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ASU students help kids from Boys and Girls Club design their own playground equipment

July 11, 2019

Earlier this year, winds in Eagar, Arizona, got up to speeds of 80 mph, and the jungle gym on the playground at the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley took flight and landed in a nearby field. It took a dozen kids to roll the piece of equipment, the “flying jungle gym” as they now call it, back to the club. But it is no longer safe to use. So, with the help of The Design School in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the kids are designing brand new playground equipment. 

“My career has been focused on using design to improve the lives of kids and families,” said Collin Smith, clinical assistant professor in The Design School. “When I heard about the Boys and Girls Club playground blowing away, I knew I could help get the kids a cool new play space.” Photo of design students at the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley A group of students from The Design School are helping design new playground equipment for Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley. Courtesy photo. Download Full Image

Smith and a group of 11 students from The Design School are collaborating with the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley on the designs for the new play equipment.

“We have worked very closely with the governing board of the Boys and Girls Club, but just as importantly with the kids to design and create this space together,” Smith said. “The kids have given hours of input, and we’ve done a week’s worth of collaboration and research with the kids to come up with a space that everybody is invested in.”

The play space they are designing is intended to work in different types of weather, to support children of all ages and to be built using as many local resources as possible. 

The community is nestled in a thick forest that is maintained by logging companies, and they plan to use local logs and wood to create three play areas that flow together using different heights, interactivity and physicality, according to Smith.

The ASU undergraduate and graduate students participating in the project are all from The Design School and include students studying industrial design, architecture and visual communications. They traveled to Eagar at the beginning of the summer, and once they are finished they plan to return to the Boys and Girls Club to help install the equipment. The work the ASU students are doing, including prototyping, testing and perfecting the designs, fulfils their required internship for graduation.

“Any time there is a chance to combine your work and your passion with community service, I believe you should take it, and that’s exactly what these ASU students are doing,” Smith said. “They are having an internship experience that has a very similar day-to-day feel as the jobs many of them will take after college, plus they are building something meaningful for a community that really needs it.”

Sarah A. McCarty

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


Fighting generational trauma through education

July 8, 2019

For Arizona State University alumna Laura Medina, home started out as a shaky concept.

She was born in New Mexico and grew up on the Phoenix area’s Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, but she has roots in Michigan.  Laura Medina graduated with a master's degree in indigenous rights and social justice from the American Indian Studies program in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Laura Medina graduated with a master's degree in indigenous rights and social justice from the American Indian Studies program in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Her mother is an Ojibwe tribal member from Michigan's Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who was taken to Pennsylvania as a child, one of the thousands of Native Americans removed from their homelands and placed with nonindigenous parents in other states. After years of abuse allegations and concerns of cultural loss, the Indian Child Welfare Act brought a legal end to these forced relocations in 1978. 

American Indian Studies program alumna Laura Medina

Medina's mother moved to New Mexico for school when she was 17 and eventually started a family of her own. But Medina said those early experiences continued to affect her.  

“I think the way my mom was treated and the trauma of leaving home, all of that impacted her life and contributed to a lot of my own anxiety and social issues growing up,” she said. “Now I have a 2-year-old son, and I don't want him to inherit that same trauma.”

Medina’s determination drove her to turn an academic eye to the historical events that shaped her own life. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2011 and a master’s degree in indigenous rights and social justice from the same program in 2018. She is the first in her family to obtain an advanced degree.

She said both tracks have helped her make sense of her experiences and provided a springboard to contribute research where gaps still remain.  

"I am an Ojibwe member of a Grand Traverse band in Michigan but have never actually lived there,” she said. “When I came to ASU, I began learning about all the ways colonization and generational trauma have played a role in that; my hope is that by sharing and developing that knowledge, my younger siblings and my son can be the ones that continue to build the foundation for new generations.”

Now working as a student success and retention coordinator for the American Indian Student Support Services(AISSS) network, she’s helping other Native American students navigate the trials of higher education she once faced herself.

Medina answered a few questions about her time at ASU, her research and the impact she hopes to make in the lives of new students.

Question: What made your path in graduate school unique? 

Answer: I did not complete my graduate studies in the two-year time span that is typical, and part of that was because I decided to take a break from academics to experience activism from the ground. I occupied Oak FlatLocated in the Tonto National Forest, Oak Flat is a site held sacred to Native Americans from the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation that has been a flashpoint for indigenous and environmental movements rallying against years of copper mining attempts in the area. for six months and went to protest at Standing RockIn 2016, thousands of protesters descended upon the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. when I was pregnant with my son. Some of that was material I wasn’t finding in books. My going out and experiencing it for myself was the first step in my effort to help change that.

Q: What did your research focus on and why?

A: My thesis looks specifically at Canada’s Idle No More movement and how scholars influence social change. This was a movement that began in 2012 against a series of laws that stood to drastically alter the First Nations’ sovereignty. I was looking at how scholars, professors or knowledge-seekers, in general, provide the fuel for indigenous resistance and change.

The movement began during my first semester within the American Indian studies graduate program. A lot of things were happening to me at home at the time. My mom had kicked me out and I was homeless, shuttling between campus and staying with people at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. I think there is always this struggle of how we identify ourselves as indigenous people, especially in relation to land.

I was attracted to the Idle No More movement because many of my own Ojibwe people participated. It was a chance for me to connect back to my people at a time I really needed that.  

Q: What made you decide to start working as a staff member with AISSS after graduating last fall?

A: There are a lot of struggles Native students face. One way we can help is by creating a space for indigenous people that's unique to us and where people can feel at home. 

It took some time for me to feel like I was at home here. During my undergraduate years, I found it really hard to find a community or to feel at home. It wasn’t until my graduate studies that I really found that. I want to help make this program bigger and better so that students know they have a place to go. 

Q: What advice do you have for future students or what do you wish you’d known before coming to The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences?

A: I wish I knew how powerful being a student here can be. The College and the whole university has resources that your tuition is ultimately paying for, so it’s important to take advantage of that. 

Native American students can be humble and quiet, so it’s sometimes less likely they end up reaching out to staff. My advice is to find a person who can help you build upon and share your ideas, and to not be afraid to ask for help. I was able to find that with Laura Gonzales-Macias, and others at AISSS, and with the Native community at large. I think it’s important to continue creating that space and representation as a staff member. 

Q: How would you describe your Sun Devil story?

A: I was part of the first cohort of graduate students in the American Indian Studies program, so I sometimes felt like I was coming in at a time of transition. I wasn't entering into something with a strong legacy, but on the other hand, it made me feel like I had to be the one to help create it. By building the foundation, we’re making space for others to come into something more solid.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?

A: I am considering a PhD track in sociology, and eventually, I’d like to return to Michigan to give back there. My goal is to learn my language and be fluent in Ojibwe to continue that connection.

One thing I find myself asking is what the world looks like through the lens of an Ojibwe woman. Knowledge of the land is such a powerful force in that sense. Part of my journey is about returning to my people in Michigan and putting what I’ve learned here toward helping my community and being an educator.

I would also like my son to grow up with that same understanding of his own land. He comes from the Navajo mountain area here in Arizona on his father’s side, and my father’s tribal land base is in New Mexico. Having my family be connected to all of those spaces is an important part for me because they all contribute to our understanding of who we are. 

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


'Beautiful Boy' brings his story to ASU behavioral health conference

July 5, 2019

When Nic Sheff was 11 years old, he began drinking vodka. A year later he was using marijuana, soon joined by acid, ecstasy, mushrooms and cocaine. By the time he was 18, crystal meth was his drug of choice as everything spiraled out of control.

“When I was using, I had this philosophy that, well, if I wanted to kill myself with drugs, that was my business,” said Sheff, now 37. “I felt like I lived in a vacuum. Like I was the one in all this pain, so I should be able to decide whether to blot it all out with drugs or not. I had no idea whatsoever the extent of pain I was causing my family and the people that loved me.” Author Nic Sheff smiles atop a mountain in a black baseball cap reading "Dockweiler Surf Club" and blue open jacket New York Times best-selling author Nic Sheff will share his experience with recovery from a substance use disorder during ASU’s 20th annual Summer Institute. Download Full Image

His compelling story of addiction, relapse and recovery inspired both his father's memoir, "Beautiful Boy," and the 2018 Felix van Groeningen film of the same name. And in July, Sheff will recount his painful addiction experiences as keynote speaker at the Summer Institute, hosted by the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy at Arizona State University.

Nearly 400 national and local leaders, educators, researchers, counselors and behavioral health professionals will take part in the 20th annual conference held July 16-19 in Flagstaff, Arizona. The four-day event provides networking opportunities and education, part of the center's commitment to building more resilient and healthier communities.

Sheff will speak the morning of July 16, sharing his insights into recovery, including how it affects the addict and others. His personal account about dealing with addiction, combined with his bipolar disorder, builds to his inspiring breakthrough to sobriety and its maintenance. He offers a compassionate and contemporary viewpoint, with a understanding of chemical dependency, risk factors, the isolation people who use drugs experience and the resulting trauma, pain and survival. 

He says he believes that helping people with recovery is like “putting together the puzzle” concerning the issues surrounding addiction. “We all have this one moment: NOW!” Sheff wrote in "Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines" (2007). “Now is now. There is nothing but now … this, right here, is all there is. So, my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am, today. I believe I am.” 

"Tweak" utilized the extensive journals Sheff kept as a teenager and, along with his father's 2008 book "Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction," inspired van Groeningen's film starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

Sheff collaborated with his father, David, for the book, "High: Everything You Want to Know about Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction," published in January 2019. This handbook serves as a resource for middle school readers to learn about the realities of drugs and alcohol. It addresses what drugs look like, how they are used, what they are called and their side effects. It also draws on the experiences of the New York Times best-selling father/son team to teach how to recognize drug behavior, how to understand it and what can be done to overcome it. The book features candid testimonials from those who have experienced substance abuse and from families who have lived through the addiction of a loved one.

Sheff’s poignant perspective is a timely addition to the center's Summer Institute, given the increasing pressures facing behavioral health professionals amidst the current opioid epidemic. For more about the conference, visit ASUSummerInstitute.org. The center is a unit of ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Written by Deon Brown, ASU Class of ’85

ASU’s Metis Center awards top sustainability projects across the Valley

July 5, 2019

Arizona State University’s Metis Center for Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering recently named the first Sustainable Infrastructure Award winners. 

Seven projects that demonstrate cutting-edge infrastructure practices were honored. Each project, submitted by Phoenix-area infrastructure professionals in public, private, nonprofit and academic institutions, provides sustainable solutions to address environmental, social or emerging technology challenges, or changes in the growing complex environments where infrastructure operates.  Download Full Image

“We're delighted to showcase the leadership of the Phoenix community around sustainable infrastructure,” said Mikhail Chester, director of the Metis Center and an associate professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. “Our rapid growth and unique climate challenges result in innovation that should be recognized.”  

The Metis Center combines research, teaching, outreach and public service to learn how engineered and built systems are integrated with natural and human systems. The selected projects exemplify how Valley-area infrastructure experts are sustainably adapting to rapidly changing environments.

Nomination packages were reviewed by Metis Center faculty members from ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, The Polytechnic School – two of the six schools in the Fulton Schools of Engineering – and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society

The 2019 Sustainable Infrastructure Award winners are:

Arizona Department of Transportation: Laguna Creek Bridge Scour Remediation — ADOT used cutting-edge data collection and modeling to engineer sustainability and resilience into a highway bridge project that used dikes to address erosion from a meandering creek on the Navajo Nation.

AZTECEngineering Group Inc: PVGRAd — AZTEC Engineering developed a unique and proprietary simulation software called PVGRAd to design ground-based solar power systems by optimizing grading and steel costs.

Banner Health, Facilities Operations: Remote Operations Center — Banner Health drew on lessons learned from establishing a centralized Remote Operations Center to drive an enterprise-level energy program with an operational focus on achieving and sustaining energy savings at Banner Health facilities.

Hunter Contracting: MAR 5 and Gila River Interpretive Trail — As part of an ongoing effort to restore a healthy underground aquifer at the Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR-5) site, Hunter Contracting constructed a 1-mile walking trail known as the Gila River Interpretive Trail, which allows for ample space for community activities and celebration, guided tours and leaves areas for native plant growth intact for the Gila River Indian Community and visitors.

SDB Contracting Services: ASU – PTS Vehicle Charging Stations — SDB Contracting Services installed more than 20 Chargepoint Level II Dual-Port charging stations at parking structures on Tempe, Polytechnic, West and Downtown Phoenix campuses, allowing for energy-efficient and reliable charging options for a wide range of electrical vehicles. The new stations also facilitate the addition of future stations without significant cost.

Stacy and Witbeck Inc./Sundt, a Joint Venture: Gilbert Road Light Rail Extension — The 1.9-mile Gilbert Road Light Rail project in Mesa, Arizona, consists of two stations, a park-and-ride and the nation’s first four-way roundabout across light rail tracks. The $184 million project will provide the ability to draw more light rail passengers from the East Valley and bring greater development opportunities to central Mesa.

Valley Metro: 50th Street/Washington Station — Valley Metro’s 50th Street/Washington Station — the first light rail project funded entirely by the City of Phoenix Transportation 2050 funds — benefits the community by providing transportation options to more passengers and supporting Ability360 goals, benefits the economy by increasing access to 55 businesses in the nearby industrial park, and benefits the environment by providing access to a shared transportation option that mitigates heat and promotes regional air quality.

To learn more about the 2019 Sustainable Infrastructure Award winning projects, visit https://metis.asu.edu/awards/.

Lanelle Strawder

Content & PR Manager, Communications, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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ASU professor's research finds teens' confidence in law enforcement plummets

ASU professor finds that teens' confidence in law enforcement has plummeted.
July 5, 2019

Data from nationwide survey shows drop in perception of police but not other authority

An Arizona State University professor’s new research has discovered that teenagers’ positive perceptions of law enforcement have decreased dramatically in the past few years, even as their confidence in other institutions has remained stable.

Adam Fine, an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, discovered the shift in attitudes by analyzing data from the nationwide Monitoring the Future survey of young people. His article was published in Developmental Psychology.

“I typically study kids in the juvenile justice system, but for this paper, I wanted to look at kids in the community. What do these kids actually think about law enforcement and the justice system?” he said.

“With the national conversations surrounding policing and law enforcement these days, this is huge.”

The research was based on the stereotype that teenagers are negative about all authority.

“My argument is maybe, but we should establish if kids are differentiating between law enforcement and the justice system on the one hand and other types of authority on the other,” he said.

It turns out they are.

The Monitoring the Future study surveys about 50,000 students every year in the 48 contiguous United States. Fine and his co-authorsFine's co-authors are Emily Kan and Elizabeth Cauffman, both of the University of California, Irvine. used data from more than 10,000 teens from 2006 to 2017. The survey questions mostly measure drug use and attitudes toward drugs, but also include a question about authority. The teens were asked to rate how good or bad a job was being done for the country by police and law enforcement agencies, the justice system, public schools and religious organizations on a scale of one (very poor) to five (very good).

Until 2015, the results showed that teens tended to have the most confidence in religious institutions, followed by public schools and then law enforcement, while they viewed the justice system least favorably. But from 2015 to 2017, teens’ perception of law enforcement dropped to be equally as negative as the justice system, he said.

The team also found differences by race.

“What I thought I’d find, knowing that black youths are disproportionately criminalized in schools, including being expelled and suspended, was that they would view schools more like police and the justice system — a controlling, law enforcement authority,” he said.

But what he found was that across the last decade, black youths in the United States perceive social authorities, like religious institutions and schools, much more positively than do white youths. However, they also reported the worst perceptions of legal authority compared with other racial groups.

“That’s a really important story to tell,” he said.

Fine said he believes the change in perception is driven by teens’ use of social media, where in recent years they have seen a surge of content about policing.

“A variety of studies have looked at exposure to social media and linked that to poor perceptions of police,” he said.

Fine said that in another paper published a few years ago, his team found that black youths, with the same arrest history as white and Latino youth, reported worse perceptions of law enforcement and the justice system.

“On the one hand you could say they’re reporting worse perceptions. On the other hand, you could say their perceptions are more realistic.”

In a paper published a few months ago, Fine looked at perceptions of law enforcement by teens according to their political party preference.

“Similarly, because it’s the same data set, we found that perceptions have declined pretty dramatically in recent years,” he said.

“But kids who identify as Democrats or liberals report substantially worse perceptions of law enforcement than kids who identify more as Republican or conservative,” he said.

However, that effect was limited exclusively to white youths.

“We don’t see the same effect with Hispanic/Latinx kids or black/African American kids. The reality of being a person of color is more impactful than your political preference,” Fine said.

Fine is also researching the effectiveness of a California-based nonprofit program called Team Kids that brings police officers into elementary schools to work on community service projects with students. That article should be published soon.

“This organization is one of the few that’s trying to repair these relationships and rebuild them and create positive change,” he said.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU Foundation creates new socially responsible investment fund

July 3, 2019

Arizona State University is a leader in higher education for implementing and achieving sustainability standards. A new option that launched last week through its foundation deepens that commitment to future generations and environmentally and socially responsible practices.

The ASU Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions to ASU, established a socially responsible investment fund that enables endowment donors to select this pool for their money rather than the traditional endowment pool. Download Full Image

“The university remains committed to taking a leadership role in addressing issues that pose a threat to our global community and the creation of this new fund is another example of how we are supporting that effort,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., chief executive officer of ASU Enterprise Partners, the parent organization to the ASU Foundation. “This is an important topic for faculty, students, donors and other stakeholders and is integral to ASU’s philosophy on sustainability and inclusion.”

An endowment is a permanent gift that is invested for the long term to provide financial support for the university. The gifted funds are pooled together to yield investment returns based on market conditions. A portion of the investment return provides financial support for the donor’s designated use. Endowment gifts typically are geared toward scholarships and graduate fellowships, faculty chair professorships, research fellowships, research programs and specific schools or academic departments.

Establishing a socially responsible investment option allows donors to magnify their impact. Their gift supports the university and the investments will be in public and private companies with strong racial and gender equality, good governance and a focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability. While the traditional endowment pool includes these considerations, this separate portfolio has a more explicit mandate that allows for an even greater focus to invest in this way without needing to shift legacy investments.

“We don’t believe that we will be sacrificing returns to invest in this manner — it just adds a nonfinancial lens to evaluate a company,” said Jeff Mindlin, vice president of investments for ASU Enterprise Partners. “With this new donor option, the money set aside will be a catalyst to demonstrate that we can perform well while making an impact.”

From the establishment of the first School of Sustainability in 2006, support as a founding member of the Intentional Endowments Network in 2016 and commitments to numerous climate change coalitions, the university and foundation have been proactive in finding optimal ways to be good stewards in the community and for the planet as well as with investment dollars, Shangraw said.

ASU has implemented processes to reduce energy consumption and emissions and increase efficiency and established a renewable energy program that includes extensive solar initiatives on all four of its campuses. Reducing landfill waste is another area of focus through recycling, composting and reusing and repurposing and water conservation through low-flow fixtures and landscaping water management. Additionally, ASU uses sustainable products for cleaning and printing, revised methods for grounds and equipment maintenance and is building all new construction buildings it owns and operates to LEED Silver certification standards.

Because they are still building the strategy and identifying investments, donors have a chance to be a part of the implementation process, Mindlin said. Endowment donors have always been able to designate the beneficiary or use of their philanthropic gift. Now they will also be able to choose a traditional or socially responsible strategy for how it’s invested.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


Visualizing Arizona heat through maps

July 3, 2019

When an earthquake or a tsunami strikes, aid groups and rescue teams begin assessing emergency needs right away. But other crises are harder to quantify.

Patricia Solis, executive director of ASU's Knowledge Exchange for Resilience.Patricia Solís, executive director of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience, explains the data on a map of Maricopa County denoting the total number of residential homes (in white) with the number of households receiving utility payment assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies extreme heat as the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, a threat the Phoenix area knows firsthand.  Patricia Solís, executive director of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience, explains the data on a map of Maricopa County denoting the total number of residential homes (in white) with the number of households receiving utility payment assistance. Download Full Image

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health reported a record 182 heat-related deaths in 2018, the highest number in 13 years. Officials said homeless populations, outdoor workers and those without adequate air conditioning units inside their homes were most affected.

Those statistics aren’t the result of one disaster incident, but a culmination of many factors. So how can communities better prepare? 

That’s one question the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) initiative at Arizona State University has sought to answer in a pilot project studying the impacts of the Valley’s soaring summer temperatures and the community mechanisms trying to help.

“When people see the word resilience, they often think about disasters,” said Patricia Solís, who serves as the KER’s executive director. “Rather than preparing solely for the next big shock or even the next heat wave, we also want to take a long-view look at the chronic, slow-moving issues affecting communities.”

Pairing research innovation with community stakeholders 

Led by principal investigator Elizabeth Wentz, dean of social sciences at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, KER is a universitywide effort launched in 2018 with the support of a $15 million grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. 

The multipronged effort is run by seven core staff members, around 20 graduate and undergraduate student researchers and a host of community and ASU partners working together to study resilience in Maricopa County and identify the gaps that still remain. Their first project focuses on heat resilience, but Wentz said research focused on education, health care and urban planning innovation is also on the horizon.

“The broader picture around resilience looks at how the community responds to long-term stresses and short-term shock events,” Wentz said. “This initiative’s strength is bringing data from different sources together and looking at them collectively, so that we can start having research-informed conversations about these issues.”

It is within that framework that KER’s pilot project began focusing on the Maricopa County Utility Assistance network late last year. A collection of some 80 aid organizations, the program uses federal funding and private donations to help low-income households pay their summer utility bills. According to Solís’ data, an average of 5,000 households have applied for the program across the Phoenix area each year since 2014.

Using location data obtained from the network, the KER team mapped out the locations of households receiving assistance. Next, they overlaid that data with a set gathered from county health officials pinpointing the general locations where indoor heat-related deaths had occurred. 

An unusual gap

In December of last year, Solís, Wentz and the rest of the KER team were comparing the two data sets when they noticed a strange gap in a section of the East Valley.

“We noticed this area along Main Street in Mesa that showed incidences of heat-related deaths, but almost no requests for utility assistance,” she said. “The blank spot in utility-assistance data really popped out at you on the map, because there wasn’t anything like it elsewhere.”

Further investigations revealed the patch was a residential area largely populated by mobile homes made of materials Solís said can put residents at a greater risk of heat exposure.

“These homes are metal trailers built on concrete; that's different than a single family home,” she said.

The satellite imagery revealed the general makeup of the area, but Solís said KER’s research aimed to go one step further by analyzing what it meant.  

“All of that is visual data, you don't get any more information from it,” she said. “It doesn’t tell you the square footage of something, who lives there, or even whether it’s a commercial or residential building — we needed to convert that visual data into something we can use.”

Knowledge sharing for bulked-up resources

In June, Solís hosted a mapathon in the KER lab that looked to do just that. A collaboration between the initiative and the ASU chapter of YouthMappers, the event had student volunteers use open-source mapping technologies to better understand the urban makeup of the Mesa area in question.

Researcher Elisha Charley studies a Mesa area satellite image at the KER lab on the Tempe campus.

Researcher Elisha Charley works with open-source mapping took Open Street Maps to identify residential and commercial buildings in Mesa.

With chapters in over 143 universities spread across 41 countries, YouthMappers is a student-led consortium that creates mapping materials that help aid organizations and allow them to work more efficiently in emergency and development zones around the world. 

Solís, who co-founded and directs the international organization, created an ASU chapter last year. She said projects are often focused abroad. Using the mobile home strip in Mesa, the KER collaboration gave student volunteers the chance to see their skills in a new light.

“By mapping out this data, we're hoping to build models about how our built environment interacts with variables like social and economic demographics, and how all of those factors relate to heat-related death and illness,” Solís said. “Getting YouthMappers involved is a way to generate this spatial data where it doesn't already exist; normally that’s in disaster zones like Puerto Rico post-hurricane, or in refugee camps, but the reality is there are also a lot of urgent problems here that would benefit from further data analysis.”

Focusing on local communities

The ASU mapathon in June was one step in a larger effort focused on the mobile home strip and its risk factors.

Elisha Charley, a researcher currently pursuing a doctorate in The College’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, works with KER as part of a fellowship focused on how indigenous knowledge can inform today’s built environments. She said the structural data generated from the mapathon will be used in further examinations.

“Satellite imagery shows us details like vegetation and green spaces, so the fact that you can see the white mobile home patch from space means it’s pretty significant,” she said. “My portion of the research will be about collecting data of the indoor and outdoor climates of that area and understanding the impacts of how the structure is built.”

For Alexandria Drake, a doctoral student studying global health in The College’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, attending the event was a chance to delve into an issue she saw witnessed up-close as a researcher at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“I would hear from people having to decide between keeping their home cool and paying for medical bills or rent, so this is definitely a health equity problem,” she said. “One of the things that is really important when you're talking about public health is being able to visualize data in a way that is digestible and resonates with people.”

Wentz said KER’s ability to bring student researchers into the fold with collaborations like the one with YouthMappers allows the initiative to come full circle. 

“One of our primary missions of the university is student success, so anything we can do to bring them into the community and into the work we do adds value for everyone involved,” she said. “Additionally, many populations experiencing challenges like utility assistance come from the low-income neighborhoods some of our students are also from, so it’s also an opportunity for them to make a difference in their own communities.” 

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Arizona community team wins first place in Alliance for the American Dream competition

Project Benjamin uses chatbot to increase FAFSA completion rates, with ultimate goal of increasing incomes of 10,000 local households

July 1, 2019

Project Benjamin, a cross-sector coalition of organizations from Arizona, was provisionally awarded $1 million from Schmidt Futures in the Alliance for the American Dream competition Thursday in New York for its plan to use a chatbot to scale a strategy to boost Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completions in 67 area high schools.

In 2018, Schmidt Futures enlisted four public universities — Arizona State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Madison — to participate in the Alliance for the American Dream, an initiative aimed at sourcing solutions to increase the net income of 10,000 local households by 10%. With an average annual federal financial aid award of nearly $9,900, Project Benjamin is poised to exceed the grant challenge. Project Benjamin team poses for a group photo From left: Andrew Magliozzi (AdmitHub), Karla Robles (Be a Leader Foundation), ASU President Michael M. Crow, Jacqueline Smith (ASU), Rich Nickel (College Success Arizona), Rachel Yanof (Achieve60AZ), Heidi Doxey (College Success Arizona), Julie Sainz (Arizona Commission on Postsecondary Education), Andrew Nelson (ASU), Missy Pizzo (ASU), Edmundo Hidalgo (ASU), Sylvia Symonds (ASU) and Eric Schmidt (Schmidt Futures). Download Full Image

Arizona is 49th in the country for FAFSA completion, with only 45% of high school seniors completing the form that determines current and prospective U.S. college students' eligibility for federal financial aid. The state has a goal that by 2030, 60% of adults in Arizona ages 25 to 64 will hold a licensed degree or credential, about 15 percentage points above current rates.

“There are a lot of steps that have to be taken to actually get to that culminating point of attainment, and FAFSA completion is a great leading indicator that we are moving toward the right direction,” said Rachel Yanof, executive director of Achieve60AZ, part of the Project Benjamin coalition. “Given that we only have 10 more years until we hit the year 2030, we need as many leading indicators and actions toward those leading indicators to show that we’re making progress. So to me, this is a massive step.”

Before this competition, the team had successfully piloted a three-tiered support model in Phoenix Union High School District and Mesa Public Schools, significantly improving FAFSA completion rates. Project Benjamin will scale the human-capital-intensive model by integrating an artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot, Benjamin, to offer effective one-to-one support for FAFSA completion. Students will be able to text Benjamin their FAFSA questions and get immediate answers at any time of the day. Additionally, Benjamin provides text-message nudges about events, items to complete and important next steps.

“We knew going into this that we had a successful model that was labor-intensive,” said Rich Nickel, president and CEO of College Success Arizona. “What we really wanted to think about — and what this challenge allowed — was for us to envision technology and smart technology as an amplifier of what we were already doing. ... This is really what's going to move the needle with FAFSA completion.”

Project Benjamin shared first place with the team LIFT Dane (Wisconsin) and was awarded $1 million, pending the execution of a contract. Sharing second place were the teams Coal Country Strike Team (Utah), Power of Home (Ohio) and We Care for Dane Kids (Wisconsin). With the additional funding, the Arizona team will deploy Benjamin in 15 school districts starting in August and begin statewide marketing campaigns to shine on light on the benefits of completing the FAFSA.

“This investment on the part of the Schmidt Futures will have a catalytic effect on our collaborative partnerships, benefiting our schools, students and families,” said Sylvia Symonds, associate vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU. “We will utilize technology in a way that previously we have not had the means to do so. This will allow us to scale some very promising initial efforts into a more comprehensive FAFSA completion strategy.”

Project Benjamin is composed of subject-matter experts from ASU, College Success Arizona, Achieve60AZ, the Arizona Commission on Postsecondary Education, Helios Education Foundation, Mesa Public Schools, Maricopa Community Colleges, Be A Leader Foundation, AzCAN and AdmitHub.

“This crucial project demonstrates our institutional commitment to encourage the growth and resilience of the communities we serve,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “We are excited and appreciative of the opportunity to make this new tool available to more learners in support of their academic access and success.”

ASU is also participating in the second cycle of the Alliance for the American Dream, with the target year of 2022 for the challenge of increasing the net income of 10,000 middle-class households. Teams will be selected from a local competition to compete at the national level, with the winners set to pitch for up to $1 million of implementation funding. Learn more at americandream.asu.edu. 

The Alliance for the American Dream is supported by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that bets early on people who will make our world better — helping people to achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields. ASU is an inaugural member of this alliance along with The Ohio State University, the University of Utah and University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Please direct all inquiries about ASU’s participation in the Alliance to Andrew Nelson, program manager, Strategic Network Advancement: 480-727-3491 or nelson.andrew@asu.edu.

First-gen students have a field day with math and science

Students meet researchers who are developing futuristic technology at the Biodesign Institute

July 1, 2019

Google “Dr. Joaquin Bustoz,” and you can find a link to “Apreciación – In Memory of Dr. Joaquin Bustoz, Purveyor of Science and Equal Rights,” a song written by Russell Latterman, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin.

Latterman was one of the countless students whose lives were changed significantly by their connection to Bustoz, both while he was teaching at Arizona State University and even now after his death. William Graves is a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and associate professor in the Physics Department at ASU. Download Full Image

Last week, 76 students in ASU’s Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program crowded the auditorium at the Biodesign Institute, eager to visit the Beus Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) Lab. They got an insider’s look at the high-powered, “Star Wars”-like instrument that will enable scientists to see and understand the mysterious, microscopic world of proteins.

William Graves, a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and associate professor in the Physics Department, welcomed the students to the “vault” in the lower level of Biodesign C.

“We want the students to engage and ask questions,” Graves said. “Students here at ASU have the opportunity to work alongside researchers on real-world, cutting-edge science. In fact, student participation is key to making our science successful at the university.” 

Graves was joined by Biodesign’s Mark Holl, associate director of technology development, and Marc Messerschmidt, who is also an associate research professor at the School of Molecular Sciences.

Graves himself is an example of getting into science from a nontraditional entry point.

“When I was 20, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I had a real thing for singular, high-spec cars, so I spent 10 years tinkering around with Ferraris during the day and taking physics courses in the evening. I soon realized that I really liked elaborate machines with complex mechanisms,” he said. “Then I got a new job through friends and started working as a technician at a particle accelerator — a job that involved even more complex mechanisms. My passion for the physics of beams led me rapidly to a PhD so that I could spend even more time working on complex machines.” 

Professor Bustoz died in a car accident in 2003, but his legacy lives on in the 3,000-plus students who have completed the summer program, an experience designed “to provide a successful university experience for students who are underrepresented in the mathematics and science fields and to enhance their prospects for future academic success. Special consideration is given to students who are first-generation college-bound and students representing diverse backgrounds from high schools throughout Arizona, including rural communities and the Navajo Nation.”

The Bustoz program is offered by ASU’s Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center.

Students live on the Tempe campus while enrolled in a university-level mathematics course for college credit. They attend class six hours per day, with ample homework, quizzes, tests and tutoring. Students conduct research and present posters at a closing symposium. Tuition, room and board, textbooks and classroom expenses are provided.

Josiah Miles, a member of the Navajo Nation and spring graduate from Ganado High School, is also attending his second summer session. By the end of this session, he expects to have earned seven college credits.

“It is both tough and challenging because there is homework every night, but the program also connects you to what you can do with it in the future,” Miles said. Miles plans to begin studies in astrobiology and bio-geosciences at ASU this fall.

Andre Perry II, a graduate from the Cibola High School, is attending his first Bustoz program summer session. He said the program “really teaches you to discipline yourself and manage your time wisely.” Andre will be joining the ASU freshman class this fall to study astrophysics.

Cindy Barragan Romero, Bustoz program manager, confirms that the program is intense.

“The students are immersed in lectures, homework and daily tutoring from 9 to 5 for up to eight weeks in the summer,” she said. She considers the field trips “a well-deserved break that allows them to see what they can do with the content they are learning. It teaches them that there is a lot of opportunity out there.”

Bustoz’s obituary explained that his “defining characteristic was his passion not only for the field of mathematics, but also for helping talented minority students achieve their full potential. He recognized the hard work and long study required to achieve an understanding of mathematics and sciences, and he taught his students how to rise to the challenge of mastering those demanding fields of study.”

According to the Mathematical Association of America website, Bustoz, a Tempe native, was born to farmworkers who were also valued Tempe School District employees — so much so that the school district honored his parents by naming a school after them. Bustoz earned his doctorate in mathematics at Arizona State University in 1968. Although he spent seven years away as a faculty member at University of Cincinnati and a Fulbright lecturer in Colombia, he returned to ASU as a professor of mathematics in 1976. Bustoz took pride in his Tempe roots and dedicated years of community service to the underserved communities. In 1985, he launched the Summer Math-Science program for high school students.  For his efforts, President Bill Clinton honored him in 1996 with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Additionally, ASU presented him with the Wexler and Alumni Association service award. The Mathematical Association of America memorialized Bustoz in a dedicated biography, noting his dedication to increasing minority participation in math-related degrees and his intense commitment to working with Navajo and Pima Reservation students and teachers.

Christine Lewis

PhD candidate and science writer, Biodesign Institute Center for Applied Structural Discovery and the School of Molecular Sciences


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ASU's Rough Riders and the path to statehood

June 28, 2019

The story of the Tempe Normal School men who headed to Cuba to fight for Roosevelt and helped Arizona earn a star on the flag

It’s March 20, 1911. Former President Theodore Roosevelt is in town for the dedication of a dam 60 miles northeast of the Salt River Valley. His visit to Tempe is only intended to be two or three minutes long. He’s expected to speak standing from his car.

When he arrives at the campus of Tempe Normal School — now Arizona State University — he is greeted by hundreds. A huge flag hangs from the balcony of Old Main. Roosevelt bounds up the steps (he rarely does anything slowly) and speaks for 13 minutes in his patrician New York accent.

He speaks about the importance of an educated citizenry and the “far-sighted wisdom” of the Territory of Arizona. The dam is a sign that Arizona has left its wild past of gunfights and massacres behind. The territory is finally ready to earn its star on the flag and become a state.

Former president Theodore Roosevelt speaking at Old Main, ASU 1911

Former President Theodore Roosevelt delivers an address from the steps of Old Main in March 1911. Photo courtesy of ASU Archives 

“It is a rare pleasure to be here, and I wish to congratulate the Territory of Arizona upon the far-sighted wisdom and generosity which was shown in building the institution,” Roosevelt said. “It is a pleasure to see such buildings, and it is an omen of good augury for the future of the state to realize that a premium is being put upon the best type of educational work. Moreover, I have a special feeling for this institution, for seven of the men of my regiment came from it.”


That regiment was the famous Rough Riders of the Spanish-American War. The group was an all-volunteer cavalry regiment of cowboys, Native Americans, college athletes, East Coast blue bloods, ranchers, sheriffs, miners and policemen who banded together in 1898 to drive the Spanish out of Cuba. The regiment lasted for exactly four months and 13 days, and the last member died in 1975, yet they gained immortality with their legendary charge up San Juan Hill.

That charge, which happened 121 years ago July 1, propelled the Rough Riders into American myth. And when it was over, the hundreds of Arizonans in their ranks came home, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

They became Arizona's governors, postmasters general, adjutants general, clerks of the Supreme Court, state historians and legislators, deputy game wardens, superintendents of schools — just about any government position in existence. They put the final touches on a territory that had long yearned for respectability, transforming it from unruly child to honorable brother.

The seven men who returned to Tempe Normal School were no different. This is their story.


Cubans had been revolting against Spain for some time. The U.S. was reluctant to enter the war because the country had just come out of a depression. President William McKinley wanted to stay out of it. But when the American battleship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in Havana’s harbor, the yellow press, led by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, inflamed populists with the cry “Remember the Maine!” (It was much later discovered that the ship's powder magazines likely blew it up, not a Spanish mine.) Congress issued a joint resolution, McKinley signed it, and the country was in its first war intervening with a foreign power.

The Spanish had a standing army of about 200,000 (not all in Cuba). The U.S. had a standing army of about 20,000.

“It was like, ‘Oh my God, we need volunteers yesterday,’” said reenactor David Williamson, president of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, A Troop, Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association, based in Prescott. Williamson’s group gives talks to schools and marches in parades on holidays.

Roosevelt knew exactly where to look for the perfect volunteers. In the mid-1880s he had had a ranch in North Dakota. He learned to hunt, rope and ride Western style, eventually earning the respect of local cowboys. The West consumed Roosevelt, and around lawmen who had been in gunfights and the like, he was like a kid. He couldn't get enough of their stories.

“Roosevelt was like, ‘We’ve got the perfect guys already,’” Williamson said. “‘They don’t need to be trained. They’re the cowboys from out West. They already know how to ride a horse. … They certainly know how to shoot a gun. They’re used to eating lousy food and having lousy life conditions because they’re used to being out on the range.’ It was a perfect fit.”

Capt. Leonard Wood, who had been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Apache Wars and who had been appointed temporary medical officer of the Department of Arizona in 1887, was chosen as commander. Roosevelt resigned his position as assistant secretary of the Navy, and with no military experience at all he was appointed lieutenant colonel.

Four areas were selected for recruiting: the territories of Arizona and New Mexico, Texas and the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory (now one state). Thousands turned out to enlist.

"They volunteered in droves," Williamson said. “‘Being a soldier, well, I’m already kind of doing that.’ It was nothing new for them.”

Rough Rider uniform, Tempe History Museum

A typical canvas uniform of the members of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment is on display at the Tempe History Museum. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Thirty years after the war, Arizona Rough Rider James McClintock admitted that none of the Arizonans gave much of a damn about Cuba or Spain. They were in it for the adventure. A lot of the volunteers hadn’t been out of their towns, much less out of their state.

Roosevelt also put out the word among his peers in New York and New England. Harvard boxers, members of the Meadowbrook Polo Club and young men who knew steeple chasing and duck hunting with addresses at Fifth Avenue, Southampton and the Knickerbocker Club signed up.

Out West, there was criticism that the “cowboy regiment” was more hat than cattle. “The members of this so-called ‘cowboy’ regiment seem to have been recruited from the sort of cowboys that ranges up and down Washington Street, Phoenix,” an Arizona paper opined. “Many of them are not horsemen in the mildest construction, and as crack marksmen have yet to distinguish themselves.”

That was a criticism that could have been leveled at several of the Normal School’s Rough Riders.

Crantz Cartledge, J. Oscar Mullen, James C. Goodwin, J. Wesley Hill and John “Jack” A.W. Stelzreide all came from comfortable families. Cartledge and Stelzreide were avid tennis players and often won doubles matches together. The two best friends and Mullen all played football.

Jack Stelzreide, Tempe Normal School football player and Rough Rider

Jack Stelzreide, a member of the 1899 Territorial Cup-winning Tempe Normal School football team, was a member of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (Troop C of Col. Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders). Photo courtesy of the ASU Library

Cartledge and Mullen played the first two known years of football at the Normal School in Tempe. Cartledge started at tackle on the school’s first officially recorded season in 1897 and played for two athletic seasons. Mullen played center as a senior on the school’s first football team in 1896. Stelzreide helped win the Arizona Territorial Football League Championship Cup in 1899 after the Normal team defeated the University of Arizona and went on to win the league championship.

The Arizona contingent weren’t any rougher — or posher — than any of their comrades, said Western historian Mark Lee Gardner, author of "Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill."

“I think they were very similar,” Gardner said. “It was a broad slice of society. There was criticism that the units weren’t actual cowboys/Westerners/frontier types. They were very similar to the guys from New Mexico and Oklahoma and the Indian Territory in that you had teachers, students, athletes — it really was a broad makeup of individuals and varying backgrounds. There were a few real cowboys.”

While being good horsemen and marksmen was important, the cri de coeur also sought “men of fine upstanding and moral character,” Gardner said. “That was just as important to make up the Rough Riders.”

In the end, whether they had never washed a shirt in their life or never owned two shirts at once didn’t matter.

“What’s to their credit is how these men of varying backgrounds came together so well,” Gardner said. “They became the clichéd band of brothers, not that they didn’t have their issues with one another at times. When it came time to support each other, they fought side by side very well.”

Another motivation — and a big one for the Arizona troopers — was statehood.

“They were all interested in doing whatever they could to promote Arizona,” Williamson said. “It wasn’t exactly the Wild West anymore, but it certainly wasn’t civilized. People were like, ‘Why would I want to go live in Arizona where it’s nothing but desert and jackrabbits? Those people out there are all crazy. It’s hot, it’s dry, there’s no water and the Indians are trying to kill everyone.' … Of course all the dime novels didn’t help.’”

William "Buckey" O’Neill was the most famous Rough Rider besides Roosevelt himself. He was a popular sheriff of Yavapai County known for capturing train robbers after a gunfight, an entrepreneur, attorney, newspaperman and later mayor of Prescott, among many other occupations.

“O’Neill’s big thing was, ‘Who wouldn’t give his life for a star?’” Williamson said. “He was talking about a star on the flag, because obviously Arizona was still a territory.”

One of O’Neill’s best friends was James H. McClintock. McClintock Drive, McClintock High School and McClintock Hall at ASU are all named in his honor. McClintock was one of the five graduates who made up the first class of the Normal in 1887.

When McClintock attended the Normal, the "library consisted of a dictionary, and the apparatus was a nice terrestrial globe — nothing more,” he said years later, according to various historical sources. “Drinking water was to be found in an olla (a large-mouthed pot) by the side of the front door. The water came from a well equipped with bucket and rope. Near it was the lavatory, comprising one tin basin.

"Almost everyone rode to and from school on horseback,” he said. “Many were the spirited races run on what is now known as Eighth Street, and occasionally one of the students would ride an unbroken colt to school that he might contribute to the gaiety of the day's session."

McClintock was 23 when he graduated. He bought an interest in and managed the Tempe News, acted as justice of the peace and deputy road overseer and ran his own 160-acre barley farm south of Tempe.

"In the early part of 1898 my old friend O'Neill dropped in on me with a great scheme for a cowboy regiment for the impending war with Spain,” McClintock wrote years later. “So a few weeks later I left Phoenix in April to what I believe was the first detachment for the Spanish War. Then came a lot of experiences!"

All the Normal men enlisted up in Prescott in the first few days of May. McClintock, who had experience working for the adjutant general at the Whipple Barracks during the last Geronimo campaign, was named captain of Troop B. The other six served in Troop C.

Thomas F. Grindell, 26, was an English teacher at the Normal. He resigned his position to join the Rough Riders. Just a week after he enlisted, he was promoted to sergeant.

Mullen (class of 1897) was a California native. Working as a rancher when the war broke out, the 21-year-old football player signed up on May 2. After four months, he was promoted to corporal.

J. Oscar Mullen, Rough Rider and Tempe Normal School student and football player

Undated photo of J. Oscar Mullen (1879–1954), who served with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. Photo courtesy of the Robert L. Mullen Collection in the ASU Archives of the ASU Library

Goodwin, from Missouri, had settled in Tempe and immediately become active in the community. Before the war, he built a free-service mule-drawn streetcar running from the river down Mill Avenue to Eighth Street (now University Drive), then east to the canal near Rural Road. He and McClintock were friends. McClintock convinced Goodwin to donate land south of Tempe for a schoolhouse, where McClintock began teaching. The pair convinced a number of Mexican families to move onto the land, then talked the local board of supervisors into creating a new school district. Their next move was to persuade the board to build roads around the school and name them road commissioners.

Goodwin and his half brothers designed and built Goodwin Stadium, now Sun Devil Stadium. He was one of the 15 donors who came up with the $500 to establish the Normal. Goodwin himself did not enroll until after the war, when he briefly studied mining.

Hill was 21 when he signed up. A California native, he had studied at normal schools in the Golden State. He completed his degree with a year at Tempe Normal, class of 1898. 

Wesley Hill, Rough Rider and Tempe Normal School student

Wesley Hill circa 1900. Photo courtesy of Annlia Hill 

Cartledge, class of 1899, was the son of a wealthy farmer and something of a man about campus. A half-inch shy of 6 feet tall, he played football and was in the debate society (in November 1899 he argued against the proposition “Resolved, that the expulsion of the Chinese is just” in a Friday evening program). The class president was so popular the class presented him with a gold ring before he shipped out with the others to train in Texas.

Cartledge’s best friend was Stelzreide, whose father was a section foreman for the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad who later became a Tempe city councilman. They lived at Sixth Street and Ash Avenue. Stelzreide played in a string band at the Normal and gave readings for the literary society. He also debated in the Hesperian Society with his buddy Cartledge and played baseball in a Tempe team.  

On May 1, classes were called off. “It was too sad a time to study,” reported the Arizona Republican. “At 12:30 the school was called to order and addressed by Dr. McNaughton, who spoke briefly of the leaving for war of the teacher, T.F. Grindell, and the students, Crantz Cartledge, Oscar Mullen and Wesley Hill. Those who were to leave soon entered. The school sang patriotic songs, and tokens of remembrance were presented to the departing friends.”

At some point, someone in Tempe wrote down the names of all the Troop C men on the wall of the Laird and Dines drugstore on Mill Avenue. (When the building was renovated in the mid-1990s, the section of wall was removed and preserved at the Tempe Historical Museum.)

Salvaged piece of wall includes names of six of the seven members of volunteer group of cavalry in the Spanish-American War who attended Tempe Normal School

A salvaged piece of wall on display at the Tempe History Museum includes the names of six of the seven members of the volunteer group of cavalry in the Spanish-American War who attended Tempe Normal School. 

“The Phoenix volunteers are a fine-looking lot of young men and their captain, Jas. H. McClintock, looks every inch a soldier,” reported the Prescott Arizona Weekly Journal Miner on May 4.

The Arizona Rough Riders traveled by train to join the rest of the regiment in San Antonio for training. Training lasted all of about three weeks, most of it teaching the men how to ride as a disciplined cavalry instead of cowpunchers chasing a herd.

“It was wham, bam, thank you ma’am,” Williamson said. “How quickly can you get an army together and basically throw it at the enemy? It was absolutely insane. It’s amazing they pulled it off. … ‘I train for three weeks, and then I’m on a ship and a month and a half later I’m shooting Spanish in Cuba.’ Just think about how fast that happened. It’s mind-boggling. And they won.”

Not only is it mind-boggling, it’s unique in military history, according to Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley. A professor of practice of leadership for Arizona State University and a special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow for leadership initiatives, Freakley recently retired from the U.S. Army after more than 36 years of active military service, including leading troops in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He’s also a native of Prescott, the home of the Arizona Rough Riders.

The regiment’s short lifespan has no parallel, Freakley said.

“Not to the level in which they were rapidly organized, deployed to Cuba, employed and then came home and disbanded,” he said. “There are cases of militia more like in the Revolutionary War or Civil War where a local militia would be rapidly formed to try to do local protection of parts of our country, and then the militia would go back to what they were doing, but I think this is much more deliberate.”

Rough Riders Troop C, San Antonio, Texas 1898

1898 photo of members of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (Troop C of Col. Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders). Top row right: Oscar Mullen. Top row eighth from right: Jack Stelzreide. Bottom row third from left: Wesley Hill. Photo courtesy of the Robert L. Mullen Collection in the ASU Archives of the ASU Library

It was extraordinarily swift, especially taking into consideration a lot of men from desert areas were being deployed to a jungle.

“The Rough Riders came together so rapidly, were basically trained — which would be a bit of a stretch — then deployed to Cuba and find themselves from the arid temperatures of Arizona to god-awful humidity in the jungle,” said Freakley, who has been to jungle school three times. “It was just a bit of a rapid rush to get this done. Thank goodness the enemy wasn’t a lot better than they were, or it’d be a different story.”

In San Antonio, people showed up in crowds to gawk at the men. The press couldn’t get enough of the cowboy regiment, dubbing them “Teddy’s Terrors” before the moniker “Rough Riders” overtook the rest. A popular song at the time — “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” — became their unofficial anthem.

In Texas, Hill was appointed corporal of Company C. Ten days later a sergeant left camp without a pass. Hill replaced him. He and Grindell were solicited by the regimental chaplain to form a choir. Stelzreide was appointed trumpeter. Mullen made corporal.

The troopers weren’t the only people learning. After one long, hot day of training, Roosevelt bought the men all the beer they wanted. In the officers’ mess that night, Wood brought up the subject of officers drinking with enlisted men, saying such an officer would be “quite unfit to hold a commission.” Roosevelt, embarrassed beyond measure, apologized.

On May 27, the regiment entrained for Tampa, Florida, the jumping-off point for Cuba and combat.

Tampa was a logistical disaster, a mess of men, horses and equipment arriving at odd hours and dumped in odd places. More bad news came from the Navy. There weren’t enough transports available to take the whole regiment or any of their mounts to Cuba. Wood had to make an ugly choice about which units would deploy to the island. Troop C was not selected. Of the Normal men, only McClintock would set foot in Cuba. And, without horses, the Rough Riders were now infantry.

Back in Tempe, commencement was held on June 16. It was an outdoor affair. Japanese lanterns were hung around campus and on buildings. “The rostrum was pretty as a picture,” reported the Arizona Republican. Sixteen people graduated. An empty chair decorated with an American flag sat on the stage in honor of Hill.

Most of the Normal men who remained behind in Florida got sick. Some of them were released from service. The rest remained in Tampa until they rejoined their comrades in August after Spain surrendered.

Hill resigned in Tampa, before the regiment embarked for Cuba. He submitted a handwritten note on July 20, “being physically unable to perform my duties in this capacity.” He had typhoid and yellow fever. He was granted furlough. He went to his parents’ home in California to recuperate, returning to Phoenix on Sept. 1.

Cartledge got sick during training in Texas, writing home that he had fever and measles for 20 days. Goodwin, sick, like the others, left the Rough Riders on Aug. 7, according to his military service record.

After a number of snafus, the Rough Riders sailed for Cuba. It took them seven days to steam around the east end of the island to a village named Daiquiri, 14 miles east of their target, the city of Santiago de Cuba, where the Spanish Atlantic battle squadron was holed up in the harbor. There weren’t enough provisions on board, and the men went hungry. The situation was not improved by a trooper who had bought an accordion in Tampa and was learning to play. It was thrown overboard when he wasn’t looking.

One June 23 the regiment began landing in small boats in heavy swells. Three Rough Riders trudged up a hill and planted the flag sewn by the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix on top of a Spanish blockhouse. “Yell, you Arizona men,” McClintock hollered. “That’s our flag!” The troops fired rifles and revolvers, ships' whistles blew and a band struck up “My Country 'Tis of Thee.”

The next day the landing continued. Reports came in that the Spanish were digging in. They were wrong; the Spanish general had ordered a retreat back through the jungle to Santiago. “Fighting Joe” decided to attack. It was a disaster. The Spanish halted their retreat and stood their ground. They fought with rifles that used smokeless powder, making them difficult to pinpoint in the dense jungle. 

This was the Battle of Las Guasimas, the first of two actions fought by the Rough Riders, and the only battle a Normal man took part in.  

James McClintock convalescing

Captain James H. McClintock, B Troop Commander, 1st U.S. Voluntary Cavalry Regiment "Rough Riders" was injured at the Battle of Las Guasimas, Cuba, on June 24,1898, during the Spanish-American War.

McClintock was seriously wounded. A Spanish machine gunner shot him three times in the leg. He was escorted down to the beach, transferred aboard a ship and sent to recover at a hospital on Staten Island in New York. He was not released from the hospital until Thanksgiving. First Lt. George B. Wilcox, a Phoenix farmer, replaced him as Troop B commander. Later McClintock was given the brevet of major for gallantry in action. Details of his actions during the battle (and the entire Spanish-American War) were lost in a national archives fire in 1973.

Six days later the Battle of San Juan Hill took place. Actually, it was an assault upon two hills, the first named Kettle Hill. Both were taken in Civil War-style full frontal assaults by the Rough Riders and the 10th Cavalry, an African-American troop known as the Buffalo Soldiers. It was on Kettle Hill that Roosevelt was shot at by two Spaniards who jumped out of a trench. He fired back at both, killing one.

After Kettle Hill was secure, Roosevelt led the charge up San Juan Hill. He turned around to see only four or five men with him. Most of the others never heard his order or saw him take off. He returned, gave the order again, a bugle sounded, and Rough Riders, Buffalo Soldiers and other Army regulars swarmed up the hill. Bullets whip-cracked around them, artillery shells exploded and Roosevelt turned to his orderly. “Holy Godfrey, what fun!” he yelled.

Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill by Frederic Remington

 "The Rough Riders' Charge on Kettle Hill," by Frederic Remington.

Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2001. He is the only U.S. president to receive the medal, and one of the few presidents to kill a man in battle.

After San Juan Hill, the Cuban campaign was largely a naval affair. American invasion forces began to be pulled out on Aug. 7. Five days later Spain surrendered. The adventure was over.

One hundred and twenty-two Arizona men went to Cuba and fought in two engagements. Nine were killed and 20 wounded in the 10-week campaign.

The Rough Riders were carried by ship to Montauk Point on the eastern end of Long Island, New York, where they rejoined their comrades left behind in Florida, recovered from their tropical diseases and stayed in quarantine. Their history ended when they were mustered out on Sept. 15, four months and 13 days after they mustered up.

But Arizona’s fight was far from over.


Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders atop San Juan Hill, July 1, 1898

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders stand victorious atop San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898. The flag is on display in the museum in the Arizona State Capitol complex.

The Normal men trickled back to Arizona over a period of months.

On Sept. 31, Stelzreide and Mullen returned to Phoenix. Mullen was met in Phoenix by some of his brothers and driven to Tempe, surprising his parents and the community. Stelzreide stayed in Phoenix all night and came to Tempe the next morning. His parents didn’t expect him back so soon. Neither men were sick, and both returned home in “good health and flesh,” the Republican reported.

Hill returned in late September. He was offered a position at the Bonita school (a town that catered to soldiers and cowboys around Fort Grant; a ghost town since 1955). He turned it down because it was too far away. In late October he took over the school at Livingston. Livingston was a small farming and ranching town whose post office opened in 1896 and closed in 1907. It was located where the east end of Roosevelt Lake is now. It took Hill two days to ride from Mesa to Livingston.

Twelve days later, Stelzreide re-enrolled at the Normal. Toward the end of October, he, Grindell and another Rough Rider visited the school. Grindell made a few remarks, noting that even though he had only been away six months he didn’t recognize half the students. The school president introduced Stelzreide as “our John.” The following year Stelzreide suited up at fullback for Tempe Normal’s undefeated 1899 squad — the first to defeat rival Arizona.

1899 Territorial Cup winning Tempe Normal School Football team

Jack Stelzreide (third from the left, on the top row, with the number 3), a member of the 1899 Territorial Cup-winning Tempe Normal School football team, was a member of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (Troop C of Col Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders). Photo courtesy of the ASU Library

In November, Cartledge, “the long looked for Rough Rider has returned and will enter the Normal next Monday,” the Republican reported. Later that month he and his buddy Stelzreide were feted at a dinner at a Mesa hotel, the Kimball House.

McClintock returned in December. He limped from his wounds for the rest of his life, carrying a cane made from a palo verde tree with an Arizona onyx handle.

He and the others who so readily flocked to Roosevelt’s banner would not be forgotten. In 1900, Roosevelt ran as William McKinley’s vice presidential candidate. McKinley won handily. Later the next year, he was assassinated by an anarchist. Roosevelt was sworn in as the nation’s 26th president.

“Those bonds that were forged on San Juan Hill were very, very solid and unbreakable,” historian Gardner said. “Once he became the most powerful man in the world, or at least in North America, he didn’t have to do what he did for these guys, but he did. His wife wrote that they were like his unruly children, that they were very proud of them, that they would help them if they could, and that they were always asking for something. There were several from the Arizona contingent that he formed a very favorable and close bond with, and it did influence Arizona politics.”

Roosevelt blatantly favored Rough Riders in any way he could after the war, whether it was appointing them to federal positions or bailing them out of jail. After the turn of the century, the governors of Arizona, Oklahoma and New Mexico were all former Rough Riders.

“Roosevelt was so thankful to the men who followed him,” Gardner said. “They adored Roosevelt. They supported him in his political endeavors. Some Rough Riders, while he was campaigning for governor, actually campaigned on the train. The bugler played at stops. They formed a bond that would last for the rest of their lives. Whatever political motivation might have been for gaining Arizona statehood, I think Roosevelt also felt he owed them careers or many favors. He tried to look out for his men. If his men wanted statehood, that certainly persuaded him to do what he could to make that happen.”

Pundits began to refer to the Rough Riders as a third party in politics. “It was that blatant and obvious,” Gardner said. 

Gardner recounted an anecdote in his book where a congressman dropped by the Oval Office. A page informed him Roosevelt was in the office with a Rough Rider. “Then there’s no hope for me,” he said. “A mere congressman doesn’t stand a chance at all against a Rough Rider.”

Goodwin, for one, was disgusted by the favoritism. “I have the distinction of never holding an official position under the Roosevelt administration, and that puts me in a class by myself as far as this regiment is involved,” he said. “I’ve held no official position and never been in jail.”

(“It may have been a point of pride that he didn’t have to use his political connections to get where he got,” Gardner said. “Other men didn’t hesitate.”)

The one situation where Roosevelt drew a line was in the case of a Rough Rider who shot and killed his sister-in-law. He was not going to help a murderer.

The connection between Roosevelt and Arizona began in the war.

“It expanded in 1903 when Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon, when he was seated as United States president,” ASU University Archivist Rob Spindler said. “But in 1911, when Roosevelt came here two days after the opening of Roosevelt Dam, he knew the city of Tempe was posed for growth and the state of Arizona would soon become the 48th state. He said this community had advanced from being a frontier community to a modern community that had the economics and the government institutions that could become a state. … Within a year, President Taft would sign legislation that made the territory of Arizona into the state of Arizona. Teddy Roosevelt’s comments here on March 20, 1911, on the steps of Old Main were certainly a huge factor in that transition.”

In 1902, Roosevelt rewarded McClintock with the Phoenix postmastership, which he held for two nonconsecutive terms. 

Colonel James H. McClintock

Col. James H. McClintock served as acting adjutant general for the territory of Arizona from Aug. 29, 1907, to Feb. 6, 1908. Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

The Spanish-American War did not complete McClintock’s military record. In June 1902, he was elected colonel of the First Arizona Infantry, where he commanded the regiment in a riot of 3,500 miners at Morenci. He handled the situation with firmness, protecting property and causing no bloodshed. For eight years he was at the head of the regiment and acted as adjutant general of Arizona through 1908.

McClintock listed himself as captain, colonel or major the rest of his life. He was 6 feet tall, weighed 218 pounds and had blue eyes and gray hair. McClintock was always neatly dressed, with his hair and mustache trimmed. He was courteous, but a secretary described him as having a “gruff manner, but most of the time his kind and generous ways prevailed.” He applied military discipline to the post office and his newspaper business. People called him Jamie or Colonel Jim. He called his wife, Dorothy, “dearikins” and “dearest-est.” It was said of McClintock, “he claimed to know everyone in the territory worth knowing.”

He was the first president of the Normal School Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Education. He wrote a three-volume history of Arizona and was appointed state historian. He served as president of the Rough Riders Association and was its historian. He was also the first commander of the Spanish War Veterans for the Department of Arizona. Poor health forced him to move to Los Angeles, where he died on May 10, 1934, at the age of 70.


Goodwin went on to be elected to the Arizona Territorial Legislature and served as chairman of the House committee on rentals of state school lands. He was again elected later and served two terms as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives in the second and third State Legislatures, 1915-1918.

Goodwin proposed and lobbied for the creation of the 2,000-acre Papago Saguaro National Monument, which was established by proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson. An amateur archeologist, Goodwin contributed numerous artifacts to the Smithsonian Institute and became a self-taught mining expert, serving as the longtime manager of the mineral exhibit at the Arizona State Fair. He constructed canals, railroads and highways, including the Kyrene Ditch and the Miami-Superior Highway. A member of the Tempe Old Settlers Association, he and his wife, Libbie, lived at 820 S. Farmer Ave. His house still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Goodwin died in 1922 at 58. He is buried with other prominent Tempe residents in Double Butte Cemetery.


Following the war, Grindell briefly entered politics. He was narrowly defeated in a bid for school superintendent of Maricopa County, losing by 43 votes of 3,309 cast.

In 1905, he led a four-man expedition in search of rumored treasure on Tiburon Island off the west coast of Mexico in the Gulf of California. Nearly out of drinking water, the party became separated. Grindell and two others apparently perished, but their bodies weren’t found. More than a year later his remains were discovered by another group of explorers. Evidence at the scene seemed to confirm that dehydration was the cause of death.

Grindell was buried in Platteville, Wisconsin.


After the war, Mullen was chosen to be an Arizona Ranger by Gov. Alexander Brodie, another Rough Rider. 

J. Oscar Mullen

Mullen became a Tempe Union High School trustee in 1909. A few years later, he was Florence's postmaster and school principal. He finished his career as superintendent of schools in Jerome and retired in 1949. He died in 1954, at age 75.


In 1900, Cartledge attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sometime later he got a lucrative job with the railroad in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He caught pneumonia and died in January 1902 at age 25. His “death … has cast a cloud of sorrow over the hearts of his many friends,” the Republican reported.

His father brought his remains back to Tempe, where he was buried on Jan. 7. Twenty-two carriages of mourners followed the hearse from the Baptist Church to Double Butte Cemetery. His pallbearers were all Rough Riders, among them McClintock, Goodwin and the staunch Stelzreide. A salute was fired over his grave, and a bugle sounded taps. 


In 1900, Stelzreide was listed on the Yavapai County voter registration role as living in Crown Point. (Crown Point's history is intertwined with Brodie, the Rough Rider governor. The mines were started in the late 1890s complete with a mill and a town of about 100. Brodie left to enlist with Roosevelt's Rough Riders but funded the operation until 1905. Today Crown Point is a ghost town.) Stelzreide was probably teaching.

He left Arizona shortly thereafter, moving to Los Angeles, where he married his wife, Emma, and became a police officer. He rose to the rank of detective sergeant. Stelzreide lived in Santa Monica, California, with his family. He retired in 1938 and died not long afterward (in the 1940 census Emma is listed as head of household).


Teaching apparently did not agree with Hill. He briefly took a job as a letter carrier. When Brodie was made governor, Hill was appointed clerk of the board of control. In 1905 he worked as territorial auditor. He also worked in a Yuma bank and sold life insurance.

Cars, planes and anything that moved were Hill’s true passions. His tedious two-day rides over the Apache Trail to teach in Livingston inspired him when work began on Roosevelt Dam. He eventually owned a fleet of stage coaches that hauled workers out to the dam. In 1910 he managed the New State Auto Aerial Company, a Phoenix car dealership. That same year he was appointed secretary of the state Republican Party. (Motto: “Statehood First.”)

In 1911 during Roosevelt’s visit to the state and his now-namesake dam, Hill drove the lead car in the procession of 24 autos out to the dam. Hill family lore holds that when Roosevelt spotted him at the train station, he said, “I will ride with Wesley.”

The dam and the scenic Apache Trail leading to it became a major tourist attraction. Hill sold his stage coaches and bought 35 cars, which hauled tourists along the Apache Trail to Globe. He was highly successful.

In June 1917, he started the Apache Aerial Transportation Company, an early airline. It failed for lack of investors, but Hill managed to build the first airfield in Phoenix, at 16th and Jackson streets, not far from Sky Harbor International Airport today.

When America entered World War I, Hill tried to enlist in the air forces. He was rejected because of his age. The tank corps accepted him, however. He never went overseas. When the armistice was signed, he had served six months as a tank driver instructor.

After the war, Hill worked as state deputy game inspector for many years. He ran unsuccessfully for U.S. marshal in 1921 and secretary of state in 1922. His wife, Viola, whom he married in 1899, was socially prominent, hosting luncheons for the ladies of Phoenix.

In 1924, the Hills moved to Southern California. He managed the Hill Brothers Service Station in Long Beach.

Rough Rider reunion Los Angeles 1939

Rough Rider reunion, Los Angeles, 1939. Wesley Hill is bottom row far right. Courtesy of Annlia Hill 

Hill was an inveterate teller of tall tales. He claimed to have named the Apache Trail. (It was the Southern Pacific Railway Company that coined the name in its advertising campaigns to promote automobile side tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam and the Apache Trail.)

One of Hill’s brother’s grandsons remembered him years later.

“I remember that he was known for telling tall tales of his adventures through life,” Donald Raymond Hill said. “Some were true and some were not. I remember sitting on his knee at the gas station on Signal Hill, Long Beach, telling me these tales. I don't remember which story he told, but the common ones that circulate in the family are his Rough Rider experiences; the time he under-sheriffed to Wyatt Earp in San Diego, California; disarming a desperado on the Arizona-Mexico border who had holed up in a school or other civic building with hostages; attempting to start the first transcontinental airline — failed; starting a stage/bus line — true, standing for office, I think treasurer, in Arizona; having Pancho Villa in one of his classes — like his mother Mary Bradley Hill he taught school for a short time; and several other stories I can't recall at the moment. As the family said, as a mantra, 'Wesley was a real character.'"

Wesley and Viola Hill

Viola and Wesley Hill. Courtesy of Annlia Hill

Hill died in April 1945.


The most famous Arizona Rough Rider, Buckey O’Neill, didn’t survive San Juan Hill. On the morning of the battle his troop was pinned down in a dry creekbed while Spanish snipers shot at them. Trying to rally the morale of his men, O’Neill walked up and down the line, calmly smoking a cigarette. When someone warned him to get down, O’Neill replied, “The Spanish bullet hasn’t been made which can kill me.”

Almost immediately afterward he was shot in the mouth and killed. The statue in front of the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott is not O’Neill.

“It’s a statue of the Rough Riders that kinda looks like Buckey O’Neill,” Williamson said. O’Neill was buried in Cuba. His remains were later exhumed and repatriated to Arlington National Cemetery.

Rough Riders memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to the "Rough Riders," Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Carol Highsmith/Courtesy of the Library of Congress

“I’ve put my hand on his grave,” Williamson said. “Not a lot of people know about the Spanish-American War. … In high school the Spanish-American War is a couple of paragraphs, if that. There’s so much local history about these guys. … That’s what makes it interesting for me.”

On Feb. 14, 1912, President William Taft signed the bill granting Arizona statehood.

Top photo: The day prior to the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry's departure from Arizona to fight for Cuba's independence, the unit could find no American flag. The Women's Relief Corps of Phoenix sewed this flag, on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum, in one night. Called the "Rough Riders' Flag," it saw action throughout the Spanish-American War, including the Battle of San Juan Hill. Seven members of volunteer group of Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s cavalry in the conflict attended Tempe Normal School (later ASU) either before or after the 1898 war against Spain’s colonial policies with Cuba. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now