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ASU student wins national award for support of women in engineering

September 28, 2020

People told Elizabeth Jones for years that she couldn’t be an engineer. But she knew that not only could she become one, but so could many others who didn’t fit engineering stereotypes.

Now, the fourth-year electrical engineering student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University has been named one of the top contributors to the collegiate engineering community by the Society of Women Engineers, a global advocacy, service and educational not-for-profit organization supporting women and diversity in engineering and technology. Elizabeth Jones assists an elementary school student at GEAR Day 2018. Electrical engineering major Elizabeth Jones assists an elementary school student at GEAR Day 2018, an Arizona State University section of the Society of Women Engineers outreach event. Jones was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the Society of Women Engineers and the engineering community at ASU and beyond with a 2020 SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member award. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU Download Full Image

The SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member award is given to only 10 society members in the nation each year, celebrating those who demonstrate outstanding contributions to SWE, the engineering community and their university.

Jones has been recognized for “impressive academic drive, for tireless outreach and for mentoring and fostering a sense of empowerment and belonging among women engineers, well beyond the classroom.”

“When I was younger, I didn’t have people challenging the gender norm — I was told to teach, stay in the kitchen and be a housewife,” said Jones, now a high-achieving engineering student and president of ASU’s section of the SWE organization. “Those norms don’t need to stay around. My passion is to change that by advocating for my SWE section and myself.”

The award came as a surprise to Jones who was nominated by her roommate, Rachel Scheller, an electrical engineering senior and the ASU SWE section vice president of graduate affairs.

“After reading the description for the SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member award, I could not think of a more appropriate or deserving candidate for such an award,” Scheller said. “Liz being chosen for this award truly validates and puts a spotlight on everything we as a community — with Liz at the helm — have worked so hard to build over the last few years. I hope that through this award, Liz and SWE ASU can continue to expand our work for the betterment of the community around us.”

Alicia Baumann, a lecturer in the Fulton Schools and the SWE ASU section undergraduate adviser, says Jones embodies SWE’s mission to advance, aspire and achieve every day. Jones’ passionate leadership in partnership with the members’ support made the achievement possible.

“As Liz Jones empowers young women of all age levels, those women and experiences drive her to push boundaries and set new goals for how our ASU SWE students can impact our community,” Baumann said. “We all look forward to seeing what Liz will accomplish in the future. With her on our side, I know our future young women at ASU will have more opportunities than ever.”

Jones will be recognized at WE20, the national SWE conference held online Nov. 3–14.

Rachel Scheller and Elizabeth Jones at an E2 welcome event for incoming Fulton Schools students.

Electrical engineering major Rachel Scheller (left) and Elizabeth Jones participate as counselors in the E2 welcome event for incoming students. Jones fostered a sense of community among the new students and often talked about SWE at the event, some of whom have gone on to be leaders in the ASU section of SWE. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU 

Joining and leading a supportive community of engineers at ASU

Jones’ SWE journey began in high school, where she learned about the organization through outreach events for incoming ASU students.

Finding a community of supportive engineers has been key to her many successes in a challenging field that has not always been welcoming to women.

By the end of her first year, Jones had started her journey into SWE leadership. She served as the ASU section’s outreach officer her sophomore year, where she expanded events like GEAR Day, in which young students are invited to explore engineering through interactive activities.

“As outreach director, Liz innumerably expanded our annual GEAR Day event for children to learn more about STEM,” Scheller said. “Her passion, dedication and true care for the children are what drove her day after day to make the event the best ASU had ever seen.”

By the time she became a junior, Jones had her sights set on SWE’s top leadership position.

Jones served as president her junior year and recently started her second term in that role as a senior. She decided to apply for the position of president to “contribute back to the community” and provide additional resources and opportunities for the organization’s growth.

“I saw the potential for growth as membership numbers were rapidly increasing just before my presidency, and to adjust our planning, opportunities and support for those in the engineering community who identify as women and bring in additional allies,” Jones said.

Under Jones’ leadership, the ASU section has helped many more Sun Devil engineers grow their identities, with the section’s membership continuing its dynamic increase by 86% in the last academic year. The organization now includes more than 300 dues-paying SWE members, with 50 highly active section members who attend meetings and workshops, and who are involved in various activities the organization runs.

Those members are the most rewarding part of the organization for Jones. She says it’s especially encouraging when she sees others in SWE succeed.

Jones has watched her mentees just starting out as engineering majors become leaders in SWE, nontraditional students return to school with a better support system, and her peers get internships and job offers through SWE-supported attendance at conferences to further their careers.

Scheller said, “Liz spends a lot of her time silently and invisibly helping those around her. I felt it was important that not only the ASU but the larger SWE community get a chance to learn about the ways that Liz has impacted those around her.”

Promoting diversity in engineering

Jones is passionate about advocating for diversity and inclusion — something she considers a cornerstone of her identity as an engineer and a key part of ASU’s mission.

“We’re making substantial changes in conversations about diversity and inclusion in engineering,” Jones said, adding that the ASU section of SWE not only focuses on female engineers, but non-female-identifying allies and resources for everyone to be part of the conversation.

Jones is a natural at leading this dialogue, with a long-standing passion for guiding youth to follow their STEM dreams.

“I love being able to help people explore what they want to be when they grow up, and that traditional gender roles are shifting and you're no longer constrained by them,” she said.

She also has held numerous positions outside of SWE that allow her to be a mentor and inspire other women to become engineers. These include roles as a mentor in the Engineering Futures program, as a Fulton Ambassador showing prospective students what it’s like to be a Sun Devil engineer and tutoring her peers to help them succeed in difficult engineering courses.

She has even turned this passion into her honors thesis as a student in Barrett, The Honors College. This project, which is the culmination of her undergraduate education, focuses on self-efficacy and a sense of belonging in engineering.

Jones says role models are one important aspect of developing her identity and confidence as an engineer.

“For me, role models have helped me get through those times when I had self doubt. Without people like Alicia Baumann, I would have dropped engineering. My mentors were always a voice of encouragement and said I was worth giving myself the chance to do what I wanted to do,” Jones said.

“Role models can help you see that people have gone through it, and by getting through it yourself, you’re setting an example for future generations.”

Elizabeth Jones (center) and members of the ASU SWE section leadership team the WE19 Society of Women Engineers conference.

Elizabeth Jones (center) poses with ASU SWE section leadership team members at the WE19 annual Society of Women Engineers conference. Her outstanding support of SWE and the engineering community at ASU are being recognized at WE20 in November. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Jones 

Engineering a rewarding future

As an electrical engineering major focusing on communications and signal processing, Jones works in the Bliss Laboratory of Information, Signals and Systems, conducting research on small-scale radars and solutions for medical and defense applications.

She has been an electrical engineering major since day one, but it took a couple years to figure out which industry she wanted to go into after graduating.

A chance encounter with aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman put her on the path to an aerospace industry career and gave her confidence in her ability to be a successful engineering professional.

At SWE’s 2019 annual conference, WE19, a representative from Northrop Grumman interviewed her for an internship position. It turned out to be one of her proudest engineering moments.

“I wasn’t prepared at all, but it was reassuring that people saw I was capable in a way that I wasn’t yet seeing,” Jones said.

She has participated in two internships and worked part-time with the company during the past school year.

“My internships have validated that I can be a technical engineer and do any work that I want,” Jones said. “It’s reassuring that I can work in the big aerospace and defense industry — which is really male-dominated — and I can pave the way for other women to do the same.”

Jones has been able to “put a bow on the package” of being an engineer and advocate through the Grand Challenges Scholars Program. With a project that focuses on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges of education, now encompassed by the theme of “joy of living,” Jones has been able to take advantage of interdisciplinary opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion in engineering outside of the classroom. She also will be recognized by ASU and NAE for her efforts as a Grand Challenges Scholar when she graduates in the spring.

But her journey won’t be complete. Jones is staying at ASU for a fifth year to finish her graduate degree in electrical engineering as part of the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program. She plans to continue to support the ASU section members of SWE and the wider engineering community to achieve their own goals.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Igniting connections at E2

ASU engineering students maintain connections through event that went virtual in 2020

September 25, 2020

During an age when technologies can yield fewer personal interactions — compounded with current social distancing protocols keeping many of us separated — maintaining meaningful connections is more important than ever.

Some of the earliest connections made by first-year students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University happen during E2. Fulton Schools alumna Joy Marsalla (highlighted) was one of 75 volunteers from industry to participate in the virtual E2 experience during summer 2020. More than 3,500 first-year students from around the world joined E2. Screenshot captured by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

E2 is a unique experience for incoming engineering students to come together with faculty, staff, alumni and industry professionals to get to know the Fulton Schools and build relationships in a casual setting.

Traditionally held away from campus among the towering pines of Prescott, Arizona, the 2020 E2 experience was unlike all its predecessors. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the highly anticipated gathering into a virtual experience — and created new opportunities that have redefined E2.

More than 3,500 incoming students from around the world used Zoom this summer to join one of 20 virtual sessions for their introduction to life as an engineering student in the Fulton Schools.

“E2 emphasizes how much the Fulton Schools cares about students, and how much Ira A. Fulton, our namesake and biggest cheerleader, is still supporting us and wants every one of us to succeed and complete our degree and have a great time doing it,” said Emily Nugent, a 2020 E2 volunteer and recent graduate of the Fulton Schools. “They want us to be involved inside and outside of the classroom. That’s what made my experience exceptional, and I want future students to have those same opportunities.”

But what distinguishes E2 from so many other introductory programs are the real opportunities to connect with working engineers, technologists and alumni who are committed to sharing advice, detailing their own experiences and helping students navigate through their academic and career journeys.

Engineering connections

two people together at event last year

Former Fulton Schools Dean Paul Johnson and Nicolas Corrales before an ASU 101 session at E2 in 2012. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Corrales.

For Nicolas Corrales, the connections he made as a first-year student at E2 in 2010 had a significant impact on his time at ASU, compelling the two-time Fulton Schools graduate to participate as an E2 volunteer every subsequent year, starting his sophomore year.

“I still look back to this day at the connections I made and every experience I gained,” said Corrales, who is a climate control computational fluid dynamics engineer for Ford Motor Company in Michigan. “Being on the other side of the country is another motivation. I don’t get to Tempe very often, so returning for E2 camp also helps me stay connected with the school.”

Corrales says the other students he met during his first camp as an incoming freshman became close friends throughout his years at ASU, and that without E2 he would not have been as involved beyond his coursework during his time as a student.

“I continue to talk with many people I met during the camp to this day,” Corrales said. “I feel the most important part of this camp is building those lasting connections because they prepare students to work together and to develop the mindset that connections will be important to your success.”

The connections made at E2 are not limited to those between students. There also are opportunities for students to connect with industry professionals who can be influential in their academic journey.

Joy Marsalla, a two-time Fulton Schools graduate, is now a member of the alumni board, where she serves alongside Fulton Schools alumnus Chris Kmetty, a construction engineering manager at Markham Contracting Co. Inc.

“I met Chris, one of my long-term mentors, at E2 camp,” said Marsalla, who earned a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 2012. “Chris helped me kickoff Order of the Engineer at ASU, he helped me find my first internship and he is a friend and advocate today.”

Realizing the importance of mentorship and advocacy for students, Marsalla, who now works as a sustainable chemicals management and air emissions program manager at Nike, volunteered throughout several of this year’s virtual E2 sessions.

“Living in Portland, Oregon, I was able to volunteer after work and do a lot more than I would have had E2 been held in person,” she said.

“While I am sad that the in-person experience was missed, I am so inspired by the experienced students, faculty, volunteers and new students who came together to make the best of the experience,” Marsalla said. “I’m most proud of the conversations E2 sparked. E2 connected and reconnected us, so that we can make a bigger impact throughout the year.”

Nugent became a two-time alumna last spring when she graduated with a master’s degree in materials science and engineering. Having spent her final semester as a student just as the pandemic was emerging in the U.S., she was able to draw from her own personal accounts to connect with the incoming students and reassure them about how ASU is handling COVID-19 and online courses.

“I loved being able to use my experience to help new students,” said Nugent, a yield enhancement engineer at NXP Semiconductors. “It felt good to be able to address some of the things making them nervous.”

two people hugging at event last year

Emily Nugent (left) is shown here with Ira A. Fulton in 2018 when she volunteered as an E2 student lead. During the fireside chat sessions she led at this year’s E2, Nugent was able to reconnect with fellow alumni and old friends who had also served student volunteers. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU

Strengthening connections

Volunteering at E2 enables alumni to stay connected with the Fulton Schools and feel a stronger connection to the school and their peers. When it was clear the COVID-19 pandemic would prevent the typical E2 experience, the Fulton Schools alumni chapter hosted a virtual mixer to give former engineering students the opportunity work with Fulton Schools staff to share ideas and explore new ways to engage incoming students.  

“The opportunity to reconnect with the staff and faculty through E2 camp is always something I look forward to,” Corrales said. “It’s great to hear how the school continues to grow. Also, having the opportunity to meet fellow alumni from different years has been great.” 

The new virtual format brought in more than 75 alumni and industry volunteers. Throughout the planning stages and the E2 sessions, many alumni volunteers said watching new engineering and technology students start their journey was especially inspiring.

“I’m proud that I could jump into some of the meetings and see such a qualified and eager group of people ready to start their engineering careers,” Marsalla said. “The format of the meetings allowed us to act as mentors as well as to reconnect with other alumni. I’m proud of how many showed up and dedicated their time and energy to supporting E2.”

Among the many volunteers were also returning students, who recognized the value of building a sense of community and belonging based on their own participation as incoming students.

“When I was a student, it was a good to see students ahead of me in school be leaders,” Nugent said. “It was encouraging to see those students again when I got involved on campus and see some familiar faces.”

Embracing connections

Students often make connections at E2 that create friendships. These connections carry over into their classes as study groups, into their dorms and into their professional careers as colleagues, mentors and advocates.

“I was able to meet my roommate for the first time at E2,” Nugent said. “We are still best friends and have even visited each other in different states since graduating. I know tons of people who have met their best friend at E2 and, in a few cases, even their future spouse.”

The meaning of making connections is more than helping us to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. It can lead to better mental health and show the value of having a dedicated support network.

“E2 is a unique experience that shows how ASU truly prioritizes the relationships students build among themselves, faculty and the community of supporters, alumni and other advocates,” Marsalla said.

“I really felt welcome and that engineering was a giant family,” Nugent said. “I still feel this way. E2 truly represented my experience as an engineering student at ASU. It was a great way to learn about resources and what I should expect from my freshman year and beyond.”

Erik Wirtanen

Web content comm administrator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Former Sen. Jeff Flake answers ASU poli-sci students' most burning political questions

Former Sen. Jeff Flake would hold off on appointing RBG's replacement.
"We're counting on your generation to save us." — former Sen. Flake to students.
September 24, 2020

The former Arizona senator talked about partisanship, the role of media and his thoughts on the importance of civil service

It’s not every day you get to meet with a senator and ask him whatever you want for a whole hour, but that’s exactly what students in the Arizona State University chapter of the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha got to do on Sept. 23 when former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake joined them on Zoom for a candid question-and-answer session.

School of Politics and Global Studies Associate Professor Mark Ramirez welcomed the senator before Pi Sigma Alpha chapter president Anjelica Miller, who is double majoring in political science and criminology and criminal justice, introduced Flake to the group of enthusiastic students.

After a brief rundown of his personal and political history, noting the senator was born in Snowflake, Arizona, and served as the executive director of the Goldwater Institute before retiring from the Senate in 2017, Miller launched directly into the students' questions.

Topics ranged from the lack of unity in American politics to the role of media in sowing division to Flake's thoughts on when to confirm the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.

ASU Now was on hand to listen in and recounts some of the highlights,

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Sen. Jeff Flake

Former Sen. Jeff Flake. Photo courtesy U.S. Congress

Question: What advice would you give to someone considering running for office?

Answer: Do it! We need good people in office, and it’s a noble profession. There are good people on both sides of the aisle. I would just encourage you to involve yourself in a positive way that uplifts rather than a lot of what you see today ... that just drives parties further apart. I’ve had death threats; I got literally shot at on a baseball field. So it’s tough, but it will and can get better. So people need to offer themselves up to run for public office. If we’ve learned anything in the last couple years, it’s that competency matters.

Q: What are your thoughts on appointing Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement?

A: Two years ago today, I was in the Senate and we were debating Brett Kavanaugh. It was a tough time for the country and for the Senate in particular, and I fear that this might even be worse. My own view is that Republicans have every right (according to the Constitution) … to nominate someone … but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. If it were me in the Senate, I would favor holding off.

Q: What concrete measures would you recommend to quell the division driving the two parties apart?

A: I don’t think you can legislate that. Compromise is not an ugly word. Barry Goldwater, one of my political heroes, was known for saying that politics is nothing more than public business; sometimes you have to make the best of a mixed bargain. If you’re going to actually legislate, you should be prepared to do that.

Q: How has media played a role in dividing parties/the public?

A: As soon as one television network or one cable outlet figured out you could make a good amount of money by catering to a small segment of the population, we were in trouble. They have a business model that works; the problem is it’s horrible for the country. … Traditional media has become bifurcated; add onto that social media, and it’s just a toxic brew. I’m not suggesting we try to regulate media or free speech, but members of Congress need to follow different incentives.

Q: What are your thoughts on consuming media nowadays?

A: The struggle these days is to not just look at your tablet or your phone and read whatever the algorithm sends you. For people my age, I would say, "Change the channel." For your age, get out of your newsfeed. Read broadly. I think we’d be far better off as a country if everyone did that.

Q: Was your retirement strategic, and do you think you’ll ever run for office again?

A: I would have liked to do another term in the Senate; I planned on that. But when it came time to make that decision, I knew that in order to be successful as a candidate, I would have to change some of my deeply held positions on things like immigration and foreign policy. Or that I would have to condone behavior and conduct that I couldn’t condone. And ultimately, I knew I’d have to stand on the campaign stage with the president when he came to Arizona and laugh along with his jokes or look at my shoes when he maligned my colleagues or individual groups, and I just couldn’t do it. Like I said, public service is a noble profession, but there are others ways I can serve rather than running for office. I haven’t ruled out some other form of public service.

Q: What are your predictions for the future of American politics?

A: I’m all for partisan politics when it relates to policy. … But this (situation where) you’re either with the president or you’re against the president — that’s no way to go. What I hope to see happen 10 years from now is that we have a political space where Democrats and Republicans can argue about policy again and can debate issues. There’s just very little debate or deliberation going on right now. I do think we will be ourselves again. We’ve been through worse in the past.

Q: What advice do you have for us students?

A: You’re called to the process, and that’s commendable. I hope you’ll consider public service, whether as an elected official or some other way. We need good, honorable, competent people to work in politics, and we're counting on your generation to save us.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Start locally to enact change globally, ASU student advises

September 23, 2020

Arizona State University junior Kelli Brown has a hard time describing what she’s studying to her family over holiday breaks. Her varied interests and thirst for knowledge have led her down an academic path pursuing interdisciplinary degrees in global health and global studies, and certificates in socio-legal studies and evolutionary medicine.

“I’m a little bit all over the place,” Brown said. “It can be hard for me to wrap my head around all of it, too.” portrait of ASU student Kelli Brown Kelli Brown Download Full Image

It boils down to her drive to be an involved global citizen with a desire to enact change through education and public policy.

In her time at ASU, Brown has made connections around the world, conducted research and contributed to a soon-to-be-published paper. 

Start small and see what happens

A Flinn Scholar, Millennium Fellow, policy advocate and intern, Brown recommends starting small to make an impact.

“Whatever you feel is really important in a global sphere, you can work on here first, and ASU has a lot of resources for you to start those projects in your community,” Brown said. “Then, you can be more effective at influencing the global sector after graduation.”

This is exemplified in Brown’s undergraduate involvement. As a sophomore, she became involved with a group of motivated ASU students seeking to change Arizona legislation around sex education. The project has grown and now, through the Millennium Campus Network, Brown has contacts at universities in Nigeria, India and France, who have similar goals in their regions. 

Brown appreciates the complexities of sex education policy, understanding a lot of the progress will have to come from changing ideas, attitudes and norms, which relates to a literature review she completed with ASU researcher Roseanne Schuster this past summer. 

The idea of starting small is also seen in Brown’s contributions to a health education program she’s co-leading with ASU’s Changemaker Central. Brown created a program to educate high school students about the transition into college and adulthood, preparing them for success. Perseverance was key.

“That was one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done in my life just because we hit a lot of dead-ends,” Brown said. 

Now, because of connections developed through Changemaker, Brown and colleagues have a community partner, A New Leaf, and plan to launch remote health seminars in the next couple of months. 

Continuing to grow during COVID-19

Brown kept moving forward over the summer of 2020 when COVID-19 changed her study abroad plans. She continued her research apprenticeship with Schuster, conducting a literature review about norms and behavior change campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa. Brown said the first few months were a lot of trial and error, learning what protocols to search for and how to navigate the USAID database. There were approximately 800 articles to review over the summer.

“Kelli remained dedicated to this study and to our team through the tumultuous spring 2020 semester,” Schuster said. “When COVID-19 was upending many aspects of life and learning, she continued to volunteer on this research over the summer, even training two new students who joined the team.”

Brown said helping train the other students on how to conduct the research was a good way to refocus on the big-picture purpose of the work.

Along with this research, Brown completed a summer internship with the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, where she produced a policy brief about recent changes in child welfare policy and what that means for Arizona’s child welfare system. 

At home at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change

When applying for college, Brown originally wanted to pursue nursing but realized bedside care was not the right fit for her.

“I feel empathy towards people,” Brown said, “but I didn’t think caring for them in that capacity was the best way for me to express that empathy or make it productive.”

In deciding global health was a more fitting path, Brown noted many programs focused largely on public health or pre-med, but found ASU’s anthropology-based global health degree program to be the perfect match. 

Brown’s interests align with the interdisciplinary coursework within the global health program. She was enthralled with Associate Professor Katie Hinde’s “Building Babies” class, noting she had played Hinde’s TED Talk “on repeat” since she was a teenager because she found the research so important and fascinating. 

“I love the faculty, the way they develop the courses and the way they run the courses themselves. My adviser is awesome,” Brown said. “I’ve just been so happy with every aspect of SHESCThe School of Human Evolution and Social Change. It’s just like my home base. Up until now, I was doing homework there all the time. It really felt like the place where I was meant to be, where I’ve wanted to be. And I’ve really loved being a student there.”

What’s next

This fall, Brown is working on her Barrett, The Honors College thesis project, aiming to better understand what compels ASU students to vote, including how social connections play a role in that decision. Brown’s adviser is Alison Cook-Davis, associate director for research with the Morrison Institute for Public Policy. 

After obtaining her undergraduate degrees, Brown may go to graduate school or take some time off. “I’m very much a planner,” she said. “But right now I feel comfortable in my unknown because there are a lot of options and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.”

Either way, she can see herself going into a career in international affairs or public policy, and her experience and research has helped her prepare to be a global changemaker.

Taylor Woods

Communications program coordinator, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU alum combines love of geology, passion to share earth science

September 21, 2020

Growing up in Cave Creek, Arizona, Chad Kwiatkowski chose to study geology because he had a desire to learn the geologic story of the mountains that he grew up exploring, located in and around metropolitan Phoenix.

“I knew ASU would be the best place to learn this," the Arizona State University alumnus said. "Additionally, I heard great things about the geology program at ASU from my community college professors. After being given a tour of the School of Earth and Space Exploration’s headquarters and seeing the Center for Meteorite Studies on the second floor, my choice was set in stone.” ASU alumnus Chad Kwiatkowski. Download Full Image

Kwiatkowski earned his Bachelor of Science in earth and space exploration (geological sciences) in 2018. He is currently a graduate student in geology at Northern Arizona University.

During his time at ASU, Kwiatkowski was a member of the ASU GeoClub, a student organization that sells minerals on campus to fund geology trips and public outreach events. He also served as the GeoClub’s outreach coordinator during his senior year.

“It was a memorable experience and I made many friends that will last a lifetime,” he said. 

Kwiatkowski was also selected as the School of Earth and Space Exploration Dean’s Medalist for 2018, having earned this award through his stellar academic record, his skills as a leader, and his drive and energy in pursuing his academic passions. 

After Kwiatkowski earns his master's degree, there are two paths he is considering. 

The first is to teach intro geology at a community college or university. “I would love teaching earth science, sharing the wonders of our world with the upcoming generations, and making it accessible and relatable to students,” he said. 

The second path he may take is working as a park ranger at a county, state or national park, where he would still be teaching and sharing geology, just in the outdoors rather than in a classroom.

Here, Kwiatkowski shares what inspired him to apply to ASU and why he credits the School of Earth and Space Exploration for finding his place in the world.  

Question: What impact or value do you believe ASU has had on your life?

Answer: At the end of high school, I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life. Getting my geology degree at ASU not only taught me about the 4.6-billion-year history of the world, but also helped me find my place in it, specifically as a science communicator who breaks down complex geological concepts into bite-sized pieces that people of all backgrounds can enjoy. The value of figuring this out is literally priceless, and I am so glad I found my passion at a young age. 

Q: Were there faculty or students who made a particularly positive impact on you?  

A: All the professors I had at ASU, as well as many of my peers, had a profound impact on my life. A few professors had such a great impact that they forever changed my views on geology, education and life in general. One of these was Steve Semken, whose knowledge of the Southwest and place-based education approach really struck a chord with me. Another was the dynamic duo of Steve Reynolds and Julia Johnson, whose passion for teaching earth science using techniques informed by cognition research reshaped not only my views on education, but also my perception of the world. Lastly, Christy Till demonstrated the importance of enthusiasm in teaching complex topics, making every class something I looked forward to. Although all of my peers had an influence on me, Devin Keating, Joshua Gonzales, Brooke Kubby, Andres Aldana and Kelly Vote — all in my graduating class — influenced me the most. I will forever cherish the memories we made and know we will remain friends for life. 

Q: Are you involved with nonprofit or charitable organizations?

A: When living near Phoenix, I volunteered for Skate After School, a nonprofit providing skateboard instruction and positive reinforcement to over 200 students in underprivileged areas of metropolitan Phoenix. I also volunteer for Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, running the new volunteer geology training and designing digital and print resources to help enhance the geologic understanding of the area for park visitors. Lastly, I give geology presentations for various nonprofits and other organizations in my hometown of Cave Creek, such as the Desert Foothills Library, Desert Awareness Committee and the Desperados trail club.  

Q: In what ways have you been involved with ASU since graduating?

A: I have continued to work with a peer at ASU, Devin Keating, who is a  graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, using drones to monitor and assess geologic hazards. We have collaborated for a study of debris flows in a mountain range north of Phoenix resulting from an extreme 2014 monsoon storm. 

Q: How do you stay informed about what is happening at ASU?

A: I read articles from the online publication ASU Now to stay informed about the university. I also continue to use my ASU email to be informed about upcoming events.

Alumni and Special Events Coordinator, School of Earth & Space Exploration


Live from ASU continues virtual concert series this fall

Free live concerts featuring Omar Apollo and D Smoke

September 21, 2020

After presenting Jason Derulo and Icona Pop this summer to thousands of people digitally, Live from ASU is back this fall with more live music on a screen near you with two virtual concerts. Presented by the ASU 365 Community Union, the concerts feature two fresh artists in Omar Apollo and D Smoke. Both artists pay tribute to their diverse cultures and will offer something lively and engaging in a live digital format for the ASU Community and the public.

Mexican American bilingual singer-songwriter Omar Apollo will perform live in the first fall concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. The second concert features D Smoke, a former Inglewood High Spanish teacher turned breakout star of Netflix’s "Rhythm + Flow," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Both artists produce bilingual music that highlights their own experiences growing up in multicultural environments. Omar Apollo laying on blue silk floor Omar Apollo will perform live in the fall virtual concert series Live from ASU presented by ASU 365 Community Union. Download Full Image

“The shows must go on — and they will with ‘Live from ASU,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs. “These virtual concerts are reflective of the diversity of our community and will bring the energy and excitement of a live show, plus the intimacy of a postshow Q&A with the artist.”

The Q&A will be hosted by an ASU student and members of the community can begin submitting questions now using the hashtag #ASULive for an opportunity to have their question answered.

The ASU concert series "Live from ASU" was conceived by ASU President Michael Crow as a way to engage with students and the ASU community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each performance will be an opportunity to reinforce ASU’s commitment to students and its culture of innovation, as well as provide an interactive shared experience with artists.

The ASU community and the public can tune in to watch each livestream at livefromasu.com. Concerts will be broadcast live in Mountain Standard Time and will not be available for replay or redistribution.

Omar Apollo
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8

Apollo, a 22-year-old, first-generation Mexican American singer from Indiana, began writing and recording his own mix of jazz, R&B, funk, alternative, soul, and pop music. His parents moved to the U.S. to give their kids a better life and the opportunity to go to college; however, Apollo always knew this route wasn’t meant for him. He began playing guitar at 12 years old, but quit soon after because he got bored of only playing in church. At age 18, he began listening to new styles of music and fell in love with the guitar again. His biggest influences are Benny Sings, D'Angelo, Los Panchos, John Mayer, Elliott Smith, Cuco Sánchez, Paul Simon, Gary Numan and João Gilberto. In 2019, Apollo completed back-to-back sell-out headlining tours throughout North America.

D Smoke
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12

Hailing from Inglewood, California, Smoke personifies the city’s potent cultural duality: ​nurtured by the boulevards, and ​natured​ by a family’s legacy in gospel music. Smoke dove fingers-first into classical piano at the age of 6, honing his talents in church, and eventually lending vocals to Michael Jackson. Focusing on the creative arts helped him to circumvent the throes of violence present on his doorstep and propel himself into the classrooms of UCLA. During his matriculation, D Smoke was a beacon of light for his city, becoming a voice for the voiceless, using language, culture and music as tools to bridge institutionalized gaps and spread the gospel of a united Los Angeles culture. During the same years he spent in Westwood, D Smoke gained a unique and immersive industry experience by collaborating across genres with everyone from Usher, Babyface, Mary J Blige and Jahiem, to Missy Elliot, Timbaland and the Pussycat Dolls. His hard work garnered an ASCAP ​Song Of The Year ​award. After college, he taught Spanish at Inglewood High, applying his personal experiences as an alumnus and lifelong city resident to create a safe space for students to truly express themselves openly.

As of 2019, D Smoke gained global notoriety as champion and undisputed breakout star of Netflix’s ​"Rhythm + Flow."​ Smoke showcased himself as a raw lyricist, classically-trained musician and social activist with “something to say” — and nothing left to prove. The ​"Inglewood High" ​EP, released on Oct. 24, 2019, reveals the beauty and frustration of today’s Inglewood through the eyes of his former students, while capturing the essence of the city that raised him.

Kimberly Inglese

Marketing and Sales Coordinator, ASU 365 Community Union


ASU expands bilingual resources to prospective Sun Devils

September 21, 2020

Arizona State University offered the first Spanish orientation to families this summer and has launched a series of new, bilingual resources for prospective Sun Devils. Two prominent journalists who are passionate about breaking down barriers to higher education have been helping reach bilingual families with accessible information for first-generation families and beyond. 

The first all-Spanish welcome events, Bienvenida, reached 65 families of incoming students in May and June and featured moderation by Vanessa Ruiz, an Emmy Award-winning news anchor and Professor of Practice at ASU’s Southwest Borderlands Initiative. The events focused on students’ transition to ASU and what families could expect. It included panels on housing, insurance, the student experience and more. Many of the incoming Sun Devils at these events are first-generation college students. PBS Anchor and Cronkite professor Vanessa Ruiz portrait Emmy Award-winning journalist Vanessa Ruiz. Download Full Image

Ruiz remembers her own experience as a first-generation student at Florida International University and was excited to demystify the college experience for other families. 

“I myself am a first-generation student. I’m also the daughter of immigrants. I was also the first of my immediate family to go to college,” she said. “I know what it’s like to have to face the daunting task of trying to figure college out when maybe your parents don’t understand the language or don’t understand exactly how the process works.” 

Some of the questions that came up surrounded housing, which Ruiz said can be a confusing cultural nuance in Spanish-speaking communities, where it may be atypical for children to move out of their parents’ houses at age 18. She said it was critical to be able to provide information to families in their own language and that she loved seeing people “lose some of the nerves and speak up” with their questions. 

“I’m happy to say that I've had a pretty successful career. And I really want to convey that sense of confidence and inspiration and motivation for our incoming ASU students and their families,” she said. 

Univision journalist Mary Rabago portrait

Emmy Award-winning journalist Mary Rabago.

Another influential local journalist is helping with a weekly information session on the ASU en Espanol Facebook page, a new resource that offers regular broadcasts in Spanish. Emmy Award-winning former Univision anchor Mary Rabago co-hosts the sessions with Access ASU Executive Director of outreach Marcela Lopez at noon every Wednesday (broadcasts are slated to continue for the next six months).

The Facebook page features regular workshops for parents, sharing information from ASU’s American Dream Academy with tips about developing reading skills, pathways to college, financial aid and scholarships, resume building for students, the importance of being in dialogue with your children’s teachers, credits and test score requirements for college admission, explainers on terms like “prerequisite” and more. 

Rabago, who now runs her own production company, sees familiar themes in the weekly virtual events from her own educational journey, which started in Sonora, Mexico.

She said a significant challenge that the broadcasts take on is changing the mentality that college is inaccessible or that there’s no money in the family to send kids to college.

“Being the oldest of nine kids, I know that the urgent matter was for me to start working so I could help with expenses in the house. My father worked in the fields, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom,” Rabago said.

“I know a lot of people in the community can relate to this experience. ... If we change that mentality we change the future of those families in our community. Education is the one thing nobody can take away from you, whatever status you have in this country. Education is going to open doors wherever you are.”

Rabago emphasizes that it’s crucial to meet people where they are, citing that the Latino parent community receives much of their news on Facebook and that virtual programming is more accessible for busy people. 

“Most of these parents don’t have the time or the transportation in many of these situations to go to a physical place to take classes from ADA. Now they have the possibility to do the program virtually,” she said. “You’re going to where the community is instead of waiting for the community to come to you.”

The weekly videos have reached hundreds of thousands of views, Rabago said. She said she’s grateful that Access ASU leaders are so dedicated, and she’s proud to do her part to help families access college.

“(I’m) extremely happy and honored … to be the bridge to the Latino community,” she said. “You can never underestimate the potential you’ll have.” 

Christian Rosario is the assistant director of American Dream Academy at ASU, an eight-week program that helps families prepare for their children to have successful academic careers. Rosario is featured in many of the resource videos. He said research revealed that most of the parents they worked with were on Facebook, so they launched ASU en Espanol in May to provide tools on that platform that were accessible while people were at home because of COVID-19.

He said the “consejos” or tips featured are inspired by feedback and questions from families, regardless of where they’re from, to be able to better access the American dream of education. 

“There is a great need during these times for families to stay connected with their schools, district and our university and we will continue to provide our virtual services and expand through innovation and creativity,” Rosario said. 

Families have reached out thanking Access ASU for the resources, which also include a helpline602-496-1487 for parents as well as weekly tips by text.

Edmundo Hidalgo, ASU vice president of outreach partnerships, said that Access ASU is constantly making connections and building community around access to higher education, including expanding ASU resources to be accessible in Spanish. The ASU en Espanol resources are the latest example of innovative work in higher education access.

“At ASU we pride ourselves on inclusion and access to education, but when you can’t receive information in your native language and maybe your kids will be the first in your family to go to college, that can be very challenging,” Hidalgo said.

“We have the resources to help students be successful, so we’re proud to be inspiring them and also providing their families with the information they need going into the college journey. We’re also thankful to feature amazing models of success such as Vanessa, Mary and our program leaders at ASU.”

Ruiz and Rabago both have substantial platforms in Latino communities in Arizona, and their participation means the message of higher education access can reach more homes than ever. Ruiz said she feels fortunate to have built a strong career and is gratified to be able to give back to the community..

“I’ve had 17 years in front of a television camera, and I had incredible moments. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of what that career offered me,” she said. “I feel privileged now to use that position for something that I hope will leave a positive, lasting legacy that is much bigger than myself and that will benefit younger students and their futures for many years to come.” 

Ruiz said there’s more work ahead, though the details are still being planned out. But the mission remains the same. 

“Overall, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to make these resources more widely available and to create more opps for our bilingual families moving forward,” Ruiz said. 

Visit ASU en Espanol’s Facebook and the American Dream Academy’s Google Classroom (class code jajpk2r for English and h6hmoyo for Spanish) for more information in Spanish and English. Check out upcoming Future Sun Devil Family Days for more virtual and bilingual college access resources. 

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


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The facts behind student misconceptions about COVID-19 testing and symptoms

September 18, 2020

As the world’s understanding of COVID-19 continues to develop, so too do questions and misconceptions about symptoms and testing. 

Ciara Harding, a junior studying microbiology in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, works with the Arizona Department of Health Services as a case investigator to assist individuals showing symptoms of the virus. Through her work and interactions with fellow Arizona State University students, she noticed a number of common misconceptions being shared about the virus and best practices for keeping the community safe.

We consulted with ASU Health Services and the staff at Educational Outreach and Student Services to address these misconceptions and other commonly asked questions.


Misconception No. 1: A negative test means it’s fine to go to parties, travel, etc. 

The facts: A negative test is just a snapshot in time: It means the coronavirus was not active in your body (or that there wasn’t enough virus present yet; see Misconception No. 2) at the time of the test. It does not mean that you’re immune or that you haven’t been infected in the time since the test.

Even if you get a negative test result, you should continue to take steps to protect yourself and those around you: Wear a face covering, keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from anyone you don’t live with, wash your hands often, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Avoid large gatherings and unnecessary travel, and use extreme caution even in smaller gatherings.

Smaller gatherings are not automatically “safe,” either — you can contract the virus just as easily during a small gathering as you can at a large one. It’s best to use face coverings and social distancing with anyone you don’t live with.

Repeat: A negative test result is not permission to socialize with abandon. Continue to take precautions.

Misconception No. 2: A negative test means I’ll stay COVID-19 free all week. 

The facts: A negative test result only means that the test did not detect the virus on the day you took it. If the test was administered soon after you were exposed, there may not be enough virus in you for the test to catch yet. That’s how you might get a negative test result but develop symptoms a few days later.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 symptoms typically appear an average of five to six days after exposure, but could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

This is why test results are just a snapshot in time, and why it’s important to get regular, frequent tests. 

Negative test results don’t guarantee future protection or mean that you couldn’t have contracted the virus on the day of the test.

Misconception No. 3: Face coverings replace the need for physical distancing. 

The facts: Face coverings reduce but do not eliminate the possibility of virus transmission, so you still need to physically distance. There are several reasons for this: Not everyone wears a mask (Remember: Your face covering protects others, and their mask protects you), not everyone wears one correctly (it needs to completely cover the mouth AND the nose), and non-medical-grade masks aren’t going to catch all respiratory droplets.

The best strategy is combining both physical distancing and face coverings.

Misconception No. 4: If you test positive but feel fine, then you’re OK to not isolate. 

The facts: Even if you have no symptoms (asymptomatic), you are still contagious. You can still pass the virus to other people, even if you feel OK. And the person you pass it to may not be so lucky and may come down with severe symptoms or even die.

If you test positive — whether you live on or off campus — you should self-isolate for the period of time necessary per the Maricopa County Health Department guidance (currently minimum 10 days plus no fever and improving symptoms for 24 hours) and utilize no-contact food delivery. Students should contact ASU Health Services at 480-965-3349 for more information and assistance.

Misconception No. 5: “No test results, no coronavirus.” 

The facts: Some people think self-isolation should begin only after a positive test result comes back; this is incorrect. If you know you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and not wait until you get a positive test result — you could be infecting others in the time you’re waiting on a test result. It’s not just about you.

Also, if you do have symptoms or know you have been exposed, you should utilize the drive-through options for getting an ASU saliva-based test if at all possible, in order to avoid exposing the testing staff.

Misconception No. 6: Young people are only experiencing minor symptoms.

The facts: Although many young people get only mild symptoms, others end up on respirators and a few have lost their lives to COVID-19. There’s no way to tell how an individual will fare, either; some people have mild symptoms that turn overnight into a need to be on a respirator.

Even if a person survives COVID-19, there can be serious, long-lasting damage to the body, such as heart damage and reduced lung capacity. Some people are also at risk of developing anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome after surviving the experience of being on a ventilator.

And again, it’s not just about you. You might have only mild symptoms, but you could pass it to someone who is not so lucky. Or they could pass it to an at-risk relative. 

Other common questions

Question: Which testing sites are open to the public?

Answer: The ASU community (current students and employees) have the choice of multiple on-campus locations for getting a test.

The locations for public testing — around both the Phoenix area and the state — are separate. A list of those sites can be found at https://azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-saliva-testing.

Find links to register for a free saliva-based COVID-19 test — for both the public and the ASU community — at https://biodesign.asu.edu/research/clinical-testing/testing.

Q: What specifically happens when a student is required to quarantine — who notifies them, who checks on them and how often, how do they get university services, etc.?

A: A member of the ASU Health Services team will contact a student believed to be exposed to a person in the community who is positive for COVID-19. In that notification, they will be given information about how to quarantine, requirements, and how to get ongoing medical care or testing if they become symptomatic. They are also given contact information for the Dean of Students Office and ASU Housing (if a resident) to help with any logistical or personal issues during their quarantine (such as communication with professors or food delivery). Each student is assigned an “Engager” who checks in with them daily, or as often as the student would like. We ask the student what frequency of communication they would like from us.

Meals are provided to students in isolation and quarantine using meal swipes from their meal plan. Meals are delivered based upon the following schedule: 


  • Breakfast delivery: 8:30– 10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch delivery: 12–2 p.m.
  • Dinner delivery: 5–7 p.m.


  • Brunch delivery: 11 a.m.– 1 p.m.
  • Dinner delivery: 5–7 p.m.

Q: Why aren’t students who test positive required to retest before ending isolation?

A: Studies have shown that those who have recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of the virus in their bodies for up to three months. This means that if that person is retested within three months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are recovered and are not spreading COVID-19.

Because of that, the CDC is no longer recommending retesting for COVID-19 after a positive diagnosis until three months have passed from the date of the first positive test, since repeat testing may remain positive during that period of time. Instead, when a student has met county and state criteria for release (listed below), they can get cleared by ASU Health Services or provide a letter from an outside medical provider showing that they have met the criteria listed below.

To return to campus, students and employees must demonstrate that they have met the criteria set by the Maricopa County and state health departments:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and

  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and

  • Symptoms have improved.

 Or if the individual never had symptoms:

  • 10 days since the date of first testing.

More information

  • Find more questions and answers on ASU's extensive and searchable coronavirus FAQ page.
  • Students, employees and the public can register for a test on the Biodesign Institute’s COVID-19 saliva testing website.
  • ASU Health Services has in-person and telehealth options. Call 480-965-3349 or visit https://eoss.asu.edu/health for more information.
  • ASU Counseling Services is offering mental health support services remotely and in person as needed. To reach a counselor or schedule an appointment, please call 480-965-6146. For students enrolled through ASU Online, counseling is available through 360 Life Services, a free, 24/7 counseling and crisis intervention service. Staff can be contacted at 833-223-9883 or visit https://goto.asuonline.asu.edu/360lifeservices.

Aaron Krasnow, associate vice president of Health and Counseling Services; Stefanie Schroeder, medical director, ASU Health Services; and Joan Sherwood, executive director, Educational Outreach and Student Services, contributed to this article.

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

‘Seeking Justice in Arizona’ lecture series localizes national issues

September 16, 2020

Every fall semester, ASU's School of Social Transformation hosts the "Seeking Justice in Arizona" fall lecture series, which brings in experts from local communities to discuss critical national issues in an Arizona context. The event is now in its 16th year and has four guest speakers lined up for the semester to discuss prevalent social issues from an Arizona perspective.

With the current events of this year, Madelaine Adelman, professor of justice and social inquiry at the School of Social Transformation, said this event helps bring local context and meaning to contemporary issues. 
headshots of Reyna Montoya, Marisela Mares, Meaghan Kramer and Miriam Araya From left to right: Reyna Montoya, Marisela Mares, Meaghan K. Kramer and Mariam Araya. Download Full Image

“At a time when more and more people are tuned into the need for change, we are delighted to host four speakers, each of whom represent the power of collective organizing, whether in the name of undocumented youth, labor, people with disabilities or Black people,” Adelman said. 

The series kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time with Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento, a local organization that creates community among undocumented immigrants in Arizona who have been affected by the deportation system in the U.S. and promotes healing through art and community building. 

The other speakers in the series include Marisela Mares on Oct. 8. Mares is a labor organizer for Aramark, and her lecture, titled “Se Puede? On the front lines of the Arizona Labor Movement,” focuses on her experience as a server at ASU and the fight for workers’ rights. 

Meaghan K. Kramer, staff attorney for the Arizona Center for Disability Law, speaks on Nov. 12. Kramer advocates for Arizonans with disabilities and fights for systemic change of the treatment of people with disabilities in the areas of employment, health care, housing, education, voting and prisons. 

The series ends on Dec. 2 with Miriam Araya, policy minister for Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro. Araya is a doctoral student in the justice studies program at the School of Social Transformation. Her lecture, titled “When Black Lives Matter in Arizona,” focuses on the fight for racial justice in Arizona.

“Our guest speakers will share their personal stories of what led them to activism and why they chose their particular pathway to justice. All of our speakers are involved on the front lines of today’s fights for justice,” Adelman said. 

All of the lectures will be available to register for on Zoom, as well as livestreamed on YouTube

More information on how to virtually attend the event can be found on the event page. 

Megan Barbera

Marketing and graphic design student worker, School of Social Transformation


First-generation ASU student blazes new trail

September 14, 2020

Jesus Peralta is an only child and the first in his whole family to attend college, so the pressure to do well in school is something that motivates him every day.

He graduated from high school with an associate degree in science from South Mountain Community College and started his journey at Arizona State University in fall 2019. Jesus Peralta School of Molecular Sciences undergraduate student Jesus Peralta. Download Full Image

This year, the sophomore was selected to receive the School of Molecular Sciences First-Generation Scholarship. Funded by the School of Molecular Sciences community, the scholarship supports outstanding, first-generation undergraduate students completing degrees in chemistry or biochemistry in the school. Peralta is majoring in biochemistry and microbiology, with a minor in global health.

“I knew I would be the first experiencing many of the struggles that come with obtaining a higher education. However, I am setting the path for my cousins that are much younger than me to learn about the power of opening your heart and mind to a higher education,” he said. 

Being a first-generation student in college has been a remarkable experience for him so far. He chose ASU with the hope of one day being able to find a community of support and passion for curing diseases. At the School of Molecular Sciences, he found just that. He was drawn in by the research aspects, innovative efforts and support that the school had to offer.

Peralta is an ambitious student with a passion for helping his community prosper and serves as an outstanding role model for many prospective first-generation college students. He works as a Be A Leader adviser, where he dedicates his time inspiring students in secondary schools to continue their journey to earn a college degree, especially in the STEM field.

However, in his first year in college, Peralta came across a challenging obstacle. The pandemic sent him home to finish his remaining semester of freshman year through Zoom. Despite finding it harder to focus on his academics at home, Peralta persevered and completed his first year by organizing his time better with a planner and including time for self-care.

Over the summer, he took part in a scientific journal club, which helped him prepare for the upcoming semester's scientific reading terms. 

Question: Where do you see yourself in the future after graduation?

Answer: I am interested in applying to medical school but am keeping an open mind. I am overwhelmed by my opportunities and have an interest in research.

Q: If you were to describe your freshman year in one word, what would it be and why?

A: One word that describes my freshman year is exploratory. This year was the time to get to know me and the resources available around me to be successful. I have been able to talk to my advisers, the First-Year Success Center, and joined the SAACSStudent Affiliates of the American Chemical Society organization on campus.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience with ASU so far?

A: I joined the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, and they encouraged me to volunteer at a Welcome Week event. I talked to children and met (School of Molecular Sciences) community members, where I could do science experiments in front of them and show them that science is fun.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you would give to an School of Molecular Sciences freshman who is in your shoes today?

A: I would tell them not to be scared to ask questions, step outside of their comfort zone, network/meet new people, and find out what their passion is. 

Written by Mariela Lozano mlozan20@asu.edu, School of Molecular Sciences communctions assistant. Jenny Green contributed to the story.