ASU soccer player and honors student graduates with 2 degrees
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.
To say that Christina Edwards was busy throughout her undergraduate career at Arizona State University is an understatement.
Edwards spent many hours training, traveling and playing on the field as a member of the Sun Devil Women’s Soccer Team and many more hours studying to finish two degrees in less than four years.
She was a stand-out player with a stellar record at her high school in Bend, Oregon, when she signed to play forward and midfield for the Sun Devils in 2016. She didn’t disappoint, amassing a solid record at ASU.
Edwards is set to graduate in December with two bachelor’s degrees, one in Spanish and another in psychology, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.
We caught up with Edwards to get her thoughts about graduating, her ASU experience, and her future plans.
Question: What is an interesting moment, story, or accomplishment from your ASU career? Something you experienced that defines your time at ASU, or an opportunity you had that stands out, or something you accomplished that you’re proud of.
Answer: Fortunately, there are numerous examples of experiences I am proud of during my time at ASU. From playing four years on the ASU D1 women’s soccer team to graduating in three-and-a-half years with two majors, each moment has been exceptionally wonderful yet challenging. I would say that the best moment has been my continual growth. Specifically, conquering each challenge with a community of strong women and supportive men who held my hand along the way. Although I have always had wild ambitions, my friends and family graciously danced beside me on this journey through college. My whole life I have been known as the “soccer girl,” but since coming to ASU, I am so thrilled to have been recognized for my academic accomplishments off the field as well. Lastly, I am most proud of the woman I have become during my time here. It was not anywhere near the college experience I expected, but I have grown into a more patient, curious, ambitious, and relentless woman. For that, I am forever grateful.
Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
A: Since my junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to go into the field of psychology. My instructor at the time, Mrs. Emily Tompkins, who taught AP psychology at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon, exuded so much love and joy for her job. I knew my passion belonged in working with people too. I have gone to counseling for much of my life and I want nothing more than to help one person the same way my counselors have helped me. I love problem solving and I believe creativity is a strength of mine which I believe will be extremely helpful in the ever-changing field of therapeutic techniques.
I decided to add Spanish as a second degree during my freshman year of college because I already had enough credits under my belt for a minor. My more fun reasoning is that it is a great excuse to travel more since I know Spanish.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: While attending the largest university in the country, I quickly learned that one can fall through the cracks very easily. I grew up in a smaller town with a very tight-knit community. I quickly realized that finding your smaller community wherever you go will make anywhere feel like home. At ASU, I had my soccer community, athletics community, Spanish community, psychology community and classroom pals. Although I am a social butterfly and love meeting new people every day, consistency with friends and family has become very important to me as well. I have been fortunate enough to have explored 11 countries before turning 21, which has taught me how small the world really is. Each place is just filled with numerous communities, we just have to find ours.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose ASU because I wanted sunshine all year around, the women’s soccer team was one of the top in the country and I knew there was a wonderful psychology department that would open up doors for me, whether in research or clinical work.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU and what was that lesson?
A: Professor Lisa Schmidt in the ASU School of Social Work taught me the importance of breathing. I know it sounds incredibly simple, but that’s part of the lesson too: Keep life simple. Too often we get caught up in studying for tests, worrying about social events or stressing about being stressed. She said that “if you don’t have one minute and twenty seconds of your day for yourself to just stop, breathe and refocus your energy, then we need to work on a whole life reevaluation.” With prioritizing comes simplicity. This also feeds into paying your mental-health the same — if not more — attention as your studies and social life.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: So often we forget the importance of play in our lives. I don’t want this to be taken as “well, partying in like playing,” because that’s not my point. My advice is to continue to foster your inner child, don’t let it die because you’re supposed to be an adult now. I had a goal of doing something once a week that brought me a child-like sense of joy or wonder of the world. From going on a hike, exploring the Children’s Science Museum in Phoenix, to watching the sunset on my roof, to jumping in puddles with Girl Scouts by the Memorial Union, I cultivated a love for simple delights. Basically, to simplify your life act just a little more like a child — they only like or don’t like, laugh or cry, understand or ask more questions. Stay as curious and wild as a child.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I was seldom on campus just to explore because I had a very demanding schedule, but I always liked taking a few minutes to lay on and appreciate a nice patch of grass like the ones near the MU (Memorial Union).
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am extremely excited for the numerous doors that lay ahead of me after graduation. I may go play professional soccer in Europe, I may go teach English in another country, I may get my master’s degree in counseling, or I may live in a van in New Zealand to surf, mountaineer, climb and explore. I am glad I don’t only have one option and I love surprises. There might even be another option I am not yet aware of.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would solve the problem of actually saving our planet. Too many corporations are not being held accountable for their contributions to climate change. It would be great to buy out these corporations and create more sustainable game plans, but $40 million is not quite enough. So, education is our strongest tool in this matter. I would use this money to travel to companies, schools and workplaces to not only inform them of the problem, but to educate on what actions must be done. For example, educating students on how the meat industry is the leading cause of climate change through land and water degradation, biodiversity loss and deforestation. I would mainly focus on the younger generations in schools because they are in control of their own futures and many older generations are quite stubborn in their lifestyle habits.
Story by Tess Prendergast, a Barrett, The Honors College student majoring in English and economics.