a brand ambassador’s #BestSunDevilMoment

By Miranda Gaona, brand ambassador . Online Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy student.

As I clicked “submit” on my final assignment, I was immediately overwhelmed with excitement and a hint of early-onset nostalgia. In just a few short days, my Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy degree will be conferred; I will officially be an alum of Arizona State University.

My Master of Science degree took me one year to complete. I have pushed myself harder academically than I ever have before. Before ASU, I never had straight A’s in college; I’m proud to be graduating on May 11 with a 4.25 GPA.

I started with two courses: the introduction course and the infamous Media Law. The reputation of Media Law preceded it. My advisor had warned me that past students said it was very difficult. With no formal law background, I knew this class would be tough. Over coffee with my husband, I told him I was going to get an A (not really realizing what kind of effort that would take!). I quickly realized the challenge in front of me. I showed up for every virtual office hour, I asked questions, I started early on my assignments, I checked in daily. Before I knew it, my grades reflected that dedication. The harder I worked, the more in love I fell with the content. Week-by-week, my efforts were paying off. The final came…despite finishing the exam with a handful of minutes to spare, I rocked it! I earned an A in Media Law - I actually did it! I climbed that mountain, but I decided I wouldn’t stop there. I would graduate my program with a 4.0.

Early on, I had my heart set on CPP 526: Foundations of Data Science: Data Programming in R as an elective. I was nervous; a graduate-level coding course from another department with little formal coding experience…what was I thinking? Ha! Oh boy, this was one tough class! I definitely had a few nights where I was teary-eyed and completely stuck. I thought back to how good that Media Law ‘A’ felt; it was a reminder that I would NOT give up. The final project for CPP 526 was very difficult. I was to code an interactive dashboard highlighting crash data from Tempe. I struggled to get my code to work. I didn’t leave my computer for two days except to sleep and eat, but in the final hours before my due date, my code began to work! Cue: happy tears! That breakthrough moment was a mixture of happiness and relief. I'm sure I’ll never forget it! The ‘A’ I received in that class added to my fuel to finish my degree with a 4.0.

The required courses for my major each presented their own challenges, but I was fortunate to have professors that were supportive and provided help along the way. I felt like such an important part of the department; I felt valued as a student (despite never meeting a professor or classmate face-to-face). I connected with other students along the way. It was so cool how we all supported each other and uplifted one another when things weren’t easy!

I wish I could highlight just one #BestSunDevilMoment, but the truth is, my favorite memories are each of the smaller victories that added up to push me past the finish line. Working remotely on a graduate degree was such a unique experience. I quickly learned the necessity of a routine, discipline and the benefit of not procrastinating. I watched myself set huge goals and conquer them! My time in graduate school helped me to master skills that I can apply in my future career and I have learned a new level of discipline that I know will take me the extra mile when things get tough. Each challenge and each victory taught me something about myself and I am thankful for my time as a Sun Devil. I’m so proud to be a #ASUgrad!

We're so excited to share Miranda’s story!

Miranda is a part of our #LearnASULive team, an ASU Online brand ambassador program highlighting students who are earning their degrees while living their lives to the fullest. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check back for new articles from Miranda so that you can follow along with her journey. To check out all her posts to date, visit Miranda’s Instagram!

Want to hear from our other ambassadors, too? Use the #LearnASULive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse through them!

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