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One postdoc’s relentless pursuit of a Ford Foundation Fellowship

Alexandrina Agloro shares her contribution to ASU’s ‘culture of pursuit’

September 18, 2018

Editor's note: To demystify the process of attaining distinguished graduate fellowships, ASU Now will feature a multipart series of interviews with distinguished graduate award recipients from across the ASU community. The series will showcase the achievements of ASU’s distinguished graduate award recipients and highlight the strategies that led to those achievements. 

Sept. 17-21 is National Postdoc Appreciation Week, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in the Graduate College will be celebrating all week long. Photo of Alexandrina Agloro, 2018 postdoctoral Ford Fellow Alexandrina Agloro is a 2018 postdoctoral Ford Fellow. Download Full Image

In keeping with that spirit, ASU Now talked to Alexandrina Agloro for this installment of our "culture of pursuit" series.

Agloro will join ASU as a postdoctoral fellow in January and will be an assistant professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society starting in fall 2019. She’s also a Ford Foundation Fellowship recipient.

Competition for a Ford Foundation Fellowship is substantial. It’s so substantial, in fact, that the Graduate College has determined that it’s necessary to offer significant support to ASU applicants to increase their odds of success. The acceptance rate, which varies depending on field (e.g., STEM, humanities, etc.) and type (e.g., predoctoral, dissertation, postdoctoral), can be less than 5 percent.  

Through its fellowship programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

One way that the Foundation carries out its mission is by awarding predoctoral, dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships to outstanding applicants who embody and share its mission. Fellows receive an annual stipend of between $24,000 and $45,000 for one to three years, depending on the type of fellowship. 

So, what does it take to win a Ford Fellowship? Agloro, ASU’s 2018 postdoctoral Ford fellow, indicates that sheer determination is at least one vital element. She shared some of the details of her Ford Fellowship pursuit, her choice of ASU as her place of research, and her future role as tenure-track faculty at ASU.

Question: How did you find out about Ford Foundation Fellowships?

Answer: So, I have been applying for the Ford Fellowship for years! I applied as a predoctoral candidate and was an honorable mention. I applied for the dissertation fellowship and was an alternate. And, I applied for the postdoc fellowship last year and was an alternate; I am relentless. I applied again, and I finally got one!   

I was really lucky in graduate school to be part of an NSF-funded EDGE program, “Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education,” at the University of Southern California where I did my PhD. I had fantastic mentorship, and I was looped into Ford as a place where you’ll get really good support for faculty of color, for grad students of color — in closing the gap between what universities offer and the specialized needs for students at generally predominantly white institutions.   

Q: What made you choose ASU?

A: I have been super excited about the ways ASU has been innovating higher education. ASU has been on the forefront of acknowledging that the educational system as it exists right now … the model doesn’t work anymore. ASU has been willing to take the risk to find another model that can work. It's doing this in a landscape where universities are hiring more and more administrators and fewer tenure-track faculty, and student fees are skyrocketing. And, it seems that ASU is trying to keep costs down, trying to hire more faculty, and trying to find ways to engage populations that don’t have access to traditional higher education. That’s what I loved about ASU. It’s a Hispanic-serving institution, and it has a concerted effort to bring in enough Native students to match the population of the state. 

Q: As a Ford Fellowship winner, an ASU postdoc and a soon-to-be faculty member at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS), how are you going to juggle all of that? 

A: SFIS has been so generous and accommodating in helping me figure out how to make the transitions. When I interviewed for the position, I told them that I had applied for the fellowship, and if I got it, it would be at ASU and I’d really like to be able to do it. And they said, OK, we will sort this out and, if you get it, we will embrace it. We will find a way to do this. Just let us know. So, I started negotiations, and I was able to call the director and say, "By the way, I got this postdoc." He said, "Well, can your fellowship money buy out your teaching? If so, then we’ll do that." So, it's really lucky that I get to come to ASU, get acclimated, and just do research before I jump in and start teaching. 

Q: This may be a loaded question, but what’s your dream job — where do you want to be five years from now?

A: I’m really lucky that I’ve already had one tenure-track job. It's so much easier to look for a job when you have a job because you know what you're looking for and what you want. I came out for my campus visit to ASU highly suspicious of the whole thing. I mean, hello, it would have to be pretty stellar and phenomenal to uproot my whole life and move across the country. I’m three years into my tenure-track job here (at Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Things are fine. But SFIS just wowed me.

What I love is that the position they are bringing me in for is "Science Technology and Innovation in the Borderlands." It is bringing together the two things that I’ve been trained in, which seem separate, but I’m trained in both cultural and ethnic studies and interactive media and game development. I am an ethnic studies interactive media artist. And, that is exactly what SFIS wants me to do. 

In my previous job, I was teaching design courses and was not fully able to engage my interest in ethnic and cultural studies and my interest in why we play games to make the world a better place. The intrinsic motivation for playing games can be utilized for other things, and that’s what I’m interested in exploring in my research, my writing and my teaching. What was so great and different about the SFIS job was that they weren’t looking for someone to fill XYZ position. They really seemed interested in hearing me out and liking my ideas and saying, great, we want to support you to build some (cool) stuff, so this is what we can do if you come here. They asked, "What would you be interested in teaching if you come here?" And, that was a really fun conversation. So, where do I want to be five years from now? I just really think I want to be at ASU. 

Q: In your free time, when you have any, what do you like to do?

A: I always find a way to weave my work into whatever I do. But, I’m really looking forward to exploring the Southwest and being outside in the time of year that most people (in Massachusetts) can’t be outside. I have an 11-year-old French bulldog, and we like to hang out in public together. We'll go exploring. 

Graduate Fellowships Advisor, Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement

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New strength in survival

September 17, 2018

In the past, people were told to take it easy after cancer treatment; now, survivors find empowerment through athletic challenges

Cancer draws a line across a life: before diagnosis, and after. Who you were then, and who you are now. For many, who they are now might be a surprise. They are people who navigate river rapids, jump off cliffs and paddle dragon boats in foreign waters — even if they didn’t consider themselves athletes before.

ASU alumna and breast cancer survivor Kathy Sullivan has been paddling with the Phoenix Desert Dragons for two years. The group, established in 2010, is one of 213 dragon boat teams across five continents that make up the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission. The activity gives her more than exercise and camaraderie with her teammates.

“It’s shown me that I can do something that I’ve set my mind to do,” said Sullivan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at ASU in 1994. “I’m growing and becoming more confident and a better person — I’m becoming me.”

The Dragons include about 35 active members, ranging in age from 30 to 79, who practice twice a week. In July, the team paddled at the IBCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival in Florence, Italy, along with more than 120 other teams. Melissa Adams is the team’s coach and a breast cancer survivor herself.

“I find my solace on the water,” she said. “Many of us come from a completely different life prior to our breast cancer experience, and we sometimes struggle with trying to figure out: Where do we go, what do we do, what is our new normal?”

Adams said many of the paddlers were not athletes beforehand but that after finding dragon boating they realized, “I’m totally capable of being an athlete, and a good one.”

Activity that empowers

The American Cancer Society encourages physical activity during and after cancer treatment, noting that exercise can offer physical and mental benefits — but that wasn’t always considered the case.

“In the past, people treated for cancer were told by their doctor to rest and reduce their physical activity,” said Dr. Anikar Chhabra, the director of sports medicine at Mayo Clinic Arizona. “What we’ve learned is that too much rest leads to loss of body function, muscular weakness, loss of motion in your joints, and stiffness leads to pain,” and research has shown that exercise is beneficial, he said. Now, doctors are urging patients to “go and try to do things.”

A number of programs help survivors do that — in ways that both challenge and empower them. First Descents offers free, life-changing adventures for young people (ages 18–39) affected by cancer. This includes adventure trips in the U.S. and around the world, as well as shorter weekend events in several communities.

ASU alumna Andrea Lopez went on a weeklong First Descents kayaking trip on the Rogue River in Oregon.

“It was an awakening,” she said. “When you’re going through cancer treatment, it’s scary. You have to be so cautious with everything, and First Descents kind of wiped that clean” by immersing participants in adventures. “Going through rapids in a river, your adrenaline and your survival skills — they’re all being tested. And it’s not like your survival skills being tested while you’re in the doctor’s office,” she said.

Activities include kayaking, climbing, windsurfing, hiking, bikepacking and ski mountaineering — which most participants don’t have experience doing.

“Adventure sports are innately empowering,” said Ray Shedd, First Descents’ director of development and marketing. “The secret sauce of our programming is the brutal, cold indifference of nature. We don’t dumb anything down because our participants are sick. We make everything fully accessible and fully adaptive, but those Class III rapids aren’t going to calm down because there are boaters who have cancer.” And participants face these challenges “with the tremendous support of their peers, fellow survivors.”

Lopez recalled falling out of her kayak and going through a bunch of rocks while holding onto someone else’s kayak.

“That was scary, and I got through it,” she said. “When I left, I just felt so empowered. I never knew I needed something like that.”  

Lopez was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was 19. When you go through cancer, “your body kind of wears away a little,” she said. “I remember once attempting to run while on prednisone, and I fell flat on my face. I kind of avoided going back to the gym because I didn’t think I was capable of it.” But First Descents was different. On the water, she realized, “I’m good at this. I can do this.”

On the final day of Lopez’s trip, the kayakers completed their own run solo.

“It was so empowering because you got to do it by yourself. I did it without needing anyone,” she said, adding that she realized, “I am capable of a lot of things. I know what my body has gone through. I had a 40 percent chance of surviving, and I’m surviving. I did this — I’m here.”

After her trip, Lopez said she was motivated to be more active, and she took up running. “I go back to what I was able to do on the Rogue. I was able to go through all these rapids, I jumped off a cliff — I did all these things.”

Using the body to move forward

First Descents conducted research to evaluate the psychosocial benefits of its programming and found that participants’ self-esteem, body image and ability to cope with cancer and its ongoing effects increased while depression decreased.

The organization is working with health care providers to get its programs introduced to cancer survivors earlier, to “mitigate some of that psychosocial distress, depression, alienation and isolation so common in young adult survivors,” Shedd said.

“Most cancer centers realize the value of a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment,” Chhabra said. “Here at Mayo, we have a robust team of oncologists, radiation therapists, surgeons, social workers and psychologists” who work together to “optimize not only their physical health but also their mental health.” The patient’s well-being is important, he said. “As surgeons, we’re taught to fix what’s broken or take out what shouldn’t be there. But it is much bigger than that.”

Different types of cancer affect the body in different ways, and exercise should to be tailored to the individual, taking into account his or her treatment, pre-existing fitness level and other considerations. “Your physician should be there to tell you what’s safe and what’s not,” Chhabra said — but what’s safe and possible is much more than previously thought.

It’s part of a shifting mindset toward recovering from cancer. Standard advice used to be to warn breast cancer survivors against upper-body exercise to avoid lymphedema. Don McKenzie — a sports medicine physician and exercise physiologist at the University of British Columbia — challenged that, conducting a study in 1996 with survivors paddling dragon boats: They did not develop lymphedema and were happier and healthier. It sparked the creation of myriad dragon boat teams.

Recovery on Water (ROW) gets breast cancer survivors on the water in different boats — rowing shells. It runs a year-round team in Chicago and a four-day camp in northern Michigan. “A lot of times, women don’t feel like they can trust their bodies, that their bodies have betrayed them,” said Executive Director Jenn Junk. But in ROW, survivors are “using their bodies to move forward with their lives.”

Both Lopez and Sullivan said they became more open about their cancer after participating in these programs. Lopez said she realized “I should be proud of this. I got through two and a half years of treatment, and I’m still here.” She survived kayaking, and “I’m capable of doing so much more,” she said.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I would never talk about it,” Sullivan said. “I put it in the back of my mind. Sixteen years later, I came across this dragon boat team. Then I just started owning that I had cancer, and I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. Now I tell people that I’m on a dragon boat team for breast cancer survivors. And I feel that if I can come this far in my life, others can as well.” 

Written by Allison Torres Burtka; top photo by Jarod Opperman. A version of this story was originally published on GlobalSport Matters, a joint initiative between ASU’s Global Sport Institute and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Read more stories about sport at globalsportmatters.com.

Innovative in-person lab provides unique opportunity for ASU Online students

September 14, 2018

During the day, Andrea Adeusi works hard to support her family. At night, she works toward her dream of becoming a pediatrician. Adeusi is an ASU Online BS in biochemistry student who took part in Arizona State University's new innovative accelerated organic chemistry laboratory courses this past summer.

The School of Molecular Sciences launched a fully online biochemistry bachelor's degree program in fall 2017, the very first in the U.S.  the first cohort of online B.S. Biochemistry degree students came to the Arizona State campus to take part in a new, innovative in-person accelerated laboratory course The first cohort of online biochemistry degree students came to the ASU campus to take part in a new, innovative in-person accelerated laboratory course. Photo by Mary Zhu/School of Molecular Sciences Download Full Image

When designing the online biochemistry degree, the school faced a major challenge — how can these students claim they are scientists if they don't have the same hands-on laboratory experiences as the traditional on-campus students? A real hands-on lab experience was required, but the question was, how to do it?

Many online students are full-time working professionals and it would be difficult to have them take part in a typical eight-week summer lab. The solution was to rethink the traditional lab experience and design a new accelerated program specifically for these students. Adeusi was part of the first cohort of online students who came to Tempe from all over the U.S. to take these new lab courses.

The accelerated on-campus lab adds a unique component to the online biochemistry degree, which is currently the only online degree at ASU to offer such an on-ground experience.  

"The innovative accelerated lab format makes it possible for our online students to reap the same benefits of a hands-on laboratory experience as traditional on campus students," said Anne Jones, associate director of academic affairs in the School of Molecular Sciences.

“Students graduating from the ASU Online biochemistry program will be able to talk about their hands-on lab experience. This will put them at an advantage in comparison to other students taking online degrees without this experience,” said Ian Gould, associate director of online programs. "This is important in order for these students to remain competitive when they are applying to postgraduate programs, such as medical school."

The accelerated lab curriculum is nearly identical to the traditional on-ground lab. The only difference is that the students performed two to three experiments a day instead of one experiment a week. Rather than feeling rushed through the experience, the students found it to be rewardingly immersive, and in many ways more coherent than the traditional lab courses, which are broken up over 14 weeks.  

At the end of the courses, the students were tested on their lab skills and course content. Then they were surveyed on their motivations and how strongly they identified as scientists. The online students scored considerably higher than the traditional on-ground students in all of these areas.

Adeusi felt the lab experience gave her the confidence to claim she is a scientist.

“I have never felt this way in a chemistry lab before where I am actually completing successful experiments and really understanding why I am completing those experiments,” Adeusi said.

There was some initial hesitation and push-back against the idea of incorporating an on-ground lab component to the degree. However, rather than being an hinderance to the online students, Gould believes it is the opposite.

“This is not an impediment to an online degree, instead, it's a huge advantage,” Gould said. “As far as I know, we are the only people who can offer this right now.”

The students of the first cohort indicated a clear preference to take the labs on ASU's campus rather than at another institution closer to home. They wanted to meet their peers and meet their faculty. They wanted to be Sun Devils.

Tawny Fajardo, a nurse who aspires to become a surgeon, said coming to campus helped her understand the connection between the work she learned at home and the work the students conducted in the lab.

“Being brought on campus really triggers the opportunity to learn more, to become well-rounded in the lab and engage in that challenge,” Fajardo said.

One of the major goals of the online biochemistry degree is to provide a vital STEM education opportunity to a wider range of students. For example, there are three times as many African-American students enrolled in online degree programs, in comparison to the on-campus programs.  

Ara Austin, online program coordinator at the School of Molecular Sciences, believes education should be flexible and should provide opportunity to all students, traditional or otherwise.

“We are really helping those students that we say need our help and need to be represented more in STEM,” Austin said. “We actually took it a step further and did something about it.”

"ASU and EdPlus thrive on developing innovative solutions to overcome barriers to achievement in higher education," said Phil Regier, ASU's university dean for educational initiatives and CEO of EdPlus. "This elegant solution for biochemistry labs has allowed ASU to deliver what was unthinkable five or six years ago: a rigorous, research-driven biochemistry degree for online, adult learners. The faculty deserve congratulations for figuring out how to let anyone in the world access their undergraduate degree program."

Written by: Sunaina Tandon, communications assistant, School of Molecular Sciences 

Seeking nominations for the 2019 ASU MLK Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award

September 11, 2018

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president of cultural affairs and chair of the ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, is soliciting nominations for the 2019 ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award. This year’s theme is "Find Your Voice."

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will present a Servant-Leadership Award to an ASU student at the MLK Breakfast on Jan. 24, 2019. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Download Full Image

Servant-leadership is a practical philosophy, which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant-leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening and the ethical use of power and empowerment.

The committee is requesting help in identifying a student servant-leadership awardee. The student must be currently enrolled full-time, exemplify the ideals of servant-leadership and have a track record of commitment through volunteer service. Candidates may submit his or her resume with this form. Letters of recommendation are acceptable, but no more than two. Self-nominations are encouraged.

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will provide a $1,500 scholarship to the awardee to be used toward his or her educational costs. This scholarship is available to ASU full-time undergraduate or graduate students. The winner must be a full-time student during the spring 2019 semester.

All applications will be reviewed and three finalists will be selected. Finalists will have 30-minute interviews with the committee on the morning of Oct. 12. Finalists will be contacted for their interview. The awardee must be able to attend the breakfast on Jan. 24.

Nominate yourself or another student here.

Please submit nominations by close of business Oct. 1, through campus mail to Michelle Johnson at MC 0205, fax 480/965-7663 or scan and e-mail to mmjcap@asu.edu.

ASU Law student living out football fantasy helping new professional league kick off

September 10, 2018

While millions of fans are playing fantasy football this fall and pretending to be football executives, Phil Ofili, a first-year student in ASU Law’s Master of Sports Law and Business program, will be living out a real-life football fantasy by helping to manage personnel for a promising new football league.

A unique partnership between the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the startup Alliance of American Football (AAF), modeled after an existing partnership between ASU Law and Sun Devil Athletics, created the opportunity. Phil Ofili Phil Ofili, ASU Law Master of Sports Law and Business student and graduate assistant with the Alliance of American Football. Download Full Image

Ofili has been named to a graduate assistant position with the AAF, which plans to launch play in February, following the NFL’s Super Bowl.

“With this position, what the Alliance of American Football represents, and the SLB program, it’s like a dream come true,” said Ofili, who played collegiately as a defensive back while attending the Air Force Academy from 2008 to 2012. “I’m on the path to where I want to go.”

What Ofili was looking for, specifically, was a career path that led back to football, saying he is “all in” on that career choice. When he was chosen as one of four finalists to be interviewed for the position, that hunger was evident.

“We were looking for a young person who is passionate about the game, and Phil just fit that description perfectly,” said Russell Giglio, the AAF’s director of player personnel. “Phil’s heart is in football.”

Ofili will be working directly with Giglio, maintaining a player database and managing league-wide player personnel communications. Much like a fantasy-football owner who scours box scores and waiver wires to find the best available players, Ofili will be looking everywhere for talented prospects.

“He’s going to help build and maintain a database of every single eligible football player in the world who might be able to come over to the AAF,” said Sam Renaut, director of the SLB program. “He’s going to be tracking the waiver wire every week in the NFL to see who gets cut, who gets signed, who gets dropped down to the practice squad, who might be available to come play for the AAF. And he’ll be doing the same thing with CFL teams, just tracking all player personnel moves across all professional football, to see who they might be able to bring in.”

Joining an All-Pro team

Launching a professional football league is a daunting task, as evidenced by the graveyard of failed projects: the Continental Football League, the World Football League, the United States Football League and the XFL, just to name a few.

But Giglio says the AAF will not make the mistake that others have of directly competing with the NFL, instead viewing the league as a complementary entity. And he’s confident in the experience and vision of the leadership team.

“Some of these people worked in the USFL and XFL and learned from their mistakes,” he said. “I know the plan they’ve put together, and I’m confident it will work. And there are so many good former high school and college football players out there who still want to play.”

The league’s founders are TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, one of the most respected names in the sport. The architect of the 1990s Buffalo Bills team that went to four straight Super Bowls, Polian also helped the expansion Carolina Panthers reach the NFC Championship Game in just their second year, then built the Indianapolis Colts into a perennial powerhouse and Super Bowl champion.

Other members of the executive team include former Pro Bowl players Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Justin Tuck, and Ebersol’s father, retired NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol. And the coaches of the eight-team league come from the highest pedigree, having competed for or won championships at the college and professional levels: Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson, Mike Martz, Mike Singletary, Rick Neuheisel, Mike Riley, Brad Childress and Tim Lewis.

As Renaut explained, the last successful startup was the American Football League, which merged with the NFL a half-century ago.

“And no one has been able to do it right since, so there’s always skepticism,” he said. “But the AAF has a lot of money behind it, they have a lot of clout, and the people who are getting on board are some of the most influential human beings in the football stratosphere. And if anybody’s going to be able to pull this off, I really do believe it’s them.”

Billed as an alliance between players, fans and the game, the innovative league aims to be fan-friendly while also focusing on the well-being of players, in terms of safety, compensation, education and NFL opportunities.

In addition to a Phoenix team that will play in Sun Devil Stadium, the league will launch in seven other cities: Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Salt Lake City; San Antonio and San Diego.

The AAF will operate as a single entity that owns and operates all eight teams, and to help generate fan interest, the league will use an allocation system that assigns players based on geographic interest. So, for example, former ASU and University of Arizona players will be assigned to the Phoenix team. Several former Sun Devils are already onboard, including running back Demario Richard, linebacker D.J. Calhoun and quarterback Mike Bercovici, himself a graduate of the SLB program.

A proven partner

Prior to joining the AAF, Giglio was a senior administrator for ASU Athletics, where he regularly worked with graduate assistants from the SLB program. He was so impressed with those students that one of his first orders of business with the AAF was to tap back into the SLB program. He reached out to Renaut, and the league agreed to donate a scholarship that would fund an ongoing graduate assistant position.

Renaut said Giglio’s desire to continue partnering with SLB is not only a credit to the previous students, but also validation for the relatively young program.

“The groundwork was laid by previous students who had just done an amazing job with their opportunities,” he said. “When Russ became an executive with a startup football league, he came right back to the well and wanted to get more talent from us. So it’s a really a nice coming-of-age story for our program as a whole, and we cannot thank Russ and the AAF enough for being willing to venture into this innovative partnership.”

The program is what attracted Ofili to ASU Law in the first place. After completing his Air Force service, he moved to the Valley, where his fiancée (now wife) was completing graduate school.

“I knew I wanted to get back into sports in some facet, and after looking at different sports programs, I realized that one of the best in the country was right here in my backyard,” he said. “The people I talked to spoke volumes about the program, the alumni and the faculty, so that made the decision a no-brainer.”

Ofili is thrilled to be joining such an accomplished team at the AAF and will seize the chance “to soak in all the knowledge and industry experience they have.”

“I’m just very thankful not only for this opportunity with the alliance but also with the SLB program,” he said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind program with a life-changing opportunity, and I’m just very grateful to be in the position that I am.”

Senior director of communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


ASU communication graduate student honored with two fellowships

September 7, 2018

Sarah Jones, a doctoral candidate in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, is one of 100 women in the U.S. and Canada selected to receive a $15,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was nominated by Herberger Professor Sarah J. Tracy in the Hugh Downs School. 

The P.E.O. Scholar Award was established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university. Scholar Award recipients are a select group of women chosen for their high level of academic achievement and potential for having a lasting, positive impact on society. Sarah Jones Sarah Jones. Download Full Image

“I have been nominating our doctoral students for this award via my local chapter for 18 years,” said Tracy. “This is the first time one of our communication students has won it, and as far as we know, the first time any communication student has won the award. Most typically go to students in the hard sciences.”

The P.E.O. Sisterhood, founded in 1869 at Iowa Wesleyan College, is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the U.S. and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members.

“It’s an honor to be in the company of these women,” said Jones. “To me, receiving this award also speaks well of the social sciences, especially communication studies, by acknowledging our work as transformative and empirically relevant.”

Jones was also awarded ASU’s Graduate Completion Fellowship, a merit-based award supporting degree completion of outstanding graduate students enrolled in an immersion (on-campus) program in their last semester or year of graduate school.

Jones’ dissertation explores the material and symbolic dynamics of milk banking and milk sharing in the U.S., the process by which mothers who overproduce breast milk or experience infant loss donate to adoptive parents or parents with low supply or compromising medical conditions.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


ASU senior wins coveted scholarship from media giant

September 5, 2018

Leading media conglomerate Meredith Corporation — owner of brands such as Fortune, Better Homes and Gardens, InStyle, and Travel + Leisure — selects one top tourism undergraduate each year for its Meredith Travel Marketing Scholarship. This year, that student was Arizona State University senior Brady Schmitt.

Schmitt is a tourism development and management major with a concentration in sustainable tourism in the School of Community Resources and Development. A well-traveled out-of-state student, Schmitt said he came to ASU specifically for its tourism degree. ASU senior Brady Schmitt and Community Resources and Development faculty member Rebekka Goodman hold Schmitt's scholarship check from Meredith Corporation ASU senior Brady Schmitt and community resources and development faculty member Rebekka Goodman hold Schmitt's scholarship check from Meredith Corporation. Download Full Image

The travel arm of Meredith Corporation invites tourism undergraduate programs around the U.S. to submit up to three of their top students for the Meredith Travel Marketing Scholarship. They look for students who may have extraordinary experiences or unique needs, like being a first-generation college student.

ASU began participating in the scholarship program when Professor Christine Vogt, director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism, joined the university in 2015. The school has already established a good track record: Two of the three awardees in the past three years have been from ASU. The first was Virginia Miller, who won in 2016. Miller is now a graduate student in the School of Community Resources and Development.

Melissa Luebbe, national travel director for Meredith Corporation and publisher of Midwest Living, a popular travel and lifestyle magazine, saw Schmitt as a stellar tourism student.

“I saw fresh perspectives in the essay that he wrote for the application and signs of a young leader in the tourism field as evident in his impressive grades and work experiences,” said Luebbe. “His essay touched on the role that destination-marketing organizations, such as state tourism offices or convention and visitor bureaus, play in promoting attractive destinations.”

Rebekka Goodman, lecturer in the School of Community Resources and Development, wrote one of Schmitt’s recommendation letters.

“He demonstrates a rare dedication to the principles of sustainable tourism that so many academics hope to instill in their students,” said Goodman, who has had Schmitt in class. Schmitt was also a participant on a spring break study abroad program to Guatemala that Goodman led in March.

Besides receiving a $5,000 scholarship, Schmitt was invited to attend the 2018 Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) organized by the U.S. Travel Association, which was held this August in Phoenix. Learning from and networking with over 1,000 industry professionals for five days at the seminar was an invaluable experience that goes far beyond the scholarship prize.

“Attending the 2018 ESTO is an experience that very few students have, and I am honored that I was chosen out of the many other deserving applicants,” said Schmitt. “I could not have done it without my amazing professors and ASU's wonderful Sustainable Tourism Development and Management Program.”

Schmitt plans to use his award money to participate in an upcoming Fiji/Australia study abroad program.

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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Dream Warriors descend on Tempe with 'Heal It Tour'

September 4, 2018

National tour coincides with ASU milestone for record number of Native students

With its emerging skyline, newly renovated stadium and continual growth, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Arizona State University’s Tempe campus sits on the ancestral homelands of American Indian tribes, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) peoples.

But part of the university's growth is reflected in the record amount of indigenous students enrolled, a fact that will be celebrated with music performances, workshops, conversations and panel discussions this week.

Poetry Across the Nations, a national Native reading series, is collaborating with the American Indian Council, the Center for Indian Education and [archi]TEXTS to bring Dream Warriors, a collective of Native American artists, to ASU's Tempe campus to kick off their national “Heal It Tour." Their Sept. 6-7 appearance includes two days of sharing, self-empowerment and healing.

“ASU is a Native space, even though it doesn’t always seem this way,” said Natalie Diaz, an associate professor in ASU’s Department of English and a renowned poet, who founded both Poetry Across the Nations and [archi]TEXTS. “As I have made ASU my new home, my priority is to find ways to connect our Native students and artists to the work of other people like them, to show them what is possible, and what Native students and artists are capable of. It’s a no-brainer to invite the Dream Warriors to ASU."

Young man singing and holding microphone
Hip-hop artist and Rosebud Sioux Tribe member Frank Waln will be visiting ASU's Tempe campus on Sept. 6-7 as part of the Dream Warriors national tour.

The Dream Warriors consist of artists Frank Waln, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan, Tanaya Winder and Lyla June. Together they will speak, perform and teach self-empowerment to help others find healthy outlets to address personal, historical, ancestral and intergenerational traumas through art and discussions. Award-winning indigenous playwright Larissa Fasthorse and ASU’s Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy will join the conversation.

“Our message to Native students has been very clearly 'You belong here!' Our work with the Dream Warriors is another way that we are striving to make ASU a place where students feel like they belong," said Brayboy, President’s Professor, director of the Center for Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian affairs. "These incredible artists bring messages of hope, accomplishment and inclusion. In many ways, they are perfect representatives for the work of ASU. I am, personally, a huge fan of them; being able to share them with the ASU community is a gift to us all.”

Native college students are in a stage of life where they are trying to find purpose, often times in an education system that lacks awareness of Native needs, said June, a singer, multi-instrumentalist and motivational speaker who holds a master’s degree in English from Stanford University.

“I talk a lot about helping them navigate that system,” June said. “I try and remind them that their ancestral epistemology and ancestral curriculum is just as important as the Western curriculum, and they need to hold onto that to find their true purpose."

June, who is both Diné and Cheyenne, said the goal of many indigenous societies is to improve the larger community.

“A lot of my music is to be a good relative to the rest of humanity,” she said. “To me, that means helping people to heal.”

Some of the topics that will be broached include indigenous masculinity, gender identity, art, traditions, community, healing and “all of the ways we move in the world,” Diaz said.

Healing can come in many forms, including music, said hip-hop artist Waln, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

“The Native artists who are successful are able to articulate a truth beyond tribal boundaries,” Waln said. “As indigenous people, we deserve to be healthy, happy, respected and successful in places such as academia, which traditionally aren’t made for us.”

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Dream Warrior organizer and indigenous artist Tanaya Winder will perform, sing and speak to Native American students on the national "Heal It Tour."

The tour coincides with the news that ASU now has cracked the 3,000 markThe 3,000+ count for Fall 2018 is based on students self-identifying solely as American Indian or in addition to another race/ethnicity. Last year 2,812 self-identified as Native Americans. That number has increased to 3,009, which is a preliminary number based on the first day of class. The number won't become official until the 21st day of class, according to the Office of Institutional Analysis. for American Indian enrolled students at the university, an increase of 7 percent from last year. The number represents approximately 2.7 percent of the university’s total student body, according to ASU's Office of Institutional Analysis.

“There are a number of deans, faculty, staff, alums, tribes, donors and students that deserve credit helping us consistently grow these numbers,” said Jacob C. Moore, associate vice president of tribal relations in the Office of Government and Community Engagement. “Even though this is a significant accomplishment, we now have a duty to support each student’s academic success.”

One Dream Warrior said the milestone is reason enough for celebration.

“Reaching the 3,000 mark is amazing. It’s awesome,” Winder said. “The more representation, the more access we have and the more support we get helps set us up to pursue what makes us happy. I love seeing a major institution reaching that milestone.”

Dream Warriors Tour

All events of the Heal It Tour are free. 

  • 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 — “Reimagining Indigenous Identities and Relationships. Conversations with Dream Warriors." Student Pavilion, Senita A. 
  • 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 — Poetry and Songwriting Workshop with Dream Warriors. The Secret Garden, West 135.
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 — Poetry Across the Nations Presents: A Performance by Dream Warriors. Memorial Union, Pima Auditorium.

Photos courtesy of Magnus, @gelfie_ant

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ASU unveils iconic pitchfork statue at newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium

Going to a football game? Make sure to get your photo in front of the 'fork.
September 4, 2018

The bronze statue donated, created by ASU alums is a perfect place for fan photos

The pitchfork symbol is ubiquitous around Arizona State University, and now there is finally a sculpture of the iconic representation of the Sun Devils, unveiled last week.

The 6-foot, 3-inch-tall bronze pitchfork sits at the southeast entrance of the newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium, a symbol of school spirit and the perfect place for fan photos.

“We didn’t have anything like this, and we needed our emblem,” said Arthur Pearce II, a Mesa businessman and third-generation Sun Devil, who donated the statue.

Four years ago, Pearce came up with the idea of donating a statue to the stadium, and he had the perfect artist — Jeff Carol Davenport, an ASU alumna. Davenport had created the 2014 sculpture of Pearce’s grandfather, Zebulon Pearce, that sits in downtown Mesa. Zebulon Pearce The Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award, named for him and established in 1971, honors teaching excellence in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. played football at the Tempe Normal School — now ASU — in 1899, graduating with teaching credentials.

But when Pearce pitched the idea, Todd Graham, then the football coach at ASU, asked him if he would consider donating a statue of Pat Tillman instead, and Pearce agreed. Tillman was a student-athlete at ASU from 1994 to 1998, earning a degree in marketing, and then played football professionally with the Arizona Cardinals. Reacting to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tillman enlisted in the Army in May 2002. He died in Afghanistan in 2004.

Tillman’s legacy is a powerful influence on the ASU football team, whose members wear No. 42 on their uniforms every year.

So Davenport created the 7-and-half-foot-tall statue of Pat Tillman that stands in front of the Tillman Tunnel at the north end of Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Tillman statue was unveiled a year ago.

“It’s so inspiring,” Pearce said on Friday of the Tillman statue, which the players touch as they run onto the field. Pearce, who earned a degree in business from ASU in 1975, watched Tillman play in the 1990s.

“It’s great seeing not only the players but also people walking down from the stadium to look at it and take photos. It’s of worldwide importance because of what Tillman stood for and his character.

“The pitchfork is a little more specific for Sun Devil fans and also for future generations, who can stand by it and get their pictures taken after graduation.”

Davenport created the pitchfork at the same time as she was working on the Tillman statue, both at Bollinger Atelier foundry in Tempe. While she has seen the ASU pitchfork everywhere, it was a challenge for her to envision it as a three-dimensional figure.

“I had the pitchfork cut in foam and it was sort of a block shape, but then I realized it needed to be more sculptural so I sculpted it into the shape you see today,” said Davenport, who earned her master’s of elementary education in 2008 from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She is an art teacher at Sandra Day O’Connor High School and also has her own studio in New River.

After Davenport finished the 3-foot-wide bronze pitchfork, it stayed in the foundry for more than a year before the maroon and gold patina was applied last week. On Friday, it was hoisted and dropped onto its base between two sets of steps at the stadium, just to the east of the ticket windows.

Pearce said that he goes to a lot of away football games and has seen many beloved mascot statues, including the husky at the University of Washington.

“People go up to the husky and hug it so much that the patina is worn off,” he said.

“Now we’ll finally have ours.”

Before the football game on Saturday, Pearce stood by the new statue, offering to take people's photos with it.

Pearce’s daughter, Jessica Pearce, an ASU alumna and current master’s degree student, attended the installation of the pitchfork on Friday.

“My dad has always been a huge ASU fan and supporter, so it’s nice that he can give back in a way that will stick around long after we’re all gone.”

Top photo: Ashwini Dhas (left) and Casey Clowes, both alumni of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU, pose for photos at the new pitchfork statue at Sun Devil Stadium before the ASU football game on Saturday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU sororities earn national Panhellenic Excellence Award

September 4, 2018

Arizona State University’s Panhellenic Council recently received the College Panhellenic Excellence Award for 2017-2018, a national honor that recognizes their efforts to advance the sorority experience in academics, programming, recruitment and more.

Along with 25 other college Panhellenic associations, ASU was presented the award by the National Panhellenic Conference, one of the largest advocacy and support organizations for women. ASU is one of 670 NPC member organizations at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Sorority sisters at Greek Leadership Village Sorority sisters (from left) Makaila Schmidt, Katherine Chadwick, Amber Godbehere and Lauren Florendo flash their sign outside the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at the newly completed Greek Leadership Village in Tempe on Aug. 7. Twenty-seven of the 77 social organizations affiliated with ASU have housing in the new facility; sophomores, juniors and seniors will reside in the 12 sororities and 15 fraternities. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

The NPC Excellence Award recognizes associations that have excelled in all areas of Panhellenic operations and core competencies within seven criteria of value: academics; communication with their NPC area adviser; judicial procedures; Panhellenic community impact and relations; Panhellenic programs; Panhellenic structure; and recruitment.

“The Panhellenic Council at ASU is committed to academic excellence, service and supporting issues of importance to women at ASU,” said Gary Ballinger, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at ASU. “We are extremely proud of their achievements and the impact of their efforts to advance the mission and vision of NPC on behalf of undergraduate women. The honor is richly deserved,” Ballinger said.

Mary Flora, a senior studying history (secondary education) in the College Of Liberal Arts and Sciences, serves as president of ASU’s Panhellenic Council. Flora said that receiving the award means that the hard work and dedication of preceding executive boards is finally being recognized.

The Panhellenic Council at ASU is the governing body providing oversight to the 14 National Panhellenic Conference sororities and two associate member sororities at the university. Within the ASU Greek Community, the Panhellenic Council is responsible for planning programming events, holding chapters accountable for their actions and coordinating recruitment.

“As a Panhellenic community we hold high standards for our chapters and their members so that the sorority experience is beneficial for all members on this campus,” Flora said.

This standard is applied throughout their work on philanthropic efforts, community service, academics, health and wellness and sexual violence prevention, Flora said.

She noted that the benefits of joining a sorority are multifaceted and long-lasting.

“It’s an incredible experience in which a young, empowered woman will gain lifelong membership and receive consistent networking and social connections, academic support, leadership skills, sisterhood and an unforgettable collegiate experience,” Flora said. “When a woman goes through recruitment, she is not just joining her own chapter — she is joining a community across the world that is not only for four years, it is for life.”

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services