From the classroom to the field: Grace Nudo

Many students return to school in hopes of bettering themselves and their communities. For Grace Nudo, an online degree resulted in offline empowerment, enabling her to choose a career where she can make a difference — especially for victims of domestic violence.

“My sister is a domestic violence social worker,” Grace explains. “Helping those who are affected by it is a passion of mine.”

Prior to enrolling with ASU Online, Grace had earned an associate’s degree from a local community college and became a certified paralegal, but she soon discovered there wasn’t much room for growth without a degree. Most of the postings for jobs she was interested in listed a bachelor’s as a major requirement, a realization that would ultimately serve as her motivation for returning to school. She had been working at Starbucks for about five months when she heard about the College Achievement Plan through her sister.

“It worked out perfectly,” Grace says. “The variety of majors ASU Online offers made it an easy choice because I had a variety of interests, and I changed things up a couple times trying to find the right fit.”

Ultimately, Grace pursued a degree in criminology and criminal justice.

“Being able to do both made the experience more unique because criminology is a little more specialized than at most schools,” she says. “The classes are more intense and specific.”

Prior to enrolling, Grace had always thought of herself as an on-campus student. She quickly learned that one of the aspects of the program she valued most was the convenience of online.

Grace and her Starbucks manager posing for a photo

“I was working 45 hours with one day off, and I know I wouldn’t have had the drive if I had to be on campus,” she says. “There were times I wasn’t sure I could finish with my schedule, but it made things so much easier, and I was still able to have a connection with other students and even made some friends through my classes. I feel connected to the school despite never visiting campus. It’s my alma mater.”

After graduating in summer 2017, Grace was able to immediately use her degree toward a full-time job in her field, and now works as a paralegal and law clerk for the 16th Judicial Circuit in Illinois. Her role comprises judicial research for judges as well as orders of protection.

“I have always had a desire to work for my local government, and receiving this degree helped me further that goal,” she says. “This position is a stepping stone to bigger careers.”

To stay motivated, Grace prioritized keeping the end goal in sight — and staying organized.

“When you are inevitably getting stressed, having your eyes on the end goal will keep you going,” she says. “Get a monthly planner and write your assignments down.”

She also highly recommends taking advantage of resources outside of the classroom.

Grace celebrating her graduation with fellow Starbucks employees

“The advisors were so patient with me when I’d email them a dozen times in one week,” she says. “They were always helpful in making sure I was signed up for the right classes to be able to graduate.”

To her fellow Starbucks partners, she offers this advice: “Take advantage of this opportunity. It’s so rare that a company like Starbucks gives us the chance to better ourselves. There are so many people who always wanted to go to school but didn’t have the money or the drive to do it, or were just unsure whether it was right for them. I suggest people really think about what they want, where they see themselves or where they’d like to be and see if ASU fits in. With the variety of majors, it’s such a great program and I would have regretted not being a part of it.”

Learn more about ASU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice program.

Grace was able to pursue her education thanks to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University.

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