ASU In the News

Alum creates Jump Into Action program to combat child obesity

ASU alumnus Steve Ball, a member of the first doctoral class from ASU's exercise and wellness program in 2002, has created a program that encourages children to become more physically active throughout the day.

Ball, who is now an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, and nutrition specialist Ann Cohen were recently highlighted in an issue of USA Weekend magazine for the development and success of their youth fitness program Jump into Action. Download Full Image

This program, much like Ball’s own philosophy, promotes the idea that the earlier youth are exposed and educated in physical fitness and nutrition, the better. The focus of this program and its intent is to make nutrition lessons and physical activity in schools routine, while sharing those lessons and activities with parents and families to instill and support a focus on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.

Article Source: USA Weekend magazine

Arizona State Young Alumni seeks council members

February 23, 2012

Arizona State Young Alumni (ASYA), a program of the Arizona State University Alumni Association, is seeking applications from ASU alumni under age 35 with strong event planning, public speaking, fundraising, community engagement and business development skills to serve on its Young Alumni Council.

The Young Alumni Council works directly with ASU Alumni Association staff members to produce ASYA special events and develop marketing strategies to broaden alumni participation. Council members provide guidance on how to advance the program, assist with the development of its initiatives and encourage involvement in the program by young alumni. Download Full Image

Jenny Holsman Tetreault, executive director of operations for the Alumni Association, said the ASYA council positions are a good opportunity for passionate, motivated young ASU graduates to gain leadership experience while having a great time connecting with their alma mater.

“Our current council members have been key to the group’s rapid growth,” she said. “We’re looking to recruit new members who will further the development of ASYA, and spread the message that it is a great place for recent graduates to blend their Sun Devil spirit with a passion for community and connection.”

The deadline to apply for the council is March 1. Applicants chosen to serve on the council begin their three-year term on July 1. Applications for the council are available online at, or by calling 480-965-2586.

ASU alum operates anti-bullying program for girls

February 14, 2012

Carrie Severson knows how it feels to be left out and bullied.

As an adolescent growing up, she was teased because she carried extra weight. Through the years, she has learned to value herself through self-expression in the creative arts and to find a healthy relationship with food. Download Full Image

After the ASU alumnus graduated in 2000 with a degree in journalism, she found jobs working for local publications, but felt she wasn’t pursuing her true passion in life.

It was time for some serious soul searching – and that’s when Severson Sisters Foundation was born.

“I decided to create a bullying solutions program for girls, addressing self-esteem issues with creative outlets,” Severson said.

After spending 10 months in research and development, in June 2011 she launched her foundation – a non-profit that focuses on developing girls’ respect for themselves and others. The program – developed by teachers, school counselors, social workers, pediatricians and Severson – uses positive energy and behaviors via creative arts lessons as an alternative to bullying.

“The program combines a series of social circles, journaling, art, movement, dance and cooking to help girls place awareness on their emotions, thoughts, actions and expression in a playful, graceful, educational and inspirational way,” she said.

Girls are the focus of the program since they are prone to emotional and psychological bullying – tactics that can leave lasting scars on self-esteem, she said.  

Severson and her cadre of professionals are based in Scottsdale, but take their mobile program to locations such as Girl Scout meetings where they encourage girls to work on creative arts projects – building a gratitude card or a beautiful box with “power words” (intelligent, creative, etc.) of their choosing.

“While the girls are creating fun stuff, we bring in individuals with backgrounds in counseling to talk about school and things that have hurt their feelings,” Severson said. “Then we come up with an action plan.”

Heather Sanders’ 10-year-old daughter found the experience to be “really positive.” Girls had an easier time expressing themselves while they worked on creative projects rather than directly addressing issues, such as bullying, she said.

“It’s light and serious at the same time. It’s totally fun,” Sanders said.

When Sanders’ daughter participated in the program, she said that girls promised to eat with each other during lunch and to play together at school, negating the stress and sadness girls can feel when they don’t have anyone to hang out with.

The program also is meaningful. Sanders’ daughter still has the poster she made with her power words up in her room. Girls make personal promises to themselves about what they want to accomplish and make a “creative objective” such as a vision board or collage of images from magazines that make them happy and illustrate things they want to accomplish as well as characteristics that make them special.

Severson Sisters teaches three ways to take on bullies: verbally, by saying things such as “stop that” or “I don’t appreciate it;” non-verbally, by simply walking away and repeating affirming statements to themselves; and relying on the power of friends to help shield girls from bullies.

Role-playing makes up a portion of the training where girls learn to recognize what bullying is and how to recognize if they are doing it.

Severson is currently working on a customized program for the Girl Scouts for middle school girls using her program and the scout’s aMUSE journey to build self-esteem and combat bullying.

“We have a drop-off (in membership) between fifth and sixth grades that has a direct relationship to how girls feel about themselves,” said Margaret Spicer, program manager of the Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. “We want to give them the tools so they can build self-esteem and battle bullying.”

Feedback that Severson has received from girls has been good thus far with 96 percent of those surveyed responding positively after completing the program, she said.

Her work also is receiving complimentary reviews: Severson is a semi-finalist for the Glamour Magazine and Sally Hansen Best of You contest that honors women who make a difference in the world.

Former ASU track star makes USA Olympic team

January 17, 2012

Desiree Davila, a former Arizona State cross country and track star, has qualified for the USA Olympic team. She finished second at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials, Jan. 14, in Houston.

Davila paced the field for much of the day but came just shy of the title as Shalene Flanagan was able to overcome her down the stretch. Nonetheless, Davila clocked a time of 2:25.55 over the 26.2-mile course to earn one of the three automatic qualifying bids to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Download Full Image

It will be the first appearance for Davila in the Olympics and in qualifying she became just the second Sun Devil in history to advance to the Olympics in the marathon behind only Marie Trujillo (Mexico) in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Davila’s collegiate teammate and fellow Sun Devil alumnus Amy Hastings was fourth in Saturday’s race, finishing in 2:27.17 and just missed earning one of the three qualifying bids to the Olympiad. Hastings will serve as an alternate if Flanagan, Davila or third-place finisher Kara Goucher can’t compete.

Davila and Hastings helped lead the Sun Devil cross country team to a 14th place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championships, and Hastings went on to guide the team to top 10 finishes in 2004 and 2005.

There will be several former Sun Devil athletes competing for Olympics bids later this year at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials, beginning June 23 in Eugene, Ore.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU alums invited to show their pride in car wrap contest

January 10, 2012

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but Arizona State University fans who send in an essay and photos to document their Sun Devil pride stand to win a car wrap with an ASU theme for their vehicle, thanks to a contest sponsored by the ASU Alumni Association.

The ASU Alumni Association will begin accepting submissions for its Sun Devil Spirit Car Wrap Contest on its website Jan. 15 and the contest deadline is 5 p.m., Feb. 15. Download Full Image

All contest entrants must be dues-paying members of the ASU Alumni Association. Entrants will be asked to submit an essay of 200 words or fewer and up to three photos that demonstrate their ASU pride. Entries will be judged by the Alumni Association’s staff relations committee.

Christine Wilkinson, president of the Alumni Association, said the Alumni Association developed the contest to further its mission as the university’s tradition-keeper.

“We know that the most powerful display of pride comes from our fans, who have demonstrated to us over and over again that they support ASU,” she said. “We are looking forward to sharing the winning entry, and rewarding the winner with a very visible reminder of their devotion to ASU.”

To learn more, or enter the Sun Devil Spirit Car Wrap Contest online, visit Contestants may become members of the Alumni Association by visiting

Expat, alum offers Francophiles a word a day

January 6, 2012

Editor's Note: This story comes to us from the December 2011 edition of ASU Magazine.

When she enrolled in ASU’s French program in the 1980s, little did ASU alumnus Kristin Espinasse know that she would eventually tutor more than 42,000 students in the language and culture of France via the Internet. Kristin Espinasse Download Full Image

Her popular blog French Word-A-Day introduces those curious about Gallic ways to the country’s language via personal experiences, recipes, photos and other items. Her passion for all things French has led her to publish a book “Words in a French Life.”

Espinasse’s adventure began in the fall of 1989 when she spent the semester in Lille, France. She credits ASU’s grammar drills and language labs with preparing her well for the experience, thus increasing the benefits of the exchange program. She also notes that Dr. and Mrs. Wollam, her hosts during her initial excursion in the country, helped her extend her initial stay by facilitating independent study projects and encouraged her to “dig in” and really apply herself to learn the language.

After returning to ASU to complete her degree, Espinasse realized she had left her heart in France, quite literally. She returned to marry her husband Jean-Marc and start a family, two situations that have provided ample opportunities to polish her language skills.

“Being married to a French national – and rearing children on French turf – has greatly contributed to both perfecting the language and understanding the culture,” says Espinasse, who lives in Provence with Jean-Marc and children Max and Jackie.

One of the ironic benefits of raising children who are native French speakers is that they offer mid-sentence corrections of their mother’s grammar.

“The truth is I find it enjoyable to receive live ‘language edits’ from my kids,” she says, laughing. “I began learning French eons before they did ... only to be left in the dust of their spinning language wheels as they advance with finesse in the language of Proust!”

While admitting to missing certain aspects of the Arizona desert – including wildflowers, the red rock landscapes, roadrunners, quail and coyotes – she says she is very happy living at the “garage vineyard” her husband purchased five years ago. Recently, the couple was able to share their love of French wine culture with nearly 50 students from Napa Valley, Calif.

According to Espinasse, those inspired by her example can expand their knowledge of French by seeking out native speakers, participating in French “meet-ups” over the Internet, and immersing themselves in French movies and music. To would-be French speakers, she says: “Je vous souhaite beaucoup de succes (I wish you a lot of success).”

Written by Oriana Parker, a Scottsdale-based freelance arts writer

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Education leaders, students share their ideas for change

January 3, 2012

Last fall ASU launched the 10,000 Solutions Project, a problem-solving platform anyone, anywhere, can use to confront local and global challenges. In the last few months, the collaborative online community has submitted more than 1,200 solutions. One of the most popular topics for users to consider is education.  

Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America, recently submitted a solution to the 10,000 Solutions Project. “Education inequity is a pervasive problem all over the world,” Kopp states in her solution. Kopp’s idea about how to solve this global issue is Teach For All. Download Full Image

“What Teach For All is doing is working to build a global movement to ensure educational excellence and equity by accelerating the impact of organizations all over the world that are enlisting their nations’ most promising future leaders ... in addressing education inequity,” she says.

Many prominent ASU advocates for education have shared their solutions. ASU President Michael Crow and Mari Koerner, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, both shared their ideas about how to improve the teaching profession.

“We need to find ways to produce new teachers,” Crow says. “A new teacher needs to be a person that is carefully selected, carefully advanced, moved forward in a new kind of way with an entirely different focus.”

10,000 Solutions also provides a venue for students to be more creative when thinking about how to solve education challenges. Instructor Stephanie Garcia embedded 10,000 Solutions within a course she teaches called “Entrepreneurial Educators.” She asked students to design a short “fast pitch” of their idea. Students then provided feedback to one another about their ideas.

Garcia finds the online platform useful and engaging. “I think the 10,000 Solutions platform is a great tool for collaboration within and beyond the university, and creating a space where these tools can be blended within a curriculum allows our students to experience this new collaborative space first hand.”

10,000 Solutions provides the engaged community necessary to support students in confronting real-world issues.

“I feel that the more we can model real-world experiences and challenges within the university, the better prepared our students will be when they leave the university setting,” Garcia says. “10,000 Solutions is taking online communication and collaboration to the next level by creating a space for social innovation to take place and grow.”

ASU students, staff, faculty and external community members can share their ideas about education or other topics by visiting  

Written by Paul Henne

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Todd Graham named Sun Devil head coach

December 14, 2011

Arizona State University has named Todd Graham, the head coach of Pittsburgh, as its 23rd football coach, Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love and Steve Patterson, chief operating officer, announced.

Graham led Rice to its first bowl victory in 45 seasons in 2006 and then led Tulsa to back-to-back 10-plus win seasons for the first time in school history in 2007 and 2008. man holding football and giving ASU pitchfork sign Download Full Image

While known for leading programs that post many of the top offensive numbers in the nation in recent seasons, Graham also is known as tough defensive coach who served as defensive coordinator at both Tulsa and West Virginia. He also has had an eye for hiring some of the nation's top assistant coaches on his staff.

"Criteria for our head coach was established, and the word that was at the forefront of discussions was `energy' ... energy towards promoting our program in the community and with former players," Love said. "Energy towards instilling discipline, leadership and in recruiting. Energy towards representing our brand in every facet of the program.

"In Todd, we have not only hired a young and sitting head coach, but one with a history of success on the field and in hiring top-notch assistant coaches. For the first time in his career, he will be taking over a program with a strong nucleus at the beginning. We are excited to watch Coach Graham take over a very well-positioned program and elevate it to the next level."

"What we sought in a football coach was someone who would be in it for the long term at Arizona State, who would build and guide a program that would be competitive in the Pac-12 and on a national level year after year after year, who would communicate and connect with the community, and represent our university with honor. In Todd Graham we have that person," said ASU President Michael Crow.

Born Dec. 5, 1964, Graham is 49-29 in his six-year head coaching career and most recently was head coach at Pittsburgh in 2011. He is well-known for his four-year stay at Tulsa from 2007-2010 when he led the Golden Hurricane to a 36-17 mark, which included three bowl wins and three seasons of 10-plus wins. The Golden Hurricane was one of just 11 schools to post back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2007 and 2008.

The native of Mesquite, Texas, had seasons at Tulsa which included records of 10-4 (2007), 11-3 (2008) and 10-3 (2010) and in his final season the Golden Hurricane won games at Notre Dame and then topped No. 24 Hawaii 62-35 in its own bowl game. The Notre Dame win was dubbed the biggest upset of the 2010 college football season by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.

His team's have been scoreboard changers, as Tulsa twice led the nation in total offense (2007 at 543.9 yards per game and 2008 at 569.9 yards per game) and ranked fifth in 2010. His 2010 Tulsa team comprised of mainly his first recruiting class notched 505.6 yards per contest, but on the other side of the line of scrimmage the Golden Hurricane led the nation in interceptions (24) and was third in turnovers gained (36).

His 2007 squad not only led the nation in total offense at 543.9 yards per game, it set 29 school records, 15 conference marks and four NCAA records. Tulsa routed Bowling Green 63-7 in the GMAC Bowl, the largest bowl margin of victory in NCAA history.

His 2008 team again led the nation in total offense (569.9 yards per game) while ranking second in scoring (47.2 points per game), fifth in rushing (268 ypg) and ninth in passing (301.9 ypg). His team finished 11-3, capped by another large bowl win, a 45-13 victory over No. 22 Ball State in the GMAC Bowl.

The Sun Devil position will mark Graham's fourth head-coaching position, as he also led Rice to its first bowl game in 45 seasons in 2006 and earned Conference USA Coach of the Year honors that same season. What made the year even more impressive is the Owls started the year 0-4 before winning seven of its next nine. Three of the wins were on the last play of the game.

Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite High School and after graduating in 1983 he played for East Central University in Ada, Okla., where he was a two-time NAIA defensive back. He began his coaching career in 1988 as an assistant at Poteet High School in Mesquite (1988-90) and then helped lead East Central University from a .500 program to NAIA national champions in his second year as he served as defensive coordinator from 1991-1993.

One year later he was at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla., and then spent time from 1995-2000 at Allen High School in Allen, Texas. While at Allen, north of Dallas, he also served as athletic director and led a program that had no district wins in the year prior to his arrival to five playoff berths in six seasons (1995-2000).

He was hired as the linebackers coach at West Virginia in 2001 and one year later he was named defensive co-coordinator as West Virginia went from 3-8 to 9-4. The 2002 Mountaineers forced 34 turnovers (19 interceptions) and ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin (+19).

In 2003 Steve Kragthorpe hired Graham as the defensive coordinator at Tulsa and he helped guide the Golden Hurricane to two bowl games in three seasons and led one of the conferences best defenses before taking over the Rice position. His 2005 team finished 9-4, won the Conference USA Title and shut down a high-flying Fresno State squad 31-24 in the Liberty Bowl. His defense ranked among the top 40 in takeaways (third), interceptions (third), pass efficiency defense (11th), pass defense (17th) and total defense (40th).

Graham earned a bachelor's in education in 1987 from East Central and then later earned his master's degree.

For more information on Graham see the ASU Athletics official release.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU joins Pac-12 universities to compete in fitness challenge

October 17, 2011

ASU is participating in Bank of the West's second annual Pac-12 Best of the West Fit Fest and Fitness Challenge from Oct. 24-Oct. 30. This is a conference-wide initiative promoting regular physical activity and is open to students, faculty and alumni. Last year's event drew over 17,000 participants.

Stop by the Student Recreation Complex (SRC) from 3-5 p.m., Oct. 24 to participate in the Bank of the West Pac-12 Fit Fest kickoff. There will be games, prizes and a cardio jam. Register for the Fitness Challenge week at SRC, or on Facebook ( and help ASU win for the second year in a row. Download Full Image

The Pac-12 Best of the West Fitness Challenge encourages students, faculty and alumni to get involved. Each participant logs their fitness minutes to contribute to their overall Pac-12 campus participation points. Various activities are listed – ranging from running, walking, swimming and more. Prizes will be awarded to the most active participants from each school, and the ultimate grand prize of $5000 will be awarded to the school with the most active participants.

Laura Vreeland,

Lisa Robbins

editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


'Sparky' license plate count surges past 14,000 mark

August 22, 2011

Arizona State University’s collegiate or “Sparky” license plate, invigorated by a redesign last fall, is now a must-have item for Sun Devils on the go, with plate sales experiencing 30 percent growth during the fiscal year that ended June 30 and the program’s total plate count breaking the 14,000 plate mark for the first time ever.

The license plate program fuels the Medallion Scholarship program, which is administered by the ASU Alumni Association. The Medallion Scholarship program gives students who are Arizona residents financial support, as well as the opportunity to foster their personal development and leadership skills while attending ASU. More than 100 ASU students are currently part of the Medallion program. For every Sparky plate purchased, $17 of the $25 fee goes directly to the scholarship fund. Download Full Image

Last year’s makeover was the first redesign of the plate in many years. The license plate features a bold look with Sparky the Sun Devil on an all-gold background. The new plate can be customized with as many as six characters – up from five on the previous design – on the plate.

Christine Wilkinson, president of the ASU Alumni Association, said the jump in Sparky plate sales demonstrated the Sun Devil nation had been ready for a new opportunity to show off their pride for their alma mater.

“We knew that updating the look of the plate would yield positive results, but the increase in sales has outpaced even our most optimistic projections,” she said. “We’re pleased that our graduates and our fans appreciate ASU’s contributions to the community and want to share their Sun Devil pride wherever they drive. We encourage all friends of the university to purchase a plate and support a wonderful scholarship program.”

For more information about the Sparky plate program and information on how to order a plate, visit  To learn more about the Medallion Scholarship program, visit