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Spring 2020 graduates' journeys are just beginning

April 15, 2020

Meet excellent graduates from across the university's schools and colleges

On Monday, May 11, the Arizona State University community will join together online to celebrate this semester's graduates in a virtual ceremony, due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the public health recommendations that come with it. While the ceremony may be nontraditional, the caliber of the students earning degrees is anything but. ASU Now has collected stories of some of the most impressive students who soon will be joining the ranks of Sun Devil alumni.

Fulton Schools outstanding grad plugs into engineering and helping others in a big way

Brielle Januszewski says that she never understood what an engineer was or what an engineer could do, so she never considered engineering as a possibility for her. “Now that I am in an engineering program, I know that it is the perfect major for me and I do not want to do anything else.” 

ASU opera singer rebuilds her voice and discovers new artistic path  

ASU graduate student Stephanie Sadownik, DMA in voice performance, started suffering from undiagnosed vocal health issues soon after she auditioned for the voice program at the School of Music in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. So, she created new opportunities and carved out new artistic pathways for herself – all while refusing to give up on her dream of performing. 

Leadership, community involvement and global action were the hallmarks of honors graduate’s experience

Primrose Dzenga knows that combatting food insecurity and poverty is key to building resilient communities, and she spent much of her time as an undergraduate at ASU working on a project aimed at this endeavor. She founded and has directed for the last four years the Machikichori Citrus Reforestation Project in her birthplace of rural Wedza, Zimbabwe. The project is a 12,000-tree community orange orchard run by women. 

Embedded in the community: Outstanding physics student is a third-generation ASU student

An award-winning and published student, Department of Physics graduate Tanner Wolfram is part of the third generation in his family to graduate from ASU.

First-generation ASU Law student dreams of serving the community through law

Fernando Guillen, a first-generation law student from Las Cruces, New Mexico, graduated this week with a Juris Doctorate and a certificate in trial advocacy from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He recently was recognized with a Dean’s Award for academic performance and outstanding character.

ASU Online student creates art with a purpose

Kate Howe’s path to becoming an ASU alumna has been somewhat unconventional, but that’s what makes the destination even more rewarding for this Colorado-based visual artist. 

ASU honors graduate wants to use data and education to empower communities  

Pratik Nyaupane graduated ASU this week with a bachelor's degree in informatics and a minor in political science with honors from Barrett, the Honors College. He wants to use his technical knowledge is ways that will promote social justice.  

PhD grad uses math to fight malaria, dengue and COVID-19

Enahoro Iboi was recently honored as a recipient of the 2020 Graduate Research Award from the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. He is graduating this week with his PhD in Applied Mathematics from ASU. 

Law school student veteran grad driven by sports passion, equity 

Coaches often demand their teams to “finish the game strong,” and that is exactly what a former high school star athlete and military veteran from North Carolina did this semester as he achieved a lifelong goal — finishing graduate school.

New graduate Rohini Nott is taking her talents to medical school

Rohini Nott, a newly minted ASU graduate, aspires to be a physician and she already has ample hands-on health care experience. Throughout her undergraduate career, she volunteered with the Student Health Outreach for Wellness (SHOW) Community Initiative, which provides free health care services to vulnerable populations in Maricopa County. 

Overcoming adversity to achieve Sun Devil dream

The grandson of an ASU alumnus and a Sun Devil from birth, Justin Sanchez is fulfilling his destiny this May as he graduates with his Bachelor of Science in emergency management and homeland security from the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

ASU graduate has turned life’s biggest challenges into unique learning opportunities

ASU Online student Christie Moore proves that every turn in life can still lead us to our goals. Her perseverance and determination to overcome any challenges motivated her to push the limits of her own accomplishments to create a better future for herself and her family.

For ASU grad, speech and debate helped light a fire for politics

Spring 2020 ASU graduate Alexander Sojourney discovered his passion for politics at ASU, and he hopes to continue that passion in the nation’s capital.

ASU Law graduate takes on intellectual property world

During her time with ASU Law, Cristy Salanga worked full-time as the patent manager for Northern Arizona University, where she worked alongside faculty to draft patent applications and to license the university’s intellectual property portfolio.

ASU Online student one of the first to graduate through adidas partnership

When Charles Gentry started working for adidas on the Reebok Finance team three years ago and learned about the educational partnership between adidas and ASU, he decided to take a leap of faith. 

Alexander Sojourney

Alexander Sojourney participated in Undergraduate Student Government, the Speech and Debate club, Devils on the Run and the Black Student Union at the West campus.


Sports law and business grad credits ASU Law for a ‘second-to-none' education

Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Allan Bach, graduated this week with a JD degree with a concentration in sports law and business from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Recently, he was voted by his classmates to be the JD Class of 2020 speaker at the annual awards dinner. 

Dual grad seeks to provide education to girls, women in conflict zones 

Rachel Fletcher, a soon-to-be dual graduate studying political science and anthropology in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, believes that, if you have privilege, you have an obligation to use it to help others. 

Dean’s Medalist shares importance of building a supportive community

Physics graduate Holly Johnson is an award-winning student and researcher who has received the NASA Space Grant for multiple years, presented at numerous conferences and co-authored three published papers.

Graduate develops a passion for politics and civil discourse

Like many first-year college students, Justin Heywood wasn’t sure what he wanted to major in. After scrolling through the hundreds of majors offered on ASU’s website, he chose the first one that really drew him in: political science. 

Scholar finds parallels between her communication courses and everyday life

Graduating from ASU through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, Heather Oldenborg did something most students don’t during their senior year: She added a second major.

ASU Law grad lands clerkship and reminds us to ‘be kind’

Morgan Goodin was chosen by ASU Law faculty to receive the highest honor, the John S. Armstrong Award, based on academic performance and contributions to the college. 

Honors graduate's future plans include becoming a physician assistant

The popular television show "Grey’s Anatomy" piqued Kaitlin Masterson’s interest in a career in medicine. She will graduate ASU this month with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a minor in mathematics and honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

Master’s degree student reflects on online learning experience

Marvin Leal started the Master of Arts in Global Security as a way to make advancements his lifelong career in the military, as well as in his education. 

Communication graduate helps first responders through her internship

Allison Bretzman is graduating in the spring of 2020 with a BS in communication. She is currently at her "dream internship" working with the Local and Global Outreach Department of Scottsdale Bible Church.

Dean’s Medalist plans to use political degrees for career in comedy

Cormac Doebbeling always knew he was going to study political science. He was drawn to ASU because of Barrett, The Honors College. 

Exploring psychology and finding community: Graduate reflects on experiences at ASU

Nneoma Njoku’s interest in human nature was born when she was young after watching the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Njoku graduates with her degree in psychology this May from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

‘Home was ASU’: Graduate returns to school after raising four Sun Devils 

Chantal VanKlompenberg has lived a life supporting and caring for Sun Devils. Her five siblings are Sun Devil alumni, as are her four children. And now, decades after graduating from McClintock High School, VanKlompenberg is joining the Sun Devil club herself. 

Chantal VanKlompenberg

Chantal VanKlompenberg, her parents and siblings — all Sun Devil alumni — pose on Palm Walk. Photo by Milton Yang Photography

ASU graduate works toward life goal of serving as street outreach nurse

Starbucks College Achievement Plan graduate Jason Irlanda, who previously served as a foster parent, decided to major in family and human development with a minor in sociology in order to achieve his ultimate goal of working with the opportunity youth population.  

ASU graduate Asha Ramakumar plans career in law and public health policy

Asha Ramakumar is receiving a bachelor’s degree in global politics with a minor in women and gender studies and a certificate in health care policy and delivery, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

Persistence pays off for ASU School of Music graduating student

Annie Villalobos Vincent has been waiting 20 years to achieve her dream and receive her college degree.

Watts College outstanding undergrad's passion for justice, civil rights finds home at ASU

Anna Salas believes her life experiences led her to public service. Her passion led to her becoming the spring 2020 Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions overall outstanding undergraduate student.

ASU student defies odds, spotty internet to complete doctorate

The road to a PhD was not a paved one for Robert Lively. That's appropriate, as Lively is a scholar of medieval studies. Indeed, this ASU student’s academic journey was rather an arduous quest, complete with adventures, ordeals, tests, allies and rewards.

Top math student earns Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize

Rose Lopez is the recipient of the 2020 Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize, the highest honor a mathematics undergraduate can receive, and will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics, a certificate in cryptology, and minors in physics and music performance (piano).

Engineering graduate goes above and beyond to complete four degrees in five years

Kristen Eckman is completing four degrees in five years and plans to work as a propulsion test engineer in support of spacecraft development.

Triple major shares importance of an education grounded in language, culture

Micah McCreary transferred to ASU after his freshman year looking for a personal and academic reset. McCreary found the reset as well as the motivating environment he sought, and this spring will graduate with not one, but three degrees.

From business to breaking: Dance student combines passions to expand career path 

Graduate student Lawrence Fung came to ASU from Hong Kong, China, to study at the W. P. Carey School of Business and then stayed to pursue his passion for dance at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

2020 grad is 1st to earn degree in organizational leadership with project management focus

Melanie Roemer completed the BA in organizational leadership with a concentration in project management online while working full time at PayPal in Chandler, Arizona.

Planning graduate is driven to tackle queer and transgender housing issues

It’s important to Beth Freelander that the future of planning is inclusive, and she plans to use her voice and education to ensure that it happens. 

Watts graduate exemplifies public service 

Graduating veteran Marisa Von Holten begins her emergency management career with an agency managing the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

soldiers in front of an American flag

Air Force veteran Marisa Von Holten (second from the right) poses with members of her Army unit in 2014 during a deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Von Holten served as a medic attached to an Army transportation company supplying U.S. troops at forward operating bases throughout eastern Afghanistan. Courtesy photo

Outstanding physics graduate aims to make a difference in STEM inclusivity

In addition to her many accomplishments, Lily Whitler also founded the Society for Women in the Physical Sciences, a student- and faculty-led organization that aims to increase diversity and inclusion within higher education in the sciences.

Sustainability grad found community through resources for undocumented students

Karina Dominguez was able to find all her passions in the sustainability major and urban planning minor of the School of Sustainability.

ASU grad’s service in student government helped hone her passion for policy

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Hanna Salem’s biggest takeaway from ASU was not only learning to live her own life but learning to celebrate diversity as well. 

ASU Law transfer student success story leads to dream job

Arizona native Emily Fann, who graduated this week with a JD degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, wants to help advance the role of women in the legal profession.

Spring 2020 grad continues family tradition of loyal Sun Devils 

Jacob West made the most of his time at ASU, earning a field geology certificate, working at the School of Earth and Space Exploration's Mars Space Flight Facility as a spectrometer lab technician, and participating in a study abroad program in Sicily, where he studied how geologic environments interact with people and could create hazards. 

Sun Devil makes waves in tech way before graduation

Spring 2020 ASU grad Hari Meyyappan is an international student from India who is passionate about learning, for himself and for the machines he works on.

Valley native Nathan Consalvo hopes to make a global impact

After a formative experience seeing the horrors of human trafficking firsthand on a service trip to Cambodia, Barrett, The Honors College student and W. P. Carey School of Business Turken Family Outstanding Undergraduate Student Nathan Consalvo had his “aha” moment. 

Pandemic shows relevance of data analytics for Watts College outstanding graduate student 

Sunayna Goel’s decision to pursue a master’s degree in program evaluation and data analytics gained new relevance for her after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the the spring 2020 outstanding graduate in interdisciplinary programs for Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

ASU graduate student discovers passion for teaching music 

After completing her Bachelor of Arts degrees in music and psychology and having taught private violin and piano lessons since high school, ASU School of Music graduate student Danielle Pivonka knew that she loved teaching. Pivonka also knew she had a strong interest in the way a person’s brain understands, perceives, learns and creates music. 

Determination and curiosity power grad to his fifth degree — this time a doctorate

For ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson, this May will be his fifth time in cap and gown. And he hadn't even been expected to do so once: In high school, he was counseled to pick a trade when he graduated.

Michael Thompson

ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson

Combining software development, creative arts helped ASU grad find groove

Cece Ngyuen found her groove when she made the decision to become proactive about her passion in finding the middle ground between software development and the creative arts at ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Communication graduate finds a voice through performance

For their honors thesis project, ASU senior Molly Bishop chose to give voice to students with mental illness using ethnographic research methods and performance at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. 

Outstanding grad pursues passion for healing, serving others

Robert Nguyen, who majored in applied biological sciences at ASU Polytechnic campus, is the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Outstanding Graduate among bachelor's degree graduates in spring 2020. He looks forward to a career in medicine.

First-generation ASU grad overcomes obstacles to accomplish her dreams

Rikki Nunley, a first-generation college student, is proud of herself for accomplishing what she once thought was unattainable — earning her bachelor’s degree. 

School of Social Work outstanding grad says serving underprivileged populations 'is my calling'

Cassandra Peña’s search for a career didn’t end with her finding social work. “Social work found me,” she said. She had started college seeking to work in medicine, taking a few classes along those lines. But the School of Social Work’s spring 2020 outstanding graduate student said she learned it just was not for her.

Double Devil finds 'ikigai' in MBA program

Denise Napolitano was introduced to the concept of ikigai, “a reason for being.” She knew W. P. Carey would be a great next step for finding her ikigai.

ASU grad learns lessons on her path to being a pastor

Claire Mulholand discovered how she can work with people in her community with her psychology degree. 

Landscape architecture grad found her future at ASU

Early in her college experience, Kaylee Antill was advised that it would be difficult to undertake a time-consuming major like landscape architecture, especially as a student in Barrett, The Honors College, and also achieve success in intercollegiate athletics. Instead of backing down, Antill doubled down, demonstrating excellence both in her academic work and on the Sun Devil track and field team.

For ASU outstanding graduate, storytelling matters

Heather Rae Monk graduates in May with the distinction of being the first person at ASU and in the United States to have earned a Master of Arts in narrative studies. She is also being recognized at ASU virtual commencement ceremonies as ASU’s outstanding graduate among master’s degree and doctoral students in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

The story of this ASU grad's life will be written in lights

Jasmin Figueroa has always been a storyteller. She first dreamed of becoming an attorney and applied to ASU in political science. But she soon realized that the kinds of stories she wanted to tell did not necessarily involve plaintiffs and defendants. Now she's graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in in film and media studies, and couldn’t be happier about her choice.

Graduating transfer student blooms into Peace Corps volunteer

Graduating ASU student Ashai Thomas seems to embody the advice to, “bloom where you’re planted.” After graduation, Thomas will join the selective ranks of Peace Corps volunteers with an assignment in Panama.

Ashai Thomas

Ashai Thomas will teach English in South and Central America with the Peace Corps after graduation. Photo courtesy Ashai Thomas

ASU grad pursues passions in language and culture

Tatum James, who is graduating this May with degrees in global studies and Spanish from ASU, always knew she wanted higher education.

Journalism school grad inspired by those he mentored

Joel Farias was inspired to pursue a degree by those who look up to him. While volunteering at an after-school program, he had the opportunity to work with middle school students, many of whom came from a similar Mexican-American background. Now, he's graduating from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

ASU grad achieves great heights in track and field, mental health advocacy

Spring 2020 ASU graduate Mason Ford’s central goal is to change the world in some way. And during his time as a Sun Devil, his path as a talented high-jump competitor led him to effecting change on campus and beyond.

Outstanding grad inspired to give independence to others with disabilities through recreation

Rachel Dora-Ann Fisher, a first-generation college student, is the spring 2020 outstanding graduate of the School of Community Resources and Development and is earning her degree in recreational therapy this month.

Graduating transfer student finds her home at new program in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The summer before her third year of college, Hannah Rose felt out of place. She decided to apply to ASU, majoring in a new program: civic and economic thought and leadership. She would describe that application as the "best impulse decision of my life."

ASU grad found community, major that tapped into her passions

Anna Ciza Deogratias, who came to ASU from the Phoenix Union High School District, found her passion for communication close to home, at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. 

Geological sciences PhD grad driven by desire to continue learning

According to Chadlin Ostrander, who is graduating this spring with a PhD in geological sciences from the School of Earth and Space Exploration, mastering his field has been a process motivated not by a natural aptitude for science, but rather a drive to continue learning.

Chimpanzee research helped anthropology 'click' for ASU graduate

Savannah Troha’s work on the Gombe Chimpanzee Research Project led her to a degree from ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

ASU Online master's degree graduate finds new passion

From British literature to African American gospel music, Bridget Buckley’s academic career has taken some unexpected but welcome turns. This May, the wife and mother of two will graduate with a master’s degree in English from ASU Online — and a newfound passion.

Teaching and learning at ASU, with love

It’s clear that graduating ASU doctoral student Anthony Celaya loves his profession as well as his alma mater (he's a second-generation Sun Devil). He cares deeply about his students — past, present and future — and sees great potential in them as agents of positive change.

Nothing but blue skies ahead for outstanding aviation grad

When Daniel Pasco stepped onto an airliner for his school's eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., he was thrilled. Now graduating from ASU with a degree in professional flight, he still gets the same feeling every time he steps onto a plane. 

Daniel Pasco

Daniel Pasco is graduating with a degree in aeronautical management technology (professional flight), through the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is the University Student Government president for the Polytechnic campus. He intends to move back to his hometown of Chicago where he will join Envoy Air, a regional carrier of American Airlines. He poses with a twin-engine Piper Seminole on Friday, April 24, 2020. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Criminology outstanding grad has her 'aha' moment on visit to Arizona prison

Genevieve McKenzie remembers the spring of her freshman year, when she questioned whether she made the right decision to major in criminology and criminal justice. But even more vivid in her memory is the day those doubts disappeared. It was the day she sat face-to-face in an Arizona prison with an incarcerated man dressed in an orange jumpsuit. 

ASU grad named lead of Corporate Responsibility Team at Verizon Foundation

School of Social Transformation graduate Nick Matula has been recently named lead of the Corporate Responsibility Team at the Verizon Foundation. Matula has graduated in the Social and Cultural Pedagogy Master's Degree at the School of Social Transformation.

Two classes changed everything for global health graduate

Studying culture and human development sparked Alyssa Lindsey’s passion to make a difference in the public health system.

Astrophysics, physics double major earns diploma, top honor

When applying for college, Shane Bechtel said he chose ASU specifically for the School of Earth and Space Exploration because of the faculty and resources available to students.

A change of mindset leads to a bright future

Miguel Bahena is a first-generation student at ASU. He is currently one of the prestigious Obama Scholars and is proud to be graduating as a biochemistry major from the School of Molecular Sciences, this 2020 spring semester.

Doctoral student explores how digital tools integrate into existing arts practice

After spending several years with ASU's School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Jennifer Weiler is graduating with a PhD in media arts and sciences.

Early graduate and first-generation student on her path to medical school

Genesis Navarro is a junior and first-generation student in the School of Molecular Sciences who will be graduating a year early this spring 2020 semester as a biochemistry major.

A curiosity for Earth’s early atmosphere helped PhD find her field of study

Aleisha Johnson is curious. She’s especially curious about the Great Oxidation Event, when Earth first developed an oxygenated atmosphere. It is one of the primary reasons she came to ASU to do her research.

ASU grad turns dream of exploring the universe into a reality

Senior Jessica Maschino, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in exploration systems design from the School of Earth and Space Exploration, will be putting her knowledge to use this summer when she heads to California for an internship working on the Mars Rover.

An ‘EPIC’ team of scientists graduates from ASU

About five years ago Karalee Brugman, Meghan Guild and Hannah Shamloo chose the School of Earth and Space Exploration for graduate school. This May, all three will be graduating with their PhDs in geological sciences.

ASU grad understands the importance of science communication

ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration and Center for Meteorite Studies graduate student Emilie Dunham will be receiving her PhD in geological sciences this May.

Graduating ASU student finds rhythm in language, life

ASU student Justin Wright has lived a lot. Hence, Wright has a lot of life lessons to impart. Also a rock guitarist and former minor league hockey player, he is earning a Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages degree this May. 

Navajo woman earns 3 degrees in 15-year journey at ASU

Jessica Antonio’s journey to graduation from ASU is “one for the books,” as she says. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life, Antonio had a remarkable story, taking 15 years and overcoming a spinal cord injury to get to graduation. 

Jessica Antonio, who is Navajo, is graduating with three degrees, in business, American Indian Studies and nutrition. She is holding some gifts from her family, including a maroon and gold wool blanket. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU doctoral graduate embraces desert landscapes, literatures

After trying to escape the desert by moving to Scotland, Celina Osuna surrendered to its draw and wound up studying it. She is earning a PhD in English (literature) and a certificate in critical theory here at ASU this May.

Graduating pianist has learned the keys to success

Pianist Gavin Laur, who is earning his Bachelor of Music in keyboard performance with a concentration in piano, has performed across the world. He credits his experiences at ASU for helping him cultivate an appreciation of the depth and nuance of a craft like piano.

ASU grad learned she was up for the challenge

When she arrived at ASU, Chaidez Ramos struggled to find a major. In high school she was passionate about environmentalism and entrepenuriship, but couldn’t zero in on a career path in college — until she discovered the technological entrepreneurship and management degree program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Outstanding Herberger undergraduate inspired by indigenous culture

Julia Lopez has kept a close connection to her heritage, which has inspired in her design work. Lopez, who is earning a BSD in interior design, has been named the Outstanding Undergraduate by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Community of public servants inspires passion for local government in outstanding grad

When Thomas Prior was an eighth-grader, his class took a career exploration quiz that had a lasting impact on his life. “Although it may sound crazy, basing your career path on a 20-minute online assessment, that is essentially what I did. While other classmates received results like teacher, artist and police officer, my top result was city manager,” said Prior, the spring 2020 outstanding graduate in the School of Public Affairs.

ASU grad pursues dreams of being a bilingual reporter

After graduating with her degree in broadcast journalism in spring 2020, ASU student Karina Espinoza wants to cover subjects relevant to Spanish-speaking communities in Arizona.

ASU grad’s path from NCAA championships to studying abroad

Delaney Bucker started her journey at ASU as an athlete — swimming, biking and running her way to two NCAA National Championships on the women’s triathlon team. After accomplishing this impressive feat, she was ready to reach new heights on her academic path.

From Indiana Jones to Teotihuacan, anthropology grad follows her passion

Molly Corr will continue studying archaeology after earning her BA from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

ASU grad found her path in global health

Emily Eavenson knew she wanted to work in health care but didn’t know where to start. A passion for helping others brought her to ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Edson College undergraduate blazes a trail in pursuit of her dreams

Oumou Bah was able to combine her passion for health care with her love of law at ASU. She is the first BS in Health Care Compliance and Regulations graduate to complete a Barrett, The Honors College thesis.

Defying the odds ...

Odds often define people. But ASU senior Tristan Bartels has managed to defy the odds of his trajectory. On May 11, he will receive a bachelor’s degree in political science in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. He is now headed to law school.

Man in blue shirt holding hand rail

 Lake Havasu City resident and graduating senior Tristan Bartels overcame the challenges that come with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome to graduate with a 3.9 GPA. His immediate goal is to attend law school, then work to improve his community by being a political advocate. He's photographed on the ASU at Lake Havasu campus, Tuesday Feb. 11, 2020. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Driven by passion for Latino community, first-gen grad reflects on experiences

Angélica César spent the last three years at ASU seizing opportunities and advocating for the Latino community and undocumented immigrants. César will graduate from the School of Transborder Studies and the School of Politics and Global Studies this May.

ASU linguistics student masters art of discovery

Graduating ASU linguist Chenay Gladstone lauds her professors, friends and ASU at-large for their support. And for teaching her that it’s OK to be imperfect.

ASU graduate finds success through hard work and making the most out of the college experience

College life has been busy for Francesca Lascala, but she isn’t one to shy away from hard work or a challenge.

A passion for furthering inclusivity

Rebecca Monteleone has always looked out for others by making sure they felt included. That led her to pursue disability studies. So she came to the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU for her PhD in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology.

Sustainability grad is inspired to empower

Tammy Nguyen's passion for making a difference was sparked by a sustainability guest speaker at her high school. This May, Nguyen graduates from Barrett, The Honors College with a bachelor's degree in sustainability and big plans for the future.

First-generation biomedical sciences grad overcomes doubts, fears to earn degree

John Butler, a first-generation college student, husband, and father, is graduating with a BS in biological science (biomedical sciences). his goal is to become a physician's assistant. 

Overcoming health disparities with a cross-sector approach: An ASU grad’s perspective on health care

Adam Thompson has a long list of interests that, when first starting out at ASU, made it somewhat difficult for him to choose a major. It was this diverse set of interests that led him to pursue dual majors from the university. 

A full-ride and a whole new world of possibilities: Dual graduate reflects on what she gained at ASU

In her time at ASU, when opportunities presented themselves –– Victoria Barbosa took them. “Ever since my freshman year, I tried to get involved in different programs that The College offered,” said Barbosa, a double-major studying psychology and family and human development in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Online graduate student hopes to help future students by teaching online

Lauryl Jensen wants to work for BYU Pathway and help them in their efforts to make higher education more accessible to people. 

Asia studies student chases her passion in Seoul

Katherine Barone, a graduating senior in Asia studies with a concentration in East Asia, always wanted to pursue higher education. Now she is graduating, the first in her family to do so, from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies with a degree connected to her passions.

Cronkite student is remote, resilient and ready to start journalism career

ASU graduate Marcella Baietto is a bilingual multimedia journalist with a singular purpose: Report stories that matter.

Woman in red dress sitting behind desk

Marcella Baietto at her NBC News internship in New York. Photo courtesy Marcella Baietto

Graduating history undergraduate to pursue military career

Nathan Callahan is graduating this semester with his bachelor's degree in history and a certificate in political history and leadership.

ASU Dean’s Medalist heads to Harvard

Native Arizonan and graduate of Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, Madeleine Howell is the spring 2020 School of Molecular Sciences Dean’s Medalist, and also the University Outstanding Undergraduate student for the Natural Sciences Division in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Graduate ‘found another family in ASU’

Juan Laguna is one of the first graduating members of ASU’s College Assistance Migrant Program, which provides academic and financial support to students like Laguna who are from migrant and seasonal farm worker families.

ASU grad recognizes value in every opportunity 

Senior Derek Duba, who will be graduating with a BA in political science this May, aims to find meaning in all of his efforts no matter how challenging or mundane.

Sociology grad seeks to help children in foster care 

Maricela Diaz is a sociology major graduating with honors. She traveled extensively during her time in college and learned, among many things, that she wishes to help others in need. She plans to work with children in foster care and facilitate the adoption process.

Love of Indonesia inspires undergrad to graduate with degree in Asia studies

Bronwyn Younger-Howard will be graduating with her bachelor’s in Asia studies with a concentration in Southeast Asia and a certificate in Islamic studies.

From an online biochemistry degree to chasing a PhD

Paul Turack is graduating with a degree in biochemistry from the School of Molecular Sciences. This year he was awarded the Distinguished Biochemistry Merit Award, which is presented to a graduating senior in recognition of an outstanding academic record in a biochemistry degree.

History student overcomes obstacles to graduate with master’s degree and honors

Madeline Stull will be graduating this spring with her bachelor’s and master’s in history and minors in Arabic studies and civic and economic thought and leadership.

Sanford School grad turns passion for childcare into degree

Kenedy Schneeberger is a family and human development major graduating with honors. She has been accepted into ASU's Master of Social Work program and will begin that program in the fall.

Geography Dean’s Medalist mapped her own path at ASU

Amy Berry is an avid learner. Entering ASU as a freshman with 50-plus college credits, Berry utilized her academic flexibility to explore different courses and majors until she found the right fit for her: geography. 

Sociology grad has passion for serving those with disabilities

Fernando Lopez is a sociology major graduating with honors. He talked about cherishing life one day at a time and setting his sights on a future serving people with disabilities.

From ASU Dean's Medalist to Harvard Law School 

In May, Mackenzie Saunders, an Ahwatukee native, will graduate summa cum laude with Bachelor of Science degrees in justice studies and politics and the economy and a certificate in socio-legal studies.

Urban planning graduate aims to use education to support Native nations

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The art (and shame) of being ‘called out’

April 15, 2020

Project Humanities devotes forum to examining social and online phenomenon of holding systems and individuals accountable

Callout culture is a sticky business.

It’s essentially about holding individuals, companies and organizations publicly accountable for perceived racism, sexism, ageism, transphobia, sizeism, ableism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry or bad behavior.

Sometimes it’s very effective, but it can also backfire. It can lead to hostility, or it can turn into an unlikely allyship. 

On Tuesday, Arizona State University’s Project Humanities provided a forum at its third live streaming event of the semester to discuss and dissect this practice.

“One of the hallmarks of Project HumanitiesThe award-winning initiative brings together individuals and communities from around Arizona to instill knowledge and promote value in humanities study, research and humanist thought, and public programming. Project Humanities facilitates conversations across diverse communities to build understanding through talking, listening and connecting. is that we intentionally engage in critical conversations about what is happening in the world — the good, bad and the unpretty," said Neal Lester, director and founder of Project Humanities. “We explore what we do not necessarily understand to move ourselves toward greater self-reflection, respect and empathy. These values are part of our Humanity 101 efforts to hold each other and ourselves accountable when it comes to being better people. From my perspective, callout is not a new thing. One might argue that any aspect of protesting a real or perceived wrong is potentially calling out; hence, we have done this kind of interaction and communication before we had this current name for it.”

A pair of panelists discussed issues and raised questions such as: Does being called out alter behavior and thinking? What does “canceling” someone or something mean in actual practice? Is there a way to engage with and learn from callout culture via the lens of self-reflection?

Even defining callout culture proved to be difficult. However, panelists had a much better grasp on how it makes others feel when they’re “called out” and how they frame their responses.

Woman in flowery shirt

Amira de la Garza, associate professor in the ASU Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. On Tuesday she participated in a livestream event for Project Humanities titled "Callout Culture."

“It arouses our emotions in some way and creates a sense of having to make a decision about what we’re going to say or do,” said panelist Amira de la Garza, an associate professor and Southwest Borderlands Scholar in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. “We become self-conscious because we’re about to put the attention to ourselves … and then to feel like we’re going to be in the public eye in some way or another.”

Panelist ellie hutchison (who prefers to lowercase her name), founding director of la Phoenikera Writers’ Guild who is also seeking ordination through the United Church of Christ, said being called out can be traumatic.

“It’s a negative experience. It feels harsh. You’ve been interrupted in your normal way of thinking,” hutchison said. “Depending on the nature of the callout, it can be somewhat traumatic or at least have some elements of unresolved negative interaction. And I think that is the reason why we recount them; we relive them because that is the way human beings make sense of negative experiences. We tend to relive it until we’re able to process it.”

Often callout culture can morph into a form of public shaming, humiliation or even cancel culture. Panelists discussed comedian Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets from 2011, the recent memorializing of Kobe Bryant in the face of his 2003 sexual assault case, and 18-year-old white female Keziah Daum, who was accused of cultural appropriation and racism when she posted a tweet of herself wearing a qipao (a traditional Chinese garment) to her high school prom in 2018. The conversation also considered calling out institutions and organizations, and instances when these callouts extend beyond individuals and local boundaries, contributing to policy changes and to broader global social justice causes.

When it comes to individual callouts, the panelists concluded, it does not have to be a form of humiliation if done and received with more intentionality.

“If I’m going to call someone out, in my mind, figure out the way to best approach it. I’ve got to figure out where they’re coming from,” de la Garza said. “A lot of times when I call out, I start by asking a question rather than telling them what they just did. By asking a question, I provide an opportunity for self-reflection or some clarification … I find that usually doesn’t lead to silencing. It might lead to some correcting of behavior.”

Those clashes can sometimes lead to painful encounters, or, hutchinson said, to meaningful relationships. And it often means the change must come from within first.

“As my therapist will say, ‘ellie, you are always going to be the person who calls the emperor out for not wearing clothes.’ Well, that was harmful to me. She was right. I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t want to carry that load all the time,” hutchison said. “I think I have made a better attempt to be an ally in different groups. A lot of the work I’ve been doing in the past two to three years has been having conversations with folks and how can we improve what being an ally could look like in this situation.”

Woman with books in the background

"Callout Culture" panelist ellie hutchison, founding director of la Phoenikera Writers' Guild, participates via Zoom in a livestream event for Project Humanities.

De la Garza added that she too has turned foes into friends, specifically through abusive comments made to her on social media.

“There are people that I’ve met on Facebook because of calling out interactions where years later, we’re engaged in projects or working on projects together as opposed to lying in bed stinging from the trolls,” she said. “I’ve made allies this way.”

Those who participate in callout culture must also champion compassion, forgiveness and offer the opportunity for self-reflection, the two panelists concluded.

For hutchison, that means asking more questions than offering up a definitive answer.

“I always ask a set of questions: What do we do this for? How do we support somebody? How do I support somebody through the learning process, and how do I want to be supported through the learning process?” hutchison said. “Clothing appropriation has really helped me to see. The size of someone’s earrings or the braid in their hair. Oh, there’s a history behind that? Now let me go learn more about that history. And so I hope to be able to emulate and model that for people I come into contact with.”

The callout culture broadcast can be view in its entirety here.

Top photo illustration courtesy of Pixabay

Reporter , ASU Now

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