Fall commencement 2016: Student profiles

A look at some of the standout students from ASU’s fall 2016 graduates.

For as long as journalism major Cassidy Trowbridge can remember, she’s enjoyed telling stories. A few years ago, she realized “that some of the best stories that have ever been told are true stories. I enjoy telling those stories, too.”

“Transdisciplinary” means applying one field of knowledge to another, and it defines graduating senior Kate Spencer’s research at ASU. Spencer is graduating with a major in biochemistry and a minor in anthropology — although her field was chosen through a happy accident.

Sandra Vazquez Salas is preparing to stand up in front of a crowd of hundreds on Fletcher Lawn at ASU’s West campus to deliver a speech as the Outstanding Undergraduate Speaker for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

A few months ago, David Roman spent days walking the streets of Havana, connecting to his past and also seeing opportunity in the formerly closed off Cuban capital. Roman will carry the Cuban flag as part of the traditional Parade of Flags at the Thunderbird School of Global Management convocation.

Kwame Boahene, an outstanding liberal studies graduate in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, completed his bachelor’s degree while working full-time. Next up? ASU’s Master of Social Work.

English student Sheilah Cummings has rediscovered a dormant intellectual curiosity — and love for literature — that she hopes now to share with others. She wants to help students see literature as way for identifying and critiquing the larger culture.

For Ryan Burke, it all began with a nearly 2 billion-year-old rock. “It represented a quarter of the time of all the matter in the universe,” he said. “It was tangible, and I thought that was amazing.” Burke has been awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medal.

Gary Walker-Roberts says he no longer feels overwhelmed when facing a technological challenge. In fact, he has applied his new digital skills to an online LGBTQ public awareness campaign that he launched as part of his final applied project.

Lisa Lacouette’s first attended ASU in 1985, intent on becoming an elementary teacher. However, she found college didn’t suit her and she left for other pursuits. Thirty-one years later, she’s graduating with an engineering degree.

Graduate student Fábio Bartoloni was inspired by his father — a concert performer and a guitar professor at São Paulo State University in Brazil — to forge his own path in the arts.

Full-time graduate study in English had long been Leslie Weir’s dream before she entered ASU’s master’s online program. Weir discovered a love of archival work while developing original research for her applied project in the program, from which she will graduate this fall.

Extreme athlete Paulette Stevenson is completing one of her toughest personal challenges to date: earning her doctorate. Stevenson will graduate this fall from ASU’s writing, rhetorics and literacies program and with a certificate in gender studies.

Joshua Grzywa used to jump out of planes as part of his work during his 15 years in the U.S. Army Infantry. Now he flies them. One conversation with an ASU Professional Flight program student at an aviation fair changed his relationship with flight.

Devon Probol has made an impression at Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, despite being almost 8,000 miles away in Canberra, Australia. Probol will be receiving the Dean’s Medal at commencement ceremonies this winter.

Kenneth Brown was always interested in weather, and by high school, had identified meteorology as his chosen area of study. A conversation about the role of meteorology in aviation added aerospace engineering to his educational plans. Now he’s graduating with two degrees from ASU.

Thanks to the development experience she gained in the Peace Corps and a solid foundation of knowledge from ASU’s GTD program, Anna Laird says she feels prepared to pursue a career in international development work and seek innovative solutions to problems.

Glenn Maur worked with professors at the School of International Letters and Cultures to research the impact Alexander the Great had on literature in multiple cultures, multiple languages and over 1000 years.

Fernanda Silva Celaya, an ASU pre-dental graduating senior from Mexico, is exuberant about her new-found confidence as a scientist and researcher.

Madison Bales lives and works full-time in Northern California, but this week she’s graduating summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a degree in technical communication.

Justin Arispe is resilient. Despite being rejected time and again, the U.S. Navy veteran and graduating Arizona State University student pushed forward and landed a software engineer job with one of the most respected insurance companies in the nation, USAA.

Saying that ASU graduate student Cory Kamerschak is driven is an understatement. The sports journalism major graduates with a Master of Arts degree and soon after will relocate to ESPN headquarters in Connecticut to start his new job.

When School of Life Sciences assistant professor Heather Bean first started her lab, student Darin Ellison seized the chance to get in on the ground floor. His tenacity paid off. Ellison learned to present his research in front of others and to use his critical thinking skills.

Whether taking care of his family or working toward his degree, ASU School of Life Sciences graduate Justin Wolter learned to deal with the unexpected.

Forty-one years after receiving her bachelor’s degree Mary Drago has earned her doctorate. Going back to school took some adjusting, but she adapted to the new environment and managed to earn her degree with good grades, all while balancing a full-time time job.

Love led Carly Thalman to engineering. “I love problem solving and I love a good challenge, and I enjoy being creative and bringing my ideas to life,” said the ASU engineering graduate. “Engineering is the perfect combination of all those things.”

An introduction in high school to the wonders of information technology was all the motivation John James “JJ” Robertson needed to major in computer science in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Army veteran Darrell Stanley knew that he wouldn’t always be able to rely on his body for a steady paycheck, so after nearly 20 years of blue collar work he earned a bachelor’s in construction management. The 42-year-old member of the Navajo Nation didn’t stop there, however, and this week he graduates with a master’s in construction management.

ASU psychology and pre-med major Kylie Forbes battles through chronic illness to pursue her dream of helping others.

Lauren Orme was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch so remote, there’s no town on the mailing address. Her mother is an alumna of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, and Orme chose education, too.

Many students at ASU are involved in research, even as an undergraduates. But how many students have worked on research projects with six different professors and hope to have four manuscripts published before entering grad school? Shane Lubold is one of those students.

Originally published at asunow.asu.edu on December 8, 2016.

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