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


May 10, 2020

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

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Hanna Salem’s biggest takeaway from Arizona State University was learning to think holistically about inclusion in her path to leadership.  Hanna Salem in front of Old Main at ASU's Tempe campus ASU grad and Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Hanna Salem. Download Full Image

One of the first things she got involved with at ASU was the Tempe Undergraduate Student Government. Salem started her college career as an intern for USG and ended up as the student body president of the Tempe campus. She's currently finishing up her term.

“I’m very proud of winning my campaign to be student body president, but within that I’m really proud that me and my team have been able to accomplish all of our campaign promises,” she said.

Salem was especially proud of her team's work on providing free menstrual hygiene products in ASU restrooms and increasing financial aid to students.

Her involvement in USG is one of the factors that led to her choosing her major, public service and public policy with a concentration in law and policy and a minor in women’s and gender studies. 

After changing her major several times, Salem realized her passion for political science and policy from the work and from the people she surrounded herself with.

“It's made me realize that I'm going into the right career path, and I’m still passionate. This really secured that public policy and public service is something I want to do in the future,” she said.

During Salem's ASU career, she earned the Spirit of Service Scholarship and Dean’s Scholarship. Overall, Salem said her experience at ASU was invaluable.

“Even though I didn’t expect to come to ASU, I had the best time here and I am so appreciative to every single person who has made my experience what it has, so thank you to ASU,” Salem said.

As she prepared to graduate, Salem reflected on her time at ASU and her advice for students.

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

Answer: I had changed my major like three or four times before becoming a public policy major. I just wasn't really happy with the prior majors I had chosen, and I knew that there was a thing in me that wanted to help people. I just didn't really know how I wanted to do that. 

I think the “aha” moment for me was when I was just surrounding myself with a lot of public service and public policy people and I realized that these were the conversations I wanted to have too.

I am incredibly happy with the decision [to change majors] and a lot more passionate about my academic work than I was at the beginning of my ASU career.

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

A: I think my biggest takeaway from ASU has been how to live my life with the charter in mind. It's changed my way of thinking and how I think about actions and avenues within my life. 

I’ve never really been in a place where diversity is so celebrated. So now that I have that foundation, I feel like my actions and the way I make decisions is totally altered thanks to the ASU charter. I just have a better way of approaching problems now that I am looking at things more holistically than I was before.

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

A: Something that I challenged myself with at the beginning of my fourth year was to say yes to everything. I really made it a point to go to events that I would never really typically go to. That’s helped me a lot in terms of making friendships and new relationships but has also made me appreciate ASU in a completely new way. My biggest advice is to just start early and take advantage of all the opportunities and events.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I really liked the location; I really liked that it felt like a mini city within a bigger city. I really don’t know what came over me, but I was like, "I think that this is where I need to be." It was a very last-minute decision, but it was a great decision nonetheless.

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

A: Definitely education. I think education is the root of all of our problems, but I also think it’s the solution to all of our problems. So if we invest more time and money into youth essentially we are going to have a better and stronger society, economy and world in general.

Written by Madeleine Williamson, Sun Devil Storyteller

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services

480-965-4255

Sustainability grad found community through resources for undocumented students


May 10, 2020

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

A student’s discovery of a major that suits all of their interests is rare.  Karina Dominguez stands in front of a butterfly projection Karina Dominguez at a USEE fundraiser dinner. Download Full Image

Karina Dominguez, 21, was able to find all her passions in the sustainability major and urban planning minor of the School of Sustainability.   

Even so, the Michoacan, Mexico, native found it difficult at first to find people who understood her struggle. Dominguez, a transfer student from Glendale Community College, had to “navigate the education system as an undocumented student.” 

Fortunately, DREAMzone and Undocumented Students for Educational Equity at ASU helped her access the resources she needed to succeed and immersed her in a community that welcomed her. 

“USEE and DREAMzone gave me the community I needed to keep on fighting and to ensure that I was able to graduate,” Dominguez said. 

Dominguez was a part of USEE at GCC, but when she transferred to ASU in 2018, she became the communications director. The student organization is run by undocumented students and advocates for equitable access to education. DREAMzone is a program at ASU that provides resources for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students, undocumented students and families with mixed immigration status through support circles, peer-to-peer support and more. 

As she prepared to graduate, Dominguez reflected on her time at ASU and what she plans for the future. 

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

Answer: I realized I wanted to study sustainability when I couldn’t find any other major that included all of my interests. I was interested in politics, the environment, social justice, among other things. Sustainability includes all of these topics and even more, which allow me to not be stuck doing one thing forever. I have the ability to explore and see what I enjoy doing best within the career. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of their sustainability program, and it was the most affordable in-state university. 

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

A: Find a community of individuals who have the same interests, struggles or goals. 

When things get hard in school or in your personal life, it is much easier to get through it when you have people by your side who are feeling the same way and are supporting one another. It is good to also have those people to just have fun with and take a break from stress. Those people will become the best college memories. 

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

A: My favorite spot on campus to meet with friends was the MECHA room because it was a safe space for us where we could be ourselves. My favorite spot to study was the new Hayden Library. It was very peaceful, and there were amazing views. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plans after graduation are to stay involved with issues concerning environmental justice and immigrant rights. I want to continue to fight with my community for a better present and future. 

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

A: I believe it would be extremely difficult to solve one problem on the planet with $40 million, but what I would like to do is give out that money to communities who lack certain resources or have been negatively affected by environmental justice issues. By providing them with this money, hopefully they are able to receive opportunities that will improve their quality of life. 

For example, the money could be used to create community gardens where community members can constantly interact with one another and build trust. The money could be used for whatever the community decides is their greatest need. 

Written by Carmen De Alba Cardenas, Sun Devil Storyteller

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services

480-965-4255