First graduate of a growing school sets the bar high

Elana Quint will graduate from School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


April 24, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Elana Quint grew up asking the big questions. School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Elana Quint. Elana Quint, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership's first graduate, plans to go to Washington, D.C., to study law. Download Full Image

It starts with her family. Originally from the Soviet Union, Quint's mother immigrated to the United States in 1989 with her family. Not knowing a word of English, unfamiliar with customs and without any connections in the United States, they settled in Tucson, where Quint would eventually be born. Her family having come from a country with a turbulent government situation, Quint quickly understood the importance of good governance and the impact the law has on society.

“Ever since I was young, I have had an insatiable curiosity and love of learning. One of the most compelling dimensions of studying philosophy and law is that oftentimes there is not a 'right answer,'" she said.

This May, Quint will graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in civic and economic leadership, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, a minor in business, and as a graduate of Barrett, The Honors College. Quint is also being recognized by The College as a Dean’s Medalist.

Her education won’t stop in May, however. Quint was one of only 24 students selected from around the country to participate in the Hertog Foundation’s seven-week political studies program, where she will study political philosophy, contemporary public affairs, economics and foreign policy. Quint plans to attend law school, clerk in appellate court and go on to a career as a lawyer.

A major milestone

When Quint walks across the stage in May, she will be the first student to graduate from ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, which was founded just over two years ago.

“I carry a great responsibility to both represent the school well and carry on our mission statement,” Quint said. “I strongly believe in the importance of vigorous debate about issues facing our world and that studying great thinkers can provide useful insight as to how we ought to approach them.”

As the first graduate of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Quint sets a high bar of achievement, something Paul Carrese, SCETL’s founding director, hopes other students see as a goal they should strive to.

“We’re delighted that talented students like Elana found us immediately and dove into our regular courses and broader experiential-learning curriculum,” Carrese said. “Our student cohort grows with each semester, and we think the school’s approach to developing students as leaders will continue to attract new students from various parts of the university who want to invest in a broader preparation for service in whatever career or life path they might choose.”

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership also will have several students graduate with a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership.

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

Answer: My academic interest in studying philosophy began my freshman year of high school when I joined the speech and debate team and has only grown since.

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

A: ASU has an incredibly diverse student population. Some of the most profound moments in my personal and intellectual growth resulted from my discussions after classes with my peers who may be considered nontraditional students. I do not think I would have these experiences were I to study at another university.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU to stay close to home — but not too close.

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

A: At the end of my sophomore year I took a course with the theatre department in Acting Fundamentals. Dan Tobin taught me that we should take our life experiences and use it to connect more deeply with others. When he taught us how to act, he emphasized the importance of given circumstances so every moment we spent on stage would be a genuine and authentic expression of emotion.

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

A: Seek activities that push your thinking outside your comfort zone; take the remainder of the time you have in college to gain as many new experiences as you can.

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

A: The theater building, but generally the entire northwest artsy corner of campus.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I will move to Washington, D.C., to study law.

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

A: I would put $40 million dollars to solve substance abuse, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction can take a terrible toll on families, which are our core social institutions.

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

Graduating ASU linguist-lawyer works to improve, clarify speech rights


April 24, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

In today’s fraught political climate, when newsfeeds regularly buzz with complex questions about the nature of “free speech,” we can be glad for one new Arizona State University graduate. Graduating ASU student Amanda Weaver / Courtesy photo Graduating doctoral student Amanda Weaver is not only a lawyer and linguist, she's a therapeutic riding instructor certified with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. "I haven't had much chance to teach for the last couple of years," said Weaver. "But I am looking forward to doing some more volunteer work with some therapeutic riding centers in the near future." Download Full Image

Amanda Weaver, a Phoenix attorney with Snell & Wilmer, is completing her PhD in applied linguistics at ASU this spring. Her academic focus is in the linguistic considerations of the First Amendment entitlement, and she has analyzed provisions affording free speech in constitutional documents — not just in the U.S. but also in another geopolitical hotspot: Russia.

On March 12, Weaver defended her dissertation, “Thinking/Speaking/Acting 'Freely'? A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Free Speech Provisions in the United States and Russian Constitutions,” in which she looked for avenues to protect or improve speech rights.

Karen Adams, a professor of English in linguistics and a member of Weaver’s committee, lauded Weaver’s work for being both comprehensive and timely.

“It provides major insights into differing ideologies of ‘freedom’ that are at the heart of the founding principles of the two nations and their governments,” she said.

Weaver also completed two undergraduate degrees at ASU in 2010 — in English (linguistics) and in Russian — and a certificate in Russian and Eastern European studies. She earned a master’s degree (2012) and Juris Doctor (2017) at the University of Arizona, graduating sixth in her law class of 133. She clerked for one of Arizona’s Supreme Court Justices in 2017–18 while working on her doctorate.

“She has achieved so much due to her skill at framing important and answerable questions and staying extraordinarily well organized,” Adams said.

Professor Danko Sipka, the coordinator of Slavic language and cultures in the School of International Letters and Cultures, who supervised Weaver’s undergraduate and graduate studies, praised her academic performance over the past decade. “Her work was stellar at all times,” he said. “She brings a unique multidisciplinary (approach).”



We spoke with Weaver about her multilayered accomplishments, her community work and her surprising therapeutic outlet.

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

Answer: I have loved language for as long as I can remember. My undergraduate degrees (in English linguistics and Russian) here at ASU were the first major steps I took towards realizing that passion, and my passion has only increased since that time, particularly as I have honed in on the importance of language and linguistics in the legal field.

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

A: I am not sure I could pin it down to one thing, but one of my favorite things about my program in the English department is my fellow students: so many of my classes, even though they were generally small graduate courses, were full of smart, interesting people from all over the world. This variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences of my classmates throughout my coursework enriched my educational experience immeasurably.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because the professors here had not only the expertise, but also the willingness and enthusiasm to assist me in seeking out my interdisciplinary interests and accomplishing my research goals.

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

A: My PhD adviser, Danko Sipka, has been invaluable in his support and guidance of my development as a scholar. I first took one of his classes as an undergraduate in 2006, and have benefited from his leadership and scholarship since that time.

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

A: Seek out — or continue pursuing — something you are passionate about, and dedicate yourself to it. When you have the drive to study and devote yourself to something you care about, success follows!

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

A: I have recently become very fond of Ross-Blakley Hall — it is the new home of the English department, so I have certainly spent some time there during my PhD studies! It is also the former home of ASU’s law school, and because my dissertation explored linguistics in connection with U.S. and Russian constitutional law, the overlap of law and linguistics in one building is very poetic to me.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am going to continue my career: I am an attorney newly admitted to practice in Arizona and recently joined the law firm of Snell & Wilmer in downtown Phoenix. I look forward to using my background in linguistics and its intersection in the legal field as I develop in my career of practicing law and working to help our clients and the community.

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

A: I would dedicate those funds to increasing the availability and assistance of animal therapy to populations with increased barriers to access — individuals with special needs, servicemembers and first responders, incarcerated individuals, etc. I began involvement with equine therapy in high school, and volunteered for about 10 years with different organizations. I have found few things more fulfilling than assisting in the therapeutic process through a shared love of animals and the innumerable benefits that such therapy can provide.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

senior marking & communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611