LA high schoolers say HOLA to ASU Downtown Phoenix campus for a glimpse of college life

April 30, 2019

A budding partnership between Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) recently brought a dozen LA sophomores and juniors to the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus for an immersive college experience.

As ASU begins establishing its newest location in downtown Los Angeles at the Herald Examiner building, this growing partnership with HOLA — a vital resource for youth in the area — will serve to strengthen ties with the LA community. HOLA teens throw up their pitchforks for a group photo in front of Wells Fargo Arena HOLA teens pose for a group photo outside Wells Fargo Arena where they watched an ASU basketball game. Photo courtesy of Heart of Los Angeles

HOLA is nonprofit organization currently serving over 2,100 youth ages 6 to 24. It provides underserved youth with free, exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.

Watts College hosted HOLA’s Southwest Airlines pre-alumni scholars in downtown Phoenix for an overnight campus stay in February, offering the high school students a taste of college life. The 2019 visit was the first, with the goal of making the visit an annual occurrence.

From Sunday to Monday, HOLA students toured the campus, participated in college classes and college-readiness workshops, watched the ASU Sun Devils beat the California Golden Bears men’s basketball team 69-59 and talked with current Watts College student Xochilt Zelaya.

Zelaya, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, is from the Koreatown neighborhood in Los Angeles close to where HOLA is located, which made it easy for her to connect with the students.

“As an L.A. native who transferred over to ASU, it was exciting to see more people from my community wanting to take the same educational route I did,” Zelaya said.

“HOLA is an incredible organization that is nurturing young people to see themselves as agents of change in their communities, creating pathways to education for their families,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of Watts College.

“That’s why this partnership is so important to me. Watts College exists to make a difference in communities, and supporting the goals of young people like HOLA’s scholars is core to our mission.”

Along with making the overnight campus visit an annual one, Watts College will sponsor four HOLA students per year (sophomores, juniors or seniors) with scholarships to attend “SummerUP,” an ASU camp held on the West campus, where students are mentored on college readiness and get a taste of university-level, hands-on learning in areas like forensic science, coding, global entrepreneurship and game design.

“Watts College’s consideration shown to our scholars is immensely helpful in our mission to support aspiring college students,” said Anthony Gilmore, scholarship coordinator for HOLA. “Our students have not stopped talking about their adventure in Arizona and have now been exposed to what could be when studying out of state.”

HOLA CEO Tony Brown added, “ASU's track record of sharing its resources with communities striving to reach their full potential is phenomenal, and HOLA is thrilled to be working with them to bring relevant opportunities to our neighborhood.”

The Watts College-HOLA connection exists thanks to Watts College alumnus Alan Adelman, one of HOLA's longest-standing board members and senior equity fund manager and senior equity analyst at Frost Bank.

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU School of Music alumna returns to ASU Gammage in 'Wicked'

April 30, 2019

Among a sea of aspiring actors dressed in black and lined up at an open call audition, Tregoney Shepherd wore a bright red miniskirt. Whether the skirt helped or hurt her chances, she’s unsure — but soon after she was whisked onto the “Les Misérables” Broadway stage. 

Now, Shepherd has returned home to Arizona with the touring production of “Wicked” at ASU Gammage. Shepherd graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre, a master’s degree in musical theatre and opera direction, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in vocal performance in 2015.  Tregoney Shepherd stands with ASU musical theater students following her master class on April 25, 2019. Download Full Image

“I love ASU and I’m thankful for it because I feel like the program was very nurturing, encouraging, open to different ideas and provided me with performance opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Shepherd said.

Throughout her illustrious career, Shepherd has performed in the national tours of “Wicked” and “Mary Poppins,” as well as both the Broadway and national tours of “Les Misérables” and “Phantom of the Opera.” 

She recounted some of her own blunders and offered words of wisdom to current ASU musical theatre students on April 25. From treating every audition or dress rehearsal like a full performance and knowing who’s in the room, she shared lessons she often learned the hard way. 

She said the lack of information she had as she approached the Broadway industry is part of the reason why she enjoys helping younger aspiring actors. 

“As much as you are training and taking class, you don’t have the exposure,” Shepherd said. “Then you go and you have to figure out how to do it. So I like to be able to share my experiences with people so that they can understand that nothing is perfect — there’s no perfect way to do it. Everybody’s path is completely different.”

Shepherd also said she particularly loved her experience at ASU because her creativity was never diminished, and she was able to pursue many of her own ideas. 

Ultimately, she said that just because some students couldn’t afford musical theater summer workshops like some families, it not essential in starting a theater career. 

“With persistence and hard work and desire, you can have all of that,” she said.