The future is bright for spring 2019 grads

Friday, May 10, 2019

On May 6, thousands of ASU students will move their tassels to the left side of their mortarboards and head into the next phase of their journey. Before they do, ASU Now is taking a look at some of the most impressive graduates.

WATCH: Check out a playlist of interviews with this year's outstanding graduates

woman sitting in front of window with city view behind her

ASU grad connects K–12 students to higher education

Andrea Garza, a senior studying psychology and justice studies with a minor in sociology, knows the importance of having someone to turn to when you’re unfamiliar with higher education. And being a first-generation college graduate, she felt strongly about being that connection for others.

woman posing in grad cap on Palm Walk

ASU grad hopes to decrease disparities in public health

Lucia Garcia used to think that a career in the health field meant being a clinician. She graduated this week from Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions with a degree in public health, a minor in Spanish and the knowledge and know-how to take full advantage of the many career paths a degree in her chosen discipline can offer.



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ASU grad finds skills, 'home' in Sun Devil Fitness Complex

For Jaclyn Leake, a senior from Chicago graduating with a degree in exercise and wellness and a minor in kinesiology from the College of Health Solutions, classes and experience at a neurological rehabilitation facility helped her find her way to doctoral school after graduation.



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Kinesiology major makes the gym his classroom as SDFC personal trainer

Working as a personal trainer is a great way to help others and gain experience in the exercise and wellness field. But for graduating senior Ryo Kataoka, the job was a way to learn outside the classroom about the science taught in his classes.


woman posing for photo on Palm Walk

Fulton Schools’ youngest graduate gets head start on making an impact

Emily Alcazar started taking college courses when she was 12 years old. This month she graduated magna cum laude from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the age of 17.


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Dean’s Medalist uses music, education to advocate for Native Americans in Arizona

Libraries and hip-hop might not seem the most obvious pair. But for Arizona State University alumnus Alexander Soto, both are platforms to illustrate the struggles facing Native Americans in Arizona and to forge a path forward. Soto graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ American Indian Studies program. He was recognized during convocation as a Dean’s Medalist.

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ASU grad advocates for access and sustainability

Noel von Mizener has always been passionate about sharing her love for education with others. Majoring in supply chain management and business law with a certificate in applied business data analytics, von Mizener kept busy during her time at Arizona State University doing what she could to help K–12 students and make a sustainable difference.

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Grad combined chemical engineering with Arabic studies

When you’re applying for a job after graduation, what sets you apart in a field of worthy contenders? For Yusef Sabri, it’s the minor and certificate in Arabic studies that he picked up while earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Sabri, who graduated this month, said his knowledge of Arabic has “opened up several doors.” He has already received multiple job offers.

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ASU becomes academic home for graduating transfer student

Brianne Jones is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences (cell, genetics and developmental biology). She made ASU her home after starting her college experience at two other schools.


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Triple major first-in-family to graduate from college

Erika Flores is the oldest of four children, born into a close-knit Mexican American family. While they did not attend college, her parents encouraged all of their children to do so. And Flores said she always knew she would pursue higher education. This spring, she becomes the first in her family to graduate from college — and she earned three majors.


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A magical experience guided graduate to seek a new path

As a child, Emily Rose Nugent was always interested in how things worked. When she rode the rides at Disneyland, her dad would explain their mechanics and what made certain effects possible. Nugent, a Barrett, The Honors College student, decided to become a chemical engineering major in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She also has a minor in business.

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Starbucks partner earns degree after developing passion in leadership and management

A resident of Lockport, Illinois, online student Jen Schmidt found her way to Arizona State University through an educational benefits program between Starbucks and ASU. Now she's graduating with a degree in organizational leadership through the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

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Professional dancer turned electrical engineer graduates from ASU Online

Jessica Columbus realized her interest in engineering at a young age but put her degree on hold to pursue another passion — ballet. Years later, Columbus discovered Arizona State University and decided it was time to complete her degree in engineering — but this time as an online student.

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On the border, grad hopes to make a difference in immigration policy

Joanna Williams didn’t travel lightly on her purposeful journey to earning a master’s degree in public policy, and she’s leaving Arizona State University with more than a diploma. The director of education and advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) said she now has greater means to promote policies that respect the rights and dignity of migrants.

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Criminal justice grad's research on trouble spots in policing gives her hope

Katharine Leigh Brown is the spring 2019 outstanding graduate for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. She wants her research on fairness and police-citizen interaction to unlock mysteries of how and why the criminal justice system does what it does and how to make that system better for everyone.

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ASU graduate completes degree with hopes of creating more accessible mental health resources

ASU Online student Shauna Hughes has been hard at work achieving her lifelong dream of earning a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Hughes was originally an English major, but as she neared the completion of her degree, she decided to follow her passion for making therapy more accessible to all by switching to psychology.

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Receiving help led applied biological sciences graduate to help others

It was an early exposure to medical issues in William Harper’s family that sparked Harper’s interest in majoring in applied biological sciences and pursuing a career in medicine. He completed his degree in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and will be among the thousands of students graduating on May 6 looking to make the world a better place.

man standing on ASU's Palm Walk

Dream to become a physician coming true for microbiology graduate

Zach LeBaron felt ASU offered him a community where he could constantly evolve and grow. As it turns out, ASU was a perfect fit. LeBaron is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and has been accepted to Creighton's School of Medicine.

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Communication graduate set her sights on the entertainment industry

Imagine maintaining a perfect GPA throughout your college career and still finding time to work and perform in a band. That has been the experience of senior Alexa Graves, who is graduating summa cum laude this spring with a degree in communication from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and a minor in film and media studies.

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Student reaches graduation milestone through Starbucks College Achievement Plan

When it came time to choose her degree program, ASU online student Carrie 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.

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

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. But now having fun for Walsh, the spring 2019 outstanding graduate for the School of Community Resources and Development, is also part of a framework for rigorous thought and scientific practice.

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Driving toward a profusion of literary voices

Representation matters. It certainly did for online student Daniel Murillo. When he saw parts of his experience represented on the page, when he encountered writers who were like him, who he really was became … possible. Murillo is earning a BA in English this spring, and has secured a competitive ConversaSpain teaching assistantship postgraduation.

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Mexico Fulbright Scholar recounts ASU journey

Mexico City native Carlo Altamirano Allende is graduating from ASU with a PhD in social dimensions of science and technology. His research has taken him back to Mexico to learn about the impact of the nation’s constitutionally mandated energy reforms on indigenous communities.

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

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Loescher, who is graduating from ASU 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.

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Most fulfilling part of ASU graduate’s college experience was helping others join the university

Ethan Barlow’s parents encouraged him to venture away from the familiar surroundings of the state where he’d grown up and experience a new environment during his college years. Barlow recalls being appreciative of that advice as soon as he arrived at ASU.

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Geography student discovers passion and community at ASU

Often students arrive at college with set plans on what path they want to take over the next four years. Abigail Johnson was one of those students, but as she prepares to graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences this spring, she advises others to not be afraid to change up their plans.

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Drawn to the outdoors since her childhood, ASU grad seeks career protecting the environment

Linzy Jane Voytoski had no hesitation about studying engineering at Arizona State University. She wanted to carry on the legacy of her “family of engineers” ­— especially a grandfather who graduated from ASU with a degree in electrical engineering more than 50 years ago.

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Helping peers engineer a rewarding experience at ASU

Zachary Tronstad’s most rewarding experiences at ASU have been helping people and finding inspiration to make an impact through engineering.

Gabriela Huckabee

Honors graduate's passion is in the stars

A high school class schedule snafu led Gabriela Huckabee to a scientific discipline that would become her passion. Huckabee will graduate Arizona State University on May 7 with a bachelor of science degree in astrophysics with honors from Barrett, The Honors College, and the Dean’s Medal from the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Leo Alaniz

Future doctor pursues dream via the ASU Online biochemistry program  

In the online biochemistry degree program of Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences, Leo Alaniz found two things: a program that would fit his needs and unconditional professor support.  

Jonathan Thomas Lyle

Outstanding graduate gains respect for construction industry 

Nearly 15 years ago, Jonathan Thomas Lyle dropped out of high school and didn’t know what the future had in store for him. He never thought he would spend 10 years in the Army and later be graduating with honors from Arizona State University. His future, though, turned out better than he could have expected.

Levi Louis Riley

ASU graduate wants to raise the standard of health care 

Improving the lives of others has been a lifelong goal for Levi Louis Riley. He aspires to practice medicine and raise the standard of care in his hometown. To accomplish his goal, he knew he needed the best affordable education available to him and decided to attend Arizona State University.

Brianna Chavez


ASU graduate helps fellow students find success 

Brianna Chavez has demonstrated the defining qualities of a great leader by seizing every opportunity for personal and professional growth in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “I’m eternally grateful to the university for providing me with infinite opportunities to get involved,” said Chavez.

Jennifer Harrison

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

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.

Aly Perkins

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

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.

Dulce Parra-Barrera

First-gen college student grateful for diverse perspectives

Post-graduation, Dulce Parra-Barrera has secured a position with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, a teaching exchange managed by the government of Japan. It’s a dream come true for this native of Goodyear, Arizona, who had always hoped to teach English abroad.

Cinthia Garcia



Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College grad doubles down on bilingual students

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 will graduate from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College...