Sociology grad seeks to help children in foster care


April 20, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Maricela Diaz, a sociology major from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, talks about changing majors, the benefits of studying abroad and her goal to work in the foster care system. Picture of Maricela Diaz in cap and gown sitting on green grass in the shade Maricela Diaz Download Full Image

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

Answer: My “aha” moment happened a little late, but oddly early enough for me to have time to switch majors. It was move-in week during my freshman year and I went to my suitemates’ room to get to know them better. One of them said she was a sociology major and explained everything she could do with that degree. As she was speaking, I could picture myself in all the careers she was mentioning. At that point, I was a French major because I was obsessed with the idea of becoming an FBI language analyst. The first day of class was a Thursday and it was also the day I switched my major to sociology. I went to my French class and by the end, I knew that I couldn’t do that for four years.

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

A: From my research method class, I learned that it is good to question things and be curious. There is always something new to learn or an issue that needs clarity.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: The main reason I choose ASU was because it fully funded my education. Also, it gave me the best of both worlds. I was able to live on campus and learn to be independent while staying close to my family.

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

A: During my time at ASU, I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with amazing professors. I’ve certainly learned something from each and every one of them, but a lesson that stands out was taught to me by Dr. Cassandra Cotton. I had the opportunity to work with her for a few weeks, and during that time she taught me to embrace my interests and plans for the future. This past year I’ve questioned what I wanted to do after graduation multiple times. Dr. Cotton has always been supportive of my choices and encourages me to do what is best for me.

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

A: To those still in school, my best advice is to study abroad if possible. There is so much a person can learn from leaving and studying in another country. Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows students to not only see the world but also experience different cultures by interacting with different people.

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

A: My favorite place to relax and study on campus is the third floor of the student services building in Tempe. There is a balcony that overlooks the student services lawn. This is probably the only place that is not full during midterms or finals week because not many students know about it.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I want to work for an organization that helps foster care children. I hope to get a position where I can help with the adoption process of these children while making sure that they are going to a good home.

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

A: In the last two years, I had the opportunity to travel to Morocco, Spain, and Brazil and a common problem I saw are favelas or slums. The people that live in these areas lack basic sanitation, clean water and electricity. If someone gave me $40 million, I would invest the money in upgrading the infrastructure of these communities to improve living conditions and to provide access to services and education for residents.

John Keeney

Media Relations Coordinator, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

480-965-3094

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


April 20, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Madeline Stull has made the most of her Arizona State University education. The Scottsdale native always knew she wanted to go to graduate school and saw Barrett, The Honors College and the 4+1 program as opportunities that were too good to pass up. Madeline Stull 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. Download Full Image

“I have always been an avid reader, which always made me quite curious,” Stull said. “Since elementary school, I have been looking forward to attending college to fill that curiosity. As it turns out, it simply grew larger.”

Stull was granted many awards while at ASU including a Friends of the Center research grant from the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Norman Family scholarship from Barrett, The Honors College, a School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Travel Grant and most recently, a Fulbright scholarship to study in Serbia after graduation.

Stull underwent chemotherapy while going through school and at times felt isolated, but she pushed forward and took hold of each liberty that came her way. Starting out as a researcher in the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, she was able to work with history Professor Chouki El Hamel, who offered her another opportunity.

“Due to my background in Arabic, we were a great research pair — leading to my position as the first employee in the Center for Maghrib Studies,” Stull said. “His help and support motivated me to submit a chapter of my undergraduate thesis to a conference in Poland, which was the only paper accepted from an undergraduate.”

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. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her time at ASU.

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

Answer: Being a student at ASU taught me the importance of finding your own community. More than once I felt alienated, ostracized and misunderstood by numerous groups on ASU's campus, especially during the period I was undergoing chemotherapy. It was discouraging, and quite honestly, disappointing. I expected more from such an "inclusive" university. Fortunately, I found that inclusion in small groups of people on campus. My network in the history department and the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership have made me feel more at home in an academic setting than any other place or group. Their smiling faces and pointed critiques mean more to me than they will ever know. 

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

A: Dr. Chouki El Hamel and Dr. Carol McNamara have both taught me, and continue to teach me, that individuality and personal values are at the core of being an incredible scholar. They have shown me both how to accept myself and how to use that acceptance to continue growing in academia. 

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

A: Looking forward while staying present. There are so many opportunities out there, and you will never know unless you start looking early. Try your best to identify what you want and write it down. Then plan accordingly, so that you can both accomplish what you want while being able to have time for yourself. 

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

A: I love the mall in front of Old Main as well as the new library. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: As of now, I plan to go to Serbia for a year on a Fulbright. Afterward, I intend to get a PhD in Eastern European history somewhere. 

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

A: Education for all, though I am not sure $40 million is enough to solve a global issue.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies