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ASU Design and Arts Corps trains designers, artists to work with communities

One of the Herberger Institute’s signature initiatives, Design and Arts Corps aims to become a national model for arts- and design-led community change

April 18, 2018

Schools. Hospitals. Laboratories. Designers and artists do as much work outside their practice rooms and studios as they do inside those traditional spaces. 

Courtney Davis, an interior architecture graduate student in Arizona State University’s The Design School, has spent the bulk of her semester this spring in the Sunnyslope community of Phoenix working with Chrysalis, a nonprofit that supports survivors of domestic abuse.

“I’m working with them to redesign a transitional housing casita for families who have moved through the emergency shelter but need housing while seeking education and job training,” Davis said. “I love knowing this design will support these strong mamas and resilient kids.” Scientist holds part of a human brain affected by Alzheimer's. Last fall, two Design and Arts Corps students from the School of Music visited brain banks and labs with ASU neuroscientists studying Alzheimer’s disease. Photo by Gavin Maxwell/Biodesign Institute Download Full Image

Her project is one of several that place designers, artists and design and arts scholars and educators in public life as part of the Design and Arts Corps in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

One of the Herberger Institute’s signature initiatives, Design and Arts Corps aims to become a national model for arts- and design-led community change. Through partnering with communities, the initiative not only places student designers and artists in public life but also trains and prepares them to be community practitioners — to use their creative capacities to advance culture, strengthen democracy and imaginatively address today’s most pressing challenges.  

Leveraging creative skills

The Design and Arts Corps addresses a unique 21st-century challenge for design and arts colleges. About 85 percent of design and arts graduates worked outside of the arts at some point in their careers, according to a national survey of more than 80,000 design and arts alumni. Schools do not train design and art students to leverage their creative skills to serve in nontraditional settings like health care, youth development, faith communities, civic institutions and social profit organizations. Design and Arts Corps does.

“This initiative fundamentally shifts design and arts education to ensure that every student gets a chance to work with a community partner and to deeply understand how they can equitably use their creative talents and imaginations to improve their communities,” said Stephani Etheridge Woodson, director of Design and Arts Corps. 

For example, a digital storytelling program called iCreate partners Design and Arts Corps students with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The resident artists work with young patients to create playful explorations of the children’s most creative selves. Patients get to dance in space or travel around the world or vanquish volcano monsters in these videos, which helps them build creative capacities, reduce stress responses and strengthen psychological resiliency.

Last year, two graduate students from the School of Music visited brain banks and labs with ASU neuroscientists studying Alzheimer’s disease as part of a Design and Arts Corps project. Through original compositions, the students communicated the research they observed and the struggles affecting Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and the scientists searching for a cure.

In the fall, students from The Design School joined the School of Sustainability’s Project Cities partnership with the city of Apache Junction. Landscape architecture students working with Professor Kenneth Brooks helped create land use maps and made recommendations to the city on several projects, including creating an off-leash dog park and improving solid waste and recycling. Also, Assistant Professor Danielle Foushee and a research class teamed up with the city of Tempe for “Arts in the Park,” which continued this spring with students from the Socially Engaged Design and the Arts class.

This semester, film students in Lecturer Gene Ganssle’s class are partnering with local nonprofit organizations to create PSAs. An art student is working on a public art project with 16- to 24-year-olds who are disconnected from work and school. A design student and a sustainability student are partnering to design and offer a workshop inspired by the meaning-making theories of logotherapy, developed by Victor Frankl, who was a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. The workshop brings together theater performance with interactive games aimed at helping visitors find a sense of meaning, even in difficult times. 

For her project with Chrysalis, Davis said she is thrilled to leverage the design principles she’s learned at ASU.   

“The challenge, and what I get really excited about as a designer, is using principles of trauma-informed care, and biophilia to create spaces that are not only functional, but actually contribute to healing and transformation,” Davis said. “Beauty is care, and design makes a powerful contribution to healing.”

Working together 

One of the primary goals of the Herberger Institute’s Design and Arts Corps is not just giving the students the opportunity to contribute to their communities, but also making sure they are trained to be ethical partners. 

“In a traditional process, a designer like myself might come in and play the expert,” Davis said. “In this project, I am working closely with the organization, as well as getting input from the residents about what the spaces need. There is a lot of give and take.”

Herberger Institute alum Julie Akerly, who serves as the arts engagement specialist for the city of Tempe, sees the need for this kind of training.

“It is important for artists to learn how to work with communities, especially as the arts play a larger and larger role in supporting the equity and inclusion of communities,” she said. “As someone who works in arts engagement, we are often interested in hiring artists to do community-based work and to work with communities in Tempe, but it is hard to know who has the skills to address communities in a way that will not be harmful.”

Design and Arts Corps received funding from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics to build the ethics component of the initiative along with help from a community advisory council. Current plans include a certification that Design and Arts Corps students will complete before they go out into the communities.

“There will be a piece on equitable communications, one on democracy since this is a democratically engaged community, and then a module on the theory of change,” Etheridge Woodson said. 

Changing the world

When Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute, joined ASU, he knew he wanted to launch the Design and Arts Corps initiative, and he knew the impact it could have.

“Artists and designers have a way of asking questions, expanding our imagination and exploring opportunities,” Tepper has said. “Their ideas and methods provide a powerful lens to address critical issues facing our communities, and they should be fully integrated into public life rather than seen as extra or special or something apart from everyday life.”

Through Design and Arts Corps, students will be able to do just that — address critical issues facing our communities.

“I was drawn to Design and Arts Corps because I feel passionate that everyone is deserving of beautiful, functional spaces, regardless of their race, religion, gender or economic status,” Davis said. “This was the perfect opportunity to create a space that has a positive and very concrete impact on the life of a family.”

And when Davis leaves ASU, she will take the necessary skills and knowledge to continue this work and make an impact with her into the wider world. She’ll be one of many.

“Once we’re fully rolled out, every Herberger Institute student will participate in Design and Arts Corps at least one time while at ASU,” Etheridge Woodson said. “We will probably have 1,600 students per academic year working in partnership with community, which will make us the largest socially engaged design and arts program since the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.”

The echoes of the Works Progress Administration are not accidental. Dean Tepper certainly has it mind when he says: “The nation is asking us how can we lead ­ — ­­­how can we show the way forward so that every artist and designer who graduates in America recognizes they have the tools, the capacity, the imagination, the competencies to work anywhere, in any place, with any partner, to engage, to advance ideas, to solve problems, to build communities, to create a more equitable world. That is what our mandate is.”

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


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ASU student selected as 2018 Truman Scholar

April 16, 2018

Prescott native and city council member will receive $30,000 for graduate study

Arizona State University online student Alexa Scholl was expecting to talk to a reporter last Tuesday about qualifying as a Truman Scholar finalist.

But that’s not what happened when she logged onto a Skype call.

It was ASU President Michael M. Crow on the screen, telling her that she had just won the $30,000 scholarship.

“It was all very sneaky and I was shocked,” Scholl, a Barrett, The Honors College student majoring in political science and Spanish, said with a laugh. “Seriously, it’s nice that the president of the largest university in the nation took time to personally congratulate a student on an achievement — [it] just makes the whole ASU experience feel much more personal.”

Skype video courtesy of the Office of the President

Scholl was one of 59 college students from around the country to be named as a 2018 Truman Scholar. Some 756 candidates were nominated by 312 colleges and universities for the scholarship, which is named after Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. Candidates were chosen by 16 independent selection panels based on finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.

The first awards were made in 1977. Prominent Truman Scholars include Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internships within the federal government.

Many who know Scholl say the scholarship is well-deserved.

“This accomplishment is a reflection of Alexa’s hard work, courage and commitment to public service,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College. “The Truman Scholarship awards great people, the sort of people you hope become the next generation of leaders in this country.”

To that end, Scholl is off to a running start. In November 2017, she was elected to the Prescott City Council with the highest number of votes of all the candidates; she is the youngest known member to hold the office and the youngest current councilmember in Arizona. But Scholl very much can hold her own on the dais, according to Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli.

"I know there was some skeptimism in town regarding Alexa's age, but that was born out of thinking of her as a 'normal' 20-year-old," Mengarelli said. "Alexa is wise beyond her years in terms of maturity and intellect. She's always asking the right questions and getting the correct answers. It has been nothing but a great pleasure to serve with her."

Scholl is also a Tillman Scholar at ASU and the co-founder and president of Political Literates, an on-campus organization that aims to fight political apathy by delivering political information in an easy-to-understand and unbiased way.

“I serve on the Prescott City Council because I want other young people to feel as if they can trust government,” said Scholl, who also works for a Prescott-based law firm preparing documents. “It’s important that this generation feels like their interests are represented and that we can help shape the future.”

Scholl’s mother, Marti Read, said her daughter's interest in politics started at a young age.

“Alexa is an only child, and her father and I drug her along to many board and community meetings,” Read said. “The fact that we are related to George Read, a founding father who signed the Declaration of Independence, also sparked Alexa’s interest in government and politics.”

After Scholl completes her undergraduate degree in December and completes her four-year term on the city council, she will attend law school to pursue a career in municipal law and continue to engage citizens in local government.

“In my view, local government is the best form of government there is,” she said. “It’s accessible and affects everyone’s daily lives. It’s important for people to know what’s going on and who their elected officials are.”

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ASU student-run Camp Kesem is a lifeline for kids in need

There are normal summer camps, and then there's Camp Kesem at ASU.
April 13, 2018

Sun Devils operate annual summer camps for children of parents diagnosed with cancer, at no cost to the families

It is mid-July and hundreds of children are running around the grounds at Camp Tontozona in Payson. From the outside, the smiling, giggling children look just like the thousands of other kids their age who attend summer camp each year.

This place, however, is different.

This is Camp Kesem, where the attendees are children of parents affected by cancer and the volunteer counselors are students from Arizona State University.

KesemThe group chose the word Kesem, which means “magic” in Hebrew, because its goal was to bring “magic” to families coping with cancer. was founded at Stanford in 2000 as a way to provide a distraction for those kids who suffer from the harsh daily realities of dealing with a parent's serious illness. It has since expanded to over 100 chapters in 40 states across the country, including the ASU camp that is run, organized and funded completely by students.

"We give our campers the ability to transform their life while they go through an impossibly difficult time," said Ashlyn Gonzales, the director of Camp Kesem at ASU. "Kids leave our camp a totally new person and it isn't uncommon for parents to ask us what happened to the kid they dropped off. We're able to give them connections with other children who can normalize what they're going through."

Support at every level

Gonzales, a psychology major, is a senior at ASU and has held her director position at Kesem for the past two years. She works year-round along with her staff of ASU students to prepare the two, one-week camps held during the summer.

Her Kesem ties date back to her first year on campus, when the organization helped her through a personal loss of her own.

"I joined my freshman year because I was lost and alone as an out-of-state student," she said. "I lost my dad in a motorcycle accident my senior year of high school and then had to move away from my support system. I was thinking about transferring back home until I found Kesem, so we can not only transform the lives of our campers but of the student volunteers as well."

Those volunteers donate their time by preparing various activities for the visiting children while also providing emotional support through sit-downs and chats with the campers throughout the week.

The campers come from all around Arizona. Some even graduate to become counselors-in-training by the time they are 17, going through a mentoring process that includes help with résumé building and college applications and professional development skills.

In the past four years, eight counselors-in-training have gone on to attend ASU and become Camp Kesem counselors themselves.

'Camp names' gives kids freedom

Butterfly. Merida. Viper.

Those nicknames and many, many more are used throughout camp by both volunteers and children as a way to "become someone else" for a week.

Vanessa Villalobos (aka Ponyo) is only a sophomore at ASU but serves as one of the organization's top fundraisers. She says that the camp names help give everyone a sense of freedom while they are away.

"It really helps our campers identify themselves as their own person and not as someone with a parent who has cancer," Villalobos said. "They can be free from all the constraints that hold them back and just have fun as a kid."

Annual fundraising gala on tap

Outside of the two camp weeks, this is the biggest time of the year for Camp Kesem at ASU. It's gala time.

Make the Magic, the camp's yearly fundraiser, happens on April 20. The gala gives the volunteers an opportunity to show the outside world just how special Kesem can be.

“It is aimed at bringing together community members and supporters of Camp Kesem," said Villalobos, this year's Make the Magic coordinator. "This year's gala will be a dinner in which a past counselor, camper and camper parent (who is also an ASU professor) speak and show the impact the camp can have on the lives of the people involved."

The goal this year is to send 120 children to Camp Kesem, which will total about $60,000.

"To make an impact on a child that lasts a lifetime is a feeling that you cannot fully explain," Villalobos said. "It's really priceless."

This year's camp dates are July 8–13 and July 15–21. To support Camp Kesem, you can purchase tickets to Make the Magic or make a donation.

Top photo: Counselors and class of 2017 graduates Sarah Haller (left) and Sammy Zecher assist the check-in table at last year's camp. Photo courtesy of Camp Kesem at ASU

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

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Understanding the National Guard border deployment

April 12, 2018

Troops will provide assistance on air support, reconnaissance, logistics and construction of border infrastructure

Starting this week, Arizona's border will see more boots on the ground as hundreds of National Guard members will be deployed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at the behest of President Donald Trump.

Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon last week to develop a plan to tighten security along the nation’s southern perimeter to fend off immigration, gang activity and illegal drugs entering our country. He also called on governors of Southwestern states to send National Guard units to the border. Ducey has responded by calling on 338 troop members to assist with air support, reconnaissance, logistics and construction of border infrastructure.

The initial deployment is set to last 31 days and could later be extended. The action is supported by federal funds, according to a spokesman for Ducey.

To better understand this current development and its implications, ASU Now reached out to Angela Banks, the Charles J. Merriam Distinguished Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and an immigration and citizenship expert whose research focuses on membership and belonging in democratic societies.

Woman in black shirt smiling
Angela Banks

Question: What precipitated this action?

Answer: It is not clear what precipitated this action. Since Congress passed the $1.3 trillion spending bill in March that only provided $1.6 million for a border wall, President Trump has been looking for new ways to fund border enforcement. The use of National Guard personnel appears to have been one solution.

Q: Is this a proper use of these soldiers?

A: There are limits on the types of activities that soldiers can engage in within the United States. For example, the Posse Comitatus Act requires that the president obtain Congressional authorization before the military can act in a domestic law enforcement capacity. However, Title 32 of the United States Code exempts the National Guard from this requirement.

Q: Is this type of action unprecedented?

A: No, both President Obama and President George W. Bush utilized National Guard personnel for border patrol activities. Through Operation Phalanx, President Obama used National Guard personnel to monitor border crossings, analyze intelligence, and provide surveillance and reconnaissance support. Operation Phalanx lasted approximately sixteen months. President George W. Bush sent National Guard personnel to the border to provide training, install fences and vehicle barriers, and surveillance assistance in Operation Jump Start. Operation Jump Start lasted two years.

Q: What are the implications?

A: There is the practical implication of having a force multiplier on the border. In the past, National Guard members have been used when the administration concluded that more customs and Border Patrol agents were necessary to be effective. The Trump administration has not specified what tasks National Guard personnel will be involved in so it is not clear how effective they will be in addressing the larger issues of unauthorized migration or transnational criminal activity that President Trump has expressed concern about.

Sending the National Guard to the border also allows President Trump to demonstrate that he is following through on his campaign promises to enact tougher border control.

Q: What is the bill for something like this?

A: It is unclear what the cost will be at this time because President Trump has not stated how many National Guard personnel will be sent to the border. In September 2011 the Government Accountability Office reported that the cost of Operation Phalanx and Operation Jump Start was $1.35 billion. Past presidents have been critiqued for their use of National Guard personnel on the border because of the high cost of such operations, the perception that the operations produced minimal results, and that it militarized the border.

Top photo courtesy of the National Guard

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Social embeddedness takes center stage

April 10, 2018

A recent ASU conference connected faculty and staff engaged in community partnerships

Part of the mission of Arizona State University is to enhance its local impact and social embeddedness, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to connect people.

ASU's Office of University Initiatives this year expanded and scaled its outreach luncheon with the inaugural Social Embeddedness Network Conference, which aimed to include and support engaged faculty and staff working in domains of community engagement.

At the event, held Friday, April 6, at ASU's West campus, participants engaged in a variety of breakout sessions and workshops designed to coalesce their network, shared strategies for forging meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships with the community, and generated institutional dialogue about how to advance socially embedded research, teaching, student development and practice at ASU.

ASU Now spoke to Lindsey Beagley, director of social embeddedness for University Initiatives, about the goals of the conference, some takeaways and how faculty and staff can get involved in the embeddedness effort.

Question: What is the Social Embeddedness Network?

Answer: The Social Embeddedness Network is a collective of faculty and staff at ASU who are engaged in partnerships with community organizations within their scholarship, practice or teaching. In whatever capacity they may be partnering, these are faculty and staff who have a special set of competencies, knowledge and experience about how to effectively bridge the gap between ASU and the community, but in way that is mindful of the different environment, priorities and resources with which our partners may be operating.

The Network is a platform for these engaged faculty and staff to exchange best practices and lessons learned across disciplines. It’s very likely some of them are working with the same partners or in the same communities and don’t know it. They may be working on the same social challenges, but through different disciplinary lenses. Because social embeddedness doesn’t live in any one place at ASU, there are plenty of reasons to connect across silos.

Q: How did the conference get started?

A: The event started in 2014 as a joint effort between Access ASU and University Initiatives to connect those who were working on K–12 initiatives across ASU. Since that time, the annual Social Embeddedness survey has illuminated a number of other types of community-engaged efforts that would benefit from being connected across silos, and so we have been steadily growing the scope of the event to be inclusive of all social embeddedness activity.

Q: What topics were discussed at the conference?

A: The breakout sessions covered a variety of topics that represented shared experiences among community-engaged faculty and staff regardless of the disciplinary context, such as: tribal perspectives of partnerships with ASU, balancing the community impact with student learning outcomes in community-based learning experiences, participatory budgeting, building an ethical framework for equity-centered partnerships, and thinking about the future of a socially embedded ASU.

We enjoyed a phenomenal keynote which was a fireside chat between Gabriel Shaibi of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and his community partner Shannon Clancy of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. They shared the tensions and opportunities that partnering represented for each of them in their distinct roles as a scholar and a social services provider.

Q: Who attended the conference?

A: Nearly 200 people attended from over 70 distinct academic and non-academic units throughout ASU. 

We would like to figure out how we can expand the event to include our community partners to join in these conversations next year.

Q: What opportunities are there to get plugged into the Social Embeddedness Network going forward?

A: I encourage folks to sign up for the monthly social embeddedness newsletter to learn about ongoing events, grants and award opportunities that are related to social embeddedness on-campus and nationally. You can also search the Social Embeddedness survey data for information about social embeddedness activity in other units.


Top photo: Lindsey Beagley attends the Social Embeddedness Network Conference on Friday, April 6 at the West campus. Photo by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

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Against all odds, high school robotics team makes world competition

April 9, 2018

The team from the Casa Grande ASU Preparatory Academy is in just its second year

The saga of this high school robotics team is a textbook Cinderella story.

Brand new school. No traditions or track records. Smart but inexperienced kids. Hardscrabble desert farm town.

In their first year of competition, the team from the Arizona State University Preparatory Academy of Casa Grande built a robot from scratch and made it to the state finals. Now, in their second year, they earned a slot in the world championships.  

“We’re a surprise on the field,” science teacher and team adviser Sean Mark said.

But Team Chaos Theory has another hurdle to pass: raising money for the ten team members and their two faculty advisors to go to Louisville, Kentucky, for the competition in late April.

The team is doing what they can to raise the $8,500 they need — encouraging donation tax credits and holding a car wash on Saturday. Families have donated money for the trip, but there’s a long way to go, according to Mark.

“I’m really grateful to all the people who donate money,” team president Kevin Segovia said. “We always need parts. It’ll help us get a better robot in the end and help us get to Louisville.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Segovia never saw a trip to the world championships coming. 

When he heard they qualified for the world competition, he wanted to smile and cry at the same time. “I was not expecting this,” he said.

The school has rallied around the team.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” school director Sylvia Mejia said. “This is such a life-changing event for the kids.”

Last year in the Maricopa County competition the team placed third. They then went on to the state competition, where they placed 23rd.

This year they placed second in the state competition, which qualified them to compete against 580 teams from 14 countries at the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship.

Getting into the world championship would be an impressive achievement for an established school. But this is only the second year of operations for ASU Prep Casa Grande, a charter school geared entirely to getting students into college.

The students on the robotics team work as designers, programmers, builders, and prototypers for their robot, which stacks cones and moves autonomously. In competition it has to perform a set of tasks with a time limit. Accuracy counts, as does speed and placement on the course. There are size limits.

“It’s all clever design so it fits the parameters of what the competition allows,” Mark said.

Judges also award points for spirit, sportsmanship, and other subcategories. “When we are looking to compete, we’re also looking at all the awards we can compete for,” Mark said. “It’s been a great experience so far.”

The competition model is the seventh iteration of the design. “The biggest thing I learned is it doesn’t work the first time,” said Segovia, 17.

The programming side attracted Segovia, who wants to major in network engineering or cybersecurity in college.

“In general, robots just fascinate me,” he said.

Oluwamayowa Esan is team driver and programmer.

He described being a driver as fun, before adding, “nerve-wracking, but fun.”

“I’m super-excited about competition,” Esan said. “I just really like programming. … It’s just been a great ride doing that.”

To donate to the team, call the school at 520-374-4200 or contact faculty advisor Sean MarkDonations up to $200 per person can also be made via tax credits

Top photo: The students all have their assignments as they work on their VEX robot in ASU Preparatory Academy Casa Grande's robotics lab, on Thursday, March 29. The students have been invited to compete in the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, in late April. The team will be competing against around 600 teams from 14 countries. Their robot will reach with double-reverse fore-bar arms to pick up cones and stack them on top of a mobile goal cone. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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Early results from youth survey find worrying trends on guns, drugs

Survey of youths run by ASU finds worrying trends on guns, marijuana vaping.
April 8, 2018

ASU professor administering AZ Youth Survey to thousands statewide, presented early results

Preliminary results from a survey of youths in Arizona show worrying trends concerning gun violence and drug use, according to a presentation at Arizona State University on Friday.

Every two years, about 60,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders across the state take the Arizona Youth Survey, answering dozens of questions about substance use, gang involvement, bullying, violence, texting while driving and other risky behaviors.

The 2018 survey is underway now, and the primary administrator is Dustin Pardini, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU. About 27,000 responses have been recorded so far, with more coming in every day. Pardini discussed some preliminary results in a presentation of research at the downtown Phoenix campus of ASU.

A new question this year asks whether students have carried a handgun in the past 12 months. Across all three grade levels, about 7 percent responded that they had. Of those, about half said that they had threatened someone or shot at someone with a gun.

“You have over half the kids that are carrying using those guns in acts of violence against others,” Pardini said.

Dustin Pardini, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, is administering the Arizona Youth Survey this year. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“The thing we are increasingly concerned about, with the school shootings taking place across the country, is carrying a gun to school, but most of the gun carriers are not doing it at school,” he said, noting that about 1.5 percent of the students said they had taken a gun to school in the previous year.

Another new question this year addressed whether students are vaping marijuana concentrates, such as hash oil, wax or “crumble,” which have higher levels of THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that creates the high.

“This is probably the largest sample in the country that assessed concentrate usePreliminary results show that for eighth-graders: 16 percent smoked, 13 percent used concentrate; 10th-graders: 31 percent smoked, 23 percent used concentrate; 12th-graders: 42 percent smoked, 30 percent used concentrate. among teenagers,” Pardini said. “And it’s an extremely common way of using marijuana at this point. The proportion of kids using concentration is pretty close to the proportion that is smoking marijuana.

“This is concerning to us because we know that higher THC levels can have negative effects, including subclinical psychotic symptoms and declines in IQ, according to some research,” he said.

The Arizona Youth Survey is eight pages long and the questions are very detailed, asking about frequency of use and attitudes toward using alcohol, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, marijuana, hallucinogens, ecstasy, methamphetamines, steroids, cocaine, prescription pain relievers, inhalants, synthetic drugs and over-the-counter drugs, like cough syrup. Other questions concern witnessing or being the victim of violence or bullying, what students’ family life is like, their perceptions of safety and how much they like school.

Typically, about 50,000 students respond to the survey, which provides a huge data set, and Friday’s presentation included some research papers that resulted from the 2016 version:

Gary Sweeten, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, analyzed the Arizona Youth Survey data to track gang membership trends. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Gang embeddedness: Gary Sweeten, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, analyzed the data to track gang membership and found that the Arizona results mirror national trends, with gang membership peaking around ages 14 or 15. One question asked whether being in a gang is “cool,” and those who said they were in a gang did not respond that it was. “It’s potentially because they’re not joining a gang to be cool. They’re joining a gang for protection,” Sweeten said.

Predicting arrests: Shi Yan, an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, used the data to create a new model of assessing risk factors that could more accurately predict which students will be arrested or suspended. His “random forest” model could mean a more strategic use of resources.

In the neighborhood: Cara Stevens, a senior research analyst at the Statistical Analysis Center of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, looked at answers to questions about neighborhoods and found that students who answered “no” to “I like my neighborhood” or “yes” to “I would like to leave my neighborhood” were more likely to use prescription drugs or alcohol.

Who is gambling: Catie Clark, director of the Statistical Analysis Center of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, found that the likelihood of gambling is greater for males, as well as students who had used cigarettes or marijuana. Interestingly, students who reported using cocaine, methamphetamine or inhalants were not more likely to report gambling behavior.

Pardini said that there are now 12 years’ worth of survey results that can be analyzed to track and create more effective programs.

“If a school gives an intervention to kids in the eighth grade, you could look two years later and see if 10th-graders’ risk factors have dropped,” he said.

He would like to see elementary school students taking the Arizona Youth Survey.

“If we want to do prevention, we need to go to the elementary schools," he said. "We’re talking about kids that are already using substances and already getting bullied.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


Counselor makes mind-body connection for ill patients

ASU counseling psychology alum focuses on mental health for those battling physical illness

April 6, 2018

A diagnosis of cancer or other serious disease often brings a barrage of information about what to expect physically, along with pressing decisions and questions.

What treatment should I should choose? What are the potential physical side-effects? What will happen to my body as the disease progresses? ASU master of counseling alum Katarina Scott in lobby at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center ASU alumna Katarina Scott, wellness program counselor with the James M. Cox Foundation Center for Cancer Prevention and Integrative Oncology at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona. Photo by Kelley Karnes/ASU Download Full Image

“But the impact of physical illness on mental well-being? That might not get as much attention,” said ASU alumna Katarina Scott, wellness program counselor with the James M. Cox Foundation Center for Cancer Prevention and Integrative Oncology at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona. “Conversations with medical staff about supportive services and cautions to watch for depression can get lost among the immediate choices and worries that patients are facing.” 

But the mind-body connection is undeniable and many patients benefit from psychological care along their journey, said Scott, who has a passion for serving the mental health needs of people going through physical illness.    

“They are often distressed, anxious and have fears and grief about their loss of health. Their sleep and eating are being impacted, their family relationships, intimacy, their work. Their physical bodies are changing (as is) their image of themselves,” she said. “There’s actually a shortage of counselors working with clients who are dealing with physical health challenges versus mental health disorders. They are an overlooked and underserved group.” 

Scott, who completed the master of counseling degree in 2015 from ASU’s Counseling and Counseling Psychology program in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, is now a board-approved Licensed Associate Counselor and National Certified Counselor. She is working in two organizations in order to accumulate the 1400 directly supervised client-hours required to gain full standing as a Licensed Professional Counselor, dividing her time between assisting individual counseling clients and offering group classes for people who have medical diagnoses, like cancer.

As a practitioner at The Way Recovery in Phoenix, Scott supports individuals who are in a partial-hospitalization eating disorders treatment program. As wellness program counselor at the James M. Cox Foundation Center at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, she runs health psychology classes that treat the whole person.

“I draw on positive psychology, mindfulness stress reduction and acceptance and commitment therapy to give patients the coping tools they’re looking for, without their having to have a diagnosis for a mental disorder,” Scott said. “We try to reduce the trauma of dealing with illness and help people take the time to recognize and reflect on what they are dealing with: What’s happening in my life now? How am I feeling about it? How do I talk to my kids and family about all this? Some patients may eventually be cured, but their lives and support systems may be quite different coming out of illness.”

They benefit from tools for sleep, for dealing with inner stress or external stressors from family and work.

Noted Scott: “We emphasize tools patients can use in everyday life to decrease anxiety, negative thinking, and depression.

“Banner prides itself on being driven by evidence-based research, so the classes I develop and coordinate draw on existing research studies to every extent possible,” she added.

There are classes and services offered on everything from body awareness, mindfulness and communication to nutrition, massage and acupuncture. Teachers may include a registered dietician, registered nurse, rehabilitation staff, a registered wound nurse or a chaplain.

Some group courses, like yoga and a class on mind-body connections, are free, open to the greater community and offered throughout the year. Scott said that about 500 community cancer survivors and their families take advantage of yoga classes each month, for example. Other courses are limited to Banner MD Anderson patients and their support team, because of the nature of the information shared in sessions. There are cancer-specific support groups as well. 

“Ultimately, Banner MD Anderson and the Cox Center’s goals are cancer prevention,” she said. “We aim to give people the tools that help them have the greatest chance of not getting cancer, or not having another occurrence or a secondary cancer.”   

A degree that travels well

Scott discovered her passion for working in health psychology while doing a clinical internship as part of her ASU master’s program.

“I had the opportunity to do a clinical internship under integrative health counselor Patricia DeBruhl at Banner Desert Hospital, counseling oncology adult and pediatric patients and their families,” Scott explained. “She’s inspirational! She’s an alum of the master of counseling program and once told me she takes the time to supervise interns because she needs more colleagues in this field, and mentoring is one way to help that effort.”

After graduating from the master of counseling program, Scott quickly found that her classroom and clinical experiences — and her degree’s accreditation — were of a caliber that would take her just about anywhere.

“I moved to the state of Washington right after graduation,” she said. “I found I had no issue seeking licensure out of state; in fact, I was given bonus hours because ASU’s master of counseling is CACREP accredited.”

Scott accepted a position in Washington as a consulting therapist in a partial-hospitalization eating disorder clinic.

“When I interviewed for the job and they saw my degree, they said: It’s perfect. It’s health counseling but it addresses so many other areas of counseling. They told me that because I had a year of internship and the practicum course, that really set me apart. It was nice to have the validation that I had a strong degree, even in another state.”

In the semester-long practicum course, master’s degree students provide weekly counseling to about six community members each, in ASU’s Counselor Training Center. They’re supervised by doctoral students and a faculty member.

“With the practicum and internship combined, you graduate with a year and a half of direct counseling training and supervised client experience prior to even working in the field,” Scott said. “It’s one of the many reasons ASU has the accreditation it does.”

In her work in health psychology, Scott has also found that the training she received at ASU in multicultural perspectives is vital: “The multicultural counseling class was particularly important,” she said. “It challenges your beliefs and boundaries and helps you develop empathy. Disease hits every population hard.”

Lisa Spanierman, professor and head of the faculty of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, said the emphasis on cultural competency is a distinguishing feature of ASU’s graduate programs.

“As a faculty we focus on educating counselors and psychologists to become culturally competent to work with a diverse clientele in a variety of mental health settings,” Spanierman said. “We highlight the use of research to inform our knowledge base and our training to promote the health of individuals, families, groups, and organizations in a diverse society.”

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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As women demand workplace equity, ASU professor pioneered path in tech

As women try to boost numbers in tech companies, ASU expert forged her own path.
April 5, 2018

Working with young girls key to nurturing passion for STEM fields, Kathleen Moser says

As women demand more equity in the workplace, there’s no doubt they are underrepresented among the big technology companies. While 46 percent of the overall workforce is made up of women, they make up less than 25 percent of employeesThese statistics are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Statistica. in technology jobs at Apple, Google, Microsoft and Twitter. Uber has 15 percent of its tech jobs held by women.

Kathleen Moser has spent her entire career as a woman in technology, and now she’s working to ease a pathway to young women who want to be in the field.

“We’re trying to increase enrollment for women in technology, but it’s not moving very fast,” said Moser, a clinical assistant professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. She teaches online and on-campus classes in database technology and project management.

Kathleen Moser

“There are a lot of strides that have been made in an attempt to make it attractive for women, and one of the biggest things is to not focus on high school students because that’s too late,” she said. “So middle school and younger is the target to introduce technology to girls and get them interested at younger ages, when they have a lot of creativity.”

Moser is adviser to the Women in STEM Club at ASU, called WiSTEM, and she also participates in the Secret Code of Business, a workshop for middle schoolers that promotes STEM education and offers some girls-only sessions.

“It’s exciting for us to be around their energy,” Moser said of the young campers. “If you can plant a seed that takes off, that’s the good part.”

Moser answered some questions from ASU Now.

Question: How did you get into the technology field?

Answer: Way back in the day, I was working in a department store after high school, and retail had the old cash registers. We were switching to new computer terminals, and, especially when there was a large sale in the store, the terminals would never calculate the sales price correctly.

So one day I decided, I’m going back to school to learn how to program these so they will work properly. That was my "in" to this field.

When this technology issue came up, that’s what prompted me to move forward and find my passion.

Q: What was majoring in computer information systems like in the 1980s?

A: Always, I was one of the few women in the program.

I excelled at programming. My nerd side came out. I would program between midnight and 6 a.m., when I didn’t have any distractions.

I loved the challenge of it and that feeling of when you finally get it to work.

When I took a course in databases, that’s what really captured my passion. I liked programming, but this was building something from scratch and trying to get it to work. It’s something that every company requires, a database.

I didn’t realize it back then, but I was choosing a career that was very sustainable. Your career will take you in all kinds of directions, but there was never a time I was out of a job for very long.

Q: Did you have obstacles in your career?

A: Every woman has a story about working in a technology field where there are very few women. It’s the typical things: “Do you really know what you’re talking about?” “Show us first.”

It’s very much that our male counterparts are promoted because of their potential, but we have to prove ourselves first before we are promoted.

Talking to women graduates of our program today, they still have things they have to deal with because companies are slower to react to the environment.

Women in technology is a very sought-after thing right now. Companies want more women in their ranks. But companies have to be ready, or (the women) will have to deal with the same things they’ve always had to deal with.

It can be anything from pay raises to issues with child care and maternity leave. Now companies are moving toward accommodating not only women but men as well with maternity leave. It’s slowly happening.

Q: Is it still that way?

A: As a professor in the information systems program, I’m going to upgrade my education. I was going to meetups once a month at a company that sponsored them to learn about the newest topic and how it was applied.

The first time I walked into the meeting, you try not to notice but you can’t help it, I was the only woman with 30 men. Another woman came in at the halfway point.

For the rest of the meetings, it was me and one or two other women with 30 to 60 men. It’s a fact of life.

I was going there to learn something new. So you just jump in.

Q: What do you tell young women about pursuing a career in technology?

A: For whatever reasons, women don’t get involved as much as men do in seeking out opportunity. And so what I like to tell women right now is: learn how to negotiate. Learn how to work with anybody. Put yourself first.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Maybe you’re in a team with three male counterparts and everybody is in a meeting and they’re all vying for “take my idea.” Make sure you speak up and that everybody hears what you have to say.

Q: And what about younger girls?

A: We ask, “What can we provide to help you move on this pathway?” If it’s difficult or they’re having trouble and gets to be frustrating, they’ll go on a different path.

Usually they’ll say, “My friends don’t want to do this.”

That’s the point we lose young, creative women — the peer pressure. It’s a big force.

That’s why I tell them, “If you have a passion for it, don’t let anybody tell you not to pursue it. Just go for it.”

The passion is the most important part because that’s what sustains you over the hills and valleys over the years.

Learn more about the many technology and science camps at ASU this summer, the Secret Code of Business, and the First Lego League robotics camp for girls 


Top photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


Inspiring the next generation of female engineers at ASU

April 5, 2018

Girl power reached new heights when about 100 Girl Scouts from metro Phoenix raided Arizona State University’s Tempe campus for the annual Girl Scouts for Engineering Awareness and Retention Day on Saturday, March 24.

GEAR Day is an outreach initiative hosted by the university’s Society of Women Engineers. The event offers a glimpse of science and engineering through fun activities and demonstrations, such as building circuits and assembling machines. Participants, including Girl Scouts and students from local community schools, have the chance to explore new interests and see the impact of science and engineering on everyday life. Photo of three girls around a pink pool with foli boats. At GEAR Day, Girl Scout Juniors planned, designed and built boats made of aluminum foil with the help of members from ASU’s Society of Women Engineers. Photo by: Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU Download Full Image

“Engineering is the force that drives innovation and change,” said Gabrielle Mills, president of ASU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter and biomedical engineering major in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “By inspiring young girls to pursue engineering, we’re guaranteeing a future of equal representation in innovation. We’re also ensuring women have an input in the direction of the world's progress.”

GEAR Day primarily focuses on Girl Scouts because they exemplify common characteristics of engineers: curiosity, courage, experimentation, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship. The official Girl Scout program introduces girls to science, technology, engineering and mathematics to show them how to make an impact on the world, from gaining computer skills to using scientific methods to conquer challenges.  

The core of what many girls at different stages of their lives want to do is help people, explained Alicia Baumann, lecturer of electrical engineering and faculty co-advisor for ASU’s Society of Women Engineers. She believes most girls gravitate toward occupations where they as children saw women helping people.

“Engineering is all about helping people,” said Baumann. “Girls can still have the same impact and make a difference in people’s lives by becoming engineers who solve problems. We need more engineers in today’s society who are compassionate and have an inner urge to help those in need.”

During the morning half of GEAR Day 2018, Girl Scout Brownies created robot names with binary code to learn how this language helps people communicate with computers. They also made slime from cornstarch and water to see how a non-Newtonian fluid can change physical properties, from a liquid to a solid and back, when forces are applied.  

“Both are fundamental concepts for software engineering and chemical engineering, respectively, but are presented in such a way that the girls can easily make connections and feel confident asking questions,” said Amber Sogge, a biomedical engineering major and outreach officer for ASU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter. “We want to spark their curiosity for STEM concepts and show them engineering is absolutely worth pursuing if they choose to follow that path.”

Stephanie Jauregui Hidalgo, an alumna who received a bachelor’s degree in management from the W. P. Carey School of Business, attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter, Cooper Hidalgo.

“My daughter has always been very curious and creative,” Jauregui Hidalgo said. “I want her to continue exploring her creativity beyond arts and crafts into science and engineering. These activities open her eyes and show her what she’s capable of accomplishing.”

Cooper Hidalgo is in the fourth grade at SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral School. She’s been eager to join the school’s team for the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge, the largest extracurricular STEM program for grade school and junior high school students in the state. Jauregui Hidalgo said this event is one step toward building her daughter’s confidence so she’s ready to participate in such challenges and further hone in on what she wants to pursue when she gets older.

In addition to exploring their creative sides, the Girl Scouts learned the importance of communicating in a team to design the best prototype. In one activity, they had to work together to plan, design and build a boat from aluminum foil that would float. In another, they built weather stations to learn how meteorologists measure rainfall, wind speed and direction, and temperature. 

“The girls are having a great time,” said Barbara Rivera, a troop leader for Girl Scout Juniors. “It’s wonderful the girls are being mentored and inspired by other females in the field during these activities. Engineering isn’t typically seen as a career for women, so it’s great they can interact with women who can help them see their future as engineers.”  

The afternoon sessions of GEAR Day were open to both girls and boys from schools across the Phoenix metropolitan area. This was a vital part of the event’s mission to make engineering, as well as other STEM fields, a feasible and desirable career endeavor for the community as a whole.

“We’re including boys and girls in the afternoon session,” Sogge said. “Part of establishing a foundation on which the next generation of female engineers can achieve is not only reliant on empowering girls to pursue engineering but encouraging the boys to value their input and see them as equals.”

The afternoon sessions featured other student organizations in the Fulton Schools to promote diversity in engineering while allowing engineering students to show off their technical skills. Student organizations at the event included the Rossum Rumblers Robotics Club, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space at ASU Rocketry Division, NASA Space Grant Robotics, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Micro Air Vehicles ASU Club.

The Rossum Rumblers Robotics Club, a community of students passionate about automation, robotics and technology on the Polytechnic campus, showed GEAR Day attendees how to make air-powered rockets out of nothing but paper, tape and paperclips.

“It’s important to get young girls interested in robotics because the female presence in engineering is low,” said Aaron Dolgin, an electrical systems engineering major and outreach coordinator for the Rossum Rumblers. “Everyone thinks a little differently. The way a male engineer approaches a problem is different from the way a female engineer approaches a problem. Having both perspectives makes solving problems easier.”

The Rocketry Division of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space at ASU focuses on participating — and winning — rocketry competitions by designing and building high-powered rockets. They taught attendees about rocket propulsion. They made a simplified rocket out of a film canister and Alka-Seltzer to demonstrate how chemicals can combine, expand and propel a rocket into space.

“Bringing diversity into the field always brings about new viewpoints and new ideas,” said aerospace engineering major Breydan Dotson, who founded the Rocketry Division club and serves as director of simulation and modeling. “If children have been exposed to these sorts of events, they can see that they have the skills and the brains to be anything they want.”

Keysight Technologies generously donated kits for the morning sessions of the event. Viasat, Inc. gave a presentation on college preparation to the high school students in the afternoon. Additionally, funding from Boeing helped ASU’s Society of Women Engineers purchase the majority of supplies needed for the afternoon sessions. GEAR Day would not have been possible without the generosity of their contributions.

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering