Home Page Display: 

ASU partnership inspires young women to pursue science

June 8, 2016

Kent Johnson is a graduate student at ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC). His wife, Theresa Johnson, teaches life sciences at the state’s first all-girl public school, the Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona (GLAAZ). Together, they had an idea: they would help their schools join forces and encourage GLAAZ students to become the next generation of female scientists.

Last April, they brought a group of high schoolers to tour SHESC labs. The girls visited the Osteology Laboratory, the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology and the Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory (ACL), where they were given personal tours by professors and lab directors Anne Stone and Kelly Knudson. Bioarchaeologist Kelly Knudson and student Bioarchaeologist Kelly Knudson, director of the Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory, welcomed students from the Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona during their visit to ASU. Download Full Image

The students got an extra surprise in the ACL and heard from three female graduate students: Sofia Pacheco-Fores, Allisen Dahlstedt and Elise Alonzi. Each graduate had a chance to explain her research and expand the visiting students’ knowledge about what paths would be available to them as career scientists.

This was not the GLAAZ students’ first exposure to the might of SHESC’s female scientists, however. Three grad students visited the high school earlier in the year, Pacheco-Fores among them.

“Kent Johnson put together a Women in Science lecture series at GLAAZ to encourage young women to pursue careers in the sciences. I gave a guest lecture at GLAAZ about the experiences that led me to pursue a career in archaeology, as well as about my research on human sacrifice in central Mexico,” she explained.

The whole idea for the SHESC-GLAAZ Outreach Program was born out of a simple desire to inspire high school girls’ future participation in the sciences.

“My husband approached me with the idea to promote our girls meeting and listening to women in science and anthropology. I jumped at the idea; the more positive role models we can expose our girls to, the better,” Theresa Johnson said.

Kent Johnson explained that he and his wife had several goals when they organized the program. First, they wanted to introduce the high school students to anthropology, particularly the specializations within anthropology related to biology and chemistry.

“Many of the high school students are interested in majoring in a science-related field, but they often are unaware of science-based majors and careers outside of health and medicine,” he said.

They also believed it was important for the students to hear from women in science and learn about their experiences in graduate school and in the field. As an added bonus, the program gives the SHESC grad students a chance to promote their research, as well as the school itself.

Overall, Theresa Johnson believes they’ve been very effective, because she’s seeing the results for herself.

“This program has increased the students’ awareness of career options and various majors within the fields of anthropology and science. I find that the girls are engaging in conversations involving what majors they will pursue in the future. They are talking about options at ASU and looking forward to becoming Sun Devils,” she said.

Kent Johnson attributes the tremendous impact of the program to the people at SHESC.

“SHESC faculty and graduate students have been very supportive of the program from the very beginning. Their support and participation helped make the program a great success,” he said.

With such encouraging outcomes so far, it makes sense that the Johnsons — and SHESC — want to continue this partnership in the future. Possibilities for the students at GLAAZ include more guest lectures in the fall and even scientific internships.

“We are working with Kelly Knudson to develop an internship program for our girls to help some graduate students in SHESC and promote our partnership with the department,” Theresa Johnson said.

Knudson, an associate professor at SHESC and the director of the Archaeological Chemistry Lab, is eager to apply her experience to the new challenge of helping mentor high schoolers.

“Having students learning about archaeology and chemistry through hands-on laboratory work has been a very important part of our educational program in the Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory, but traditionally I’ve worked with undergraduate and graduate students. Bringing motivated high school students from GLAAZ to intern in the ACL will be a wonderful way to show them how science works and to expose them to different scientists at ASU,” she said. 

At least one grad student has already taken steps to get the high school girls into some serious lab science.

“I am working with professor Knudson and GLAAZ to organize a volunteering opportunity for two to three GLAAZ students to assist me with my research in the ACL and get hands-on chemistry lab work experience,” Pacheco-Fores said.

Theresa Johnson commented that she is looking forward to continuing the SHESC-GLAAZ Outreach Program for years to come – and surely, little by little, raising up a small army of passionate new female scientists.

Written by Mikala Kass, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Mikala Kass

Communications Specialist, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


Reinventing downtown Mesa: ASU students develop visions for the city core

June 7, 2016

On Feb. 17, Mayor John Giles announced a plan to bring a satellite ASU campus to downtown Mesa.  

At that point, nine ASU students had already become very familiar with this quiet center of Arizona’s second-largest city. They were graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in an urban planning workshop course offered by the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.  Mesa Urban Garden The Mesa Urban Garden at 212 E. First Ave. demonstrates how a relatively low-investment, semi-permanent development can quickly convert a vacant lot to a center for people and activity. Photo by Andrew Rogge Download Full Image

At the start of the semester, the students met with Mesa planning director John Wesley and Jeff McVay, manager of Downtown Transformation. McVay posed the question, “How can we bring people to downtown Mesa — especially Millennials like you?” 

Guided by course instructor Lauren Allsopp, the students got to work.

They walked the streets of downtown Mesa and Site 17, 30 acres of undeveloped land to the northeast of downtown Mesa. They researched the zoning of the area and learned about its history from Vic Linoff, president of the Mesa Preservation Foundation.

Three students — Bailey duBois, Melissa Spriegel and Adenike Opejin — focused on talking with downtown business owners, collecting data about business hours, and learning about the owners’ hopes for the area. Siyuan Han inventoried parking and found that most parking lots are more than 50 percent vacant on weekdays, with an even higher vacancy rate on the weekend, when permit parking and garage parking is open to the public.

One Saturday, students surveyed visitors to downtown and found that the majority didn’t live in Mesa and were drawn there by specific events, but often didn’t stay because of the lack of restaurants, safe-feeling public bathrooms and other amenities.

With the announcement of a future ASU campus in Mesa, the students decided to undertake a survey of current ASU students. The more than 70 responses to the survey helped solidify the group’s own impressions: Students like the art components of downtown — installations, sculptures and the Mesa Arts Center — and also enjoy the pocket parks and light rail. Some survey respondents appreciated the old-town feel, but many mentioned that businesses closed far too early. Student respondents who had never been to downtown Mesa said that more dining options, entertainment and nightlife would be a draw.

With this background, the students brainstormed ideas, and small groups worked on researching and developing each idea.

“It was great working in a small group in this class,” said Samantha Rhea, a student in ASU’s master’s degree program in urban and environmental planning. “Everyone could give input, and we could work together to develop our ideas.”

On April 27, the students presented their ideas to City of Mesa officials and personnel — a group that included the mayor, vice mayor, several council members, and key players in economic development as well as the city’s planning offices. 

“We were told to allow 20 minutes for questions and comments,” said Rhea — but a lively discussion followed, lasting more than twice that long.

Innovative recommendations

The students’ recommendations ranged from encouraging temporary land uses in vacant lots to revitalizing the city’s broad boulevards by adding walking paths and exercise equipment to the streets’ wide medians.

Temporary land uses can include food trucks, raised garden beds or mobile art. Events such as concerts or outdoor fairs require minimal infrastructure, and can also bring people to areas that are currently unwelcoming. Ultimately, the goal is to increase activity to make the area attractive for more permanent uses.

The students looked at event schedules and saw that Mesa Amphitheatre is only lightly used. Drawing on successful ideas from their home communities, Samantha Rhea, Lauren Black and Andrew Rogge proposed using the amphitheater for low-cost events like movie nights and outdoor exercise classes. 

“These are great ideas that make sense from an economic perspective — the revenues from these small events could help fund improvements to the amphitheater,” said McVay.

The puzzle of bicycle lanes

A more controversial recommendation centered on making downtown more bicycle-friendly. Seeing the expanses of parking lots behind business buildings, Opejin proposed replacing Main Street’s on-street parking with protected bike lanes — a safer option than the shared bike/auto lanes that now occupy the street.

This proposal generated a good amount of discussion at the April 27 meeting. McVay explained that the city is working on a less disruptive approach: creating bike lanes on streets just north and south of Main Street. 

The students argued for taking a long-range view — that bike lanes on Main Street may make sense in a future world of driverless cars and more non-auto transportation.

“This is a great example of the value of student projects like this,” said McVay. “The students have fresh perspectives that challenge the status quo and can enlighten us.”

Mayor Giles responded with enthusiasm, too.

“The presentations touched on several ideas that staff is currently exploring, and to me that was validation that we are on the right track to recapturing the true potential of downtown,” he said. “The students’ emphasis on bringing more people downtown and keeping them here longer was key.

“It was great to get the students’ perspectives on how we can move downtown Mesa to the next level.”

When ASU students begin to find their way to downtown Mesa in larger numbers if a satellite campus establishes itself there, downtown will change — no doubt in some of the ways envisioned by the urban planning students.

“I really think people should go to Mesa. It’s worth taking a look!” said Rhea.

“Reinvent Downtown Mesa” was a project of PUP 494/561, Urban Design Workshop, a course taught by affiliate faculty member Lauren Allsopp. Students enrolled in the course were Lauren Black and Andrew Rogge (BS in Urban Planning) and Dian Chen, Bailey DuBois, Siyuan Han, Adenike Opejin, Samantha Rhea, Melissa Spriegel and Kezhen Wang (Master of Urban and Environmental Planning). The complete report is available here. The course is an offering of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Barbara Trapido-Lurie

research professional senior, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


image title

ASU camp helps high schoolers develop leadership skills

Cesar Chavez Institute brings AZ teens to ASU to learn leadership skills
June 7, 2016

Cesar Chavez Institute teaches promising Arizona teens about education, civic engagement, community service

Jose Julian Campos introduced himself while trying to make eye contact, speak up, use good body movements, avoid the word “like” and not let his voice rise up so his name sounded like a question.

It was a lot to remember.

Campos (pictured above) and 58 other high school students stood in a circle at the Memorial Union earlier this week, learning how to speak — and listen — in public. It was just one of the many skills that the teenagers are covering during the weeklong Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute at Arizona State University.

David Morales, a retired ASU staff member, works with the Chavez students every summer.

“Don’t be shy!” he told them. “We are familia! Speak up!”

On his second try, Campos nailed his introduction and the other students cheered.

A senior at Cibola High School in Yuma, Campos said he applied for the competitive camp “to get outside my comfort zone.” He’s part of the 21st group of delegates in the institute, named after Cesar Chavez, a labor activist and civil-rights leaders who was born in Yuma and died in 1993.

Rhonda Carrillo, assistant director for the Chavez Programs at ASU, said she works with high schools across the state to attract promising young people. Every year, about 60 students are chosen from among about 200 applicants to attend the all-expenses-paid week on ASU’s Tempe campus.

“We want kids who show leadership qualities and who are interested in going on to college but who might not have the advantages of other students who can afford to go to camps,” she said.

Campers at the Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute

High schoolers participate in vocal exercises,
holding an "Ahhh" as long as they can,
during the Cesar E. Chavez Leadership
Institute on Monday afternoon in Tempe.

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

This year’s class include students from Maricopa County as well as San Luis, Prescott and the Navajo Nation.

Mikki Metteba said she applied for the camp after seeing a poster in the office of her guidance counselor at Window Rock High School.

“I want to take advantage of all the opportunities I can,” said Metteba, who wants to become an environmental engineer and work on the reservation.

Carrillo said that in the first years, the camp-goers were all Latinos but now are more diverse. Learning and embracing their differences is one key to the week’s activities.

“The first thing we do is have a diversity workshop. We address it right up front, and it’s made a big difference since we added that. They really bond,” she said.

“They see they’re all here because they want to go to college, be good citizens and serve their communities. That’s what makes you the same, whether you have a farm-worker father or a family that earns six figures.”

The camp promotes three concepts — education, civic engagement and community service. The camp-goers spend a morning volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank, attend college-application and financial-aid workshops, meet business leaders and get career advice. They also learn how to become community advocates by holding a mock legislative session.

The students also learn about Chavez and his work for social justice, Carrillo said.

“We want them to take these things they learned, use them in their communities and make them a part of their lives.”

At the end of their public-speaking workshop, the teenagers shouted the CCLI chant: “Si, se puede! CCLI! Yes, we can!”

Top photo: Jose Julian Campos and other students cheer and chant during the Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute on Monday afternoon in the Memorial Union on ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

image title

Connecting veterans to benefits, services

ASU alums build site to connect vets with much-needed resources.
May 27, 2016

ASU alums provide a one-stop shop for veterans looking for resources

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be daunting to many veterans — especially if they don’t have a strong support system to guide them through it. 

Arizona State University alumni Danita Rios and Joanna Sweatt are hoping to fill that gap. Rios and her team are helping veterans who are looking for benefits and services after leaving the military, through their nonprofit website called the Veterans Directory.

It all started in 2012 when Rios was approached by a Marine vet who had served in Vietnam. He had attended a military funeral service for a friend who had committed suicide and lamented that his friend might still be alive if he had a type of “yellow pages” for service men and women. That inspired Rios to create an informational database that partners with veteran-friendly organizations to give to those who have served.

“We wanted to get the veterans connected to the services and people who are already out there,” Rios said. “For the most part it’s been word of mouth up to this point.”

In 2015, TheVeteransDirectory.org was founded — and it quickly expanded. The website provides information for employment, education, benefits, health and wellness as well as a calendar that displays events each month.

With its growth, the organization increased its staff, adding Sweatt as its chief operating officer. Sweatt served in the U.S. Marine Corps for nearly 10 years and worked at ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center after her service.

woman talking

Joanna Sweatt, ASU alum, Marine veteran and chief operating officer of the Veterans Directory, talks about the new veterans-resource website that she and four others are building, at the East Valley Veterans Center in Tempe on May 24. The site is first designed to assist vets in Arizona, with goals to become a nationwide advocacy source. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“We’re interested in creating access that you can trust. We will host everyone who does something viable for veterans, and doesn’t exploit them,” Sweatt said. “We want to put the power back to veterans and let them know we have real-life, in-person experience to report, to give.”

ASU student and Army veteran Brian Fore used the directory to connect with other veterans and gain employment as a videography freelancer.

“I can use the directory to look for internships, or for opportunities for myself and others,” Fore said. “Really, it's a one-stop shop. It doesn’t just cater to one thing; you're able to look up information and it makes sure it provides everything you need.”

Right now the site focuses on Arizona, but Sweatt says the group is moving to expand in the Southwest and hopes to expand nationally over a three-year process.

“There is no other .org out there that is taking the time to put together all the resources and have that be their sole mission. We hope to be the sole .org that does this and helps veterans access resources from wherever they are located,” she said.

image title

Gov. Ducey hails ASU Prep graduates

May 26, 2016

Arizona leader shares his stories of obstacles and triumph with high school senior class, which boasts 100 percent graduation rate

Arizona's governor has major love for ASU.

And why shouldn’t he?

When Doug Ducey was a junior in high school in Toledo, Ohio, his life was at a crossroads. His parents announced they were splitting up, college was just around the corner and he had no idea where his life was going.

Ducey didn't know where he was going to college, what his major would be or what the future held for him. A trip to his high school counselor’s office changed all that.

“He pulled out a map, pointed to a spot out West and said, ‘Arizona. Schools are affordable and there’s a lot of opportunity,’” Ducey said. “So I packed my bags, got in my car and moved from Toledo, Ohio, to Tempe, Arizona.”

Four years later, Ducey graduated from ASU in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance — the first in his family to get a college degree.

Ducey demonstrated his affection for his alma mater when he addressed the 96-member graduating body of ASU Preparatory Academy-Phoenix on Thursday night, his first ever as governor, at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

“We are honored to have the governor of Arizona, who is an ASU alumnus, convey the commencement address and to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of our ASU Prep students — 100 percent of whom are graduating today and 100 percent of whom have post-secondary plans,” said Beatriz Rendon, CEO of ASU Preparatory Academy and vice president of educational outreach for ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services.

“We are particularly proud that more than 70 percent have been accepted to Arizona State University.”

Students cheer at the ASU Prep-Phoenix commencement.

Graduates celebrate at the conclusion of the ASU Preparatory Academy-Phoenix graduation Thursday at ASU Gammage in Tempe. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

ASU Prep Phoenix is a partnership between ASU and the Phoenix Elementary School District. It offers a college preparatory curriculum for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and it has received recognition from the National Charter School Association for being one of the best schools based on academic achievement.

ASU inherited the struggling and chronically underperforming school in 2009 and has boasted a track record of academic success since opening six years ago, not unlike the governor’s successful track record in business.

After graduation, Ducey and a partner built Cold Stone Creamery from the ground up. The operation grew from a single store in Tempe to more than 1,400 in 50 states and 32 countries. He and his partner sold the franchise in 2007 when Ducey was 43 years old.

“This adventure led me to understand the true meaning of the American Dream,” Ducey said. “Attending ASU Prep over the last four years has opened more doors for you than you are possibly aware of.”

The American Dream, Ducey said, is also within the grasp of the members of the Class of 2016, who have earned more than $2 million in merit scholarships. The governor said their generation will face many changes in their lifetime and should embrace those changes rather than run from them.

“Remember there is dignity in every day,” Ducey said. “No job is thankless, and no job is less than. If your job wasn’t important, it wouldn’t exist.

“Regardless of whatever you decide to do, make sure serving others is what you do.”

ASU Prep also has a location at ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa; it held its graduation at ASU Gammage earlier that afternoon. See photos of both below. 

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

image title

New College Dean Tromp named Woman of the Year

May 26, 2016

Arizona Women in Higher Education honors trailblazing leader on ASU's West campus

The dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus has been named the Arizona Women in Higher Education Woman of the Year for 2016.

Marlene Tromp (above right), vice provost of the West campus and professor of English and women and gender studies, has been recognized by leaders in education as improving the climate and professional environment for women in education, identifying and developing leadership for women, and connecting and supporting women in higher education.

During her time at the West campus, she has set up a network for the female deans at ASU and proposed a women’s leadership group to ASU President Michael M. Crow, who then created that group. She has built a mentoring program for students in her college, where peer and professional mentors support students before they even arrive on campus as freshmen. The college is also in the process of building a mentoring program for high school and community colleges in the region, similar to the program for New College students.

New College also puts on yearly leadership conferences. This past year, Tromp and New College collaborated with community colleges to focus on women of color in leadership positions.

As the president of the North American Victorian Studies Association, Tromp co-edited a book several years ago that is gaining attention and popularity amid the current presidential campaign. The book, titled “Fear, Loathing and Victorian Xenophobia,” explores the little-studied human fear of the foreign. In a recent interview with ASU Now, she draws parallels between the Victorian era of globalization and the current political climate in the United States and in Europe.

In the coming years, Tromp will also oversee the establishment of new academic programs and growth at the West campus. Though ASU offers one university in many places, each campus offers its own distinct feel. The West campus is reminiscent of a smaller liberal-arts college, but offers all of the amenities of a large public school — world-class libraries, varied dining options and top-tier sports.

The Arizona Women in Higher Education organization is the Arizona state chapter of the national American Council on Education Women’s Network.

Top photo: Master's graduate Corie Cisco receives her degree and a handshake from Marlene Tromp during the New College convocation at ASU's West campus on May 10. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Logan Clark

Media Relations Officer, Department of Media Relations and Strategic Communications

image title

Grants smooth the way to train more science, math teachers

#ASU grant program aims to fill critical need of math, science teachers.
May 24, 2016

ASU students who get SEED funds, extra training during their residencies commit to working 2 years in high-need schools

Arizona State University will hit its goal of producing 200 new math and science teachers with the help of a federal grant that aids student teachers.

ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College just awarded 53 students the Supporting Effective Educator Development — or SEED — grant, bringing the total to 204 in the third year of the program.

The SEED grants give undergraduates $10,000 and master’s students $25,000 during their iTeachAZ residency, when they spend two semesters teaching full time in a high-needs school. Thirty-eight of this month’s new grantees are undergraduates, with 15 graduate students. They can use the money for anything they want, including tuition or rent, while they are student teaching during the 2016-2017 school year.

The iTeachAZ residency is the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College innovative preparation program in which students spend two full semesters as a co-teacher in the classroom. The students teach with a mentor teacher four days a week and then take their ASU classes one day a week at the same school they teach at.

Pam Harris, executive director of the SEED program, said that undergraduate student teachers are asked to not have outside jobs because the residency is so intense. It also is unpaid.

“The only time they could work would be the weekends, but we find that it’s too taxing,” said Harris, who also is the assistant division director for teacher preparation.

SEED grant recipients commit to working two full years after graduation as math or science teachers at a high-needs school, typically one that has a high number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Students who received the grant funding for the 2015-2016 school year found it invaluable. Hillary Golson (shown in the top photo at right) decided to make a career change when the health-care company she had been working for shut down.

“I knew it was the perfect time to do this, but the only way I could do it was to get some funding and there aren’t usually that many opportunities with master’s programs,” she said.

SEED teaching grant recipient.

Liza Heath gives an example of how to teach letters and pronunciation in Nicole Aveni’s class at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix on April 5. Heath is an ASU master’s student who received a SEED grant. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Golson has been a pre-service teacher at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix since last summer and will look for a job as a seventh- or eighth-grade math teacher.

“Coming from the working world, I know you have to be someone of value. My undergraduate degree was in theater and set design, and I loved it, but doing this is something that is much more marketable.”

The SEED grants also pay for training sessions for the students and their mentor teachers. In one engineering seminar, the teachers learned to make spinning tops from household items.

Another crucial component of the program is “induction” — sessions for first-year teachers to learn “soft skills,” such as how to deal with stress, being aware of emotional triggers, how to respond to students and parents in a positive way and how to live in a healthy way. That kind of training has been proposed as a way to boost retention among new teachers.

“Over time, we’ll track whether that kind of induction provided results,” Harris said. “The exit data show that they loved it.”

Increasing the number of math and science teachers is critical. A study by the Arizona Department of Education in 2014 found that 24 percent of the state’s public-school teachers will be eligible to retire by 2018, and that special education, math and science positions are the most difficult to fill.

Top photo: Nicole Aveni (standing) assists ASU students Melissa Sullivan (left) and Hillary Golson during their course at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix. Aveni is a clinical instructor for ASU and the site coordinator for the iTeachAZ program at Longview. Sullivan and Golson are master's students who received SEED grants this past year. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Promoting Hispanic education, recognizing achievement

More than 2,100 Hispanic graduates attain their educational goals this semester

May 12, 2016

A 32-year Arizona State University tradition continues as nearly 400 Hispanic students will take the Wells Fargo Arena stage on Saturday to be recognized for achieving their academic goals.

Local TV reporters Karla Navarrete and J.R. Cardenas will emcee the Spring 2016 Hispanic Convocation — an always festive celebration that draws the largest per capita number of graduation-ceremony guests and concludes ASU’s commencement activities for the semester. Download Full Image

ASU alum and former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor is also expected to attend this year’s convocation to present his namesake award, said Rhonda Carrillo, assistant director for the ASU Office of Community Relations.

“We’re very honored to have Mr. Pastor presenting the outstanding graduate award and proud of all the graduates’ academic success,” said Carrillo. “Our projection is that over 4,000 family members, friends and supporters will be on hand to celebrate their achievements.”

The convocation will also honor two outstanding students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence and leadership during their academic journey at ASU. 

The recipient of the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate award will be Katie Curiel, a master's in global technology and development major from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. The other honoree is Grace Ordonez, who will receive the Cecilia Esquer Outstanding Undergraduate award. She’s graduating with a bachelor's in accountancy from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

portrait of Katie Curiel

Phoenix native Curiel (left) made her mark at ASU through involvement in countless initiatives, to include being the founder of Women on the Move, an international network supporting Arab women to be empowered and find success in the U.S. and in their home countries. She also served on the advisory boards for ASU’s Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and DREAMzone — a program that helps undocumented students.

Curiel also interned with the U.S. Agency for International Development, helping to establish the world's first online platform for innovative global development initiatives. She mentored more than 20 of her sisters in Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority both locally and nationally. Through the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, she also mentored two Ugandan women. Despite managing work and school while sustaining significant community involvement, Curiel maintained an impressive 3.9 grade-point average and garnered various scholarships and awards during her time at ASU.

“As someone who works closely with Katie on several projects, I’ve seen the impact she has on the lives of students and community members,” said Davier Rodriguez, coordinator for the Downtown Phoenix Campus Dean of Students Office. “She is a living representation of all that ASU celebrates in its rankings and recognitions; a global leader, change agent and scholar.”

Scottsdale Community College transfer Ordonez (left) is the founding president of the Pre-Law Society at ASU. By working with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the W. P. Carey School of Business and various ASU alumni, the Phoenix native built recognition, support and connections for the group.

In addition to amassing numerous scholarship and awards, Ordonez maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and gave selflessly of her time by mentoring more than 100 students in rigorous accounting and economic courses. She also produced a series of YouTube tutoring videos to provide an around-the-clock assistance platform reachable by other students across the U.S. and abroad.

“Grace immediately distinguished herself as a superior student,” said Nancy Cassidy, senior lecturer with the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Grace’s strong commitment to academic excellence, an impeccable work ethic and high standards of personal integrity make her not only an outstanding individual, but also a student who has earned the respect of her peers and professors alike.”

Just over 2,100 Hispanic students graduated this semester, according to university statistics.

The ASU Hispanic Convocation is a signature event that honors the accomplishments and commitment of ASU’s Hispanic students pursuing higher education.  Participation is open to all students graduating in the current semester. This semester’s convocation begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 14, at Wells Fargo Arena on the Tempe campus. 

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

image title

Putting the humanity in nutrition

ASU prof Vaughan was the glue as nutrition school grew through many transitions.
Students not the only ones to benefit from Vaughan: Food bank, vets also helped.
May 12, 2016

Health Solutions' Linda Vaughan retiring after 36 years of helping ASU, students and underserved populations succeed

In her 36 years at Arizona State University, Linda Vaughan has overseen a lot of changes in the field of health and nutrition.

This summer, she has one more big change coming: retirement.

She has held a variety of positions — including her current one as directorSince 2011, Vaughan has served as the director of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, part of the College of Health Solutions. Prior to that, she was an associate dean in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (2009-2011) and the School of Applied Arts and Sciences (2008-2009). She attained the role of full professor in 2000 and is one of a handful of professors in the College of Health Solutions. of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion — has published more than 40 scientific peer-reviewed articles and one of the best-selling nutrition textbooks“The Science of Nutrition,” co-authored with Janice Thompson and Melinda Manore, has been translated in several languages and is now in its fourth edition., procured more than $2.2 million in grant funding and has received or been nominated for seven teaching awards throughout her career.

Her biggest role, however, won’t be found on her resume. Vaughan has served as the “glue” for the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and has seen transitions from a small department on the Tempe campus to explosive growth on Polytechnic to its latest home on the Downtown Phoenix campus. She has overseen the integration of several new programs into the school, including Health Sciences, Medical Laboratory Sciences and a return of Kinesiology faculty and programs.  During these transitions, Vaughan oversaw major expansions in the sizes of both faculty and staff hires and managed to unify the existing and new personnel into a collaborative, productive and supportive group.

“Linda was a valued and trusted adviser to me as the college was forming, is a beloved leader of the faculty and is highly regarded by students and staff,” said Keith Lindor, dean of the College of Health Solutions. “She has been innovative, creative, approachable and supportive in every way. She is the ideal colleague and has been a valued contributor in many, many ways to a large number of people.”

Faculty numbers were small when Vaughan was hired by ASU in the fall of 1979, when “nutrition” was just a small group, then known as the Department of Home Economics.

“We started out with four people in our area, but it had dwindled to one full-time faculty member and we were still on a 3/3 teaching load, thus my teaching duties were exhaustive,” Vaughan said.

“But I lived for those aha moments — the moment in a student’s face registered, ‘I get it now.’ That’s the big reward, and that’s what carries you through the years.”

A platter of muffins and baked goods.

Food banks often are given a lot of muffins, doughnuts and other bakery items. ASU professor Linda Vaughan worked with the United Food Bank to develop software that could track both the amount and the nutrient quality of the food being distributed.

Vaughan has taught a wide array of students, many of whom might be described as “non-traditional” — a 70-year-old retired Home Economics Chair, two professional chefs, a retired ballet dancer, dozens of women returning to school after raising families, military veterans, an engineer, a high school English teacher, a public relations manager and several student athletes, including three who competed at the Olympic games.

“I owe my entire career to Dr. Linda Vaughan,” said Tina Shepard, a former student and the current director of the Dietetic Internship program at ASU. “I served as her teaching assistant back in 1986, and she convinced me to become a registered dietitian, which was the best nutrition career advice I ever received.

“Then 10 years later, I returned to Arizona and she helped me get a position in our college. A few years later, she hired me to become the new Dietetic Internship director for our program. Through every step of my career, it was Linda Vaughan who encouraged me, believed in me, and helped me move forward in the nutrition field.”

Vaughan’s research explored how nutrition relates to chronic disease across a woman’s life cycle in Hispanic, Native American, pregnant and prenatal women, low-income elderly and other underserved populations.

“I came to learn that poverty was much more widespread than I ever thought and that you can never tell by looking at someone who was in poverty,” Vaughan said.

In addition to making significant impacts in research and teaching, Vaughan has been a consistent contributor in service. She served two terms on the ASU affirmative-action committee, was a member of the Havasupai Tribal Initiative and is a former board member and current volunteer for the United Food Bank and sits on the board of the Arizona March of Dimes. In addition, she also supports the MANA House, a facility in Phoenix that provides transitional housing to military homeless veterans.

“I came to learn that poverty was much more widespread than I ever thought and that you can never tell by looking at someone who was in poverty.”

— Linda Vaughan, director of ASU's School of Nutrition and Health Promotion

Vaughan’s work with the United Food Bank also spilled over into her research. She assisted the group in developing a computerized system to not only track the amount of food distributed, but the nutrient quality of food distributed to recipients.

“This was a big step because they had no idea if they were giving out nutritious food or foods with low nutrient value,” Vaughan said. “If you’ve ever been to a food bank, you will often see a lot of doughnuts, day-old cake and other perishable bakery items. The director knew intuitively these types of foods weren’t ideal in terms of supporting the health of their clients, but they didn’t know if they were successfully ‘balancing’ the total food packages with highly nutritious donations, either.

“So we helped them evaluate the nutrient distribution of the foods they received then distributed. As it turned out, the food bank was doing a very good job in providing their clients with key vitamins, minerals and protein.”

One might say Vaughan offered similar balance to ASU during her 36-year tenure, which is why in April she received the ASU Commission on the Status of Women Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award in the faculty category, and more recently why the ASU Foundation established the Linda Vaughan Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship is intended for nutrition students, undergraduate or graduate, and is based on academic merit and financial need. So far more than 70 individuals have contributed to this fund, including faculty, staff and former students.

Vaughan says the scholarship is important to her because it’s a gift that will keep on giving, pretty much what she’ll do in retirement. She plans to rejoin the United Food Bank board and work on specific projects there. Vaughan also wants to teach adults how to swim, so that their children are more likely to learn how to swim, and spend more time with her grandson, who is 5 months old.

“It’s been a great ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Vaughan said. “I’ll miss ASU, I’ll miss the faculty and staff I’ve worked with and the students, but it’s time for me and I’m ready.

“I’m happy with what I’ve done and happy how I’m leaving the school. They are going to do great things.”

Reporter , ASU Now


image title

Tippeconnic says farewell

ASU prof worked with schools and politicians to have impact on education.
Tippeconnic says Native graduates "have their head, hearts in the right place."
May 10, 2016

Director of ASU's American Indian Studies Program retiring after half a century of improving Native education

Quanah Parker was a Comanche leader and fierce warrior who sought and obtained peace for his people at a crucial point in their history.

The chief’s photo hangs above John W. Tippeconnic III’s desk in the office of Arizona State University’s American Indian Studies Program, where he serves as a professor and director. 

The 73-year-old educator, who is also a member of the Comanche tribe, is finding renewed inspiration in Parker’s life these days.

“Quanah Parker was one of the last great chiefs, and his rule coincided with the federal government’s colonization efforts by rounding up tribes, forcing Native Americans on reservations and moving them from their homelands,” Tippeconnic said. “He was a brilliant negotiator when it came to dealing with the federal government. This was not necessarily a good time for Comanches, but a difficult transitional time.”

Tippeconnic is experiencing a transitional moment of his own right now. The Phoenix Indian Center’s 2016 Leon Grant Spirit of the Community AwardHonorees of this annual award are noted for their service, commitment and dedication to the greater good of the American Indian community in Arizona. honoree is on the precipice of retirement, with 50 years of experience in teaching and educational leadership positions in organizations and programs serving American Indian populations.

“Professor Tippeconnic has profoundly impacted American Indian education at all levels and has supported countless Native scholars and educators over his decades in the field,” said K. Tsianina Lomawaima, a professor in ASU’s School of Social TransformationThe School of Social Transformation is an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.. “I personally have benefited, like many, many others, from his generous, astute, detailed and constructive peer review and mentorship. He exemplifies Native values of intellectual excellence, hard work and care for others.”

That excellence was molded at a young age by his parents, who both attended boarding schools. Tippeconnic said boarding schools back then were militaristic in their approach and highly structured, and they attempted to assimilate Natives into Western ways.

“The United States practiced the policy of, ‘Kill the Indian, save the man,’” he said. “In other words, eradicate who you are and make someone out of you that you aren’t. It was all a part of colonization by using education as a tool to assimilate, eradicate and force change. That definitely had an impact on them, so they pushed me towards education, but an education where I was valued as a Native person.”

ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III

ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III (shown here and above in his office at Discovery Hall on the Tempe campus April 26) said the 100 percent Native faculty in the American Indian Studies Program is "a strength that you don’t see at major universities in this country." Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

His parents led by example. His father, John, was the first Comanche to ever receive a master’s degree and was a principal and teacher at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. His Cherokee mother, Juanita, was a cook at the school.

“My parents instilled in me the importance of education because they lived it, modeled it, so I was right there with them,” Tippeconnic said. “It was never a matter of if I was going to go to college, but where I was going to go.”

Tippeconnic chose Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he majored in secondary education. His first job was teaching math and social studies at Hayes Junior High in Albuquerque. It was 1966, and that particular public school system wasn’t what he had hoped.

“The principal valued discipline and bulletin boards in the classroom,” Tippeconnic said. “I wasn’t very good at bulletin boards.”

Tippeconnic spent two years there before taking a job on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, teaching Navajo fourth- and eighth-grade students. He said the experience was much more meaningful than Albuquerque.

“The kids I taught were grounded in who they were as Navajo people, and all knew and spoke the language,” Tippeconnic said. “They were respectful, and discipline was not an issue so you could really focus on teaching students.”

His good work was noticed by an administrator at Navajo Community College in Tsaile, Arizona, where he became an assistant to the president. The institution is known today as Diné College, the first tribally controlled community college in the United States, in which Tippeconnic played no small part.

“When I got there, the tribe had control of the college. The (college's) board of regents could hire and fire the president,” Tippeconnic said. “They could also institute and approve curriculum and hire faculty and staff.”

He still considers tribal colleges the best example of tribal control of education.

“A good leader is someone who puts others first and doesn’t say ‘I’ but rather, ‘we.’ ... Leadership, like education, is about people. It’s a people business.”
— retiring ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III

After Navajo Community College, Tippeconnic got involved in educational policy.

“Policy is a key part of leadership because if you examine the history of the U.S. government and Indian tribes’ relations, it’s one that’s based on treaties, Congressional acts, court decisions and legal definitions,” Tippeconnic said. “Not only is it important to develop policy but also to see how policy is implemented. Good Indian policy, based on tribal sovereignty, is key to the success of Indian nation.”

After he received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Penn State University, his focus turned to Washington, D.C., where he eventually held director positions at the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education; and the Office of Indian Education Programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Both jobs required work with Congress, tribes, states, local schools, professional organizations and with various departments of the executive branch of the federal government that had an impact on education nationally.

And it would take an act of Congress to get Tippeconnic to take credit for his work. He still insists others should be lauded for his success.

“A good leader is someone who puts others first and doesn’t say ‘I’ but rather, ‘we.’ It’s someone who respects other people, earns their respect and listens to them and not only hears what they have to say but values their input,” Tippeconnic said. “Leadership, like education, is about people. It’s a people business.”

Tippeconnic directed ASU's Center for Indian Education for a number of years, beginning in 1976. He returned to ASU in 2010, serving as professor and director of the American Indian Studies (AIS) Program. The program develops future leaders in Indian country that are grounded in cultural integrity, sovereignty and indigenous knowledge.

“Our graduates know what colonization and decolonization mean. They know our history and the policies. They’re grounded in our AIS paradigm that is based on the experiences of American Indian nations, peoples, communities and organizations from American Indian perspectives,” Tippeconnic said. “One hundred percent of our faculty is Native American. That is a strength that you don’t see at major universities in this country. People look at us and value our AIS program. We’re just at the start of doing great things.”

Tippeconnic sees that after dedicating 50 years of his life to education. On May 11, Tippeconnic will officially say goodbye at ASU’s 26th American Indian Convocation at ASU Gammage in Tempe. There he will see a record-breaking 361 Native students receive their degrees who represent the future leadership of Indian country with the knowledge to sustain strong identity and sovereign status of Indian nations.

“That gives me hope because these young people have their head and hearts in the right place,” Tippeconnic said. “I’m so proud of what they have accomplished.”

Reporter , ASU Now