Liberal Arts and Sciences dean's medalists display hard work, success

December 10, 2014

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students will show their drive and achievement on Dec. 15 as they walk down the aisle toward commencement and receive prestigious dean’s medals.

Dean’s medalists elevate their education by taking advantage of the various opportunities offered at ASU, like study abroad programs, internships and immersing themselves in rigorous studies. graduates in caps and gowns watching balloons drop at graduation Download Full Image

This year's awardees come from diverse backgrounds and display a variety of skill and motivation, including exceptional hard work and success.

Name: Peiru Cai
Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Major: Economics with a minor in business

Peiru Cai previously studied at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and earned a degree in finance. She began her studies at ASU in 2012 and has received high grades, finishing with a 3.90 GPA. Cai also participates in extracurricular activities, such as her work with the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and a non-profit organization devoted to teaching children in poor circumstances in China.

Name: Cecilia Chou
Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Major: Global health

Cecilia Chou will graduate with a degree in global health with high marks, exemplifying her as an intellectually gifted student. She also plays the piano and has performed publicly, performing pieces by Beethoven, Debussy and Schubert. Chou studied abroad in New Zealand this year from May to June and plans to pursue a career in medicine.

“Her GPA demonstrates that she is an intellectually gifted student,” said Monica Gaughan, associate professor for the school. “What is more impressive is the breadth and depth of her endeavors. In addition to her excellence in global health, Ms. Chou has also pursued a major in performance."

Name: Blake Colling
Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Major: Biological sciences

In addition to his research experience, Blake Colling volunteers at Murphy Kid’s Dental Clinic and has more than 75 hours of shadowing experience under dental specialists. He is the president of the ASU Pre-Dental Society and ASU Chapter of Operation Smile and the vice president of Science Detectives, an after-school outreach program to teach students about scientific theory and concepts.

“For example, early in his time at ASU, [Colling] noted that younger students with ambitions for dental school could benefit greatly from interacting with older students,” said Stephen Pratt, associate professor who oversaw Colling’s research duties. “He therefore set up a novel mentoring program that links older students with younger ones to help the latter understand course requirements, dental school admissions processes, scheduling key parts of their pre-dental education, etc.”

Name: Sarah Dahl
Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Major: Family and human development major with a minor in religious studies

Sarah Dahl is a research assistant with the Sanford Harmony Project. She works as an after school elementary supervisor at the Summit School in Ahwatukee where she has developed an after-school program for students. In the spring 2014 semester, she worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant. She has been on the dean’s list since January 2008 and is currently a provost and Van Hoof Family Foundation Scholar.

“I have always been so impressed with her sincere motivation to learn, her outstanding work ethic and her positive and upbeat attitude,” said Lois Goldblatt, academic success coordinator.

Name: Jaime Gomez
Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and environmental studies, anthropology

Jaime Gomez is the highest achieving of the undergraduates in his school, and shows dedication to his studies through his engagement in and outside of the classroom. Gomez is fluent in written and spoken Spanish, and hopes to enhance his undergraduate career with professional experience in environmental conservation or ecosystem restoration, and has shown interest in graduate studies.

“His maturity and confidence is as clear as his sense of humor and humility,” said Camelia Skiba, assistant to the director for the school. “Jaime is a pleasure to have in class, and is a student that provides inspiration to both his classmates and his instructors.”

Name: Matthew Guardiola
Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Major: Justice studies

Guardiola is a first-generation college student who began his college career while enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He received a scholarship from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration, Customs and Enforcement with the Office of Principal Legal Advisor in Phoenix. He interned under Chief Counsel Patricia Vroom, who represents the office. Guardiola has been accepted into the Master of Arts Emergency Management and Homeland Security program at ASU for the spring 2015 term.

Name: Claudia Hartz

Dean's Medal: School of Transborder Studies

Major:Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

As a transfer and non-traditional student, Claudia has demonstrated her determination to achieve her career goals by becoming involved in the community and on campus. As a working mom, she has set a great example for her daughter. Her work experience and knowledge is evident in the classroom. Along with her classmates Claudia completed a community profile of the Carl Hayden community, producing a report and formally presenting to Chicanos Por La Causa. Subsequently, she completed a community health profile focusing on physical activity. Among Claudia’s research experience is her work with Dr. Rudy Guevarra over the past two summers. She assisted Dr. Guevarra in his research of Hispanic/Latino migration patterns to the islands of Hawaii. Upon graduation, Claudia will be working with a community health organization in Hawaii. Name: Jenna Hutchinson

Dean’s Medal: American Indian Studies
Major: American Indian studies, anthropology

Jenna Hutchinson is a student of Barrett, the Honors College, and serves as the student worker supervisor in the Transcript Department of the Undergraduate Admissions Office, where she manages more than 40 student workers. Her honors thesis on Muscogee Creek shows her dedication to American Indian Studies and the value of other languages and cultures.

“She is a hard worker, responsible and strives to improve the quality of life for people,” said John Tippeconnic, professor for the school.

Name: Joseph Andrew Keller
Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Geography with a focus in urban studies

Joseph Keller is graduating summa cum laude with a degree in geography. He has completed extensive coursework in this field and has experience with Mesa Air Group and Allegiant Air. Before he began his studies at ASU, Keller earned his associate degree in applied sciences aviation technology in New Mexico and attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

“He is outgoing, very courteous and likes to get involved,” said John Schaeffer, lecturer and undergraduate adviser for the school. “He's been great to work with and he has performed very, very well as one of our majors.”

Name: Lauren Mehok
Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Major: Psychology, sociology

A double major in psychology and sociology, Lauren Mehok has worked as a research assistant since spring 2013. Her extensive research experience consists of adolescent substance abuse, the dynamics of perception, action and cognition, and social health research. Mehok has been a New American University scholar and a member of the dean’s list since 2011. She has experience as a teaching assistant, where she designed and delivered lectures in physiological psychology.

Name: Sara Mercado
Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Major: Communication, psychology

A double major in communication and psychology, Sara Mercado has excelled in her undergraduate career and is involved with ASU’s Devils in Disguise, ASU’s Late Adolescent HOME Project in Tempe and the Latter-day Saints Student Association. She has worked for Homeward Bound in Mesa as a caregiver to children, and has helped to teach others English. Sara is a National Hispanic Scholar and is fluent in written and spoken Spanish.

Name: Kevin Moore
Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Political science with a certificate in civic education

Kevin Moore is active in student government, and he interned for the ASU undergraduate student government, and went on to be senator from May 2013 to May 2014. He participated in a summer program in London, United Kingdom, with the Omerta Group.

“Kevin’s analytic ability, clear writing and communication skills, and thoughtful approach to class assignments earned him A+s in all three courses,” faculty members said.

Name: Patrick Murray
Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics and School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Major: Physics, mathematics

Murray has completed elevated coursework in mathematics, physics and computer science. He has research experience in sequence covering arrays and semiconductor studies. He completed internships with Google, Inc., Intel Corporation and Baylor University. He was awarded the National Merit Scholar in 2010 and is a two-time winner of the ASU Cryptorally, a cipher-breaking scavenger hunt.

Name: Brian Pavey
Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: Philosophy, religious studies

Brian Pavey is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, with double majors in philosophy and religious studies. Pavey shows strong involvement in the community, as he is the mass coordinator and Eucharistic minister for the ASU Catholic Newman Center. He has traveled abroad to countries like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China and Italy, and he helped to start the school’s tutoring program, which offers help in various topics related to philosophy and religious studies.

Name: Monica Petersen
Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: English with a focus in literature and a minor in business

Monica Petersen is a first-generation college student and has worked with the ASU literary magazine Superstition Review for three semesters, where she has interviewed best-selling authors and gained experience in editing and publishing. She interned with HarperCollins Publishers in New York City, where she shadowed editors and reviewed content for market potential. She is a member of Barrett, the Honors College, and was awarded the Alumni Association Moeur Award.

Name: Amanda Wolf
Dean’s Medal: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Major: Biochemistry, French

Amanda Wolf is a double-major in biochemistry, with a focus in medicinal chemistry, and French. Wolf is the 2014 recipient of the Biochemistry Award, and volunteers at the emergency department of Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. She studied abroad in France in spring 2012, where she completed upper-level French coursework. Wolf has extensive experience in health care and chemistry. She conducted undergraduate research under professor Roy Curtiss, the director of the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology Center at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, from the summer of 2012 into the summer of 2013. Amanda co-authored a scientific article published in the journal Pathogens and Disease.

Written by Kayla Hernandez

New grads on a mission to effect change through public service

December 11, 2014

Four outstanding graduates of Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs are on a mission to effect change across the spectrum of public service.

Read on to learn more about each of the graduates. Ty Ashley Download Full Image

Tyandrah Ashley, nonprofit leadership and management, School of Community Resources and Development

Pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management, Ty Ashley says she likes “the challenge of it.”

“The resources are so limited in the nonprofit sector, but it is also a worthy challenge,” she adds. “If I am going to spend a full work week, it might as well be something that gives back to the community.”

Ashleyis the first in her family to complete college.

But that was not enough – she has also been active in the community. She spent a week in San Diego, helping to renovate a home, serve food to people in need and clean up a river bed. She served as a mentor and camp counselor with Camp Sparky. She submitted a plan to the City of Tolleson to develop green spaces, build awareness about environmental practices and create a greater sense of community among residents.

As part of the Public Allies Arizona program working at the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence as their STEM program assistant, Ashley fuels her passion for youth development.

“Eighty percent of jobs will require some form of STEM skills,” she says. “Youth development – college readiness, career readiness – is what gets me going.”

Her goal is to pursue a master’s degree in sustainability, focusing on societal sustainability and preserving cultures. She wants to create programming for positive youth development that creates a culture of sustainability awareness.

“This is a career where I am doing something every day to help people,” she says.

Jennifer Lewis, criminology and criminal justice, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Jennifer Lewis was told she would never attend college because of the cost. In December, she will graduate with high honors, earning her bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. She is the first in her family to graduate from college.

“I’ve always loved education. That was the one way I knew I could make something of myself,” she says.

But that path was not easy. She earned a GED and later went to community college, noting that she worked hard.

“I’ve always applied myself. I basically look at the university as a job for me. I excel in my jobs, and I want to excel in my education,” she says.

Her fascination with criminology and criminal justice was sparked when she worked as a dispatcher for the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am interested in psychology and how the mind works,” she says. “I believe that for some people, crime is a choice they make based on how they perceive their future.”

Her goal is to potentially go to law school or earn a master’s degree. She has applied to the Teach for America program, hoping to help less fortunate children further their education.

“I want to show my daughter that you don’t have to be in debt. You can get a scholarship, you can get grants and you can still achieve your education as long as you have the academic prowess that allows for it,” she says. “I am opening doors and possibilities for my own daughter to continue the legacy that I am building.”

Jeanne Jensen, master of public administration with a concentration in urban management, School of Public Affairs

A management assistant for the City of Tempe’s Water Utilities Division, Jeanne Jensen is interested in driving community innovation.

“I think ensuring a safe and reliable water supply to our public helps address issues of economic disparity by treating water access as a human right,” she says. “Supporting the role of government as a service provider and protecting equal access to our government is crucial.”

Jensen will add a master of public administration to her credentials. She already holds bachelor’s in chemical engineering and master’s in civil and environmental engineering from ASU. She is a licensed professional engineer.

“I want to use my technical background and my newly-minted leadership and management skills to continue growing my city in unique ways that strengthen the relationship between government and community,” she says.

“As my career grows, I want to move into direct leadership,” she says. “I want to use that opportunity to move others forward, vet and grow their ideas, and support growth in those around me.”

Jensen has been recognized in her career with the Rookie of the Year award from DSWA/Jacobs and the Young Professional of the Year from the AZ Water Association. She is also an advocate for opportunities for youth in STEM and government-related fields, speaking frequently in K-12 classrooms and overseeing the AZ Water scholarship program, which awards $12-15,000 to Arizona students each year.

Jensen is serving as the chair for the 2015 American Water Works Association/Water Environment Federation Young Professionals Summit.

“I think it is important for a new generation of leadership to serve our communities. I want to be a part of the catalyst that fosters change,” she adds.

Ramina Lazar, social work, School of Social Work

Ramina Lazar is actively working for social change.

“I chose social work because I really wanted to make a difference within the community,” she says.

In addition to pursuing her bachelor’s degree in social work, Lazar volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul supporting the Dream Center, where she helps children with homework, reading, art and plays games. She is also completing a field internship at the City of Chandler Police Department Victim Services, where she is an advocate helping victims find needed social services.

She also participated in Social Work Day at the Arizona legislature, where she shared insight from her internship on how policies affect social change.

“If I could change anything in the world, it would probably be to create a safer place in our communities wherever we go,” she says.

Her goal is to apply her knowledge in medical social work, assisting patients and families who are going through an illness.

“I think it’s really important to have someone there to support you through those types of events in your life, and I would really like to be one of those people,” she says.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in the field so she can “advocate for our population on a broader basis."

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions