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The future looks fun for outstanding grad who discovered joys of recreational therapy

May 3, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Having fun is a lifelong habit of Kelly Walsh. It’s important to her as a person aspiring to remain healthy and strong in her quest to help improve the lives of others. Kelly (with light complexion, brown hair, and pink and green floral blouse) smiles in Civic Space Park Kelly Walsh. Photo by Alexis Bojorquez Download Full Image

But now having fun for Walsh, the spring 2019 outstanding graduate for the School of Community Resources and Development in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is also part of a framework for rigorous thought and scientific practice. Walsh, of New Hartford, Connecticut, intends to use her Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation management with a concentration in therapeutic recreation to help advance wellness of individuals and communities.

“At the end of the day,” Walsh said, “if you’re not having fun and you’re too stressed out about the work you’re doing, you’re not going to remember those days as being some of the better days of your life, you know?”

Walsh, who also earned a certificate in cross-sector leadership, has had fun at Arizona State University, while serving as a resident assistant on the Tempe campus, being part of the first cohort of the Next Generation Service Corps of the Public Service Academy, co-founding the Devils Spark Change service organization and being part of a team that qualified for a Woodside Grant that purchased equipment for therapeutic recreation at the Maricopa Reentry Center.

Fun as a recreational therapist is an entirely different category. It’s life-changing.

“How I do recreational therapy is to take a holistic approach to working with individuals to tackle any mental or physical barrier they may be having in their lives,” Walsh said.

Through internships and other programs and projects, Walsh has seen that approach work in multiple settings, including healthcare institutions, such as Barrow Neurological Institute, and correctional facilities, such as the Maricopa Reentry Center. Progress can come in the form of patients playing board games with family members or men in a conference room meeting a challenge to keep an inflated balloon from touching the floor.

Who knew?

Walsh didn’t. Not at first.

Walsh didn’t enroll at ASU to become a recreational therapist. At first, she thought she wanted to be a speech language pathologist but changed her mind after a few classes. An adviser picked up on Walsh’s interest in the Special Olympics and suggested a degree in nonprofit leadership management. That was another wrong path.

How about recreation therapy, the adviser asked. Walsh asked for an explanation of what that was and liked what she heard.

“That sounds like you get to make people have fun for a living, and that’s exactly what we do,” she recalls thinking. “I didn’t know you could do that as a profession. You get paid to teach other people how to play.”

There’s a need for play, said Walsh, whose parents instilled in her at a young age the importance of participating in diverse activities to maintain physical and mental health. Through her ASU experience, she now knows there’s a science behind therapeutic play and methods behind the practice.

She also fervently believes leisure and relaxation should be for everyone. Walsh has a particular interest in recreational therapy in correctional settings. Her immediate plans after graduation aren’t set in stone, but she has a career goal of using leisure to reduce recidivism rates.

“I believe all individuals have the right to leisure and that no citizen should be locked away without some form of outlet to cope with the circumstances they are in,” Walsh said. “When individuals are in correctional facilities, they suffer from prisonization, which essentially strips away their identity. I believe recreation helps bring people together and build individuals back up.”

Through her involvement with the Next Generation Service Corps, Walsh said she has spent a lot of time understanding what it means to be a character-driven leader. At the same time, her hands-on experiences in recreation therapy gave richer, deeper meaning to textbook knowledge. She connected it all to the care she was giving clients battling addiction, experiencing homelessness, adjusting to traumatic injury or learning how to live with a mental health diagnosis.

“I am excited to have developed a new love for learning in the past year that focuses on the worth of the materials being learned, but more importantly, how they are being translated in the communities we are serving,” Walsh said.

Walsh is interested in diving deeper into the research on recreational therapy. Recreational therapists need the education that comes from evidenced-based practice to deliver the treatment people need, she said, adding she’ll forever remember something instructor Kelly Ramella taught her about pursuing passion and earning respect for the profession:

“Recreational therapy is not the most accredited profession in the field,” she said. “We have to push through if we believe in the practice that we preach. And we have to make sure the other professions understand that we are credible and our clients see us as being a source in their recovery.”

Walsh’s best advice to students is not hard to guess: Seek knowledge and experiences beyond the classroom. Connect with people who have interests and perspectives unlike your own. Find places to experience new things and ideas.

And, of course, have fun.

Story by Jennifer Dokes

From senior master sergeant to master's degree, grad sees value of access to education

May 3, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Loescher takes to heart the universal truth that education is a great equalizer. He has seen it in action during his military career in places like Baghdad. He is also living proof. Joshua (light complexion with close-cropped blonde hair) stands in black uniform in front of Air National Guard fire truck and american flag Joshua Loescher. Download Full Image

“I’ve been able to go to other places in the world and see different things,” Loescher said. “Not all of it is good.”

But it can be better. Loescher firmly believes that.

“I am passionate about equity of opportunity and the role that education plays in that,” said Loescher, a Wisconsin Air National Guard fire chief. “Having witnessed the manifestation of the globalization of education and the equity in opportunity it provided me and others across the globe, I can’t help but be enamored by it.”

Loescher, who is graduating from Arizona State University with a master’s degree in public safety leadership and administration, is the spring 2019 outstanding interdisciplinary graduate for Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Loescher’s appreciation of access to education as a universal phenomenon grew when he saw how Iraqis and others struggled to learn what American military firefighters were assigned to teach. 

“They don’t know what they don’t know,” Loescher said. “The reason they were not very good at the job is because they didn’t have the opportunity to be good. They didn’t have the training. … These people aren’t inherently lazy. They inherently don’t have opportunity.”

Loescher could relate on a personal level. College opportunities were limited for a kid from rural Wisconsin with a high school academic record that was “less than stellar.” Online degree programs opened up a new world of possibilities for Loescher.

“You can find a bajillion statistics out there about how people that have attained bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees are smarter, healthier, they make more money, and they have a general overall better quality of life,” Loescher said.

“I made the choice to enlist in the military. I didn’t think it was right, that because I made a choice to go into the military as opposed to going to college, that I should have less opportunity than somebody else.”

Online degree programs offer opportunities “to do exactly what you want to do and when you want to do it,” Loescher said.

In 2017, Loescher earned his bachelor’s degree in fire science from American Military University, an online learning institution. He took just a few months off and then dived into the Watts College online master’s degree program.

Loescher credits ASU’s proactive approach to making college accessible for helping him become more of who he wants to be as a professional and a person. He said the master’s degree gives him a more complete understanding of how to manage an organization, which he believes will help him be a better fire chief and leader.

His capstone project already has the attention of high command. As part of his program, Loescher analyzed a major challenge of the dual federal and state budget processes that finance National Guard installations. National Guard units belong to states, but each installation’s base, buildings and equipment are owned by the federal government. The federal government pays states to fund National Guard firefighters.

The Air National Guard is interested in knowing the impact of converting firefighters from being federally funded employees to simply federal employees. Loescher provided some answers.

For each Air National Guard fire department, Loescher assessed costs and variables over five years. He then analyzed the leadership impacts from introducing such a major institutional change. His work is making its way up the Air National Guard chain of command, providing insight that could yield greater efficiencies in fire service administration and operations.

Loescher, who has three deployments and has earned 19 decorations during his military career, expects to apply what he has learned at ASU in service to others. Some ideas for the future include teaching at the college level and perhaps one more deployment, where he hopes to repeat making a positive difference training military firefighters.

But the overall goal for Loescher, a proud husband and father to three sons, is to continue to be someone who leads by “positive example of kindness, compassion, inclusion and understanding.”

“If you’re going to use your position to your advantage, you should use it because you know there’s a bunch of people watching you,” he said. “If you just do the things you’re supposed to do and you’re nice to people and you work hard, then that will tell people who are watching you that, ‘It worked out for that guy. Look at him; he’s a fire chief. If it worked for him, it will probably work out for me, too.’”

Story by Jennifer Dokes

Master of Social Work grad draws from history and legacy to help others

May 2, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Jennifer Harrison’s master’s degree in social work bears proof she has the training and knowledge to be an effective professional. But the summa cum laude graduate of Arizona State University will put so much more than that into her career of helping people. Jennifer Harrison (medium complexion with long dark hair, wearing native american turquoise jewelry and a dark teal dress) sits before a gray and white woven Native American tapestry Jennifer Harrison. Download Full Image

In service to American Indian communities and in staying true to herself, Harrison, of Gallup, New Mexico, will draw from history and legacy in pressing forward in a career in social work. Restoring a strong foundation of tradition and the ceremonies taught by elders “that guide us in our life journeys,” she said, is important in addressing the historical trauma found at the root of modern-day suffering among some American Indians.

Harrison, a first-generation college graduate, is the spring 2019 outstanding graduate for the School of Social Work in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Scholarship and leadership are hallmarks of Harrison’s career at ASU, where she also received her bachelor’s degree. She earned her master’s degree through scholarships from the Navajo Nation and the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute. She is the president of the American Indian Social Work Student Association and has been active in ASU campus conversations about diversity and inclusion.

Christopher Sharp, a project coordinator in the School of Social Work’s Office of American Indian Projects, said he has enjoyed watching Harrison apply skills that have made an impact at the university and in the community.

“She is self-confident and can advocate, but in a humble way,” Sharp said, adding that she exceeds expectations in leadership. He believes that will continue as she pursues her passion of tribal child welfare and becomes a leader in that field. “She’ll be an asset to the community that she works with."

Last fall, she coordinated a powerful signature event for Native American Heritage Month featuring a pre-release screening of “Blood Memory” and a discussion with Sandy White Hawk, one of the main subjects in the documentary about the U.S. Indian Adoption Era. The “Blood Memory” event was designed to raise awareness about the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which is under legal challenge. Harrison is a strong advocate of that act, often referred to as the “gold standard” in child welfare policy.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was a response to an alarmingly high rate of forced removal of American Indian children from their traditional homes. Those child removal and adoption practices, like the U.S. policy of forcibly removing children from their homes and into government-run boarding schools, was considered another in a series of attempts to eradicate American Indian culture and customs.

Harrison, the mother of a young son, knows the value of culture and customs. She believes values handed down by her elders helped her overcome challenges and obstacles to her success, including the oppressive grief of losing a parent and grandparent and the culture shock of moving from a small town to a big city far from family.  

Those same values are helping Harrison raise her son and to be a community leader where needed. When she moved to Phoenix three years ago, she had no idea leadership and volunteer roles with Cub Scouts and youth sports would be such a big part of her life.

Harrison came to be a social worker by way of studying nursing and then nearly becoming a physical therapist.

“My family is like, ‘Stick to one thing.’ But no, 'I want to do this, and this and this,'” Harrison said.

Everything she wanted to do was in what someone called a “helping profession.” A helper is who Harrison is at her core.

“I found out about social work and saw that’s exactly what I want to do, not the medical aspect but the advocacy aspect of it,” Harrison said.

Harrison got a taste of advocacy work by volunteering with the Court Appointed Special Assistant program. While she intends to concentrate on Indian Child Welfare Act advocacy, she does entertain future plans of earning a doctoral degree in social work or perhaps becoming a guardian ad litem — a guardian appointed by a court to protect the interests of a minor or other vulnerable individual — which could put her on a path to attend law school.

There is no shortage of areas to help, Harrison realizes, but there is success with commitment. She encourages those still in school to stay focused and dig deep.

“It’s possible to reach your dream,” Harrison said. “Don’t give up on it. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.”

Story by Jennifer Dokes

Change maker hopes to use public policy to live university charter long after graduation

May 2, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Aly Perkins’ academic transcript bears the look of a young scholar in a hurry to get to the next level. Her success in advanced placement classes gave her a large head start in college. The Arizona State University graduate completed her bachelor’s degree in three years. Aly Perkins (light complexion with medium brown hair, wears sleeveless dress, maroon mortar board, maroon and gold cords, and gold stole of gratitude) stands smiling in front of Arizona Capitol building Aly Perkins. Photo by Nicole Hernandez Download Full Image

But Perkins does more with her time than most. While the pace of her academic career is impressive, it’s the passion behind all of her pursuits and the impact of her efforts that set her apart. During her relatively short stint at ASU, Perkins, of San Clemente, California, spent two sessions as an Arizona Senate page, was elected to student senate and then president of the Downtown Phoenix campus and made academic program history at ASU by becoming the first student to create a course certificate that will help advance an early understanding of law.

The brilliant thinker is a change maker. She’s also the spring 2019 outstanding graduate from Barrett, The Honors College, earning her degree from the School of Public Affairs in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
“Aly is someone who can change the world in a positive way. I think she already has,” said Joanna Lucio, associate dean of academic affairs for Watts College. “She’s someone who is so passionate about what she does. The effort she puts into her work really just shows how passionate she is.”

Three years ago, Perkins was on a path to advance her water polo career to the collegiate level. But, as is her habit, she examined many possibilities.

“There was something about ASU that made me reconsider my options and attend school without continuing with water polo,” Perkins said. “The Honors college especially was a big draw for me.”

Perkins is always drawn to a challenge. The motivation behind all those AP classes wasn’t to earn college credits, although that was a nice bonus. Perkins said she just wanted the academic challenge.

She got two other bonuses in enrolling in the School of Public affairs. Both were unexpected.

First, she recalls welcoming remarks from Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell who touted the ASU Charter.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is interesting. I wasn’t really expecting this coming here. My goal was to just get a degree and go to law school. I’m not sure what the public service element has to do with anything. I’m kind of confused by the emphasis on inclusivity.’

“But, really, the work that I’ve been able to do with both student government and just being in the school environment for three years has really taught me the importance of that inclusivity,” Perkins said. “I don’t view society the same any more. My worldview is different.”

Different, she said, in a way that makes her hopeful and concerned.

“I’m going to try to do my part to make sure the philosophy of the charter is carried out past ASU,” Perkins said.

The second unexpected bonus came when she dove into her course of study.

“I chose public policy in particular because I always knew I wanted to go to law school,” she said. “To me, it felt like this degree program would be the best fit for preparing me for law school, but it turns out that I love public policy for what it is so much more than I ever anticipated.”

There’s enough love for public policy and ASU for Perkins to want to spend time more time in the Valley. Upon graduation, she’ll work in the ASU Office of Government and Community Relations. Law school can wait a few years, she said.

Perkins has no strong desire to become a lawyer. Her determination to go to law school comes from a realization early in life about the impact laws have on individuals and society.

“[The law] is applicable to everyone’s life,” Perkins said. “Whether or not you pay attention to it, it doesn’t matter because it’s paying attention to you. The way it touches everyone’s life is really interesting to me.”

Spending time at the Arizona Capitol, getting an up close and personal look at political process and policy development, reinforced that impression.

“I don’t have a particular [law] specialization in mind. I don’t even want, at this point, to even practice law as your typical lawyer. I really want to be a lobbyist or an advocate with a JD.”

Lucio, who was Perkins’ honors thesis chairperson, thinks ahead five or 10 years to whatever challenge Perkins has in her sights. The possibilities seem endless.

“She can do anything,” Lucio said. “But I see her making successful change in government policies. She’s going to law school so she can really learn the tools that she needs … to work in the government in some capacity. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s state or federal government fighting for changes that need to be done.”

Story by Jennifer Dokes

ASU Online student reaches graduation milestone through Starbucks College Achievement Plan

May 2, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

ASU online student Carrie Hough had a lifelong goal. She hoped to be able to complete her bachelor’s degree with little to no debt. With this goal in mind, Hough enrolled at Arizona State University in the Fall 2015, just a year after ASU and Starbucks announced their first-of-its-kind partnership. ASU Online Student Carrie Hough Carrie Hough pursued her business communication degree without debt thanks to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. Download Full Image

“As a store manager with Starbucks for 17 years, I was thrilled to be able earn my lifelong goal of having a bachelor’s degree without debt. I chose to attend ASU in order to earn my degree through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.”

When it came time to choose her degree program, Hough decided to major in the Business (Communication) program through the W. P. Carey School of Business, which has allowed her to grow her expertise as a manager and strengthen her communication skills within her current role at Starbucks.

During her time at ASU, Hough also developed an interest in history after taking four courses with Brock Ruggles, an instructor with the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. According to Hough, “These history courses opened my eyes to the role and level of responsibility that the United States has to the rest of the world. I now feel like I have the ‘big picture’ and can use these lessons to educate and help others be better citizens and corporate leaders.”

In order to celebrate this milestone, Hough is traveling from her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, to Tempe in order to attend commencement and other graduation events with her classmates and fellow Starbucks partners. Hough also recognizes Starbucks’ partnership with ASU that has allowed her to complete her degree while receiving full tuition coverage from her company.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: In one my communication courses, COM 430, the textbook clearly stated, “Communication is leadership.” I’ve always felt that I am a good leader and a good communicator, so being able to formally study communications has reinforced that this skill is essential for building meaningful, lasting relationships.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I took all four of Brock Ruggles’ online history courses as part of my elective courses (Contemporary America, Vietnam War, the Modern Middle East, and Immigration and Ethnicity). Being a business major, I was able to connect our actions as a country to the broader world theater and understand our impact on other countries’ economic well-being, military actions and cultural identities.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I have had so many great experiences with professors at ASU. Being an online student, personal interactions were very intermittent; I’ve only ever met one professor in person. I think that every interaction that I’ve had with a professor at ASU has been one full of compassion, reason and understanding. This is a very important life lesson for me to remember when I get busy: Take time to recognize the individual and their struggle. Act with compassion and provide reasonable expectations and solutions.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: If I were to give advice to someone who is still in school, it would be to not be afraid to ask for help when needed. The staff and professors at the school want to see you succeed. They will help you find resources if you are struggling! Ask your friends and family for help; they don’t know you need it until you ask. This journey is not one that we take alone.

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: When my oldest son moved out of the house, I was able to turn his bedroom into an office space. I love schoolwork and studying, but it was great to be able to separate schoolwork from home life by being able to shut the door. Being present at home and at work is important to me, so it was beneficial to be able to feel like I could break away when needed.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My immediate plan after graduation would be to read a book for fun! I have an interest in pursuing an MBA but will probably give myself some time to rest before pursuing that option. As far as a career options go, I have no pressing plan to leave Starbucks, as I would prefer an internal promotion, but would be open to other options if the perfect position in a great company was presented to me.

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

A: I would hope to build a crowdfunded microfinance company similar to Kiva. I believe that by empowering people, especially women, to find a way to support themselves and their families through their own work, we can start the elimination of poverty. By connecting funds to those that are needy, we can provide them a sustainable way to enrich their lives and protect themselves from the inherent risks of unemployment and poverty. There are many very brilliant people in the world that have much better ideas than I ever could imagine about how to improve their lives — they just need a chance to prove it!

Carrie Peterson

Media Relations Manager, EdPlus at Arizona State University


ASU student-led payloads launched on Blue Origin space vehicle

May 2, 2019

Three Arizona State University student-led payload projects launched into space Thursday at 6:34 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle.

The payloads launched from Blue Origin’s facility in west Texas, approximately two hours east of El Paso. The New Shepard vertical takeoff and landing vehicle is capable of carrying hundreds of pounds of payload per flight and is ultimately expected to carry six astronauts to altitudes beyond 100 kilometers, the internationally recognized boundary of space.  Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle launches on May 2 in west Texas, with three ASU student-led payloads on board. Download Full Image

The student-led payloads were selected during a competitive pitching competition last year at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. To earn a spot, students were challenged to do one of three things for their payload project: Answer a science question, test technology development or engage the five senses (smell, taste, sight, touch, sound) in space.

The finalists’ payloads are the Suborbital Coagulation and Aggregation in Microgravity (science category), the Remote Acoustic Sensor (technology category) and Space Devils (five senses in space category). The teams are composed of students from both the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. They were built and designed at ASU and remotely by the students with guidance from ASU faculty mentors.

“These are the first-ever ASU student-designed and -built payloads to be launched into space and brought back to Earth,” said project lead Tanya Harrison, who is the director of research at ASU’s NewSpace Initiative. “The New Shepard suborbital rocket took our student payloads beyond the ‘Kármán line’ — the defined boundary of space.”

The payload slots on New Shepard were funded by ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative, a universitywide effort to build the future of humans in space; NewSpace, which is leading the integration of academic and commercial space enterprises using ASU’s strengths in space science, engineering and education; and by a generous donation from private donors Peter and Cathy Swan. 

“These student-led payload projects show that the opportunity exists for ASU students to design, build and fly in space,” said Peter Swan, who is also an Interplanetary Initiative team member and space industry expert. “This collaboration with Blue Origin opens up the future to our ASU students."

New Shepard launch

Watching from Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site along with Harrison were student-payload team members Logan Sisca and David Bates. Sisca and Bates are team members of the Remote Acoustic Sensor (RAS) payload, which was designed to capture acoustic data from bees and record their vibrations, pressures and orientation in space. 

"It is always rewarding to see your team's space hardware take flight, and this mission is no exception since our ASU engineering educations have led up to this moment,” said Sisca. “I am most excited to see the data and onboard video and I hope that the compelling in-space footage inspires future engineers and scientists to pursue their passion for exploration." 

When the RAS payload team members arrived at Blue Origin’s launch site, they loaded 24 locally sourced honeybees into the payload's experiment chamber, which is about the size of a softball. The bees remained in the chamber for the duration of the mission and were provided with sugar cubes to maintain their energy levels. Following the successful completion of their space mission, the bees — also known as "Flapstronauts" — were released into the wild to pollinate crops on Earth. 

“For our payload, we wanted to study the behavior of honeybees in space because, as prime pollinators, they are essential in any space colonization effort where crops are needed to be grown for food,” explained Sisca.

"The RAS payload has two goals,” said Bates. “The first is to observe the behavior of honeybees in the varying gravity and acceleration environments of space travel; and the second is to prove the viability of the remote acoustic sensor that measures air pressure variations like a microphone. RAS analyzes variations in light intensity that are produced when vibrating objects pass in front of the sensor and then converts that data into a sound file.”

As Bates explained, the RAS is able to "hear" objects in the vacuum of space and the successful operation of this experiment will verify that the RAS technology can operate aboard a spacecraft and that it can be used to gather information about the bees during flight.

“With good enough optical sensors, we can use ordinary light to hear vibrations even miles away,” added Danny Jacobs of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, who is a faculty mentor for the RAS team. “Given the task of demonstrating this technique on a rocket flight but constrained to a small box, the team conceived the novel application of monitoring insects. With much trial and error, the team recreated a RAS sensor, demonstrated it on bees and built a really nice experiment around it. This was all accomplished working remotely online and mailing hardware to each other. What a tour de force!”

Members of the original team include Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering electrical engineering undergrads Bates, Sisca, Bryan Trinidad and Roland Lizana. This team consisted entirely of online students spread across the country, as well as one student, Trinidad, who was working aboard a naval vessel in the Persian Gulf. While some team communication was done online, the team also shipped the payload around the world so each team member could physically work on it. Their faculty capstone leader is Mike Goryll with the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.

“This project raises the technology readiness level of the remote acoustic technology which was invented by Dan Slater and promoted by Rex Ridenoure of Ecliptic Enterprises,” added Jacobs. “They were important mentors for this team and provided lots of help during the early concept development and testing of the sensor.”

Other ASU student-led payloads

The Suborbital Coagulation and Aggregation in Microgravity (SCAM) payload seeks to test the agglomeration of small particles, ranging from millimeter to centimeter in size, as they make collisions in microgravity, helping us to understand how planets form.  

Original members of the team include School of Earth and Space Exploration undergraduates Pat Jackson (exploration systems design), Jason Pickering (astrophysics), Chris Huglin (exploration systems design), Jin Kim (astrophysics), Kevin White (astrobiology), Kanishka Nirmale (astrophysics) and Mitchell Drake (explorations systems design). Their faculty mentor is Chris Groppi with the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

The Space Devils “Five Senses” payload measures and collects data on sight, smell, taste, touch and sound in space. It has, as its centerpiece, an ASU Sparky figure attached to a spring. During ascent and descent, Sparky is pushed up and down, creating the illusion that Sparky is doing pushups, which is measured by an accelerometer. A camera recorded the pushups, a microphone captured the sounds of the spaceflight, and air was pulled into the payload and passed through scent paper to capture the smell of space. 

The original members of the team include Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering mechanical engineering undergrads: Cody Bisbing, Gabby Bovaird, Clint Farnsworth, Josh Fixel, Peter Marple and Landon Wiltbank. Their faculty capstone leader is Abdelrahman Shuaib with the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration


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Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College grad doubles down on bilingual students

May 2, 2019

Cinthia Garcia is ready for her forever job

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Cinthia Garcia found her calling as a teacher in high school, but she didn’t discover her niche until she was in college.

Garcia, who is graduating from Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (bilingual education and English as a second language), is ready to start her career and transform lives.

“I relate well to Spanish-speaking students from other countries because we share the same culture, background and experiences,” said Garcia, who is currently student teaching at Esperanza Elementary School in the Isaac Elementary District in Phoenix. “They are dealing with issues that most grade schoolers don’t have to face such as deportation and being held back in classrooms. They will benefit greatly from a teacher who understands them.”

Garcia has a standing offer from Esperanza to start work after graduation but can play the field — ESL instructors are in high demand across the country.

She said her time at ASU was both challenging and exhilarating, with knowledgeable educators pushing her far beyond her expectations.

“ASU took me so much further that I thought I could go,” Garcia said.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study bilingual education?

Answer: Before attending ASU, I went to Estrella Mountain Community College and took courses in elementary education. One of the courses I had to take was about ESL students and how the teaching would be adjusted to assist these students. This is when I fell in love with the idea of becoming an ESL/bilingual teacher. My professor had inspired me and I would leave class feeling this incredible amount of excitement and determination. I had known I wanted to become a teacher since my senior year of high school, but I had no idea that there was a path for me at ASU. Bilingual/ESL students are my passion, I feel like I can relate to them in so many ways, especially culturally. My mother was also an ESL student when she was in school, so I am well aware of what it felt like to be a student in that position. I wanted to become a critically conscious teacher and bring my passion for teaching and culture together and I feel like I can achieve that with the career I chose.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU?

A: While at ASU I learned the truth behind what it means to be a teacher. #REDforED was in full force during the time I was going through my internships. Teachers were losing hours of work and class time to advocate for the betterment of the educational system here in Arizona. However, instead of shying away from becoming a teacher due to the challenges of it, it made me that much more excited to become part of the growth and change. Teachers have to put in work day in and day out, whether they are in the classroom or not. During my senior year internship, I felt like I was becoming a full-fledged teacher, and I started to experience how much of myself was being dedicated to them. It was and still is a challenge as I complete this year, but I have never been afraid of a challenge, or else I wouldn't consider myself a Sun Devil.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I was researching which university had the best college for future teachers. I really liked MLFTC and did more research on what they had to offer and immediately knew I would want to be part of the MLFTC program. I was part of the MAPP program at my community college, which made my transition to ASU so much easier. I knew exactly which courses to take so that I would be ready to become a Sun Devil.

Q: What’s the best advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Never lose sight of what you came here to accomplish, and never feel like you don’t have what it takes. Each year has new challenges and you will often find yourself questioning whether you made the right choice or if you bit off more than you can chew. The truth is, maybe you are incredibly overwhelmed, maybe you found a new passion, or maybe things are getting too rocky, but that shouldn’t be an obstacle. Look at them as opportunities to grow and discover you are capable of more than you knew before. ASU is the best place to try new classes, meet new people, and discover more about yourself. Your dream may change, but your love and dedication to yourself should not. Go easy on yourself; you are doing the best you can.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?

A: This was probably the easiest question of them all — the Memorial Union at the Tempe campus. I found myself here more often than I should have, but it is perfect for all your needs. There is almost always something going on there, the food choice is so vast, and it is a great place to meet new people or just sit and do some homework. My favorite days would be when the clubs would set up DJs and promote themselves, the music made the environment so lively and fun. I would sip on some coffee from Starbucks and chat up with members of my cohort; I can still taste that caramel frappe.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: First, I would take a much needed trip. I am debating between California and Mexico, but I am not sure yet; either way, a trip is well deserved. My next big goal would be to become the best fifth grade teacher I can possibly be. At this time, I don’t know what school I will work in, but I have applied to the Litchfield School District and also have been offered a position at my current internship. Whichever school I end up in, I would like to become an asset to my students, coworkers, parents and the overall community. A school, to me, is much more than just what goes on in the classroom. I would like to take part in all the school and community events, and create a classroom that is known to be welcoming and productive.

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

A: I would invest in organizations that help the environment. There won’t be a “livable” planet for long if we don’t make changes now. This is also one of the attributes that I love about ASU because each campus has solar panels and plenty of trash cans with a recycle bin. The ocean is suffering the most and it takes up most of the planet, the incredible trash islands and oil spills, endangered species, and overall quality and temperature of the water are just some of the tragedies that exist environmentally. We only have one ocean, one planet and one choice to make. I think we should make the right one and switch to sustainable energy, create new methods of trash control and change our perspective on how dire the situation really is. I would like for my students and their children to live in a world that is healthy and full of life, and if I had that amount of money, I would do my best to secure that wish.

Top image: Cinthia Garcia is a summa cum laude graduate in bilingual/ESL education. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Reporter , ASU Now


Measuring the stars: ASU student awarded fellowship for summer workshop in Los Alamos

May 2, 2019

Arizona State University physics sophomore Chase Hanson has been awarded an $8,000 fellowship to participate in the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s annual Computations Physics Student Summer Workshop.

The 10-week workshop brings together exceptional undergraduate and graduate students to work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory staff on current and exciting projects. Chase Hanson presented his research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium. Download Full Image

Hanson hopes to be working on a project involving helioseismology, which is the study of the structure and dynamics of the sun and other stars.

“I would be developing methods to calculate what is called lines of dense plasma; it details quantum phase transitions in stars," he said. “Essentially it’s really hard to understand the quantum mechanics of stars; they’re changing phases, they’re changing quantum states.”

Hanson has been working with ASU Department of Physics Assistant Professor Antia Botana, whose expertise includes a specialty in computational condensed matter physics.

He was also awarded the Wally Stoelzel Physics Scholarship for 2019 and won the Department of Physics Research Award at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium for his research on “Collective theory of ferromagnetism from DFT calculations.”

Dominique Perkins

Events and Communications Coordinator, Department of Physics


ASU students attend world-renowned cybersecurity conference

May 2, 2019

Last month, more than 50,000 cybersecurityThe name RSA refers to the public-key encryption technology developed by RSA Data Security, Inc., which was founded in 1982. professionals from around the globe converged on San Francisco to attend the world’s preeminent cybersecurity gathering, the RSA Conference. Among the crowd were two ASU undergraduate students, Muhammed Kilig and Raida Khan, both computer science majors in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Kilig and Khan were invited as 2018 RSAC Scholar recipients with all travel and registration costs covered by the conference.

As outstanding ASU cybersecurity students, they were chosen to attend this year's conference, where they learned from leading cybersecurity experts and were given access to a network with more than 600 companies to make connections for their futures. Security Scholars vlog at that RSA conference. Photo courtesy of Muhammed Kilig Download Full Image

“It’s like every corner you turn in this whole conference is an opportunity,” Khan said. “We connected with the first female chief information security officer for the White House, and she said, ‘Come meet me, we’ll talk,’ and we did!”

Conference speakers ranged from the FBI director to actress Helen Mirren. “The final keynote was by Tina Fey. We’re like speechless … for all the stuff we’ve gotten to do,” Kilig said.

Each year the RSAC sponsors outstanding students to attend the conference through the RSAC Security Scholars program. Only a handful of universities were selected to offer the RSAC Scholars program to their students. ASU was one of the first schools to be included in this program, which is administered by the Cybersecurity Education Consortium (CEC) and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Students across ASU have the opportunity to apply to be selected as RSAC Security Scholars and attend the weeklong conference completely free of charge. They are invited back in subsequent years, and their conference registration is waived, allowing them to meet the next cohort of scholars and rejoin the fellow scholars from their cohorts. Students interested in applying next year may visit the CEC website for more information.  

Follow the CEC on Twitter to see more about Kilig and Khan’s experience at the RSA Conference.

Program Coordinator, Cybersecurity Education Consortium, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences


Helping peers engineer a rewarding experience at ASU

May 2, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Zachary Tronstad’s most rewarding experiences at Arizona State University have been helping people and finding inspiration to make an impact through engineering. Zachary Tronstad Zachary Tronstad. Download Full Image

By getting involved outside the classroom, Tronstad helped his peers as a tutor, made waves in water filtration research with the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and assisted high school students in the Shonto community of the Navajo Nation to start a mountain biking team with Engineers Without Borders and Engineering Projects in Community Service.

He encourages other students to do more than study to get the most out of their Sun Devil experience.

“There are so many clubs, research opportunities and unique groups of people that you aren’t going to find anywhere else,” said Tronstad, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with a minor in materials science and engineering. “Get involved with a couple — it might actually help your grades to have something besides school to focus on, and it’ll make you a much more appealing job candidate.”

He owes his critical thinking skills and independent problem-solving skills to his FURI mentor, Matthew Green, an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“By giving me my own research project and letting me own it, I was able to develop problem-solving skills and learn how to present my findings and their importance to others,” Tronstad said.

His hard work paid off. The National Merit Scholar and New American University Scholar earned an award for best presentation materials at the 2018 Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium and an IMPACT award for his EPICS project with the Shonto community. He was also recently recognized as the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate of the Year by the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the six Fulton Schools. 

In 2017, Tronstad had the opportunity to be a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Last year, he participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Besides flexing his engineering skills, Tronstad developed his spirituality through the Navigators, a Christian club focused on spiritual discipleship, where he was vice president and planned weekly service events and trips for the club to conduct over spring break.

Tronstad’s wife, Kristina, whom he met at church in high school and married last January, is also an ASU grad and has been a great source of support during his studies. She graduated last December and now teaches second grade in the Roosevelt School District.

After graduation, he plans to continue work with the Navigators and participate in a two-year internship with EDGE Corps. Then, he’ll get back to chemical engineering in graduate school.

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Tronstad's favorites

Hobby: Basketball
TV show: "Sherlock"
Sports team: Philadelphia Eagles
Last book read: "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2019 class.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering