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ASU West Peer Mentor Program celebrates 10 years of student success

First-year jitters: Handled, with ASU West's Peer Mentor Program.
ASU New College peer mentors' advice to freshmen? Get involved, try new things!
August 19, 2016

Two students in ASU T-shirts sit across from each other in an office on the West campus. One is hunkered down, arms crossed over his chest as the other leans in and gently asks for the second time whether anything is bothering him.

“Scene,” interjects Wilma Jackson from across the room, ending the mock one-on-one mentoring session. Jackson, an ethnicity, race and first nations junior, is lead peer mentor for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences' Peer Mentor Program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary with the commencement of the fall 2016 semester. Today she’s overseeing the training of new and returning peer mentors.

“That was good,” Jackson tells the student acting as mentor, but advises her not to push her mentee too hard. Sometimes you just have to be patient and let them open up on their own, she explains.

It’s something she has learned from experience — this is Jackson’s third year with the program. A native of Tucson, she struggled with homesickness as a freshman. Her peer mentor suggested she try participating in on-campus clubs and events to get adjusted, and it worked.

“When I got involved, I started feeling less homesick,” she said.

The best part is Jackson didn’t have to go looking for a mentor; they’re assigned to students before they even get to campus. Throughout the summer, they chat online and get to know each other so that by the time the school year starts, they’re already familiar.

During the fall semester, students are required to meet with their mentors three times in person and update them via email every week about their personal and academic progress. In the spring semester, the mentors pull back a bit to let the students spread their wings, only requiring them to update them via email — mentees who wish may meet in person with their mentor as many times as they like, though.

The program was founded by Anne Suzuki, assistant dean of enrollment services for ASU West, who has a background in first-year programming.

“The Peer Mentor Program at West came out of a need,” said Suzuki. “When we would do orientation with our freshmen classes, one thing they told us they wanted was more opportunities to get to know each other.”

When the program began, there were only three peer mentors, and they only met online. Now, there are nine peer mentors, each of whom is responsible for about 40 freshmen. And many of those first-year students go on to become peer mentors themselves.

“What’s amazing is we’ve created a pipeline for them,” said Suzuki. “They can start out as a front-desk worker for the program when they’re still a freshman, then their sophomore year become a peer mentor, then after that a peer mentor leader.

“And the program evolves with each cohort that leads, whatever they determine is the need at the time. … Last year was the first time we had a student teaching the ASU 101NEW 101, the New College version of ASU 101, is a required, one-credit course for new incoming freshmen. Offered in small classes capped at 19, it introduces students to the unique elements, culture, challenges and opportunities of their university. The course covers several core topics, including how to be successful at ASU, what it means to be a New College student, understanding interdisciplinarity, the significance of academic integrity, academic skill building, advising, service learning, the freshman first-year reading and discovering one's major and/or career. course. So we’re really trying give to them opportunities to become leaders and improve the program.”

Drew Koch, program coordinator for student success, oversees the peer mentors and leads training sessions before the beginning of the school year. He says the program is beneficial not just for the mentees, but for the mentors themselves.

“I like to see the peer mentors develop. Everyone always talks about what they do for the students, but nobody talks about what the program does for [the mentors],” he said. “From the interview process, to the training sessions and beyond, I watch them grow into leaders.”

Aside from the positive effects on students’ academic and professional development, the Peer Mentor Program lets them have fun. Regular events like the wildly popular matball and water balloon fights on Fletcher Lawn give students the chance to let loose amid the stress of their first year. The program also organizes study groups and opportunities for the students to have meet-and-greets with professors in a speed-dating sort of fashion, where they can ask them about anything, not just schoolwork.

“The main focus is to make sure they do well academically, but we also want to make sure they’re getting that fun, exciting experience that college is supposed to be,” said peer mentor Chase Pologa.

When Pologa was a freshman, his peer mentor had such an impact on him that he decided to become one himself.

“I’m a commuter student, so I was happy with my education but I wasn’t having a lot of other experiences,” he explained. “[My mentor] kind of pushed me out of my shell more.”

Jackson said she always advises her mentees to “keep an open mind.”

“Try new things; don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she said. “For me, the program helped me to put myself out there, and now I’m doing something I never saw myself doing.”

Top photo: Peer mentor Victor Seca-Diaz gets nailed with a water balloon during a Peer Mentor event on the Sun Devil Fitness Complex lawn at ASU's West campus. Photo courtesy of Wilma Jackson

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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ASU center helps students pursue in-demand career — and "whoop" on the bad guys.
ASU has the edge on tapping into the Valley's below-the-radar cyber talent pool.
August 18, 2016

New initiative to address cybersecurity talent gap with education, enrichment and real-world experience for students

During the dot-com boom of the late ’90s and early 2000s, data centers began sprouting up by the dozens throughout the Phoenix metro area, with companies attracted to its abundance of open land, stable weather and low cost of living. Nowadays, it’s cybersecurity that’s booming, and for those same reasons the area is once again attracting companies in the industry.

With more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs — and an estimate of up to 1 million vacancies by the year 2020 — could the Valley of the Sun be poised to become “Cyber Valley”? Arizona State University professor of practice Kim Jones says it’s possible.

Jones was recently named director of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences' Cybersecurity Education Consortium, which was created with the goal of addressing the growing talent gap in the cybersecurity sector.

“There are lots of communities who are trying to fill that gap,” he said, “but I think Phoenix, and Arizona in general, are better positioned for it,” not only because of the aforementioned attractive conditions but also because there is “already a very good below-the-radar cyber talent pool here.”

And that’s something ASU is keenly aware of.

In February 2014, the university established the Global Security Initiative, a university-wide interdisciplinary hub for global security research. Shortly thereafter, in July 2015, the initiative launched the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics to take a proactive, interdisciplinary approach to the issue of cybersecurity through research and education.

Global Security Initiative's director of strategy Jamie Winterton worked closely with professor of computer science and engineering Gail-Joon Ahn, who also serves as the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics director, to shape the center.

“Gail and I did a competitive analysis of the field, and what we saw was that most cybersecurity centers at universities were buried in other departments, like science or law,” said Winterton. “There was not a lot of connection to other disciplines that are really important for cybersecurity and that should have a stake in the issue.”

With that in mind, the center has made a concerted effort to engage nearly 40 faculty members across eight academic units — from computer science and business to law, psychology and even the English Department.

An affiliate of the center and the Global Security Initiative, Jones says the Cybersecurity Education Consortium will operate on the same principle at ASU’s West campus, with a focus on enhancing the employability of students in cyber-related degree programs through partnerships with local businesses.

ASU professor of practice Kim Jones

ASU New College professor of practice Kim Jones will lead the Cybersecurity Education Consortium at the West campus with nearly 30 years of industry experience to guide him. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


“When I think of the consortium, I think of a partnership between ASU and security professionals and businesses that makes sure we’re uplifting and enhancing not only the talent that’s coming out of the university, but also enriching the current talent that’s already in the pool,” he said.

That means helping students find relevant internships, helping businesses find quality talent, and providing education and enrichment opportunities for both. In the future, Jones plans for the consortium to offer an applied cybersecurity degree and, eventually, scholarships.

He has been working on laying the foundation for all of that since he joined ASU in April 2016. Most recently, Jones secured a $100,000 partnership with Intuit, a personal finance and tax software company. As a gold-level founding member of Cybersecurity Education Consortium, Intuit will help to sponsor the center’s efforts by providing seed money for courses and activities and by participating on the center’s advisory board, ensuring that what is being taught and offered is truly of value to students and businesses.

Before coming to ASU, Jones spent 14 years as chief information security officer for various companies, including four years for the largest debit-card processor in the nation. And before that, the West Point grad spent 11 years as a military intelligence officer and five years consulting for various organizations.

“Kim Jones has nearly 30 years of experience in the cybersecurity sector,” said Marlene Tromp, dean of the New College. “This rich background of industry experience positions him to build exciting partnerships that will afford ASU students the chance to solve real cybersecurity challenges, as well as to imagine the future of cybersecurity.”

Tromp believes the consortium has the power to become a key regional and national producer of cybersecurity talent.

Part of that, Jones says, is due to ASU “taking a very novel and innovative approach” to addressing the issue of the cybersecurity talent gap. He acknowledges the “brilliance and significance” of ASU’s faculty, but as a professor of practice, he also appreciates the university’s ability to recognize the importance of having someone on board who has extensive real-world knowledge of the field.

“I think that gives ASU a tremendous advantage in the cyber talent space versus anyone else,” he said. “The quality and caliber of our program — beyond just the certifications, in terms of practical skills, practical application — is going to be better than any other program from any other university that’s out there.”

Jones points out that consortium's mission also aligns with ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of the New American University being one that is socially embedded.

To students interested in a career in cybersecurity, he advises, “If you really want to know what it’s like, please come talk to me. Email me, call me, stop by. Part of my job is [to give students] an understanding of what it really means to do this. It’s not always as sexy as it looks on TV, but it’s very rewarding, it’s a lot of fun and if you like whoopin’ up on the bad guys, this lets you do that. There is no feeling like it.”

Top photo: Kim Jones, director of ASU's new Cybersecurity Education Consortium, is setting up the new program to help to connect students majoring in computer sciences in any school within the university with local cybersecurity companies so that they can get real-world experience. There could be 1 million openings in the field in the next four years. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


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August 18, 2016

Smooth start to first day of fall semester as students head back to class

The first day of the 2016-2017 school year got off to a smooth start at Arizona State University. It was easygoing in Tempe, streamlined at West, bucolic at Polytechnic and compartmentalized at the Downtown Phoenix campus. At ASU’s Lake Havasu City location, meanwhile, students counted bats.

In all, ASU absorbed thousands of people — from first-year students to returning faculty — without much fuss.

The newbies of the Class of 2020 represent a group that’s already making history: Of the 11,500 freshmen joining the university, nearly 7,000 are from Arizona, the largest in-state class in school history. The record number of Arizona enrollments reflects the university’s commitment to serving families across the state, ASU officials said in a statement.

Also, nearly half of the Arizona-based first-years come from underrepresented populations, marking the most diverse freshman class in ASU history. It highlights the historic dedication of research universities to educate a diverse student body, the university said.

The new students are spreading out across ASU’s various campuses: about 9,000 in Tempe, 1,500 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, about 1,000 between Polytechnic and West, and nearly three dozen at Lake Havasu City.

Here’s the story of the first day from each campus:

Tempe campus: First-years, first thing in the morning

It was 82 minutes after sunrise on Thursday as several freshmen scurried to their first college classes at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

And if a 7:30 a.m. start time wasn’t enough of a challenge for the first day, it was gloomy and gray outside the Durham Language and Literature Building.

“Today of all days to rain,” lamented Ernesto Vargas of Peoria, a graphic design major. “I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with the early time, but it’s nothing different from high school. It’s OK for a few classes but not all of them.”

His friend, Nathan Herr, a film major who lives in Peoria, had been up for hours in order to make it to his 7:30 a.m. class on ASU’s largest campus, home of the Palm Walk, The Memorial Union and Sun Devil stadium.

“I got up at like 4:30 and drove to the West campus and took the bus from there to here,” he said. “I have to do that every Tuesday and Thursday for a math class.”

Also sleep-deprived was Alexa Mayer of Nogales, who had English 101 at 7:30 a.m.

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so anxious about the time. I didn’t even need an alarm,” said Mayer, an accountancy major.

“But it’s not as bad as I thought because the teacher is so chill.”

The instructor, Heather Crook, teaches at 7:30 a.m. five days a week, although she’s glad to be done before 1 p.m. every day.

“If I don’t have my coffee, or if I run out of my coffee, it’s a sad day,” she said.

“The first couple of weeks, the students are pretty excited, but then after that they start to be groggy and they might be a few minutes late,” Crook said.

“But for the students who are morning people, it’s awesome.”

That would include Giovanni Romani, a performance and movement major. “I don’t mind the mornings,” she said. “I guess I’m weird.”

Time-lapse by Ken Fagan/ASU Now


Across campus, another group of freshmen ducked out of the drizzle into McCord Hall as part of a tour for their W. P. Carey 101 course — a one-credit, weekly class that introduces the new students to resources in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“We talk about advising, our business career center, study abroad,” said David Reali, the staff member who led the tour and coordinates the Camp Carey program. “Each week is designed to open the eyes of the students to everything that’s at their fingertips in the school.”

Junior Nick Staloch was helping to lead the tour, which on the first day included the W. P. Carey buildings and the college’s personal Starbucks outlet.

“I went to a very small high school so coming to ASU was a bit daunting,” said Staloch, who also is a resident assistant in Barrett, the Honors College.

“It’s fun to be able to help people who are going through what I went through just two years ago.”

West campus: Students return to streamlined parking

One of the first things students have to learn to deal with when they roll up for the first day of classes is parking. If you’re unfamiliar with campus or in a hurry, it can be frustrating to navigate.

This year at ASU's West campus, Mark Gaertner, field operations supervisor for ASU Parking and Transit, was out bright and early to greet students and answer any questions about the new, more streamlined pay-to-park system on the liberal arts campus in Glendale. 

“It’s a lot more convenient,” said Gaertner. “You can pay and then come and go as you like.”

At the Starbucks inside Fletcher Library, Tiffany Spriulle served up both hot and cold drinks to faculty, staff and students. Even with everyone returning to campus the crowds weren’t overwhelming.

“It’s been pretty nice and steady,” she said.

Biology juniors Dena Haddab and Sameera Khan discussed their biochemistry class as they waited in line for their morning caffeine rush. Khan is excited for the year ahead but says “it’s going to be a tough semester” because she has a lot of challenging classes and will be preparing for the Medical College Acceptance Test.

Video by Dave Hunt/ASU


Out on Fletcher Lawn, Student Activities and Conference Services student workers Jesus Hidalgo and Charlene Smith set up tents for the “Fear the Fork” welcome barbecue, hosted by Undergraduate Student Government.

Hidalgo, a secondary education major, said the event is a great way to welcome students.

“First impressions matter,” he said. “It’s a big transition coming from high school to college, and it feels good knowing you’re helping to get students involved and feeling comfortable.”

Some students slipped away from the sun by bringing the feast inside Fletcher Library. Sophomores Dustin Nguyen and Czarina Perez shared a plate stacked with corn on the cob, pulled pork, fried chicken and corn muffins.

Nguyen is celebrating being done with his first organic chemistry class, and says he’s “looking forward to getting all A’s this semester.”

Around the corner, senior Ena Razic double- and triple-checked her schedule for the day. The communications major has classes at both the Downtown Phoenix campus and West.

“I just wanna make sure I know where everything is so I don’t have to check again when I get down there,” she said.

Downtown Phoenix campus: Low-key milestones

ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus kicked off the fall semester with a trio of milestones: The campus is celebrating its 10th anniversary, welcoming a record number of students and showcasing the newly opened Beus Center for Law and Society.

All that’s just trivia, however, to students preoccupied with finding their classes on the campus geared toward city-minded students seeking careers in health, nutrition, law, journalism, teaching and non-profit management.

J.J. Santos took the light rail from ASU’s Tempe campus but was late for Mary Cook’s “The ASU Experience.” The course, designed to help students succeed by introducing them to campus resources and services, was held in a meeting room in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Despite the tardiness, Santos walked in confidently. Cook asked Santos whether he was a movie star. The 18-year-old replied, “Yes. I am,” though his current resume would indicate otherwise.

By contrast, first-year students Ramon Garcia and Caitlyn Brooner were on time. The pair of nursing majors graduated from Phoenix’s Alhambra High School in June. While waiting for their 9 a.m. introduction to chemistry class, they chatted in the lobby of the Beus Center.

Garcia said he was excited but found it hard to shake the nerves. “It’s a lot of pressure being the first one in your family to go to college.”

Brooner feels pressure, too, but for a different reason. “My goal is to be successful and not let my own expectations down while holding to what I believe.”

The nearly $130 million Beus Center is now home for about 900 ASU Law students after a massive relocation that began about 10 years ago.  

Second-year ASU Law student Devyn McCullen was taking a break outside the six-story, 280,000-square-foot structure before catching the light rail back to Tempe. It was her first visit.

“It’s very hi-tech compared to the Tempe campus, but I think it fits in down here,” McCullen said. “It’s near the legal community and the courts, and opportunities for internships should be easier.”

The influx brings the number of students at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus above 13,000, the highest total in it’s now 10-year history.

“That’s really cool,” Brooner said. “I thought it was older than that.” 

Polytechnic campus: First-years get bearings on quiet first day

The doves were cooing as the sun rose over the fields of the Polytechnic campus.

It was freshman Heather Bearden's first day, and sat outside the student union. "I'm excited but I'm nervous at the same time," the graphic information technology major said. "I'm looking forward to making new friends and learning about my degree."

Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus is nicknamed “The Maker Campus” because it has so many labs and workshops. Students print and design and test and build here. They study applied sciences and mechanical and electronics engineering. Some of them are in the aviation program, where they can walk out of the classroom and get in a cockpit at the airport across the street.

"It's so much quieter and smaller than the Tempe campus," Bearden said. 

And it is. So much quieter that a small skunk is prowling a wash beside the union.

"You don't see that every day," Corey Stevenson said. 

An outreach coordinator for the teacher's college, today Stevenson staffs an information booth. She has volunteered to help on the first day of classes for the past four years. 

"Just directions" are the most common request. "Where's this building? Where's that building? That's what we hear the most. I try to be a friendly face, just reassure them." 

The freshmen are unsure about a lot, about what to bring, where to go. A young man approaches the table.

"Do you know where classroom 133 is?"

Stevenson jumps up to show him the way.

Down in the basement of the Sim building, no one is flying virtual skies today. Faculty associate Mike Hampshire, who teaches flying on the aviation program simulators, explained that he’s pairing up students before they start to train together.

“I’m less behind than I normally am,” Hampshire said. “Everything goes so fast. One minute they’re freshmen and the next thing you know they’re flying the flight you’re on. And you feel good about it.”

Thunderbird campus: A close-knit, global education

Just a mile north of the West campus in Glendale, students at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management are pumped to begin learning how they can put their undergraduate knowledge to work in today’s global industry.

The week leading up to this first day of class, students participated in various activities on campus to get to know each other, professors and the physical space better.

Orientation was each day from 7-8 a.m. Global affairs and management grad student Gillian Reid said it was a lot of information at once but it was worth it — not to mention, coffee was provided.

Students at Thunderbird are placed into cohorts of about 30. Mary Alexandrou said, “The best part about being a master’s student is having a cohort and learning together at the same pace.”

Fellow cohort member Bethany Bennick agrees. “It really feels like a family here at Thunderbird,” Bennick said. “There’s a real sense of belonging” on the campus that emphasizes high-level business management.

Chris Barton, Mariah Alexander and Griffin Gosnell, all global affairs and management students, had already developed a rapport, talking and laughing as they walked to their global institutions and actors class.

Barton completed his undergraduate degree at ASU in sustainability. At Thunderbird, he says he’s “looking forward to learning the practical skills of life.”

Professor Okechukwu Iheduru welcomed the class with a warning: “If you mispronounce or spell my name incorrectly, you lose 10 percent of your course grade.”

The room went silent until he let out a laugh and the students joined in. Iheduru gives them a brief overview of his personal and professional background, then gets right down to business — literally.

Colleges at Lake Havasu City: Gone batty

At ASU’s small, low-cost extension location students started the semester as they have for several years: They went and counted bats in a nearby forest to document the number of different species.

Kimberley Rome, ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City community outreach specialist, said that for each of the last four years students have gotten involved in the field exercise, which is hard to replicate elsewhere. They also held their annual "Beach Bash," where students paddle boarded, kayaked and played volleyball.  

The colleges opened in 2012 about a mile from the large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River. The locations offers degrees including in sociology, political science, communication and life sciences. This year, students can take kinesiology and business administration.

Unlike the Valley campuses, it was “hot as heck” near the California border. “It’s 114 degrees,” Rome said. 


Check in with ASU Now on Twitter: @asunews, Instagram: @asunow and Snapchat: asunow.


Reporters Marshall Terrill, Emma Greguska, Scott Seckel and Mary Beth Faller contributed to this report. Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Get to know some students, their goals and aspirations for their time at ASU
Ever wonder what the "M" stands for in Michael M. Crow? Watch our video.
August 17, 2016

Students answer questions — some serious, some fun — as the school year gets underway

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now


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Move-in helpers unload cars, move belongings into res halls for ASU students.
Prep by ASU crew allows families to focus on the fun and emotions of the day.
August 14, 2016

An efficient army of helpers makes move-in a smooth start to the college journey for the newest Sun Devils and their families

Moving into a residence hall is a rite of passage for college students.

And thanks to an enthusiastic crew of helpers, it's also a low-stress event for students and their families at Arizona State University.

Watch how the process works from the viewpoint of the helpers themselves, and scroll down for photos and more video from move-in at the West, downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic and Tempe campuses. For more Fall Welcome events, visit

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now


Welcome to the family, newest Sun Devils, and welcome back to everyone else!

Video by Dave Hunt/ASU


Top photo: Mary Mani, a Well Devil ambassador for the Las Casas community on the West campus, awaits the arrival of freshmen and families on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Glendale. Photo by Sierra LaDuke/ASU

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Check out these tips and events for #ASU move-in and #ASUFallWelcome.
August 10, 2016

Here's what new students need to know about move-in, ASU Welcome

Every year, new students arrive at Arizona State University's campuses excited to start a new chapter in life. Some will even blaze new paths in innovation and research, but it all starts at move-in.

This fall, nearly 14,000 students will move into ASU’s 21 residence halls across ASU’s four campus locations Aug. 12-14.

“This is an exciting time for incoming freshmen,” said Kellie Cloud, executive director of University Housing. “Living on campus is a huge first step into adulthood, and we take great care in ensuring freshmen successfully acclimate to college life. It is here where students will form lifelong friendships, engage in student activities and find support networks, crucial components for student success throughout college and beyond."

ASU’s residential college model is designed to help students succeed academically by housing students together based on academic major. First-year students form connections and create a network of friends with similar educational interests. Additionally, students benefit from collaborative living spaces that offer on-site tutoring and multi-use rooms that can be used for study groups, workshops and events

During move-in, campuses are alive with music and energy as volunteers greet both parents and students with an ASU welcome. With the help of volunteers, move-in can take as little as 20 minutes, allowing parents and students more time to give hugs and to explore the campus

Want to make move-in faster? Remember these tips:

• arrive at the assigned date and time

• complete the pre-check-in process

• bring a printed boarding pass and ASU ID

• follow specific directions to your assigned residence hall

• stay hydrated!

• wear comfortable shoes and clothing

With all that help, students can relax, get comfortable in their new home and explore the campus before the first day of class Aug. 18. Fall Welcome Week is the perfect time to explore campus, connect to ASU services and resource, and make new friends.


Fall Welcome

ASU kicks off the beginning of the school year with free events for new and returning students. Nearly 200 events give students the opportunity to explore everything ASU has to offer.

Don’t miss out on the must-attend signature events:

Sun Devil Welcome
4:30-5:30 p.m., Aug. 16, Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe campus

Experience Sun Devil pride at its finest. This is a high-energy, exciting event to introduce you to what it means to be a Sun Devil. This annual event is the perfect way to officially welcome all of our new Sun Devils to ASU.

Culture Festival
5:30-7 p.m., Aug. 16, Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe campus

Celebrate the diversity that students bring into the ASU community. Enjoy performances, activities and food from a variety of cultures found at ASU. Need a ride to the Sun Devil Welcome and Culture Festival? Free shuttles will be provided to transport students living on the West, Polytechnic and Downtown campus locations.

But make sure to catch other fun events at every ASU campus. Activities include:

Sparky’s Day of Service
Dates and times vary by campus location

Sun Devils have an impact on the local community and make a positive change in the world. Join this university-wide initiative to participate, volunteer and make a change.

ASU Parent and Family Events
Dates and times vary by campus location

Hear from university leadership, meet fellow ASU parents, faculty and staff and learn about upcoming campus-specific events. Parents are encouraged to attend family events at the location of their students major. Refreshments will be served.

Involvement Fairs
Dates and times vary by campus location

Passport to ASU, Sparky’s Carnival, WestFest and Club Hub are opportunities to learn about student clubs and organizations at ASU. Check out what students are doing, enjoy free food, fun giveaways and join a club!

Student Employment Job Fairs
Dates and times vary by campus location

Attend a Student Employment job fair and secure a part-time job on or off campus. Pre-registration is not required for students.

Whitewash the “A”
9-11 a.m., Aug. 20, Hayden Butte (“A” Mountain)

One of the oldest traditions at ASU — students have been whitewashing the “A” since the 1930s, a ritual that marks the start of the new year and a fresh start.


Download the ASU Events app and cross all the events off your Sun Devil bucket list. Share your photos, videos and the excitement using #ASUFallWelcome on social media. For more information, visit


Top photo: Cynthia Rivera helps her son, freshman Calvin Rivera, during move-in at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus Aug. 17, 2015. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

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ASU's Stanlie James named vice provost for inclusion and community engagement
New ASU vice provost to guide university's inclusion efforts.
August 5, 2016

ASU's Stanlie James to guide university's commitment to inclusion

ASU professor Stanlie James has taught about diversity and inclusion for many years, from Arizona to Senegal and Uganda.

Now she will step beyond teaching. She will help make it happen.

Mark Searle, ASU's executive vice president and provost, has named James as the new vice provost for inclusion and community engagement. James, an ASU administrator and faculty member for the past decade, will help lead the university community in how to further understand and tackle complicated issues associated with race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and other forms of diversity.

She will help guide university leaders and faculty, and counsel campus organizations to ensure ASU sustains and accelerates its commitment to inclusion.

“ASU’s charter rightfully declares that we define ourselves by whom we include, rather than whom we exclude,” Searle said. “Stanlie is the ideal candidate to help us advance both that mission and our responsibility to create an environment in which issues of diversity are turned from challenges into opportunities to build understanding. She brings to this role a distinguished record, established across institutions and oceans, that will help us ensure that the ASU community in which we study or work reflects the breadth and perspectives of the world beyond the edges of our campuses.”

James said she is excited about the opportunity to grapple with the issues about which she has taught for years and address them across the university, an institution that changes thousands of lives for the better every year.

“For decades, large institutions, such as the Army and Fortune 500 companies, have been telling us they need students able to work with different cultures, domestically and internationally,” James said. “Universities have not yet fully risen to meet that challenge.”

Those unmet aspirations extend well beyond higher education, she said. Signs of progress, such as greater diversity among elected officials, corporate leaders and entertainment figures, are countered by flashpoints of division in new laws, in political campaigns or on the streets.

“We are not in a post-racial period,” said James, a fourth-generation Iowan and daughter of a dentist and a teacher.

James, a graduate of Spelman College, in Atlanta, received a master’s degree from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and a master’s and doctorate from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her career has spanned from social services case worker in Iowa, to visiting professor in a number of African institutions of higher education, to director of ASU’s African and African-American Studies program. She was also a member of the leadership team that envisioned and helped build the School of Social Transformation.

ASU’s mission as a place of learning and its commitment to access is helping to expand the diversity of its students, faculty and staff.  While a march towards diversity is in process, the university’s inclusion challenges have evolved rather than been resolved, James said.

For example, students come to ASU with the experience of growing up with friends of different races or nationalities or from the LGBTQ community.

“They have an individual sense of how to deal with people who are different than themselves,” James said. “What they don’t have is a sense of systemized or institutional racism that lingers in our society. You can’t say, ‘There is no racism, because my best friend is of a different race.’”

Issues of inclusion have changed for many universities, she said. Topics of race, once limited to black and white, now span a host of skin colors. States, including Arizona, are moving toward whites becoming a minority population.

“As we engage the notion of ASU, and indeed the state of Arizona, becoming a ‘minority majority’ institution, we must seriously address the challenge of holistic inclusion,” James said. “How we get there will be a critical reflection of who we are as an institution.”

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A global experience from Phoenix's West Valley

New camps seek to engage the West Valley community with ASU.
Thunderbird camp gives West Valley students a global experience.
July 28, 2016

High school students engage in hands-on projects at ASU's Thunderbird summer camp

While other teenagers were playing the latest smartphone game, a group of high schoolers came to Arizona State University earlier this month to create business plans.

The students were in the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience camp and during the first of three weeklong sessions, they learned about sports marketing by creating a mock product and a plan to sell it.

“I know everyone says this, but ours really is the best,” Nihal Aradhymath, (pictured at top) a student at BASIS Phoenix High School, said during the presentation to market his team’s product — a natural energy supplement.

“Support your joints, and they’ll support you!” said Darby Watters, who created a proposal to sell compression braces for injured knees and ankles that can be custom decorated. Watters, who goes to Madison Highland Prep in Phoenix, excelled at a business class in school and was inspired to learn about marketing, so she decided to attend the Thunderbird camp.

The Thunderbird Summer Global Experience is new this year. The day camp is run at ASU's West campus in Glendale by Global LaunchGlobal Launch is the ASU organization that provides intensive English courses for international students and other kinds of global outreach., and includes low-cost or free initiatives that are intended to engage the community with ASU, according to Linda Hill, program coordinator for Global Launch.

“It’s a campaign to increase programs that ASU offers in the Glendale area and to give prospective students a chance to experience the ASU campus in a way they wouldn’t otherwise,” Hill said.

Sejal Shanbhag works with her partners, Justin Rudick and Bradley Lehmann, on their presentation at the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience at West campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


Some of the Thunderbird programs have a global flavor. Children who are already attending the Sun Devil Fitness Camp at West campus have had weekly Thunderbird sessions in flag-making and Peruvian music and dance.

Another program is called “Passport to Brazil,” in which Thunderbird Summer Global Experience staff are offering two-hour cultural activities to kids in camps run by the Boys and Girls Clubs.

The day camp for high school juniors and seniors featured guest speakers and hands-on projects, such as developing a social media campaign.

Sejal Shanbhag, who attends Desert Mountain High School, said her school canceled a business class she wanted, so she signed up for the camp, where she worked on marketing a football helmet that scans the head for injury. Her partners were Justin Rudick, who goes to Pinnacle High School, and Bradley Lehmann, a student at Boulder Creek High School.

“I realized that during the summer I would probably get a little stir crazy,” Lehmann said. “It was good to work with other people.”


Top photo: Nihal Aradhymath, a student at BASIS Phoenix, gives his sports marketing presentation at the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience camp at West campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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July 7, 2016

Inaugural Veterinary High School Summer Camp at ASU teaches teens science, compassion and how to study

On a hot summer morning on Arizona State University’s West campus, Darra Browning was all smiles. Like many educators at ASU, she is excited and passionate about her field of expertise, and she was sharing that enthusiasm with classroom full of ambitious high schoolers at the inaugural Veterinary High School Summer Camp in June.

Browning, an instructor in the Math and Natural Sciences Division in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the West Campus, is a doctor in veterinary medicine. She swiftly and expertly covered topics such as the cardiovascular system and neurology, and the students put pencil to paper, taking diligent notes.

When asked, they could recite the lesson — parts of animal anatomy — without hesitation. Throughout the lesson, Browning gave students memorization tips such as color coding and visual representations to learn the lesson, methods she teaches students enrolled in her classes.

“It’s important to not only learn the material, but find ways to retain the information,” Browning said. “As an educator, it’s invaluable to teach students study skills and enable them to have a college classroom experience. When they apply and are admitted to college, they are prepared and have the tools necessary to succeed in their chosen field.”

Knowledge of animal anatomy is essential, but the human-animal bond is a very important part of veterinary medicine as well, she explained. Students brainstormed on how, as a veterinarian, they can help a client through the loss of a pet. Through a group activity and a bit of creativity, students designed posters that would help clients cope with their grief.

McKenna Willis, a recent graduate of Red Mountain High School in Mesa, heard about the camp through her mom, who works at her high school.

“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian. I always like to capitalize on opportunities like this,” Willis said. “This is my second or third class I’ve gone to over the summer, but this one is really cool because I haven’t really done classes that did a lot of dissections like this.”

Willis liked the in-depth, hands-on approach of the camp and would recommend it to students interested in the field.

Veterinary High School Summer Camp

Instructor Darra Browning (center) talks to 10th-grader Char McIntosh about the cow kidney that ninth-grader Sophie Paul (left) is exploring as part of the Veterinary High School Summer Camp’s "Comparative anatomy lab" with students examining a rattlesnake, dogfish shark, squid and animal organs at the West campus on Wednesday, June 8. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU


“I feel like we get a more competitive edge doing this kind of stuff because you learn before you actually get to the class. By the time you’re in the class, you already have a good foundation to go off of. So instead of being there for the first time, really concentrating on taking notes, you can concentrate on what you don’t know and build off of what you already know.”

Her lab partner Erika Maxwell, a recent graduate from Doherty High School in Colorado, was also enthralled in the information and dissection of the day.

“Recently I discovered I wanted to do veterinary studies, so I’d stumbled upon it on the ASU website and decided to come because it seems like fun,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell, a future Sun Devil, will be attending ASU's West campus in the fall, majoring in Applied Biological Sciences, Pre-Veterinarian Medicine.

Although her program is based at the Polytechnic campus, she chose the West campus because it’s closer to home — her mom now lives in the West Valley.

“I like that it’s smaller,” she said. “Bigger campuses, places that are more crowded, I don’t like as much. I like the one-on-one that ASU offers, especially at their West campus.”

The camp to her was completely worth it.

“I learned tons this week, tons I had never learned before. Just in one day we talked about animal behavior for 30 minutes, and I figured out I was training my dog wrong,” Maxwell said. 



Top photo: Incoming ASU freshman Erika Maxwell (left) examines a rattlesnake's organs, along with 10th-grader Kole Sawyer and recent Mesa Red Mountain graduate McKenna Willis as part of the Veterinary High School Summer Camp's "Comparative anatomy lab" at the West campus on Wednesday, June 8. Maxwell will be majoring in pre-veterinarian medicine. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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High-achieving 7th- through 9th-graders take college-level courses at ASU camp.
July 7, 2016

Competitive Barrett camp draws academically talented teens to campus

School is out for the summer, but 26 high-achieving eighth-graders are spending this week dissecting plants, using a microscope and learning about physics and chemistry.

They were among 500 Barrett Summer Scholars — academically talented students who lived in the dorms, ate in the dining halls and were able to take college-level coursework at Arizona State University.

“There’s no test, no quiz. This is hands-on fun,” Cindy James-Richman told the group as they prepared to examine pink vinca flowers under a microscope. James-Richman teaches sustainable horticulture and biology in the College of Letters and Sciences at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

“The first thing about being a scientist is that you need curiosity and observation,” James-Richman said to the students, who wore white lab coats, just like real scientists.

Now in its 10th year, the selective camp is sponsored by Barrett, the Honors College, and is a way for motivated seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders from around the state to engage with each other and to learn about the unique opportunities they can find at Barrett. Camp applicants must have high grade-point averages and be recommended by a teacher.

About half the campers attend on scholarship because their families’ incomes are low enough to qualify them for free or reduced-price lunch. The camps are held at four ASU campusesTempe, West, Downtown Phoenix and Polytechnic.

“They get a taste of what college life is really about, and they get to take classes that they’re really interested in,” said Araceli Villezcas, coordinator for the camp.

Barrett Summer Scholars dissect fruit and veggies.

Students do a lab exercise on grocery-store botany at the Barrett Summer Scholars program on Monday, June 27. The teens studied plant biology by looking at the parts of the plants and then examining common fruits and vegetables through the eyes of a scientist. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


The eighth- and ninth-graders take a scaled-down version of the Human Event, the critical-thinking seminar that’s a signature course in Barrett, the Honors College. All campers can choose electives they’re interested in, including journalism, nursing, engineering, sustainability, entrepreneurship and criminology. They study engineering by building with Legos, practice medical procedures on simulated patients and learn how to create smartphone applications.

The Barrett Summer Scholars session is so popular with campers that the ninth-graders created petitions and a social-media campaign to lobby for ASU to add a session for 10th-graders next year.

Soledad Romero, an eighth-grader who attended this week’s session at the Polytechnic campus, is another loyal Barrett Summer Scholar.

“I went last year and I really liked it, so that’s why I came this year,” she said.

“Even though it’s like school during the summer, I like the hands-on classes and I learned a lot.”


Top photo: Kamini Ramakrishna (left), 14, studies a petal from a Madagascar Periwinkle flower as partner Soledad Romero looks on during the Barrett Summer Scholars program on Monday, June 27. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now





Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now