Turning the tassel: Meet ASU Online’s Fall 19 graduates

December 18, 2019 · 7 min read · By ASU Online
ASU Online students discuss journey to graduation and post-grad plans.

Each year, thousands of online Sun Devils travel to Tempe to celebrate their success by walking across the stage, shaking hands, and receiving their hard-earned, long-awaited degree. We spoke with 5 students taking that journey this Fall and asked about the highlights of their ASU experience and what they have to look forward to post-graduation.


Brooklyn Cookson

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Education/Health Promotion
  • Tahlequah, Oklahoma


When Brooklynn Cookson decided that leaving her son daily to attend college was not an option, she turned to ASU Online. Her goal was to receive a degree in Health Education and Health Promotion to further her career in a field she is passionate about. She gained so much more than a degree through ASU online.

“Everyone was so nice and welcoming. It truly poured life into me.”

Brooklynn was amazed at how involved her professors were. She knew they really cared about her as an individual. She specifically thanks Jordan Miller, her Applied Inquiry instructor. Professor Miller would reach out to see how life outside of school was going and if there was anything she could do to help. Brooklynn was so grateful for the relationship that blossomed during her program.

She advises new ASU Online students, “Go in with an open mind and ready to discover more about yourself. These past few years I’ve been able to dive into who I am, because of the support that ASU has given me.”

Brooklynn will travel to Tempe to attend her graduation ceremony with her fiance and son. Post graduation, she plans to use her degree to focus on substance abuse prevention and help the Cherokee tribe nation in Oklahoma.


Daniel Baisden

  • Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning & Sociology
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana


Dan Baisden is a City Planner and Public Art Manager for the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Previous years of working in radio and living in different cities allowed him to develop a sense of curiosity surrounding what makes a city attractive to the individuals living there. Once he decided it was time to further his education in city development, he searched for the best program available. He chose ASU’s concurrent degrees, Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning as well as Sociology online, with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Working full time and attending school was no walk in the park. Time management was key.

“One of my first classes told me to keep a calendar and I thought ‘that’s silly.’ But it turned out, that’s exactly what I needed to do.”

“Another thing, being an online student requires you to be great at setting goals and working towards them. You have the freedom of online, which means most of the time you have all week to complete assignments. You have to manage your time, which is an invaluable skill.”

On top of managing his time, Dan would reach out to his professors individually to introduce himself or ask for any additional help or explanations. He used them as a resource to get the most out of his classes and got to know them well throughout his program. He especially appreciated working with Dr. Basile, who challenged students to think in a real-world setting and prepare them for their careers outside of class. Dan and his partner are traveling to Tempe for graduation this fall and he hopes to meet Dr. Basile while he is visiting.

After graduation, he will start on a master’s program to continue his career in City Planning. For any incoming Sun Devils, he advises,

“You make college what you want it to be, that’s true even online. Sometimes you have to go out and ask for it, sometimes it’s doing stuff on the weekends, emailing professors and asking them questions, changing majors, adding a second major. You have control, as long as you have the drive.”


Jax Skorich

  • Communication with a Minor in Organizational Leadership
  • Acton, California


Jax Skorich could not wait to start earning her bachelor’s degree once she landed her job that included tuition benefits. As soon as she could, she called an academic advisor to make sure she was pursuing the right path, which led her to majoring in Communications and minoring in Organizational Leadership. Jax’s main goal was to help people. She loves her current job and would like to move into human resources to be able to give back to fellow employees. This Fall, she will be one step closer to her dream job after she walks across the stage to receive her degree.

Jax really dove into her ASU Online courses and took advantage of resources to help her succeed. Having these support services on hand allowed her to enjoy her classes and get to know other students in the program.

She recommends, “Get in touch with your Success Coach and use as many resources as possible. You’ll find out you have all these wonderful people who want to support you. That’s when you make the connection and your school spirit comes out.”

Jax is a First Generation college graduate and the whole family is making the trip out for graduation.

“We’re all so excited since I’m the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor's degree. My mom, dad, sister, her three children, my cousin, her husband, her child, my uncle, his wife, my best friend, my partner are all flying out to celebrate.”

Jax has a full week of celebrating and is attending the Rainbow Convocation, Hispanic Convocation, Welcome Reception, and Commencement.


Jessie Travis

  • International Development & Sustainability
  • Wadsworth, OH


Jessie knew she had to take advantage of her employers tuition benefit and saw a Sustainability major as the perfect fit. She is a nature-lover from Ohio who noticed at a young age, while talking with her grandfather, that the seasons were changing. The winters weren’t the same as they used to be. She decided she would devote her career to making a difference with sustainability and teaching youth about the importance of it.

Working full time, caring for her young son, and attending school as an adult learner came with some bumps in the road and new experiences for everyone in her house.

“When I started my son was three. I had my own desk in the house, my own computer, and he got this little Fisher Price desk we put it in the room with mine. I would say, ‘ok mommy has to do homework,’ and he would come in and sit at his desk and do homework himself. It was really adorable and made me proud that I was showing him that you have to work for things.”

Jessie cannot wait to travel to AZ for graduation with her parents and son. She looks forward to her son seeing her walk across the stage, with her honor cords, to receive her degree.

She contributes her success mainly to good ol’ fashioned hard work and a great support system, but recommends to new Sun Devils,

“School can be overwhelming & confusing. You have so many resources, it’s hard to realize all the resources that are there. Take baby steps, deep breaths, and find a support system.”


Rob Thomasson

  • Organizational Leadership
  • Scottsdale, Arizona


When Rob Thomasson decided to return to college at 53 and complete his bachelor’s degree, he never imagined he would be attending graduation next to his son, Sam who is also graduating this Fall.

Rob earned his associate’s degree in his 20’s and jumped right into a full time career. He always regretted not pursuing his bachelor’s degree, and when he settled down in Arizona, he decided it was the right time to further his education. He spent time researching online programs and it didn’t take him long to recognize ASU as one of the top programs in his field of interest, Organizational Leadership.

Rob really enjoyed going back to school as an adult learner and learning more about himself.

“The highlight of my ASU experience was becoming a better leader and better human being. I was reminded that leadership is a journey, it’s learned and no matter your age, there are always ways to grow as a leader.”

Being an adult learner, he felt that he was truly invested in his learning and potential growth. Rob used his Success Coach, the library, and engaged with his instructors regularly.

“As an adult learner and online student, I really value the education and energy of the instructors that I had, that made a big difference.”

Now that Rob has completed his bachelor’s degree, he is wondering what to do with his free time. He might start taking piano lessons or take some extra curricular classes and sometimes plays with the idea of returning for his MBA.

As for right now, he’s focused on celebrating graduation alongside his son, Sam Thomasson at this Fall 2019’s ceremony.

ASU Online congratulates all Sun Devils graduating this December. We look forward to watching you succeed wherever you go next.


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