values of the recipients. This ensures applicability, and hopefully, greater success within the program. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the options for online courses. I work full time so this limits my ability to attend regularly scheduled classes, but I did not want to sacrifice my desire for an education. But thanks to ASU, I was able to make it work! 

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

A: Dr. Gary Grossman, who taught how you think is just as important as what you think.

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

A: To keep moving forward and keep applying yourself, even outside of the classroom. I am happy with where I am at in my collegiate career because of the opportunities I searched for — internships, volunteering, etc. — and worked hard towards. Supplementing your academic education with real-life experience enhances the value of your education. 

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

A: I am rarely on campus since I am an online student. So, my favorite place to study would have to be a little desk in my house where I can set up my coursework and compartmentalize the rest of my responsibilities.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plans after graduating are to work for an organization that involves international work. I don't have a specific career title or organization decided, but I am interested in public health issues in rural areas, sustainable development and community development. Understanding and reducing health inequities has been at the heart of my studies since I started at ASU and would like to continue on this path after graduating. 

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

A: What a difficult question. It really is hard for me to say because so many issues and problems are interconnected. Currently, it would have to be environmental threats.

ASU psychology grad mixes research and praxis


December 7, 2018

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

Netanya "Tanya" Quino likes to get into the details of research methods, but she also knows what it’s like to put those methods into practice. Originally from Cebu, Philippines, Quino worked as an AmeriCorps intern in the Sexual Violence Prevention office at Arizona State University because she knew she wanted to conduct research on the topic in the future. Netanya Quino poses at the Tempe ASU campus Netanya "Tanya" Quino Download Full Image

“I was planning on doing research on it someday and figured it was a good place to start,” she said.

Her experience on both sides of the issue and her interest in art gave her invaluable perspective about what goes into programming and events and how to research them.

“There’s a lot of planning for events that go on behind the scenes and little things that go into the big picture that aim to prevent sexual violence,” she said.

In her time at ASU, Quino worked on an app that helped raise awareness of safety planning (myPlan), along with research projects for the Maricopa County Reentry Center, the ASU Attention Control Lab and the ASU School of Social Transformation.

A psychology major and studio art minor, Quino said she eventually wants to get her master’s and then doctoral degree. She talked with ASU Now about what brought her to ASU and how she fell in love with research.

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

Answer: "Research Methods" was one of the hardest classes I had to take. We had to write three research papers in one semester, and it was honestly exhausting. But there was something that awakened in me during my time in that class that made me excited to look at the results after we concluded data collection. I realized I was passionate about research and was fascinated with the nuances of human behavior.

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

A: My time working with the Maricopa Reentry Center and its residents really made me step out of my comfort zone and changed something in me. Much of what the other students and I did was help ex-convicts think of better lives after their sentences were up, many of them in the prison system since their younger years. I was so intimidated when we first started ... you could feel the stigma associated to the title “ex-con.” But by the end of semester, they were so thankful that we visited them every week that they were tearing up. It was so emotional and such a display of vulnerability that we knew in some small way we broke down unspoken walls and barriers that separate us in society.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: It wasn’t too close to home and it wasn’t too far. My friends also went to school here before I started university.

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

A: I had many good professors during my time at ASU, but I have to say Dr. Anne Mauricio and Dr. Karen Leong really helped me as a student. They taught me lot about graduate schools and what to expect. When things seemed bleak or stressful, they were always willing to listen and extend an empathic ear.

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

A: It doesn’t matter what degree you [pursue]. Make the best of your college experience in any way you can.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Working until I pay off a significant portion of my student loans and then going to graduate school for my master’s and then doctorate.

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

A: Climate change. No Earth = no living.


Written by Holly Bernstein, Sun Devil Storyteller