Freshman embraces her passion, thanks in part to ASU gifts

August 26, 2015

Olivia Besthoff has been in and out of hospitals her entire life, so it makes some sense that she wants a career in the health-care industry.

“I was hospitalized at 8 years old and was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” said Besthoff, a Gilbert (Arizona) High School graduate who is enrolled in ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. “I never found the hospital to be a scary place. I’d always ask questions, and the nurses explained everything so thoroughly to me. Or they’d bring a blanket or teddy bear to comfort me. I want to give that same comfort to others.” Olivia Besthoff Download Full Image

Besthoff will get that opportunity, in part thanks to the Kaibab Industries Scholarship Fund, which was established by the corporate entity to provide financial assistance to incoming freshmen on the basis of academic merit and financial need.

Besthoff is one of more than 8,000 Arizona State University students that benefit from private support scholarships. Scholarships, along with donations that support faculty recruitment, student programs, research, community outreach and other initiatives contributed a record fundraising year for ASU. More than 100,000 individuals, corporations and foundations committed $207 million to ASU in the 2015 fiscal year. That money is a 41 percent increase over last year’s total.

The contributions help students like Besthoff achieve their academic dreams, but Besthoff put in enough hard work to create her own opportunities. She also had a great role model in her sister Erika, an ASU graduate.

“Erika is five years older than me and is vision-impaired. She was very focused and driven and got straight A’s in high school,” Besthoff said. “I always looked up to her and wanted to be like her.”

Easier said than done. Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract, would often flare up during moments of stress and sideline Besthoff, putting her back into the hospital at various times in her life.

“Crohn’s is a physical ailment, but it’s also a mind game,” Besthoff said. “My stomach would inflame whenever I’d have to take a test or during moments of stress in my life. It’s just something I had to deal with in order to get through.”

Besthoff not only persevered, she overachieved in almost every aspect of her life. She achieved a 4.1 GPA, qualifying her as a member of the National Honor Society. She served as a teacher’s aid and peer leader in the Gilbert High School Counseling Office. And she was the lead color guard captain for the Gilbert High School Marching Band — even voted as the band’s most valuable performer from 2013-2015.

“Olivia impresses me with her ability to overcome great adversity in that she has Crohn’s disease,” said Christopher Mack, who runs Gilbert High’s guidance department and mentored Besthoff as a peer counselor.

“While some in her situation may use this as an excuse for doing less, Olivia continues to challenge herself by taking on many different activities. Olivia wants people to know that her illness does not define her, and that she will continue striving to make a positive impact in the world.”

Her long-term goal is to be a physician’s assistant and work in surgery or emergency-room care. It’s why she has spent the past two summers as a volunteer at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center in the telemetry unit, assisting nurses with patients and other hospital duties.

Despite witnessing some pretty traumatic experiences in other people’s lives — including car accidents, heart attacks and watching a nurse dress an amputated leg — Besthoff says she knows she has picked the right profession to study.

“I didn’t want to go through college and then change my mind after I got a taste of what happens in an emergency room,” Besthoff said. “I am definitely set on a career in nursing.”

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU lecture series to feature top journalists, media professionals

August 26, 2015

A Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The New York Times, the former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News and a senior faculty member of the Poynter Institute are among the media professionals headlining a speaker series this fall at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Sarah Cohen, editor of The New York Times’ computer-assisted reporting team; Matt Winkler, former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News; and Kenny Irby, senior faculty of visual journalism and diversity at the Poynter Institute, are part of the fall “Must See Mondays” lecture series, which has featured more than 145 lecturers and panelists since 2008. Sarah Cohen, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Cohen, editor of The New York Times’ computer-assisted reporting team, is among the journalists and communicators participating in the "Must See Mondays" lecture series at ASU's Cronkite School. Download Full Image

The fall 2015 semester marks the 15th season of the lecture series, which has included Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and photojournalists, national television and radio correspondents, editors of major metropolitan newspapers, journalism entrepreneurs and innovators and public relations experts.

The schedule kicks off Aug. 31 with a panel discussion featuring female journalists working in television news and concludes Nov. 30 with a lecture from the winner of the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability from the National Center on Disability and Journalism.

“‘Must See Mondays’ brings the nation’s top journalists and communicators to share their experiences and expertise with our students, faculty and the community,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and university vice provost. “We are excited to hear from this diverse and talented group of professionals.”

The free public lectures start at 7 p.m. Mondays in the First Amendment Forum of the Cronkite School on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

Fall 2015 “Must See Mondays” Schedule

Aug. 31: Clara Colmenero (Cronkite alumna 2009), weekend news anchor of Univision Arizona; Kris Pickel, co-anchor of the CBS 5 Evening News; Kim Tobin (2010), weekend anchor and reporter for ABC 15; and Linda Williams (1981), co-anchor, FOX 10 weekend news; will discuss “Women on Camera.”

Sept. 14: Andrew Heyward, principal of Heyward Advisory LLC, will examine “Journalism in the Age of Personal Media.”

Sept. 17 (special Thursday event): David Bornstein, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which explores and analyzes potential solutions to major social problems, will discuss “Solutions Journalism: Engaging Readers and Viewers in New Ways.”

Sept. 21: Alan Lobock, Reynolds Visiting Professor in Journalism Entrepreneurship and co-founder of SkyMall, and Aly Saxe, founder and CEO of Iris PR Software, will share “Rough and Tumble: Public Relations for Startups.”

Sept. 28: Sarah Cohen, editor of The New York Times’ computer-assisted reporting team, will present “Next-Generation Reporting: Using Data.”

Oct. 5: Kenny Irby, senior faculty of visual journalism and diversity at the Poynter Institute, will discuss “Learning to See: Our Photographic Reality.”

Oct. 26: Matt Winkler, former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, will share “The Bloomberg Way: Capturing the Money World Online.”

Nov. 2: Emilio Nicolas, a pioneer in Spanish language television in the U.S., will present “Blazing Trails in Spanish-Language Television.”

Nov. 9: Students of Carnegie-Knight News21 will discuss their latest multimedia reporting project: “America’s Weed Rush.”

Nov. 16: James B. Steele, part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporting duo Barlett & Steele, will discuss business reporting with the winners of the 2015 Barlett & Steele Awards.

Nov. 23: Daniel Russell, senior research scientist of the Google Sensemaking Group: User Sciences and Experience Lab, will examine “Deep Searches: Google and Beyond.”

Nov. 30: The winner of the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability will take part in a discussion on disability journalism.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication