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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
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.
Garza, who graduated this week from ASU, did just that in her work for the ASU Early Outreach Scholarship Ambassador Program for the past four years.
Garza has impacted countless students by being their connection to higher education. Garza knew firsthand how important it was to have someone to turn to when you have questions about a new environment.
“During my time at ASU, I have tried to make my mark by being involved with the educational outreach of K–12th graders,” she said.
“I found it extremely important to share my knowledge with these individuals because when I was in high school I did not have a person to discuss higher education with. If I had a college student to ask questions about in high school I would have felt more prepared when I eventually attended ASU.”
Garza credits her success and personal growth in part to all she has learned working with the program.
“Being a part of EOS has been an eye-opening experience because you come in contact with so many individuals and provide information that they may not have received before. This program really assisted in my personal as well as professional development for the better. The person I was before the program is definitely not the same person who came out of the program due to the growth I have experienced over the past four years.”
Garza discussed with ASU Now how her time at ASU has impacted her and where she will be going from here.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I initially had an “aha” moment in middle school to be a psychologist because I thought the work my guidance course did was really helpful for the students. This idea stuck with me all throughout high school, and I eventually majored in psychology at ASU.
As my undergrad progressed, I started to notice an interest in the intersection between psychology and law because of a couple of classes that I had taken. I talked to an adviser about the other options I had, and she mentioned justice studies as a possible major route. After taking a few classes geared toward justice studies, specifically my death-penalty course, I added it as my second major. Both of my majors analyze very different things but at the same time cross over in various ways.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: Throughout all of my classes at ASU I have consistently learned that being objective on a topic is extremely important. There are so many sides to research, stories, articles and people that remaining objective allows an individual to critically analyze all resources. This changed my outlook on media because you may only hear one thing consistently; however, the facts are what make the story.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I originally applied to four different schools and was accepted into all but one. When it came down to choosing one of the three, I really had to think about who offered the most financial assistance.
I come from a low-income home and I was a first-generation student, so money played a significant role in my education. After reviewing all the monetary offerings, ASU offered me the most money to pursue my education.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: The professor who taught me the most important lesson while at ASU was Susan Corey. Professor Corey is actually a capital defense attorney, and ultimately she consistently told the class to know our most basic rights, be aware of the injustices that the justice system is guilty of, as well as thinking critically and logically about different situations.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Get involved. When I was in high school I played two sports, participated in orchestra and volunteered for the school as well as out in my community. Being involved helps to develop character, social skills, as well as work ethic, which are all important qualities to carry into the workplace and higher education.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot on campus would have to be the Design Library due to its large silent-study area. I am the type of person who needs to have limited distractions when it comes to studying, so this library, in particular, was the best place to go.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After graduation, I am continuing my education at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law to complete my master’s in legal studies. After that, I may either apply to law school or apply to a few PhD programs focusing on behavioral health.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: The one problem I would solve would be climate change, because all creatures and people on this Earth share the same planet. If we don't address climate change, the planet will cease to be and all living creatures will lose the one thing we have in common, which is a home.
Written by Sun Devil Storyteller Austin Davis, EOSS Marketing