Currently earning her third degree from ASU, Lauren Kater rightfully describes herself as “a Sun Devil, through and through.” With a long-term goal of pursuing a PhD and researching inequities in higher education, Kater began her Sun Devil journey when she transferred to ASU Online as a junior to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in community advocacy and social policy.
“I chose to go to ASU Online for my undergrad because I knew that I learned well in online classes and was working full-time,” Kater explained. “ASU Online gave me the opportunity to continue working while pursuing my degree so I didn’t have to give up my income. I don’t know if I would have been able to continue through school if ASU Online wasn’t an option.”
After completing her undergraduate program in 2019, Kater enrolled in ASU Online’s Master of Arts in social justice and human rights program. While she admits that starting a master’s program at the height of the first COVID outbreak was challenging, her community of peers helped her along the way.
“We held our own Zoom study sessions and happy hours to make it through the semester together,” Kater said. “Our cohort also created a Slack channel for fellow students to support each other through the trials and tribulations of graduate school.”
Even with a busy schedule working and attending classes full time, Kater prioritized ASU Online’s resources to connect with other students and make the most out of her education.
During her master’s program, Kater served as a founding member of the Online Student Government Advocacy Group where she held the positions of senate president, university affairs chair and senator for the New College. She also joined the online Program for Language and Culture Exchange (PLACE), which pairs online students from different nations and cultures. Through this program, she connected with a fellow student from Jordan whom she still keeps in touch with.
“These experiences really got me engaged with graduate student issues and connecting with fellow ASU Online students from across the world,” Kater said.
Now, Kater is enrolled in ASU’s PhD in justice studies program. Passionate about supporting college students, she aspires to work in a higher education-focused research organization or institutional research position at a community college.
Reflecting on her time at ASU Online, Kater contributes the accessibility and support of her teachers to her ability to stay on track throughout her education.
“Reaching out to faculty helped with my educational growth and finding direction,” Kater explained. “It can be nerve-wracking to send a cold email, but being a self-advocate is so important in college, especially graduate school.”
For students looking to pursue higher education, Kater recommends taking advantage of the community and resources available to you. With a team of peers and faculty members rooting for your success at ASU Online, Kater exemplifies that reaching out to your support system is the first step in ensuring your success throughout your college experience.
“Ask a lot of questions, and be ready to learn from anyone and everyone,” Kater advises. “There are so many people willing to help at ASU (me included) if you don’t have a mentor yet.”