Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.
ASU graduating senior Stephanie Carmen Krebs, a communication major in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said she recently had an experience that left her feeling extremely close to her education.
“I was in the middle seat on an airplane with two strangers next to me during a flight home to Phoenix from Los Angeles,” explained Krebs. “The captain alerted the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff, and the airplane began to accelerate. Suddenly, as we were near flight, I felt a tight grip on my hand.
“It was the hand of the elderly Indian woman sitting in the window seat, and I quickly made eye contact with her, partially in shock,” Krebs continued. “As I learned in communication, specifically in semiotics, when people cross our personal boundaries, confusion ensues. However, when I made eye contact, she immediately communicated exactly how she was feeling.
“She was terrified and unable to speak English, I realized,” said Krebs, a seasoned flyer whose father was a pilot. “Without telling me or asking me, I knew we would hold hands for a while. I was more than content to hold her hand, until the all-too-familiar ding, indicating that we had reached 10,000 feet, and she released me.”
Krebs and her new friend were silent the rest of the flight, but Carmen helped the woman communicate and get water from the flight attendant.
“Then, with no confusion, she took my hand again as we began our descent,” said Krebs. “We landed safely and when the cabin lights turned on and we were exiting the plane, she took me by the shoulders and gave me the biggest embrace, smile, and a kiss on the cheek.
“This made my degree feel so important and real,” she reflected. “Outside the confines of a classroom or a textbook, all we can hope for is a way to communicate well, especially with those who don't speak our language.”
Krebs, who also has earned a minor in media analysis in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, answered some questions about her ASU experience.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study what you’re studying?
Answer: When I started at ASU I was in W. P. Carey as a business communication major on Tempe campus. However, after my first two years I realized I was missing something: I had spent two summers taking internships in New York City in the fashion industry and found I loved being in a vibrant downtown community. When I returned from the second internship, I decided to tailor my ASU experience to what I had enjoyed about the city. I switched to the Downtown Phoenix campus and a communication major in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. My first day of class with 20 students, studying under Professor Jackie Martinez, I realized I was finally excited about my education and in an environment that suited me!
Q: What’s something you learned while studying at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: I took a class with Dr. Heather Curry on Language, Culture and Communication that really shifted my prospective on homelessness. In light of the current political climate, Dr. Curry made the focus of our class borders. We examined personal and public borders that are in place regarding homelessness. All opinions and experiences were considered and students spoke openly. Together we were able to unpack the idea of homelessness and, for some, reorient ourselves to it.
Q: Did you have any favorite campus or other spots where you liked to study or spend time?
A: The Downtown Phoenix campus is my favorite place to study and spend time with friends. I have been fortunate to cultivate a community of students and friends downtown that keep me busy with concerts, lectures, and coffee. We love to work on homework at the bevy of local coffee shops. It really is an excellent campus for nightlife and activities!
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am traveling right out of college. I’ll be spending time in my mother’s homeland of Peru and then will be onto various other countries in South America. I will be looking for a job in the arts.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would tackle the fashion industry. Not many people realize that fast fashion is the second- dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil. It not only seriously cripples third-world countries with mountains of unwanted clothes being shipped to them from larger, more developed nations, but the sweatshops have horrible safety regulations and low wages. We need to critically evaluate the rate at which we consume clothing and the prices we want to pay for it. It is not the companies that are being undercut on price and taking the hit, it is people working for nothing to make the clothing people would rather pay $10 for than $30.