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Meet ASU Online’s 2021 brand ambassadors

April 15, 2021 · 10 min read · By ASU Online

Being an ASU Online student means juggling it all – school, work, a social life and more. We caught up with our three new brand ambassadors to talk about what that balance means to them and how they navigate new opportunities to learn, connect and build their futures.

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Our new brand ambassadors

Our new brand ambassadors all have something in common: each one is engineering their own path and writing their story as they go. They all agree that ASU Online affords them the flexibility to live their lives and achieve their educational goals.

Kyle Ballard, BA in political science, North Augusta, SC

For military student Kyle, his educational path has been anything but linear. After starting his studies at another institution and landing in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician (interpretive), he knew one thing: he wanted to continue learning. What attracted him to ASU Online was the military-friendly nature. He also had an interest in the Earned Admission program, which allowed him the flexibility to pursue classes on his own time before starting his full-time political science studies.

Kyle credits the flexibility of ASU Online classes with his ability to successfully balance his job with the Navy and involvement in student organizations while still crushing his academic goals. Should his military career take him abroad again before his chapter in the military comes to an end, he knows he can take ASU Online with him.

Future-forward. After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science in 2021, Kyle plans to keep the forward momentum by pursuing a master’s degree in either global security or political psychology. With his eyes on finishing his MA in spring 2023, Kyle is looking at leaving the military service and applying to work with the State Department.

Kyle looks forward to sharing his experiences and offering advice to veterans or others currently in the military interested in becoming students again. A piece of advice: “Take advantage of the resources offered!” For military students, this may mean utilizing the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. For all students, this could look like connecting with their success coach or making a personal connection with an instructor.

Follow Kyle on Instagram as he shares his ASU Online journey.

Selene Gonzalez, BA in Spanish, minor in health care coordination, Richmond, California

When native Spanish speaker Selene took her first Spanish class through ASU Online, she thought it would be her only one. She didn’t realize she’d re-fall in love with her language and culture, and this would lead to changing her major to Spanish.

“I fell in love with the class, the passion that the professor had for the language and the culture, and ultimately the School of International Letters and Cultures as a whole,” Selene explains.

As she continues her ASU journey, Selene plans to forge her own path, grounded in building community. What she enjoys most about her ASU Online experience is the vibrant communities she has joined. Her interest in Spanish language and Hispanic and Latinx culture has led Selene to join the Hispanic Honor Society, participate in the SILC Café through the School of International Letters and Cultures, and found her own student-led group, Si Se Puede. These digital communities have shown her that friendships and peer connections don’t know geographical borders.

When asked about tips she’d give to new ASU Online students, she pointed to the following:

  • There is always more you can do at ASU.
  • It is important to be a lifelong learner, no limits needed.
  • Know why you started, but be open to your purpose pivoting as you learn and experience more.

In her free time, Selene likes to hike with her dogs and fiancé. She points out the need for balance between screen time and the self-care needed to reset and refocus. Selene also enjoys getting crafty. In fact, she recently customized a graduation topper. She concludes that although graduation is still a year away for her, “It’s a daily reminder to keep going.”

Follow Selene on Instagram to see how she embraces new opportunities and continues to build communities around her as an ASU Online student.

Lauren Dohr, BA in organizational leadership, Homestead, Florida

Lauren is always on the go and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In addition to pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and a minor in history through ASU Online, she’s a mom to a 7-year-old daughter, owner of three dogs and a future military spouse to her fiancé, who is an active duty Air Force member. Did we mention she’s just two weeks shy of earning a real estate license, a trained pastry chef and involved in online student communities?

Lauren is a connector. When deciding where to pursue the next step in her education, she was impressed with her ability to quickly connect with the ASU Online enrollment team. They were able to answer all of her questions and launch her into the next step of her academic journey. On why she loves ASU Online, she points to positive experiences with faculty in her courses. It had a great impact on her that her professor remembered her nickname “Ren” and referred to her as such when giving her feedback on an assignment.

As a fully embedded student, Lauren also values social connections. When she moved from Texas to Florida for her fiancé’s job, she says she had to come out of her shell to meet new people. She found connections with fellow Sun Devils and faculty through digital communities. An important part of her ASU Online experience is feeling consistently connected to her peers, her instructors and the university community.

Lauren takes great pride in her time management skills and is excited to share tips with others. Staying on track includes color coding, prioritizing and time-blocking tasks. Of course, she notes it’s always important to leave some flex times because things come up. With such an active lifestyle, Lauren jokes, “School is the easiest add-on to my routine!”

On what motivates her to keep going, Lauren enthusiastically shares that she is inspired by her daughter. She teaches Lauren the importance of staying committed to her goals and embracing the endless possibilities in her personal and professional life.

To keep up with Lauren, follow her on Instagram.

Shadane (Shad) Johnson, Starbuck College Achievement Plan Scholar, BS in biochemistry, minor in Spanish, Mount Vernon, New York

Shad Johnson is an EMT, a Starbucks partner, model and world traveler - all while fitting in her studies at ASU. Originally from Jamaica, Shad has studied and traveled around the world. Through the Starbucks College Achievement Program, Shad now studies biochemistry with ASU Online.

While Shad originally began college with a business degree mindset, her experience as an EMT and the discovery of her natural skill in chemistry, she now aspires to pursue a career in the medical field. Specifically, she hopes to be an emergency medicine doctor or trauma surgeon.

Shad loves to stay connected with faculty, students and her success coach, Jessica. She regularly connects with Jessica, who helps her with her time management.

“She made me feel like I could do this and have time to relax,” Shad stated enthusiastically.

Shad also keeps up with her fellow students on Sun Devils Connect, a Facebook community for students studying at ASU Online. The support from classmates helped her realize she is not going through school alone and has even found study buddies there. Shad has also formed strong bonds with her professors. When she receives positive feedback on an assignment or a great test score, it keeps her going during tougher times. She makes it a point to email each professor at the beginning of the semester to introduce herself.

She stated, “I’ve been truly impacted by how thoughtful, nice and understanding my professors have been when I need extra help or I’m caught in an emergency.”

Shad, we can’t wait to call you doctor Johnson. Follow her modeling career and world travels on her Instagram.

Aaron Maldonado, Drives with Uber, BA in organizational leadership, Redding, California

After an eight year journey of self-discovery, Aaron decided he was ready to return to school. With the help of Uber, his dream has become a reality. He wants his education to ultimately help people.

His attitude is, “I will do whatever I can do to help others.” He hopes to acquire a master’s degree and start an organization with his wife to assist inner-city youth. In fact, his wife is attending school alongside him.

Aaron cherishes so many aspects of ASU Online - his success coach, Canvas, student resources and his professors, to name a few. He’s passionate about his goals and enjoys inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves.

Like many students, time management is always on his mind. He blocks out 3 to 4 hours every other day to dedicate to schoolwork. Not in it just for the grades, Aaron strives to learn and absorb the material more so than stressing over whether he receives an A grade.

When enjoying free time, Aaron practices ‘me’ time. Biking, hiking and traveling solo is how he grows personally.

See how much he inspires us by following him on Instagram.

Vicki Sheerin, BS in health sciences (healthy lifestyles coaching), Ocala, Florida

It’s hard to imagine now, but Vicki used to be 400 pounds. After losing several family members to weight-related issues, she found her passion: health. As the weight began to shed, she learned about nutrition, healthy ways to move and what motivates her to keep the weight off. With a dream of becoming a licensed nutritionist, she is currently pursuing a degree in healthy lifestyles coaching.

When looking for a place to finish school, Vicki needed flexibility as a single mother. After reading everything that ASU Online had to offer, she learned she could easily integrate classes into her lifestyle. She found the onboarding process seamless and personal. While many of her classes are challenging, she keeps open lines of communication with her professors and TAs and enjoys the immediate feedback she receives.

Vicki credits her success in classes with staying organized, taking notes and keeping in contact with her success coach. You’ll never see her without her planner, and she devotes specific hours and days of the week strictly to schoolwork. Her success coach makes a huge difference in her academic journey. More traditional school advisors always made Vicki anxious and doubtful, but with her success coach she feels supported. She thrives on personal deadlines and always has the big picture in mind.

She realizes, “You can't do this all at once, you have to do things in small chunks. I learned this advice from my own weight loss journey.”

While Vicki doesn’t know exactly where her career will land her, she wants to help to keep people accountable and successful during their weight loss journeys.

“Health saves lives, that’s my biggest motivator”, she explains.

Follow Vicki on Instagram for delicious recipes and fun outings with her children.

Claryssa Guerrero, Bachelors of Science in psychology, Palmdale, California

For this mother of two young children, flexibility was a must when it came to obtaining an education. Fortunately, Claryssa found ASU Online to be less stressful than attending an on-campus program, and developed a strong sense of community along the way.

Claryssa has always had a curiosity with how and why people behave the way they do. She found herself wondering how trauma affects decision-making and how a person's upbringing alters their judgement later in life. In fact, her own upbringing sparked her curiosity to pursue a degree in psychology.

Understanding what it’s like to have little resources growing up, Guerrero hopes to be a researcher after she graduates, specifically for underprivileged communities. Making a better life for her children is her biggest motivation. She wants to set a new standard for the next generation of Guerrero’s.

She tells herself and her children, “There’s nothing that can stop you from doing what you want to do.”

When not studying for class, Claryssa loves to decompress by drawing and tending to her plants. In addition, she recently joined Delta Sigma, an online club at ASU.

When she is ready to work on assignments, she dedicates blocks of time that cater to her children’s schedules. ASU Online has helped her become more disciplined and accountable as she continues her personal growth journey.

Follow Claryssa on her journey as a student on her Instagram page.

We know, our new brand ambassadors are pretty great! Be sure to follow them all on Instagram.

Let’s stay connected. Follow us on social at @ASUOnline, learn more about ASU Online programs and see how our online students stay connected virtually.


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