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CPR/AED certification and awareness may save lives

February 20, 2017

Heart Health Awareness Month underscores automated external defibrillator training at Arizona State University.

Anyone may use an AED to analyze a heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock to re-establish a rhythm in an abnormal or stopped heart. The AED machine talks to the user and gives step by step instructions. 


Public-access AEDs are located in common areas of many university buildings such as first-floor corridors, near the main restrooms or by elevators.

AEDs are also located in:

  • Athletic venues
  • ASU Police vehicles
  • Fulton Center
  • New or renovated buildings since 2007
  • Residential halls
  • Student unions 

View more than 300 ASU AED locations.

“In an emergency, call 911 and use the CPR/AED skills we teach in our awareness classes,” said Alex Gutierrez, ASU’s AED program manager. “AED training may help you save someone’s life.”

To use an AED, you don’t need to be certified. Environmental Health and Safety offers in-person CPR/AED awareness training. If you want to be certified, Sun Devil Fitness hosts CPR/AED certification and ASU partner Emergency University offers online CPR/AED certification.

AED devices save lives

Geography senior Josh Groth works at the Tempe Sun Devil Fitness Center as an aquatic student coordinator. He also taught an AED/CPR and First Aid certification classes. He said certification gives confidence in emergency situations and that the training is easy to complete. 

“The certification class is only about four hours long, and it’s a great mix of hands-on practice and information,” Groth said. “The instructors are invested in getting participants certified, so there is plenty of help during classes.”

For anyone at ASU who would like to take an awareness training, a certified CPR/AED instructor leads EHS’s free, 90-minute awareness training, but it will not result in certification. Participants learn chest compression CPR and how to use an AED.

ASU is recognized by the Arizona Department of Health Services as a Heart Safe organization. Visit the EHS AED webpage for more information. 

Peter Northfelt

Editor assistant, Business and Finance Communications Group


SILC student merges disciplines, explores sustainability through language

February 15, 2017

Vera Coleman has a strong interest in environmental and social debates. Coleman also loves studying Spanish culture, literature and language. Through her PhD dissertation and the School of International Letters and Culture, she has found a way to bring the disciplines together.

Her dissertation is titled “Beyond the Anthropocene: Multispecies Encounters in Contemporary Latin American Literature, Art, and Film.” Quote by Vera Coleman Quote by Vera Coleman Download Full Image

Coleman has looked at how Latin American artists pull nature into their work, and applying those findings to environmental solutions.

In an explanation of her research, Coleman wrote, “Writers, filmmakers and artists of Latin America today verge away from pessimistic images of environmental destruction and instead look to mutually beneficial interactions among members of different species as a beacon of hope lighting up a better future for our shared planet.”

“I’m interested in the ways that contemporary 21st-century Latin American writers, filmmakers and artists are confronting this notion of the Anthropocene, which is still being hotly debated,” Coleman said, speaking to SILC from the Modern Language Association Convention in Philadelphia.

The Anthropocene, as Coleman describes it, is a label used by some scientists and cultural theorists to describe the current age in terms of global human impact.

“I was a biology major for two years and took courses in genetics and evolution and chemistry and physics, and then became really passionate about Spanish literature,” Coleman said. “I kind of thought that those two years were wonderful, but I don’t know what I’d end up doing with them.”

“I became very interested in SILC and ASU. I was very drawn to the fact that it’s a multi-language school,” she continued. “There’s not just a Spanish department, but a school that has multiple languages working and collaborating together”.

Obviously, merging language and environmental study is complex, but Coleman found support for her many interests at the School of International Letters and Culture. Faculty support and guidance helped her find ways to meld different fields together.

“All the professors have been so welcoming of my ideas and so supportive of me wanting to take these risks and take these new perspectives and draw connections with other disciplines,” Coleman said.

Coleman started studying different art forms that comment on the environment in countries like Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Argentina. She even learned about indigenous communities in some of those countries.

Coleman has enjoyed exploring discussions about the environment outside of the English-speaking world and has enjoyed merging different areas of study at ASU.

“Cultural study looks at film and art and journalism and performance, digital media. So it’s the very broad focus on the notion of text,” Coleman explained. “So we can analyze whole different forms of cultural expression to get a sense of what’s going in these countries. Those are the things that I really liked, that really drew me to SILC.”

Gabriel Sandler

Prospective students find More to Explore at ASU

Choose-your-own-experience visit program boasts more than 300 activities and sessions across four campuses

February 15, 2017

Arizona State University was not at the top of Amanda Minutello’s college list. She had applied to 13 schools and only two of them were outside of the Eastern Time Zone. She lived 3,000 miles away on Long Island in Sayville, New York. But her parents encouraged her to attend More to Explore, her only visit to ASU before making her college choice.

“I wanted to learn more about the campus, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Barrett, The Honors College.” Her Presidents’ Day visit to the Tempe campus did not disappoint. “The enthusiasm, smiles and pride of the current students was contagious. I couldn’t help but want to be a Sun Devil.” Amanda Minutello shared this photo on social media when she announced her decision to attend ASU. Download Full Image

“I was able to meet with professors I still keep in touch with as a current student,” Minutello, 18, said. “And I made friends that I see while walking on campus.”

Sarah Horvath, 19, from Scottsdale, Arizona, had a similar experience, “I met several upperclassmen in my major who I still see from time to time and chat.” Horvath, a digital culture major concentrating on graphic information technology, was already pretty confident that she would be a Sun Devil, but attending More to Explore solidified her decision. “I learned so much about on-campus life, my major and all of the opportunities available to me.”

More to Explore is a choose-your-own-experience visit program for high school, transfer and incoming graduate students. This event allows students to build their own schedules for the day. They can choose from admission and financial aid sessions; club fairs; campus, housing and facility tours including lab spaces, libraries and the Sun Devil Stadium. Each college, including Barrett, The Honors College, offers information sessions and tours. The event boasts more than 300 activities and sessions, and it takes place across four campuses located in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

High school seniors who are admitted to the Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, Tempe or West campuses also have the opportunity to spend the night in a residence hall the evening before More to Explore.

“I did attend the overnight experience and was paired with a student in Barrett, The Honors College,” Minutello says. She had applied to ASU because of the strong engineering programs and honors college. Her overnight visit at the Tempe campus was a highlight of the experience. “[My host] took me around campus, showed me the [many] Starbucks locations and told me the secrets about Barrett, engineering and how to be successful at college.”

My host "was a large influence on my decision to attend ASU,” she said.

But Minutello says the moment she knew she was meant to be a Sun Devil was while attending an ASU men’s basketball game sitting in the 942 Crew student section with her host. “The school spirit and the enthusiasm from the students in the stands was exactly what I wanted when choosing a school. That was the night I told myself ASU was my school.”

Horvath also attended the overnight experience at the Tempe campus and said visiting Hayden Library with upperclassmen from her major was a highlight of the evening. “We ended up exploring the nooks and crannies of the library and discovering all kinds of neat stuff. It was a great late-night adventure.”

More to Explore is ASU’s single largest recruitment event each year, hosting more than 2,000 students and their families over two days. The Downtown Phoenix campus will host events on Sunday, Feb. 19, while the other ASU campuses will have their More to Explore activities on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 20.

Matt López, the new executive director of ASU Admission Services, came to ASU after working at the University of Utah and University of Colorado, Boulder. López says he has never seen an event this comprehensive for prospective students. “The number of sessions and freedom of choice given to students when they register means no two students will have the same experience at More to Explore. That mirrors the level of individuality students experience as Sun Devils.”

“In my first semester at ASU, one of the best parts of my experience has been making memories with my friends in the residence hall,” reflects Horvath. “It was great to have a taste of that experience at More to Explore.”

Minutello says her experience at More to Explore was a key factor in her decision to attend ASU. She has advice for students: “Ask as many questions as you can; to professors, hosts, admission counselors and current students. This program is for you, to let you experience a day in the life as a Sun Devil.”

She added that More to Explore is as much for parents as it is for students. “My mom felt right at home when we came to visit. She was more excited to visit campus than I was.”

Horvath encourages visiting students to be open to meeting new people. “Don’t be afraid to make conversation with the people you meet, even if they seem like intimidating, experienced college students. It is a great way to get your feet wet in your new college life.”

Look for Minutello at More to Explore giving tours of the Fulton Schools of Engineering on the Tempe campus as a Fulton Ambassador, and she will be hosting a student during the Tempe overnight experience as well. “ASU is my home because of the experience I had at More to Explore and the people I met during my two days on campus.”

To learn more or register for More to Explore, click here.

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ASU Peace Corps Week gives students opportunity to apply.
ASU Peace Corps recruiter says there's no age limit — one volunteer is 87.
February 14, 2017

International experiences include eating interesting foods, doing interesting things — and getting married

Meditating at a waterfall. Bucket baths. Eating ant eggs. 

For Peace Corps Week at Arizona State University, former volunteers recalled their most memorable experiences abroad in a pair of videos for ASU Now.

Their stories will contribute to a series of events across ASU’s Downtown, Polytechnic, West and Tempe campuses that will help interested students, faculty and staff learn about the application process, work programs and the daily life of a volunteer. 

“I’m happy to meet with students, discuss their skills and interests, and answer questions,” ASU Peace Corps recruiter Breanne Lott said, explaining that a new application system allows perspective volunteers to apply for specific countries. 

Lott, 27, points out that there’s no age limit for volunteering and that in some cases short-term assignments are available. She finished her service in 2014, and there’s no question about her best experience. “I married an Ethiopian.”

“Our wedding was Ethiopian style,” she added, saying “it turned into a giant community gathering. We had a whole goat roasted and flaming papayas for decoration.”

Jessica Hirshorn, a College of Integrated Sciences and the Arts senior lecturer who teaches a Peace Corps course each fall, served in the early ’90s. She talked about bucket baths and said her favorite spot in the world remains a small waterfall near her home in Micronesia where she would meditate in solitude. After 23 years, she’s planning a trip back.

“Thanks to the advent of Facebook, I’m in touch with everybody in my community,” Hirshorn said. After uploading a few photos, it seemed almost like “the entire island ended up Facebook friending me.”

Notable Peace Corps volunteers include Lillian Carter, mother of ex-President Jimmy Carter; Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings; novelist Paul Theroux and handyman Bob Vila.

The current class of volunteers includes 87-year-old Alice Carter, serving in Morocco.

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order more than 50 years ago to pair U.S. civilians — along with their education and skills — with underdeveloped nations that asked for assistance.

The first volunteers served in Ghana and Tanganyika, modern day Tanzania. Programs later opened in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Host countries must invite the Peace Corps and receive security clearance.

National Peace Corps Week starts Feb. 26. ASU organizers said the university is getting an early start to avoid conflict with the academic calendar.

Over 200,000 volunteers have served in 193 countries and as of last year more than 1,000 had been ASU alums.

Part of the experience is taking in local culture. Michael Sieng, a doctoral student in the School of Sustainability, remembers eating red ant eggs in Thailand, "it's actually really expensive, and so I was only able to eat a little bit — which was fine because it had a kind of interesting taste to it."  

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now


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ASU's West campus opens its doors for visitors to explore learning and fun.
Missed the fun? Next Night of the Open Door is Feb. 17 at Polytechnic campus.
February 12, 2017

Night of the Open Door continues in Glendale with CSI, chocolate, creepy-crawlies and more

Arizona State University's Night of the Open Door — five free open houses over the month of February — continued at the West campus in Glendale on Saturday, where the rain held off as visitors learned about forensics, the neuroscience of chocolate, black widow spiders and other subjects.

Scroll down to see video and photos from the event.


Young visitors tried their hand at an Army ROTC pull-up challenge, real-life Angry Birds games, personality tests for future careers, crime-scene investigations and Minecraft fun as the West campus' schools and departments opened their doors to the public to show off ASU's learning spaces.

Check out the Downtown Phoenix campus' Night of the Open Door event on Feb. 3 here — including healthy cooking demos, coral reef exploration, journalism technology of the future and more.  

If you missed the fun, don't worry: There are three more free Night of the Open Door events this month:

  • Polytechnic campus: 4-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
  • Thunderbird campus: 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
  • Tempe campus: 3-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25

Read more about what's in store at each campus here, including information on the free app that can help visitors map out the activities they want to visit.

Get free tickets in advance online and enter to win a gift package. Tickets also function as an express pass to collect the free glow wand and event programs at the registration booths once on campus.

Check ASU Now after each event for photo galleries and video, and follow along as our crew shows all the fun on Snapchat (search for username: ASUNow). See photos from the Downtown Phoenix campus event here.


Top photo: Sebastian Flores listens for "Sammy's" breath at the nursing booth during Night of the Open Door on West Campus on Saturday evening.  Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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ASU Program on Law and Behavior boasts award-winning faculty members.
Legal decision-making "inherently psychological," says ASU professor.
February 9, 2017

Law and Behavioral Science aims to improve legal process, making it more analytical and fair, through cross-disciplinary study

Sometimes during a trial a lawyer will get angry, a witness will speak out of turn or a defendant will have an outburst. The judge will then calmly instruct the jury to disregard what just happened.

In theory, it’s supposed to keep emotion and bias out of the legal system. In reality, ASU assistant professor Jessica Salerno said, it’s hard for humans to separate thoughts and emotions so neatly.

Law & Behavior

Jessica Salerno

“So much of the legal system has to do with people making decisions, and people judging other people’s behaviors,” she said. “It’s inherently psychological. Trying to make a legal system run well would be difficult without understanding what affects people’s decisions.”

The recently established Program on Law and Behavioral Science takes that into account. It brings ASU experts such as Salerno together across disciplinesThe Program on Law and Behavioral Sciences has affiliated faculty from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the Department of Psychology, the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the School of Social Work. that meet at the intersection of law and behavioral science — including psychology, law, forensics and criminology — to conduct research and teach students in new ways that they hope will improve the legal system by making it more analytical and fair.

Associate professor and program co-founder Nick Schweitzer said research into law and psychology has grown in recent years, with scholars the world over realizing the importance of understanding how the fields intersect and influence each other in the legal process.

For example, psychologists might assist the court in understanding a criminal's mental state or determine whether a jury might be biased against a defendant based on race. The field has also helped reshape how police conduct eyewitness lineups and interviews.

Schweitzer’s own work has been cited by the U.S. Federal Courts to demonstrate how jurors weigh expert evidence in trials. And the work of one of the program’s affiliated faculty members, Regents’ Professor Michael Saks, was instrumental in a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the psychological effects of smaller vs. larger juries.

Law & Behavior

Nick Schweitzer

At ASU, the Program on Law and Behavioral Sciences provides both an opportunity for cross-disciplinary research among scholars, as well as new academic offerings that include undergraduate and master’s degrees in forensic psychology and a doctorate in law and psychology. Classes for the new program will begin in fall 2017.

According to Schweitzer, both the quality of the faculty and the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration at ASU stand to make the program “one of the strongest ... both in terms of size and caliber of people.”

This year, Salerno, an affiliated faculty member, was awarded the Saleem Shah Early Career AwardThe Saleem A. Shah Early Career Development Award is given for demonstration of significant early career achievement in forensic psychology, or related fields of law. Forensic psychology combines general training in psychology with specialized course work in criminal law, criminal behavior, the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and legal decision-making. for her research into the role of emotion in the legal decision-making process.

Some of Salerno’s recent work has looked at how gruesome crime-scene photos and victim impact statements affect jurors. She’ll be teaching a legal psychology course this fall but is equally excited at the prospect of strengthening research efforts by reaching across traditional fields of study.

“The potential for this kind of collaboration is one of reasons I came to ASU,” she said.

Last year’s winner of the Saleem Shah Early Career Award also hails from ASU. Assistant professor and fellow program faculty affiliate Tess Neal received the award for her research into expert bias in legal testimony.

Law & Behavior

Michael Saks

“That’s the highest distinction you can get in our field for early career awards,” Schweitzer said, adding that Saks recently received the Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and Law, the highest distinction in the field at the opposite end of the career spectrum.

An ASU alum, Schweitzer’s work focuses on how neuroscience is used in court, in cases where brain scans that may reveal a psychological disorder are used as evidence. He’s thrilled to now be able to continue working with Saks.

Saks, who has been researching medical malpractice, is similarly enthused at the prospects of the new program.

“Psychology has come to play an important role in the making of better law, policy and practices,” he said. “… It has combined with forensic science to be part of ongoing reforms of that field, with economics to create behavioral economics, and will play an essential part in the movement to reduce injuries and deaths in health care.

“The students and faculty in this new program will learn, teach and do research in these and numerous other areas where interdisciplinary innovation involving behavioral science is needed.”

ASU Police Department expands self-defense classes to include more men, women

February 6, 2017

This spring, Arizona State University Police Department hosts self-defense classes designed to make everyone feel safer no matter what their gender. View all upcoming classes on ASU Events.

Men in the ASU community now are eligible for R.A.D. for Men, which is designed to empower participants to make safer choices when confronted with aggressive behavior. Certified R.A.D. instructors teach each 12-hour class. Certified R.A.D. instructors teach the 12-hour classes. Participants should wear exercise-style clothing and closed-toe shoes. Download Full Image

“The ASU Police Department is excited to offer this self-defense class to the men in our community,” ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson said. “It raises awareness about potentially violent encounters and gives men the tools to recognize, avoid or, as a last resort, defend themselves.” 

The 12-hour R.A.D. for Men course includes self-defense, situational and conversational scenarios. Men may register for the first class on Feb. 24 and 25.


R.A.D. for Men is available because of the sustained interest in women’s self-defense courses. 

Since September 2015, R.A.D. Basic certified 225 women in 17 classes. Women who complete R.A.D. Basic certification may take R.A.D. Advanced, which began in November 2016.

The six-hour R.A.D. Advanced takes R.A.D. Basic to the next level and is scheduled monthly through April. The program covers multiple encounter types and low- or diffused-light simulation exercises.

Officer Laura Gill leads the women’s advanced courses, which includes six different defense themes. Participants may take the courses individually to learn specific advanced strategies, and each class begins with a R.A.D. Basic refresher.

“I love watching the light in a participant’s eyes when she realizes she has more power and strength inside of her than she ever imagined,” Gill said. “It is amazing to lead a program offering that moment of growth to other women.”

ASU offers services and education:


Peter Northfelt

Editor assistant, Business and Finance Communications Group


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ASU business students provide free tax-preparation help

ASU business students volunteer to do free tax prep for qualified taxpayers.
February 2, 2017

IRS-sponsored program offered at West campus for low- to moderate-income taxpayers

Students in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University will provide free tax-preparation services to qualified people at the West campus through April 15.

The students are part of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service and local organizations to provide free tax preparation to people who generally make $54,000 or less, people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.

In addition to supporting the community, the VITA program gives W. P. Carey students the opportunity to gain real-life experience as tax preparers, according to Donald Frost, a lecturer in accountancy at W. P. Carey, who is the liaison for the VITA program.

“Students not only develop their technical skills, but also enhance ‘soft skills,’ such as communication, empathy, patience, compassion and problem-solving by working with diverse client populations," he said.

For the 2015 tax filing season, students processed nearly 1,800 income tax returns, generating approximately $1.47 million in refunds.

The student volunteers will be working in Room 238 of the Classroom/Lab/Computer building at the West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale. Sessions will run from 4 to 8 p.m. every Thursday through April 13, except for March 9, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through April 15, except for March 11.

No appointment is needed, and returns will be prepared on a first-come, first-served basis for qualifying taxpayers. Click here to see what to bring to the session.

Free parking is available at Lot 20 on the West campus.

For information, contact Frost at

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Free series of open houses rolls out the welcome mat at ASU's campuses.
Family-friendly Night of the Open Door lets kids explore science, art and more.
January 31, 2017

Bring the family and 'nerd out' with hundreds of hands-on experiences, performances, tours and more on five Valley campuses

Searching for new ideas and unique experiences with the family in 2017? Does your New Year’s resolution include medieval knights and chain mail, international culture, new-age cars, space exploration or Teotihuacan pyramids? What about discovering the newest career fields or meeting the brainiacs heading labs at the No. 1 most innovative university in the country?

Arizona State University hosts the Night of the Open Door on its five campuses across metro Phoenix. Each offers adults and children the opportunity to “nerd out” and celebrate the power of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with more than 360 hands-on experiences, tours, performances, creative activities, demos, games and design challenges. 

Get free tickets in advance online and enter to win a gift package. Tickets also function as an express pass to collect the free glow wand and event programs at the registration booths once on campus.

With so many activities to consider, Night of the Open Door also offers an app through Devils on Campus (Android or iOS) to help visitors choose activities in advance and navigate each campus. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for highlights of upcoming events.

In its sixth year, Night of the Open Door is a top signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival. Each campus offers performances and activities tailored to its own unique character. For example, chart an evening at Downtown Phoenix to experience cooking and health demonstrations, Native painting activities and community arts exhibits. Come tour PBS studios, meet ASU Public Service Academy students or compete in sustainability, law and health learning games. Kids can even get their junior reporter press badge working with veteran journalists and vintage typewriters.

Exploration of West campus gets visitors thinking about black widow spiders, forensics and the neuroscience of chocolate. Try to beat a lie detector test, build electronic circuits or experience ASU students’ research in cancer, aging and drug development. There’s Minecraft, Angry Birds, art shows, design, dance and much more.

At ASU Polytechnic and Thunderbird campuses, imaginations can take flight, literally. The Polytechnic campus is home to robotics and STEAM machines, the Superstition Review Literary Magazine, Sun Devil Racing Development and a professional flight simulator. The ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management adds an international flair with arts and culture from around the world, including movies, sports, dance, festivals and food, from Peru to the Middle East and China.

ASU’s Night of the Open Door winds up on Feb. 25, with more than 150 hands-on arts and sciences activities, lab tours and demos on the Tempe campus, including the ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival (#Sustival) and, new this year, the futuristic arts exposition “Emerge.”

Emerge events bring to life how our creations are changing what it means to be human, exploring the theme of “Frankenstein” in celebration of the upcoming 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. In addition to Victor Frankenstein’s Workshop for kids, Emerge events for adults are hosted at ASU’s University Club and include artists, virtual reality experiences, neurocomics and immersive environments. Consider the future with “Tomorrow's Monster,” a lab space designed for the year 2047 that features beautifully crafted, customized organs, enhancements and spare body parts. What are the implications of commodification for the future of medicine, artificial intelligence, robotics and what constitutes life itself?

Whether your interests are in language lessons, math or cybersecurity, ancient bones, meteorites or live snakes, Night of the Open Door events have something for everyone, fueled by more than 2,000 undergraduates, graduate students, staff and superstar-faculty volunteers from 150 academic groups.

“I’m impressed by the energy that our volunteers pour into Night of the Open Door each year,” said Darci Nagy, ASU special events manager. “It’s grassroots. Their enthusiasm makes visitors’ discoveries in sustainability, medicine, journalism, language, sciences and engineering more personal and exciting.”

“Coming to ASU for Night of the Open Door, touring the campuses and meeting the world-class people who teach and do research gives people of all ages and from all walks of life the chance to experience and imagine the future they want,” said ASU staffer Margaret Coulombe.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications , Office of the University Provost


Peer coaching at ASU: GPS for reaching goals, accelerating success

January 30, 2017

Has the new year put you in a goal-setting mood?

“Pick two and focus on them,” that’s the advice that ASU First-Year Success Center associate director Kevin Correa has for students — or anyone — motivated to use the start of the new year and a new semester as an opportunity to develop some new positive habits. ASU First Year Success Coach and student during appointment ASU junior Rachel Walker, right, a Global Politics and Supply Chain Management major, works with freshman Janisse Rivera, a Business Sports and Media major, in the First-Year Success Center's Tempe campus location, in Interdisciplinary B building. Walker has been working with Rivera since the beginning of this year. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now Download Full Image

“And if you’re an ASU freshman or sophomore,” Correa added, “making a habit to connect with your personal coach in the First-Year Success Center would be a great place to begin!”

The center, launched in October 2012 and part of University College, has been helping ASU freshmen and sophomores dream big and accomplish their goals with personalized peer-coaching – supporting more than 21,000 students in 50,000 coaching appointents, to date.

“Our focus,” said center founding director Marisel Herrera, “is easing their transition to university life and developing the skills and connections that will help them persist to graduation — and thrive along the way.   

“If you look at celebrities, corporate leaders, athletes,” said Herrera, “they often employ personal coaches. They know the value of working with someone who is further along than they are, who has specific knowledge about how to successfully get to where they want to go.”

At ASU, coaching visits are free, entirely optional and students set the agenda.

“Students aren’t forced to come because they’re on probation or anything like that,” she said. “We’re serving students who have a broad range of GPAs, from those struggling to those academically thriving.”

During the fall 2016 semester, 3,944 ASU students were served in 8,488 coaching appointments — in-person and via email, phone, and Skype. The center reached out to more than 9,000 freshmen and sophomores with personalized invitations, encouraging them to take advantage of the free personal coaching.

Rachel Walker, an ASU junior from Pennsylvania who now works in the center as a coach, remembers what it felt like to be a freshman hesitant to come in for an appointment.

“My coach, Kasey, had reached out to me a few times, but I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the whole concept of a success coach,” said Walker. “I was doing great in school and I didn’t think that I needed any kind of help.”

The global politics and supply chain management major said it was the lure of extra-credit points in WPC 101 that finally got her to visit the center.  

“I had never written down any goals for myself really, and never had a clear picture of what I wanted to accomplish; I just wanted to pass,” she said. “Kasey sat down with me and helped me see the importance of goals and to be more confident in my ability to achieve more than expected.

“I added my supply chain management degree because Kasey showed me how well it fit with my dream of work that would let me travel the world,” observed Walker, who plans to move to Australia and join a global company.

Correa, who shares supervision of the center’s 75 coaches and works to develop programming and curriculum, said that Walker’s experience isn’t atypical.

“Many students come in a little reluctantly, but they quickly feel a comfortable connection and are surprised by how many ways their coach can help,” he said. “They’re glad to suddenly have this other person in their corner who can help them accelerate their success.

“Sometimes students want to talk about how to do better academically or to get help with motivation and accountability,” Correa explained. “Sometimes students are doing well in classes but want to find ways to get involved on campus or in the community. Sometimes they need help to get in touch with other resources to solve an immediate problem or they want to focus on some specific goals like being well or managing their money.” 

“It’s more than just meeting to talk about resources, or tips and tricks to handle your first college years,” added Walker. “It’s a place to be honest about college and to really help you see what you are capable of accomplishing.”

The right person at the right time can change a life

That’s the attitude that underpins all that ASU’s First-Year Success Center does, from its approach to success coaching to the red-carpet treatment it tries to give every visitor who walks in the door.

“The model is simple but powerful,” said Herrera. “Emply and equip a highly trained cadre of near-peers who have done well at ASU to guide and mentor freshmen and sophomores who are navigating their adjustment to college. Give everyone you serve the VIP treatment. And always work from a position focused on a person’s strengths and purpose, not deficits.”

Student coaches receive about 100 hours of training over an academic year while employed in the center.

“In the fall semester, we integrated positive psychology constructs more deeply into our coaching curriculum,” Herrera continued, “and we shared relevant positive psychology messages with students in our programming and monthly e-newsletters.”

Why the emphasis on positive psychology?

According to Herrera, “The marriage of positive psychology with higher education best practices is a cutting-edge approach and highly impactful. It’s about teaching resiliency,” she said. “Life doesn’t always unfold the way we expect it to. When stuff happens, what often trips students up — and what determines how well they cope — are mindset barriers and heat-of-the-moment emotioinal reactions. For instance, when you have a trigger in your environment, that leads to an internal thought and then to a reaction. We can learn to manage a lot of that process.”

Training also addresses how to be a ‘first-level responder’ when a student is in crisis.

“Because students don’t have to impression-manage with peer coaches as they would with an older adult,” Herrera noted, “sometimes a coach is the first person a student will tell about a difficult situation. We want to take care of our coaches and make sure they’re aware of the protocols and resources to get students expedited help.”

First-Year Success coaches are juniors, seniors and graduate students who have at least a 3.0 GPA and who have been engaged on- or off-campus.

“We also look for cultural competency and even resiliency — maybe someone didn’t have a strong first year but turned it around,” said Herrera.

Last year the center received 500 applications for its open coaching spots.

“We now have coaches who were coached by us,” she said, “who want to pay it forward and change the ASU experience for someone else.”

Dongnan “Jacky” Shao, a senior from China who is now in his second year working in the First-Year Success Center, said he leaned on his coach as a freshman to help him get familiar with ASU, to improve his English, and to get more involved on campus.

Shao recognizes he’s grown in many ways being a coach.

“I’ve definitely developed more patience and have become more observant in life. I’ve learned to really listen to people, to understand their questions and find the best way to address their problems,” said the entrepreneurship and supply chain management major. “Every training we took was very helpful, but I found the support from the whole team, from both supervisors and peers, is what helped me the best. The whole working environment is just awesome.”

Former success coach Ana Licona, who went on to join the leadership development team in the Office of Presidential Personnel in the Obama White House after graduating, counts her time as a First-Year Success coach as “one of the most rewarding experiences ever!

“The most memorable moments for me were when my students accomplished their personal and professional goals, succeeded in their classes, studied abroad, received scholarships, and got involved with a club or organization,” said Licona, who earned bachelor’s degrees in sociology and global studies and a certificate in political entrepreneurship. “I was able to follow my students' dreams and dream alongside them. I loved being their cheerleader!”

Success by the numbers

Qualitative feedback from coached students consistently puts the First-Year Success Center among the top-five ASU units in satisfaction surveys.

An impressive 98 percent of coached students in fall 2016 reported their coach helps them achieve their goals and gave them a boost of confidence; 99 percent reported they can go to their coach for advice and that their coach understands them.

“Because getting students through to graduation is ultimately our goal, we’re especially pleased that retention numbers show that for freshmen who received coaching in 2015-2016 there was a 10 percentage point difference in retention overall,” Herrera noted. "There was a 14 percentage point difference for ethnic minority students who were coached.”

In the fall, center staff expanded the VIP Suite programming for sophomores and developed targeted web resources and programs aimed at first-generation students and out-of-state students, two populations that may face additional barriers to success. Some ASU colleges have also begun partnering to embed First-Year Success coaching into their introductory courses and in residential communities. 

The word is getting out in higher education, Herrera said. First-Year Success Center staff are regularly approached by other units and universities nationwide to share their coaching and retention framework.

In February, center leadership will present the ASU model at the 36th annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, in Atlanta, where Herrera (pictured below) will be one of 10 individuals recognized with the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates award at the conference’s opening session.

The award honors those doing exceptional work in student learning, development and success nationally. It’s co-sponsored by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and Cengage Learning. 

ASU First Year Success Center founding director Marisel Herrera

Marisel Herrera, the founding director of ASU's First-Year Success Center, is one of 10 individuals being honored in February with the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates award, at the 36th annual Conference on the First-Year Experience. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now


“This distinction is incredibly well deserved,” observed University College dean Duane Roen. “At ASU Marisel has been a recognized innovator and has made a difference for thousands of students in her work in academic and student affairs over the last 20 years.”

Herrera, who earned a master’s in education at ASU and is pursuing doctoral studies in educational leadership, has also done advanced coach training and certifications from the Certified Coach Federation and the Coaching & Positive Psychology Institute.

She is thrilled that coaching is beginning to be seen as having a natural, organic place in the university.

“When you can get to someone younger in life, they’re still very malleable and open to new ways of thinking,” said Herrera. “Most people are not exposed to this kind of material until they’re well into adulthood and perhaps have gone to counseling,” she added. “But at ASU we’re reaching thousands of students. These coaching techniques are beneficial to all of us, no matter what our age or title.”    


To make an appointment with their First-Year Success coach, ASU freshmen and sophomores can call 480-965-3289 or email

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts