On Tuesday, Dec. 14, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize its highest-achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the fall 2021 convocation.
Each semester, departments and schools within The College select outstanding students who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal in honor of their scholastic achievements.
Meet the outstanding fall 2021 Dean’s Medalist awardees from The College.
Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Global studies
Certificate: Cross-sector leadership
Atassi has a passion for global studies, public policy and social sciences. During her time at ASU, her interests in international human rights and justice led her to take on a variety of research, volunteer and internship roles.
Atassi spent over 150 hours volunteering with the International Rescue Committee, providing intake services and translation for asylum seekers. She also spent one month taking intensive Spanish language and culture classes in Madrid. She served as an intern for the Arizona House of Representatives and as a student researcher for the Decision Center for Educational Excellence.
After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate school in public policy. She aspires to start a career as a policy analyst.
Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures
Majors: German, management
Certificates: Cross-sector leadership, international business studies
Campton is a Barrett, The Honors College student, with an interest in international business, migration and gender studies. Her interest in learning and comparing different cultures was reflected in her honors thesis about bias against women in the workplace in Germany.
As a member of the Next Generation Service Corps, she was able to deepen her understanding of global sociopolitical and economic challenges. During her time at ASU she also served on the board of ASU German Devils and helped direct outreach efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a new platform for interactive online activities.
After graduation, Campton will be working as an account representative for CDW. In the future, she aspires to return to school to earn a master’s degree in business administration.
Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: Philosophy (morality, politics and law)
Child-Rinearson is an ASU Online student interested in philosophy. He is a transfer student who attended community college in California, which was where he discovered his passion for philosophy.
After taking a break from school to work various jobs including in fast food and as a courier, bartender and server, he decided he was ready for a change. This led him to leave his job as an assistant restaurant manager, take a road trip across the country and enroll at ASU. He continued to balance work and school throughout his time working toward earning his degree.
After graduation, Child-Rinerson plans on looking for remote jobs as a paralegal or in sales and is considering continuing his higher education journey.
Dean’s Medal: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
Major: Civic and economic thought and leadership
Clark is a Barrett student who is interested in the study of ideas about human nature and psychology. She has been closely involved with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership during the program’s founding years by being an ambassador for the program at ASU and beyond.
She served as a Senate page during the 2019 Arizona legislative session and was an intern with the Office of Mayor Kate Gallego. There, she researched and drew up plans to address public mental health issues. In addition, she completed an intensive service project in India, interned in Washington, D.C., and participated in numerous summer academic programs, including the Hertog Foundation program in political philosophy.
Clark is currently working as an academic programs manager for the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington, D.C.
Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Major: Global health
Corr’s passion for serving vulnerable communities has led her to an interest in maternal and child health epidemiology. During her time at ASU, she actively pursued experiential learning opportunities to enhance her understanding of global and public health.
She worked as an intern for ASU’s COVID-19 case-investigation research team and as a communicable-disease specialist at the Wellness Council of Arizona, a nonprofit community health center in Yuma, Arizona. She also volunteered at a number of organizations including Planned Parenthood and the Aid to Women shelter.
After graduation, Corr plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health. As she completes her lactation-consultant certification through ASU and pursues her master’s degree, she hopes to conduct epidemiological research on the health outcomes of breastfeeding within Latino populations.
Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: English (creative writing)
Certificate: Nonfiction writing and publishing
Enck is a transfer student with a passion for creative writing. She is an active member and leader in many literary communities at ASU.
During her time at ASU, Enck served as a student editor at Superstition Review, where she edited creative nonfiction submissions and mentored other students; at Canyon Voices, where she was a poetry reader and social media manager for the magazine; and at Spellbinding Shelf, ASU’s student book blog, where she has worked as a staff writer since 2019 and currently serves as editor-in-chief. She has also worked on campus, most recently at the Student Success Center, where she mentors other undergraduate students.
After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate certificate in nonfiction writing and publishing and a master’s degree in narrative studies. She aspires to one day work in the publishing field and hopes to publish her own collection of short stories.
Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Majors: Justice studies, political science
Herrmann is passionate about addressing inequities within the legal and criminal justice systems. She has been an active participant in campus community life, participating in ASU’s Pre-Law Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Beta Kappa and the Young Democrats of ASU.
She served as a group leader for a qualitative research project that worked with community organizations to understand their met and unmet needs related to COVID-19. As part of the project, she organized focus-group-based data collection with members of Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health to identify core issues their constituents faced.
After graduation, she hopes to attend law school.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Certificate: Applied business data analytics
Krussell is passionate about economics and is part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership that creates an opportunity for Starbucks employees to earn their bachelor’s degree through ASU Online.
In addition to working as a Starbucks partner, Krussell served as a research assistant for Professor Bart Hobijn, where he gathered economic data from various databases in preparation for a presentation at the 2021 Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. He also worked as a teacher’s assistant, where he monitored an online discussion forum for introductory economics courses and helped answer student questions on modern economic topics.
Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and space exploration (astrobiology and biogeosciences)
Certificate: Sustainable food systems
McGroarty is a Barrett student who has been actively engaged in research at the School of Earth and Space Exploration.
She served as a research volunteer in several labs at ASU including in Associate Professor Heather Throop’s Dryland Ecosystems Research Lab, where she designed and implemented a distributed field study that assesses abiotic controls over biogeochemical processes that influence the decay of organic material in deserts in the Western U.S. She worked in other roles within the School of Earth and Space Exploration including as a docent, a teaching aide and a mentor. In the summer of 2019, she studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and France.
McGroarty was also involved with a number of student organizations including Devils Pitching In, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, ASU German Devils and Daredevils Skydiving club.
She plans to continue her studies in graduate school next fall.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Minor: Family and human development
Rodriguez is a transfer Barrett student who is the first in her family to receive a college degree. She is passionate about promoting the mental health of children, adolescents and their families.
During her time at ASU, she served as a teaching assistant in the Learning and Development Lab, where she assisted in transcribing and coding picture books. She worked closely with graduate students on the project to develop the correct codes to conduct analyses of the transcripts.
She was also a team member on the ASU SIBS Project, where she worked with children and their families to promote socio-emotional development, and served as a teaching assistant for a course on aging and the life course. In addition, she interned at Mesa High School, where she worked one-on-one with high school students to help them navigate the challenges they face.
After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school. She aspires to work with children in a clinical environment.
Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Major: Biological sciences (biology and society)
Minor: Global health
Certificate: Evolutionary medicine
Ruscitti is a Barrett student with an enthusiasm for research, global health and evolutionary medicine. She worked on research projects in several labs including the Neisewander Addiction Research Laboratory, where she studied the effects of receptors’ roles in substance use addiction, specifically cocaine addiction, and she based her honors thesis on this research.
She founded SOLUR Bridge, a student-led organization dedicated to helping its members build the skills and knowledge to get involved in research, gain lab experience and build a community of researchers. She presented her research at two local conferences and will be co-presenting a poster at this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago.
She also worked with several student organizations including the Barrett Leadership and Service Team, where she served as president, and Changemaker Central, where she served as a change agent lead.
After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.
Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Minor: Women and gender studies
Ruth is passionate about communication and women and gender studies. She shows pride for her cultural heritage by advocating for others and taking part in marches and activities across the state to support contemporary issues of inequality.
Using the skills she has learned as a communication major, she has had great success networking, building lifelong relationships, maintaining familial closeness and navigating her way through future career steps.
She interned at a local telecommunications company, where she worked in the human resources department. She also volunteered at organizations including Jose’s Closet, Feed My Starving Children, the Boys and Girls Club and Liberty Arts Academy.
After graduation, she plans to continue working in human resources with the company that she interned with.
Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Majors: Biochemistry (medicinal chemistry), computational mathematical sciences
Sauer is a double major who has a passion for biochemistry and computational mathematical sciences.
During his time at ASU, he conducted research with Professor Mark Hayes on dielectrophoretic particle capture and bolus sequestration of COVID-19 particles in a microfluidic device. For his outstanding contributions, he has won a number of awards and scholarships from the School of Molecular Sciences.
After graduation, he will continue his education at ASU by pursuing a PhD in biochemistry.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Semaan is a transfer student who is interested in biophysics.
She worked as a research assistant in the Compact X-ray Free-Electron Laser Lab, where she developed experimental setups for X-ray phase contrast imaging experiments. Her work was integral to the lab, serving as the foundation for many projects moving forward.
Semaan also served as a volunteer for the Summer STEM Academy at Moon Mountain Elementary School and with a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Major: Actuarial science
Simpson’s passion for actuarial science is shown through his outstanding performance in both senior and graduate-level actuarial science courses as well as his campus involvement.
He was involved in a number of research efforts including in the ACT Lab, where he performed actuarial consulting work for external companies and presented results and findings of in-depth research into elements of Medicare and Medicaid risk metrics.
He served as both president and vice president of ASU Navigators, where he organized and planned weekly club meetings. He also completed internships with Nationwide and Optumas Consulting and worked as a tutor for Community and Outreach Advocacy for Refugees, where he assisted fourth and fifth grade refugee students in math.
After graduation, Simpson plans to complete his 4+1 program from ASU and earn his master’s degree in actuarial science.
Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Certificate: Geographic information science
Villavicencio is an ASU Online student who was drawn to geography for its interdisciplinarity and the ability to leverage geographic information systems (GIS) to create solutions to environmental problems.
Having previously earned an associate degree in humanities, a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in survey research, Villavicencio came to ASU eager to strengthen her skills while learning new ones.
During her time at ASU she interned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she used GIS to analyze crops and precipitation. She also participated in research on rain-fed agriculture.
After graduation, Villavicencio will be working in local government with the county of San Bernardino in California as a GIS technician.
Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Majors: Family and human development, psychology
Minor: Criminology and criminal justice
Wall is a Barrett student who is originally from Ireland. She is passionate about understanding barriers to psychosocial support for parents and children experiencing adversity. While at ASU she assisted in three labs, participating in several aspects of research including data collection, analysis, interviewing and qualitative coding.
She also completed an internship at a local company that works to foster and improve social functioning of children and adults, where she gained experience in student assessment. Her honors thesis involved conducting interviews with young adults on the autism spectrum about how restaurants and stores can improve their experiences.
After graduation, Wall plans to continue her work as a research aide for an additional semester while she applies to graduate programs. She aspires to earn her PhD in clinical psychology.
Communications Specialist and Lead Writer , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.A student storyteller is starting his own next chapter this semester. Connor Newton, who graduates this month with his degree in film and media production, feels ready to enter the entertainment industry after a great academic and professional experience in his student worker job as a videographer for AS…
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.
A student storyteller is starting his own next chapter this semester.
Connor Newton, who graduates this month with his degree in film and media production, feels ready to enter the entertainment industry after a great academic and professional experience in his student worker job as a videographer for ASU Student Life, a news site run by students and for students through ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services.
“It’s been amazing working with Student Life. It has helped me to grow so much during my time at ASU. My boss, Macy, taught me probably over 90% of the video creation and editing knowledge I have accumulated,” he said. “I feel prepared to enter any collaborative work environment going forward, and I also feel I have confidence in my video skills overall.”
Newton, who is from Phoenix, said the community he built in his job and also in the Sun Devil Roundnet club helped him make lasting connections.
“The community of other student workers made the job even more of a blessing. Whether they were other videographers, photographers or writers, the other Sun Devil storytellers were all super passionate about their work. It was a great experience to be surrounded by like-minded students who wanted to create media and tell stories. … Also, my Student Life peers have become some of my closest friends, people who I feel I can be vulnerable with and talk about anything with. I hope to maintain many of these relationships after graduating.”
One of Newton’s favorite projects in his time at ASU Student Life was the Haunted ASU series, which explores different spooky rumors about each ASU campus. It was a fun collaboration with the Student Life newsroom and also taught Newton a few extra skills.
“It was probably the biggest and most time-consuming project that I worked on, but it was so rewarding when I completed it. I learned a ton of new skills, such as how to create an intro graphic. I also enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the project, and it helped me to hone my creative storytelling skills,” he said.
In addition to his videography and video editing work, Newton also helped ASU students tell their own stories at the Digital Creative Studio on the lower level of the Memorial Union, where ASU Student Life staff work and are available to help other Sun Devils make their own media projects. Newton also served as a producer on many capstone films for his Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts classmates and was a Sun Devil Kids Camp counselor; he also volunteered with the Phoenix Film Festival and the Arizona Youth Ballet.
As he prepared to graduate, Newton reflected on his time at ASU and shared his advice for fellow Sun Devils.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: Back in high school I went to a prescreening for “Terminator: Genisys.” I went with my mom, and we got to see a very early version of the film where they hadn’t completed a lot of postproduction aspects yet, like special effects or sound or music.
I thought it was super cool because we could see the film while it was a work in progress. I basically got to see what they were striving to make, and it was like a little sneak peek into the filmmaking process. I started going to a ton of film screenings and decided that I wanted to study film soon after that.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: One thing I realized was how lucky all of us ASU students were to be able to attend college. I had gone to a private Catholic high school, where 99% of the students attended college, so I assumed that was the norm. After talking to my classmates at ASU, I realized that a lot of them were from smaller towns or communities where only a handful of students went to college every year.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: To be honest, I chose ASU because it was the most affordable. Not the most glamorous answer, but it’s basically free for me to go here.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Professor Gregory Bernstein taught me a lesson about simplicity. He said that a lot of the time in high school or just in our lives we learn that writing more complexly or using larger words is a sign of intelligence and education.
However, it is often best to just use simple words and sentences that convey your meaning the most clearly. I think that this advice has helped me to become a much better communicator in general.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: My advice to other students would be to put your best effort into everything you do. If you make the choice to do something, stand by that choice and see it through. Commitment is important in reaching any goal in life. The intrinsic reward of achieving something that you stuck with through tough times is immeasurable.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My go-to spot was always the second floor of the SDFC (Sun Devil Fitness Complex). Hardly anyone ever goes up there, so I used it countless times for studying. It’s also a great place to work out if you don’t want to be surrounded by gym junkies.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am currently applying for jobs in the entertainment industry. I am focusing on positions in nature-related companies such as National Geographic or producer positions within smaller companies. I also have a video production business called GecoStudios, which focuses on making video content for Valley businesses.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: This might be controversial, but I would tackle the issue of immigration. A lot of my friends or their families were or are undocumented and have little to no ability to acquire documentation.
My best friend is a DACA student and has never met his grandparents in Mexico for fear of being unable to return to the States. I would help people like him get citizenship and lobby for policy change to allow this process to be easier for future immigrants.
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