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ASU alumni inspire Phoenix area youth at career event

'Above and Beyond' sparks career interests, academic awareness

May 10, 2017

More than 200 third, fourth and fifth grade students participated in a career event at Laveen Elementary School called “Above and Beyond.” The goal of the event, hosted by Access ASU, was to get these students thinking about their career interests and spark academic awareness at an early age.

"We are going ‘Above and Beyond’ promoting college prep so these students can have the tools they need to succeed and thrive later in life,” said Tenecia Placide, Access ASU AmeriCorp Outreach Coordinator. Above and Beyond youth career event Students try to outbid each other for characteristics they believe best define them during Tuesday’s Above and Beyond event at Laveen Elementary. Download Full Image

Arizona State University alumni volunteered to speak to groups of the elementary students about a time in their life when they had to find the strength to persevere.

“To have someone who went to college and found success come in, besides their teachers, and say, ‘This is where I was, this was my path, and now this is where I am’ is so important.” said Robert Caplinger, Laveen Elementary principal .

The alumni also engaged with students in a variety of hands-on activities demonstrated how they find success in each of their careers by following their dreams. They also worked with the students of Hawk Nation to understand how to face personal fears and to overcome challenges they may encounter.

“The students need to be able to look forward and learn from role models how they’ve been successful. Most of our students come from families who didn’t go to college, so there’s nobody at home telling them how they can make it to college,” Caplinger said.

kids sitting on lawn raising hands

A group of Laveen Elementary students volunteer to share a fear they had to overcome during Tuesday’s Above and Beyond event.

Nearly three-quarters of the Laveen Elementary student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch and more than half identify as Hispanic.

“It’s never too early to start talking to students about their future. Students asked great questions of our ASU alumni working in various fields including engineering, psychology and the law,” said Sylvia Symonds, vice president of educational outreach at ASU.

“Laveen Elementary is full of Future Sun Devils and we are proud to help students begin to explore college and career.”

Written by Will Argeros

6 ways to celebrate tourism in Arizona during National Travel and Tourism week

More than 80 ASU students to enter tourism workforce after graduating during the week

May 5, 2017

Arizona State University’s graduation ceremonies coincide with a weeklong celebration of one of Arizona’s biggest industries: tourism. National Travel and Tourism Week runs May 7 to 13, highlighting both the people that power this sector and the personal well-being gained through travel.  

This semester, two ASU master’s students and 82 undergraduates will be entering the tourism workforce.  Phoenix skyline Phoenix skyline.

Travel and tourism have existed for a long time, but an organized industry and university degrees are relatively young. Christine Vogt, professor of tourism at ASU, does not believe a tourism degree was around when she attended college for her undergraduate degree.

“In the 1990’s, tourism degrees were becoming available. As an interdisciplinary area of study, there are so many doors to study and work in the tourism industry,” said Vogt, who leads the ASU Center for Sustainable Tourism.

As students graduate this week, many will have family visiting Arizona to celebrate with them as well.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitors spending generated $21 billion in 2015. More than 180,000 people are employed in the local industry and it generates $2.9 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.

Here's a short list of highlights in the Phoenix-Tempe-Mesa area to make the most of a visit to Arizona:

1. Shop and eat local. Check out the Center for Sustainable Tourism's Local First Arizona’s travel guides to explore its area’s “Small Wonders” neighborhoods.

2. Visit world-class museums along Central Avenue in Phoenix, including the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum.

3. Phoenix is a city of parks — large mountain parks frame our urban space. Start at South Mountain Visitor Center off of Baseline Road and then select the right trail length and challenge. Piestewa Peak, north of downtown Phoenix, offers picnic ramadas and an assortment of trails.

4. The Musical Instrument Museum is top rated and one of a kind. The museum is located in north Phoenix near Mayo Clinic.

5. Tempe’s Town Lake features a lake with many active recreation opportunities including walking, biking and running trails. Boating is also possible and rentals are available.

6. For transport, use the Light Rail to get from the airport and between the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses and graduation venues.

Heather Beshears

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


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CAMP boosts children of migrant farmworkers

Only 20% of students from Arizona migrant farmworker populations attend college.
CAMP among several ASU programs that remove education barriers, director says.
May 1, 2017

Federally funded program at ASU helps students navigate university life, learn about leadership and find a place to belong

Growing up, Dyan Urias took it as a given that one day she’d go to college, but it wasn’t until high school that she began to understand how tough it would be.

Urias (pictured above), the daughter of a migrant farmworker, would have to leave her small town of San Luis, figure out how to pay for school and navigate everything from getting admitted to scheduling classes. 

She made it to ASU this fall but was having trouble adjusting — until she heard about the College Assistance Migrant Program.

CAMP is “like a family,” Urias said. “It gives you that moral support.”

The 45-year-old federal program, housed at the School of Transborder Studies, helps students from migrant and seasonal farmworker backgrounds in their first year of college with academic, personal and financial support. In the fall of 2016, ASU was awarded its first CAMP grant of $2.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education to support 160 students over five years.

“ASU CAMP Scholars is a much-needed program that enacts ASU’s charter of inclusion,” said Seline Szkupinski-Quiroga, program director for CAMP.

“Even though Arizona has the eighth-largest population of migrant students in the U.S., only about 20 percent make it to college. CAMP is here to remove barriers to higher education for migrant students, and provide them a ‘home’ here on campus where we understand and value their background while helping them navigate the university.”

CAMP is one of many ASU resources for underrepresented student populations. Others include the Inspire summer camp, a college-readiness program for American Indian students from tribal nations in Arizona; the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which boosts student veterans, active-duty military members, their spouses and dependents; the DREAMzone initiative, which provides support for undocumented students; and the Women of Color STEM Entrepreneurship Conference, an annual event geared toward women and specifically women of color in higher education.

Since being accepted to CAMP, Urias no longer has to worry about tuition or textbook expenses and she has a place she can go where she feels at home. She went to high school in San Luis with several other members of the current cohort. They meet every Sunday for study hall and catching up.

Those meetings have also served as a place for the students to learn more about university resources, such as financial aid, internships, jobs and community service opportunities.

It’s how electrical engineering major Juan Cardenas found out about Devils in Disguise, ASU’s annual student-led day of service.

“It helped me get involved, and I became a site leader,” he said. “That was really fun because I got to take care of 20 people and got to know them.”

Juan Cardenas

Electrical engineering major Juan Cardenas is pictured in the offices of the School of Transborder Studies on ASU's Tempe campus, where CAMP students meet once a week. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

This year, CAMP students attended two leadership conferences, one in New Mexico and one in California. For many, it was their first time on a plane and their first time traveling outside Arizona.

“That was an excellent opportunity,” said CAMP student adviser (and founder of DREAMzone) Davier Rodriguez. “And I got to spend time with students, not just sitting in my office talking about academic stuff — but talking about things like leadership and the philosophies behind it.”

Such discussions are one of Cardenas’ favorite things about the program. Rodriguez and Szkupinski-Quiroga “are always here for us with open arms,” he said.

CAMP serves approximately 2,400 migrant student participants annually, with more than 50 programs in 15 states. Each year, every program chooses one student to apply for an internship in Washington, D.C. This year, Urias was chosen for the position and will be spending two months in the nation’s capital, working alongside Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva.

“He’s from Tucson, so we’re kind of from similar areas,” Urias said. “So I’m really excited.”

When she returns in the fall, she plans to continue on a path toward a career in child counseling.

There are still spots open for the fall 2017 CAMP cohort. Those interested can send an email to asucamp@asu.edu or apply online at campscholar.asu.edu/application.

Top photo: Psychology major Dyan Urias pictured outside the Interdisciplinary B building on ASU's Tempe campus, where CAMP students meet once a week. Urias was chosen from ASU's CAMP group to spend two months as an intern in Washington, D.C. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU military vet answers call of the wild

April 29, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

After serving five years with the U.S. Army in military intelligence at Fort Hood, Texas, and then working with the Army a few more years in California as a civilian contractor, Lauren Nicole Jackson moved back to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. Lauren Nicole Jackson interned doing research at San Pedro River Preserve Applied biological sciences graduating senior Lauren Nicole Jackson had a summer internship experience after her junior year, doing research in the San Pedro River Preserve, that cemented her decision to focus her studies and career on wildlife ecology. Download Full Image

Jackson, who grew up Glendale, Arizona, started out at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus as a pre-med student, living in the residence hall.    

“I decided it would be good to live in the dorms my first year while I adjusted to a different lifestyle and made new friends. But the more classes I took, the more I realized I like working with animals more than people,” explained Jackson, who said she has always had a love for animals.

She changed her major to applied biological sciences in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, and so for the last several years has commuted from Phoenix, where she lives, out to ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa. In May she graduates with a bachelor of science with a concentration in applied ecology and pre-veterinary medicine as well as a certificate in wildlife management.  

Last summer, as a junior, Jackson held a pivotal internship with ASU wildlife ecologist Professor Heather Bateman, conducting an undergraduate research project on lizard species at the San Pedro River Preserve, in Pinal County. This summer she will continue collecting data for the study.

“My focus was pre-vet when I started the internship, and by the end of the summer I had changed to applied ecology and added the certificate in wildlife management,” said Jackson.

“My research project is looking at the mite loads in two different species of Whiptail lizard (Teiidae). I am comparing mite loads between Aspidoscelis sonorae, an all-female species that reproduces parthenogenically with eggs that are clones of the mother, and Aspidoscelis tigris, a species that reproduces sexually,” she said. “I am also comparing mite loads across three different habitats: Tamarix, Prosopis and Populus.” 

Bateman explained the significance of studying these particular lizards. 

“Since there’s no genetic variety in the  A. sonorae populations, we’re looking at whether or not the species is more susceptible to certain diseases,” said Bateman. “One way to look at how well off these parthenogenic species are in terms of health and disease is to evaluate external mites.”

Jackson has found that A. tigris had a smaller mite load compared with that of A. sonorae, but the A. tigris also had a smaller mite load in non-native habitat.

“This supports my hypothesis that native habitat would have a higher mite load because of the lack of coevolution,” observed Jackson. “Since the Tamarix is an invasive species, the mites and whiptails did not coevolve in that habitat.” 

Her future data collection will take in place in the Tamarix habitat to provide more data for comparison, and she’ll be working toward getting the research published.

“I have presented the research poster twice now,” Jackson said, “including at the Wildlife Society Meeting JAM (Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico American Fisheries Society and the Arizona and New Mexico chapters of The Wildlife Society) in February.”

Jackson shared with ASU Now these additional reflections about her ASU experience.

Q:  What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study what you’re studying?

A:  When I started my internship last summer on the San Pedro River Preserve, although I was extremely excited, I had some reservations about what I would be doing. It was new, and I had never handled a lizard in my life. But slowly, I started to notice how much I would miss work when I wasn’t working, and no matter how tired, sleepy, hungry or dirty I got, there wasn’t anything else I would rather be doing. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I grew up in Phoenix. Of course, I had to come here.   

Q: What’s something you learned while studying at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I realized that once you find something that you truly love, it becomes all that you ever do, and that’s OK. Embrace it, stay focused and you will succeed.

Q: Did you have any favorite spots to study or spend time on campus?

A: Nothing beats a good study room, and the study rooms on the Downtown Phoenix campus are my favorite. Being on that campus will always feel a little nostalgic to me.      

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be returning to my internship this summer, doing wildlife research at the San Pedro River Reserve. After that, I hope to either get a federal wildlife biologist tech position or a biology tech position in Hawaii. 

Q:  If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would use a lot of the money to fund various research grants dealing with wildlife. I would create a research grant or scholarship for undergraduate students, to get more students and the public involved in wildlife research. Getting people educated and involved is key in my field. 

Maureen Roen

Manager, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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ASU’s Child Development Lab marks 75 years of watching kids grow

Launched during World War II, ASU's Child Development lab still going strong.
April 27, 2017

Launched in 1942, one of the oldest child centers in the state still going strong

The wood-burning fireplace is now a reading nook and the once-bare walls are covered with bright posters, but the Child Development Lab at Arizona State University is much the same as when it started 75 years ago.

In the past eight decades, thousands of children have sat on the floor, tended the garden and played with blocks inside the walls of the Center for Family Studies, which houses the lab on the Tempe campus.

The Child Development Lab started — and remains — a place where the professionals directly interact with the kids, according to Robert Weigand, director of the school and senior lecturer in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

“That’s the idea behind the founding of lab schools — you can’t learn to work with kids without being with kids,” he said.

“You can’t learn how they think, how they behave or how your behavior will influence their behavior unless you’re with them.”

The lab serves three purposes: a full-day, early-childhood education experience for children; a research facility on children’s development; and a place for future professionals to train.

The lab is probably the oldest continuously operated early-childhood center in Arizona, said Weigand, who has been researching the history of the lab and found some old newspaper articles and photographs.

The building, completed with Works Projects AdministrationThe Works Projects Administration was a federal agency that employed millions of people on public works projects, including buildings and roads, from 1935 to 1943. money, was finished in 1942 and was called the Home Management House and Nursery School. The lower level was for the nursery school and the second level had bedrooms and a kitchen, where home economics majors lived for a semester while they learned to “keep house.” The second level now houses the Graduate Student Association.

Weigand isn’t sure exactly when, after the building was done, the nursery began accepting children, but he noted that the timing coincided with two movements — the influx of women into the workforce during World War II and the recognition at universities of early-childhood development as a worthy area of academic study.

“There was the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ child-care movement,” Weigand said. As women started taking over jobs from men who went off to war, leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt were concerned about “12-hour orphans,” when the children were left alone. So the Kaiser shipyards in Portland, Oregon, started one of the first child-care centers in the country, in 1943.

These first centers started recruiting experts in early childhood to develop appropriate programs, Weigand said.

“Simultaneously, early-childhood programs were developing at universities around the country. They started in the 1930s and were starting to blossom, and most of them were related to schools of home economics,” like the one at Arizona State Teachers College in 1942.

The building itself, though it has been updated with air-conditioning, security and other amenities, hasn’t changed much. The fireplace still has the original decorative tiles with scenes of animals and children, and each classroom still has an observation booth with one-way windows.

And research continues. When parents enroll, they know the lab is a research facility, but they must give permission for their children to participate in each experiment.

Many of the studiesThere are two child-development research facilities on the ASU campus: the Child Development Lab in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, which started in 1942 and is a full-time program; and the Child Study Lab, in the Department of Psychology, which was launched in 1972 and offers part-time classes for children age 15 months to 5 years. involve observing the children, but sometimes the kids are asked to perform tasks or answer questions. One cleverly designed study investigated collaboration. Two children had to cooperate in a task in order for both to access some candy, and if one wanted to have all the candy, neither would get it.

“There’s a lot of ingenious work going on,” Weigand said.

A center full of children also is the perfect place for future researchers and teachers to learn how to interact with kids.

“Some of the research assistants, when they begin their graduate studies, haven’t worked with kids before. If you’re a stranger and ask a kid to come out and play a game with you, how do you do that in a way that makes it more likely the kids will say yes?” Weigand said.

Child Development Lab coordinator Courtney Romley watches children as they get ready to juice lemons for lemonade. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

 Getting up close with the kids is key, according to Courtney Romley, coordinator of the school.

“The thing we tell every adult who walks through the door is you’ve got to be sitting on the floor playing. You have to be at their level,” she said. “You can’t be an adult who is towering over them.”

The center, with about 50 children enrolled, has a waiting list, and spots are in high demand. The lab accepts children from 20 months old to pre-kindergarten, and the curriculum focuses on building social and emotional skills.

Because of the lab format, there is a low ratio of staff to students. Besides the full-time teachers, all of whom have master’s degrees, 25 college students work part-time in the center, as well as future teachers who are interns or on a practicum.

“This means our teachers aren’t constantly having to manage the classroom and can instead be a part of building those relationships with children, not only the adult-child relations but peer-to-peer relationships as well,” Romley said.

On a recent day, the children tended to the tomatoes and artichokes in the garden and squeezed lemons to make lemonade. Several student workers sat on the floor and patted backs during nap time. One of the aides, Ben Derdich, knew the drill well because he attended the lab as a 3-year-old.

“A few things are different now,” said Derdich, a sophomore majoring in tourism. “I remember where they do group time now there used to be cubbies where we could squeeze stress balls and have alone time.”

Derdich was walking on campus as a new freshman last year when Weigand recognized him and invited him to apply for a job. Now he helps during lunch and makes up games on the playground.

“When I walk in after classes, the stress is instantly gone. It’s not even like work — you get paid to play with kids,” he said.

Top photo: ASU student worker Sam Christus, a junior, plays with kids in the Child Development Lab, which was finished 75 years ago this spring. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Top Arizona high school graduates head to ASU ready to make a difference

Top high school graduates commit to giving back and choose ASU to do it.
April 26, 2017

10 Flinn Scholars commit to being Sun Devils

Some of the most elite high school graduates in the state want to devote their careers to giving back, and they’ve decided the best place to begin that journey is at Arizona State University.

Daniel Nguyen, whose father came to the United States as a refugee, wants to be a military doctor, and Camryn Lizik, whose family has been affected by mental illness, will research the roots of the disease. These future Sun Devils are among this year’s Flinn Scholars, winning one of the most prestigious scholarships in Arizona.

Daniel Nguyen

“I’m definitely looking forward to the research. There’s a lot of great research being done at ASU, and I’ve already gotten to speak with many professors and researchers there. I would love to be involved with the new partnership with the Mayo Clinic,” said Nguyen, who is in the 32nd class of Flinn Scholars and one of 10 who will attend ASU.

The scholarship, which started in 1985 and is supported by the Flinn Foundation and the universities, is offered to outstanding Arizona high school students who attend either ASU, Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona, which also has 10 future students in this Flinn class of 20.

Flinn Scholars are chosen based on merit. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, room and board, and study abroad expenses and is valued at more than $115,000. The summer after their freshman year, the scholars travel together for a three-week seminar in China. The students also get support for off-campus internships and are paired with faculty mentors.

The Flinn Scholars coming to ASU will attend Barrett, The Honors College.

“It is always wonderful each year to hear that many Flinn Scholars will attend ASU and Barrett, The Honors College. We support, advise, guide and mentor them, and they add their extraordinary intellects and interests to our community,” said Mark Jacobs, vice provost and dean of Barrett. “It is a pleasure to see these top scholars from our state spread their academic wings and take flight at ASU and Barrett!”

Nguyen, who is graduating from Liberty High School in the Peoria Unified School District, will major in biological sciences and would like to be a military surgeon. His desire to give back was ingrained by his father, who came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam after the war and eventually became a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

“He always tried to instill in me the attitude of service and giving back to the country that gave so much to us,” he said.

Like most Flinn Scholars, Nguyen is already quite accomplished, having earned certification as an emergency medical technician at Glendale Community College.

“I got to spend some time doing what EMTs do, which influenced my outlook on my career as well. The ability to work with patients on the provider level is amazing,” he said.

Camryn Lizik

Lizik’s decision to attend ASU was helped by the fact that she has already spent a lot of time on campus, with the HOBY youth-service program and the Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute.

“It’s always felt homey and familiar, and I feel it’s a place where I could make an impact as a student,” said Lizik, who attends Arcadia High School in Phoenix and wants to major in biological sciences.

“My family has a history of mental issues, and I struggle with OCD and it’s something that has a stigma that I would like to see erased,” she said.

“I have a very strong interest in the connection between social science and biological sciences. I’m interested in studying mental illness and how it affects people on a chemical level and how to correct that permanently.”

Ashley Dussault

Another Flinn Scholar and future Sun Devil, Ashley Dussault, also wants to use her major — sustainability — to help people.

“The program is about change, which is what I want to do. I want to plan cities to be better and to help with poverty,” said Dussault, who will graduate from Hamilton High School in the Chandler Unified School District.

She’s especially interested in the social-justice component of sustainability.

“I want to show the people of the world that just because sustainability is happening, they don’t have to be pushed out of their homes and that there’s a place for them in the world.”

Besides Nguyen, Lizik and Dussault, the other Flinn Scholars headed to ASU, along with their high schools and intended majors, are:

  • Daniel Bonner, Brophy Prep, Phoenix, electrical engineering
  • Jake Dean, Sunnyslope High School, Phoenix, earth and space exploration
  • Brittany Duran, Santa Cruz Valley Union High School, Eloy, biological sciences
  • Mark Macluskie, Cave Creek, home-schooled, mechanical engineering
  • Keaton McDonald, Arcadia High School, Phoenix, computer science
  • Shivam Sadachar, Basis Chandler, computer science
  • Cameron Whyte, Saguaro High School, Scottsdale, mathematics

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


RED INK indigenous dinner cooks up a great evening

April 25, 2017

Celebrity chef Nephi Craig, who made a guest appearance at ASU last weekend, doesn’t run a swanky New York restaurant or yell insults on a reality TV show. Craig, who is of Apache and Navajo heritage, doesn’t generally serve fry bread, and he believes that food has a role in healing. You could say that he believes in a kinder, more indigenous approach to food.

Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary Association, headlined the first RED INK Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Sustainability Dinner held on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe this past Saturday, April 22, in Old Main’s Carson Ballroom. In addition to Craig's great food, dinner guests also enjoyed the classical stylings of guitarist Gabriel Ayala, a fashion show of indigenous-inspired designs by ASU art major Tyson Powless, and the poetry and stories of ASU Regents’ Professor of English and American Indian Studies Simon Ortiz. Chef Nephi Craig chats with attendee at RED INK Sustainability Dinner, April 22, 2017. / Photo by Henry Quintero Chef Nephi Craig described his food ethics to NPR in 2016: "Native American cuisine is right now, to me, in my generation and in this time frame, not about fine dining as a priority. ... It's about restoration of balance, equipping families and individuals with the ability to change their lives and cope with and live an indigenous life under all these different forms of colonialism in America." Download Full Image

Craig prepared hors d’oeuvres and dinner from a carving board and action station. The menu, which focused on indigenous, sustainable foods, included: slow-roasted bison; chili- and honey-roasted wild turkey; smoked salmon; Ayacucho quinoa salad; roasted young vegetables; Apache cornbread; zucchini fritters; Western Apache Nada’ban and braised beef tongue; spring three sisters mix of Tohono O’odham tepary beans, Anasazi beans, yellow squash tomatoes, and yucca blossoms; and an assortment of roasted seeds and nuts. Beverages included Apache Pinon Cloud coffee, White Mountain Apache wild tea and sweet corn tea.

While he worked, Craig shared his knowledge of the rich history of indigenous foods and cooking, explaining that food is inseparable from — and at the heart of — a people’s history, culture, tradition, identity, family and home. Craig has infused his holistic beliefs about food into plans for his new restaurant, Café Gozhóó Western Apache Café and Learning Center, set to open in Whiteriver, White Mountain Apache Nation, later this spring.

Classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala plays at the RED INK Sustainability Dinner on April 22, 2017. / Photo by Henry Quintero

Guitarist Gabriel Ayala, an internationally renowned artist who is Pascua Yaqui from Tucson, plays varied selections at the first RED INK Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Sustainability Dinner.

Ayala, an internationally renowned artist who is Pascua Yaqui from Tucson, played varied selections from classical, flamenco and jazz traditions as well as from his own compositions. With each piece, he related personal anecdotes, such as the time he played music with Carlos Santana and another time with the Temptations.

The dinner was attended by people all ages, and by representatives from many different indigenous nations, local and distant. Attendees included Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez and his family and members of local indigenous nations, such as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Pasqua Yaqui Nation, Gila River Indian Community and White Mountain Apache Nation. ASU guests in addition to Ortiz included tribal liaison Jacob Moore and his wife, as well as friends and family of RED INK staff members.

The RED INK Indigenous Initiative for All is a collaborative endeavor conceived and equally implemented among all stake-holders/partners with an interrelated set of campus, regional, national and international ventures, including an international journal (RED INK: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, & Humanities) and other projects to achieve goals set in collaboration with indigenous communities. It is housed in the Department of English, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, visit the RED INK website at english.clas.asu.edu/red-ink.

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ASU partnership helps to re-energize the teaching of Pima culture, language

Unique ASU student group works to preserve Native language, culture.
Studies show Native students do better academically with sense of identity.
April 21, 2017

Gila River cohort trains Native American teachers on their home reservation

Native American communities across the U.S. face pressures most of mainstream society never considers, but a unique group of ASU students is helping solve two of the most pressing issues on their reservation: the preservation of identity and language.

Studies have shown that Native students who have a strong sense of their culture and language from an early age do better in school. Still, indigenous languages in North America are disappearing as tribes grapple with how to integrate while maintaining a sense of identity.

To that end, the Gila River Culture and Language Teacher Cohort has emerged from a partnership between the Arizona State University Center for Indian Education and the Gila River Indian Community Tribal Education Department, a first-of-its-kind program that trains future teachers on their home reservation with a focus on tribal history and keeping alive the Akimel O’otham language.

After the group’s eight members graduate from ASU next month, they will be uniquely poised to help young members of the Gila River Indian Community maintain “a sense of being and who they are,” said Deborah Chadwick, project director of the Center for Indian Education and head of the cohortThe Gila River Culture & Language Teacher Cohort is also supported through the collaborative work of New College, the Gila River Tribal Education Office, Gila River Culture Coordinator Anthony Gray and Gila River Indian Student Support..

Here’s a look at the group, what they’ve done and what they hope comes next. 

Coursework and capstones

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Starleen Somegustava reviews her group's capstone project, which focuses on traditional language proficiency, with instructor Deborah Chadwick during the cohort's Tuesday evening class.

The three-year program for Gila River Indian Community teachers offers standard courses, including science, philosophy, sustainability, gender roles and border politics. It also features curriculum that covers career development, eco-community ethics, tribal history and culture, history of American Indian Education, basic and conversational communication, reading, writing and speaking.

The capstone is separated into two projects:

O'otham Culture and Language Materials — Students have collected and curated materials for use in Pima culture classes. They have also created a database for the resources, which any teacher on the reservation about a half-hour south of Phoenix can access.

Compilation/Evaluation of Parent Language Surveys — Students are analyzing data on parents' language knowledge. They'll create a plan for future Akimel O'otham language classes for the community.

After graduation, five members of the cohort will continue on another year to earn their master’s degrees at ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

The players

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Gila River cohort members work on their capstone project with project director Deborah Chadwick at Casa Blanca Community School.

Nina Allison (BA/MA) — Teacher for Gila River Indian Community's Early Education. "I'm the first in my family to go to a university, and I'm happy with what I've accomplished. I want to teach students what I know, extend their language and establish a classroom where my students are totally immersive."

Hudunigsihbani Antone (BA) — Teaching assistant at St. Peter Indian Mission School, Bapchule, Arizona. "I thought once I was a mom, that was it. This degree is really for my kids. It's also a big stepping-stone for other single moms. It means I have more opportunities, and I will help create more opportunities for others."

Priscilla Espinoza (BA/MA) — Parent educator for Family and Child Education in the Bureau of Indian Education, Casa Blanca Community School. "I heard about the program and thought, 'It's my turn.' I spent many years raising my family and felt it was time to do something for myself. The degree will allow me to continue to help my community and my people. I have the gift of gab, and I'll use it to motivate others."

Marcella Hoover (BA/MA) — Culture teacher at Sacaton Middle School, Sacaton, Arizona. "When the program was initially offered, my first thought was, 'I can't believe I'm actually going to a university!' Once I get the degree, my plans won't really change much. I will continue to be there for my students and the children of our community."

Arlanna Jackson (BA) — Administrative assistant for Gila River Indian Community Tribal Education Department. "Teaching is something I've always wanted to do, and I have the passion for it. I want to help revitalize through songs. Our language is important because it identifies who we are as a people."

Donovan Kyyitan (BA) — Teaching assistant at St. Peter Indian Mission School, Bapchule, Arizona. "My initial reaction to this offering was, 'Finally! Do it now and jump on board.' I want to see our language prosper in the classroom where it's fully in our native tongue with no English."

Starleen Somegustava (BA/MA) — Culture specialist with the Gila River Indian Community's Head Start Program. "Once I get my master's, I would like to teach culture and language in high schools because it's not currently being taught at that level."

Edwardine Thomas (BA/MA) — Parent educator for Family and Child Education in the Bureau of Indian Education. "I'm going to continue to work with both students and parents because a lot of them are not fluent. My ultimate wish is to open a day care with full immersion."


Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, President’s Professor, director of the Center of Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian affairs, said that “one of the most pressing issues for tribal nations and communities today is the protection, reclamation and strengthening of their tribal languages and concomitant cultures.”

He added that ASU President Michael Crow wants the university to “support tribal nations in achieving futures of their own making.”

With this in mind, the cohort that came together three years ago is working their plan to help preserve the culture and language in their Native community of about 20,000.

Anthony Gray, cultural coordinator for the Gila River Indian Community, said he has seen an uptick from Native youth who want to know more about their history and language.

"They recognize that culture and language grounds them and gives them roots," Gray said. "As long as those roots are strong, we'll stay resilient and always be here."

He called the Akimel O’otham language "a gift."


mentoring at gila river

Mentor Samuel Catanach (right) discusses the group's capstone project with students (from left) Priscilla Espinoza, Hudunigsihbani Antone and Arlanna Jackson during their Tuesday evening course at Casa Blanca Community School.

Samuel Catanach, a graduate student with ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and one of two academic mentors serving the cohort, said interacting with the group has also been a gift.

"There's a broad age range of the cohort members, and it's really been cool to see how everybody is working together and seeing the older ones do particularly well," Catanach said. "I learn just as much from them as they do from me."

The mentors are ASU graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They meet weekly with the eight students. They tutor them in writing and organizational skills, and they work with course instructors in providing additional student support on major assignments.


students talking

Edwardine Thomas (left) couldn't be happier to show off her graduation robe Tuesday evening at Casa Blanca Community School.

Two celebrations are better than one, and the Gila River Culture and Language Teacher Cohort will be recognized twice.

The first graduation ceremony will be take place on May 4 on the Gila River Indian Reservation. In addition to Brayboy, dignitaries will include Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Lt. Gov. Monica Antone and Marlene Tromp, dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Students will receive their diplomas at ASU's American Indian Convocation on May 10 at ASU Gammage on the Tempe campus.

Top photo: Cohort leader Deborah Chadwick and Donovan Kyyitan are getting ready for graduation next month. Kyyitan says he wants to lead classes in his native language with no English. Photos and video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Independent press pumps love into Phoenix lit scene

Sun Devils abound among Phoenix's Four Chambers Press volunteers.
April 17, 2017

Four Chambers leverages ASU and community talent to increase visibility of literary arts in the Valley

Running an independent literary magazine and publishing house is a labor of love.

So perhaps it’s no mistake that Four Chambers Press is named for the quadrants of the human heart and billed as “the heartbeat of independent literature in Phoenix.” Jake Friedman, the founder and editor-in-chief of Four Chambers, is using the small press to help the Phoenix literary scene flourish, because “much like loving another person, you see their potential and want to see them grow,” he said.

Four Chambers comprises a literary magazine, a publishing house and a series of events that bring together readers, poets, budding novelists, essayists, literary journalists, students, untrained writers and anyone who has a desire to connect with others through stories.

“Arts and culture generally bring people together,” said Friedman, who also works as a coordinator for ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Writer Center for Creative Writing. “Particularly literature, and particularly the workshop setting, where you’re spending a lot of time talking with people about their work and understanding them … that, to me, develops a really substantial relationship."

Friedman isn’t the only person on the all-volunteer staff with ASU ties. Several other core members of the Four Chambers team and an untold number of its volunteer army of dozens of lit lovers have taught or taken classes at the university.

Rosemarie Dombrowski — Phoenix’s inaugural poet laureate, an English lecturer in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and an editor at Four Chambers — has been involved with Four Chambers since it launched in 2013.

“I just felt like he had such a clear vision that was so community-oriented, coming from an authentic place of love for literature … and the community at large,” she said.

The magazine has given students and others a place to publish their first professional works. And the publishing arm has turned out several books a year, including poetry and short-story collections.

Among them is “Welcome Home: Poetry and Prose for Welcome Hospitality,” a collection of 12 poems and eight prose works that “bring light and sense to our relationship with Phoenix,” according to Kelsey Pinckney, managing editor of the lit mag, assistant director of the publishing arm and Community Advocacy and Social Policy undergraduate student at ASU.

Pinckney wrote the forward to the 2015 book, saying it “speaks to each of us in a different way, but the important thing is the fact that it speaks to us, and we get a chance to say something back — to say thank you, thank you so much, I love you, I don’t know what I would do without you.”

The organization also has been a driving force in bringing together the Phoenix literary scene, lending its manpower, resources and name to scores of events. Among them, “Get Lit,” a night of conversation and community inspired by 17th-century French literary and philosophical salons; Writing Group!, a workshop that gives writers a chance to get feedback on potential submissions; and public readings such as #WritersResist, a call to action for social justice through prose, poetry and essays.

For Friedman, his work is about bridging gaps and creating opportunities.

“We really identify as a community development organization,” Friedman said, adding that his group uses literature to achieve three main goals: to increase visibility, develop a more active community and encourage participation in the larger arts and culture scene across the Valley.

“I felt like Phoenix deserved it,” he said.

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Preschoolers dig archaeology at ASU mock excavation

Preschoolers dig for candy and exposure to science at mock excavation.
April 17, 2017

In an effort to get young kids excited about the field of archaeology, Arizona State University held its first-ever mock excavation exercise Monday on the front lawn of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change building on the Tempe campus.

Preschoolers from ASU’s Child Development Laboratory had the chance to feel different types of animal bones and listen to a book about woolly mammoths, in addition to everyone's favorite activity — digging through sand to search for bags of bone-shaped candy. 

"I think the kids loved digging and exploring," said Kelly KnudsonKnudson is also an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change., director of the ASU Center for Bioarchaeological Research. "At this age, they don't already know if they like science or not. Getting them to understand at such an early age what science is will help create more leaders in the science community and teach them that science can be fun."

A handful of student volunteers were also on hand to assist in everything from shuttling kids to the site of the dig to explaining what bones belong to which kind of animals.

"I think getting to do hands-on things with kids like this is exciting," said bioarchaeology graduate student Sofia Pacheco-Fores. "A lot of the time we'll take them on lab tours to show them what we're doing, but that's kind of abstract. Doing a fake dig or mock excavation is more real to them." 

The excitement was visible all morning. Smiles crossed the preschoolers faces as they dug with both hands and trowels in search of a tasty treat, and the sound of laughter filled the air as they learned about prehistoric beasts. 

For preschooler Mathias Knudson-Krantz, the opportunity to take home a bag of sugar made the day memorable. 

"I love excavating for candy," he said through a wide grin.