A core feature of ASU’s mission is empowering students to contribute to the public good—to shape their curiosity and education into a lifetime of civic service. Those contributions begin at Changemaker Central, a dedicated facility that matches students up with volunteer programs, community service projects, social entrepreneurship, and service learning that best suits their passions. Annually, Changemaker Central hosts Devils in Disguise, the largest day of service at ASU, put on by and for students. On this day, thousands of students make a difference in their communities—and have a blast doing it—at different volunteer sites. The center also acts as a gateway to socially minded career opportunities, such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Teach for America.
And for those students with exceptional track records of community service, there’s the Leadership Scholarship Program—a generous, four-year scholarship awarded to twenty-five incoming freshmen annually—and the Spirit of Service Scholars Program, which recognizes up-and-comers in the world of public service. Yesenia Barraza, founder of YB Company LLC, was a scholarship recipient at ASU. She tells us, “I knew I wanted to major in business. ASU has a top-rated business school, and it immediately attracted me to it. . . . I was fortunate to be part of the Leadership Scholarship Program that allowed me to be the first in my family to attend college.” After graduating from the Barrett, The Honors College and the W.P. Carey School of Business with a degree in accountancy (and a minor in Spanish), she returned to W.P. Carey for her master’s degree in taxation.
Innovation may be a buzzword these days, but ASU’s commitment to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs is way more than a passing trend. Through the ASU Incubator, students can secure the mentorship, training, and even the office space necessary to grow the seeds of big ideas into full-fledged startups that create real economic, social, and environmental change. Projects with real legs progress to the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative program, which provides up to $20,000 in seed financing. The results? Over the past three years, Edson teams have raised more than $2 million in external funding, created 150 jobs, and filed more than thirty patents. Projects range from software that predicts how successful a medical procedure will be for a specific patient to a barrel that helps people transport and purify water—all meaningful, innovative contributions and excellent work experiences, too.
Likewise, over at the InnovationSpace students from the Fulton Schools of Engineering, the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the School of Sustainability link up in the same creative studio to develop products that are both useful and sustainable. Teams of students from these schools, who might be studying industrial design, visual communication design, business, engineering or sustainability, join together for a senior-year capstone project to complete a “real-world, development project.” Together they brainstorm, research, problem-solve, and ultimately produce a prototype. The school explains, “Put simply, we seek to create products that are progressive, possible and profitable. At the same time, they must have a meaningful impact on the daily lives of ordinary people.” Dr. Prasad Boradkar, the director of the program, says that some students launch their own ventures after graduation, and that “many have mentioned that their time in InnovationSpace was transformative for their careers.” The program’s primary goal, he says, “is to ensure that students leave not just with a set of skills, but also new ways of thinking about how their disciplines can help change the world. “
Arizona State University’s faculty have some serious bragging rights. The teaching roster lists two Nobel laureates, four Pulitzer Prize winners, twenty-five Guggenheim fellows, one MacArthur fellow, thirteen members of the National Academy of Sciences, and sixty-six fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science—just to name a few. Noted faculty members include Donald Johanson, who discovered the 3-million-year-old fossil Lucy, and Gloria Feldt, women’s rights advocate and New York Times bestselling author.
Like the students, professors are drawn to the university’s immense offerings and commitment to practical, hands-on learning. “People come to ASU— whether as faculty or students—because we are passionate about pushing new frontiers: in cutting-edge sciences, in new ways of learning in and outside the classroom, in transforming our communities through service,” Dr. Amber Wutich of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change tells us. “We have the resources of an enormous university, but also enjoy close relationships built through collaboration, respect, and common work to achieve a shared vision.”
This enthusiastic commitment to learning doesn’t go unnoticed by the students. A nursing major tells us, “The professors at ASU are so knowledgeable and experienced in their respective fields. Many have won numerous awards. The best part is … all of my professors have truly wanted me to succeed. They were available, helpful, and truly cared that I learned.” A student of computer information systems adds, “[My professors] bring the materials to life by sharing with us their personal experiences.”
Plus, ASU’s professors echo and admire the university’s inclusive charter: “There is little to no sense of entitlement but rather a strong work ethic among a large portion of our students, which makes ASU a rewarding place to work and collaborate with students on their educational journey,” notes Amy Ostrom, a professor of marketing in the W. P. Carey School of Business.
ASU has a fascinating list of noted alumni—from news anchor Christine Devine to fashion designer Kate Spade, and from NFL pro Pat Tillman to former PepsiCo CEO and president Craig Weatherup. But its major merit is its scope: There are more than 350,000 active ASU alumni worldwide. That’s a lot of potential networking contacts! The school spirit extends well past graduation date, with an engaged alumni network that hosts events, provides resources for the job hunt, and upholds ASU’s traditions like “whitewashing the A” on Tempe Buttes, which has been going strong since the 1930s. Jeff Labelle, a professor in the Fulton School of Engineering, can easily rattle of the impressive accomplishments of his 200-plus Fulton Engineer mentees, including many MD/PhD candidates, interns with Mayo Clinic Rochester, and Whitaker, Fulbright, and Flinn Foundation award winners. He boasts, “Two have been College Researcher of the Year award recipients at ASU’s Barrett, the Honor’s College; and one was named to the Barrett Top 25 Alumni to Watch list.”
Alumni are connected by their love of all things ASU (including popular Sun Devil tailgating sessions), but also by a deep appreciation for the skills that their educations have provided them. As Yesenia Barraza puts it, “I became a member of the Alumni Association the very same time I bought my cap and gown.” “ASU did a wonderful job helping me gain access to people who have impacted my career in ways I could never have imagined,” reports Graham Rossini, Vice President of Special Projects for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In particular he credits a three-year internship as a Baseball Operations Intern with helping him to launch his career. He explains, “I was able to use this experience and transition into full-time employment as Director of Baseball Operations at ASU as soon as I graduated. The experience working for a nationally-ranked college baseball program allowed me to immediately apply the principles I was learning in my business classes.” A student of the engineering division chimes in: “I believe that students graduating from ASU are known for their can-do attitude, ability to learn anything, [and] their rigor.” Which just goes to say: ASU graduates are good company to be in.