2011-2012 Spirit of Service Scholars 


Joseph Wright Arnett

Joe is in his fourth year of undergraduate studies at ASU. He is majoring in supply chain management in the W. P. Carey School of Business.  He is originally from Mesa, Arizona and has spent most of his life in the valley. Joe is involved in the Leadership Scholarship Program at ASU, and last year, he served as the president of the Latter-Day Saint Student Association. He is interested in interfaith relations, international business, and supporting the local community. After completing his undergraduate degree, Joe plans to attend law school. Joe will also be involved in community and local politics while raising a family.

Tina Cai

Tina is a sophomore studying economics and literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was born and raised in Tempe, Arizona. She is involved in the Chinese Language Flagship Program and looks forward to studying and working in China in the future. She also competes with Sun Devil Mock Trial and writes about issues if education and culture for The State Press Magazine. Inspired by her love for the flute and piano, she has served as vice president of Sounds of the Community Kids, a nonprofit organization working to provide fine arts education to underprivileged elementary school students in downtown Phoenix. She hopes to apply her degree toward international relations and work to address social and economic issues. 

Yessica Del Rincon

Yessica is a first-year undergraduate in Barrett, the Honors College and will be double majoring in political science and journalism. Yessica became interested in journalism during her high school career where she had many of her columns published in The Arizona Republic. Yessica hopes to use her journalistic career as a “megaphone” to raise awareness on the U.S. legislations that are impacting Americans’ daily lives. Yessica’s passion for education has led her to become an advocate for academic reform, as she sees it important to focus her career on promoting the much needed scholastic change in the United States.

Robert W. Kutter

Rob is a third-year doctoral student in the School of Sustainability. He is originally from a suburb of Chicago called Wheaton, Illinois. After finishing his bachelor's degree, he worked on greening supply chains with large corporations at a consulting company in Hamburg, Germany. He earned a master's degree in sustainable technology from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. In addition to coursework and research, Rob also volunteers at the Arizona Animal Welfare League in Phoenix. He is interested in community participation and empowerment in international development and hopes to improve sanitation in developing countries after completing his Ph.D.

Tim Norris

Tim is a senior architecture student at The Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU. Born and raised in Turkey, his family moved back to the U.S. when he was 16. While beginning studies at ASU he also volunteered as an intern in the City of Tempe Community Development Department. He has entered numerous national and international design competitions, gaining recognition in several. His academic studio projects have included an urban farm, the food museum, Phoenix history center, affordable housing, and a community center for an underserved neighborhood. Tim is interested in social entrepreneurship, publicly accessible design, and disruption of current design and business paradigms.

Jenna Lynn Roundy

Jenna is in her second year of the Master of Public Administration program in the ASU School of Public Affairs. She is a native of Arizona, born and raised in beautiful Gilbert. She is currently employed at the Arizona State Senate where she serves as the deputy sergeant at arms. Her responsibilities include managing the Senate page program and assisting in parliamentary procedure and security in the Senate chamber. Jenna’s academic interests are driven by her love of state politics and the legislative process. She is interested in the integration of information technology in the legislative process and its potential to improve governance. Jenna hopes to apply her degree towards continued service at the Arizona State Legislature and perhaps as an elected public official.

Kendra L. Smith

Kendra is a first year graduate student in the College of Public Programs pursuing a Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development.  A native of Oklahoma, she attended the University of Central Oklahoma where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and communication and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.  Before attending ASU, she worked at the University of Central Oklahoma as a grants officer. Kendra is affiliated with numerous community organizations.  She is a Pat Tillman Military Scholar, a former member of the American Association of University Women Student Advisory Council, and a recent participant in the Clinton Global Initiative University.  Kendra’s career goal is to use education as a way to positively transform society, most specifically in the areas of urban education, community research and school-university partnerships.  In the near future, Kendra hopes to move into the professoriate to teach, research, and serve as a higher education administrator focusing on community initiatives. 

Kathryn D. Scheckel

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Kathryn is a fifth-year honors undergraduate student studying molecular biosciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as music with a piano concentration in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She is also pursuing a certificate in philosophy, politics, and law through  Barrett, the Honors College. At ASU, Kathryn serves as president of The Triple Helix, founder and director of The Quanta (a 2011-2012 Edson Grant Initiative), and co-director of Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees. She hopes to apply her undergraduate degrees towards postgraduate education in science, business, and law, and work at the intersections of science and law as well as in the nonprofit sector.  

Blake William Thompson

Blake is a junior studying global health in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, along with minors in English literature and Spanish. He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout his college career, Blake has volunteered in various hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and Peru. Blake serves as a member of the board of directors and as the director of U.S. operations for Vive Peru, a nonprofit that connects U.S. students to clinics and nonprofits in Peru. Blake is interested in global health, particularly in child and maternal health, and will attend the Mount Sinai School of Medicine upon graduating from ASU.

Lucia Avila

Lucia is an honors student in her junior year majoring in economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is originally from Peru and recently completed her first semester at ASU. She has been organizing recycling campaigns in Lima, Peru, and is part of an NGO focused on creating awareness about the importance of marine mammals. She has several interests ranging from international development to sustainable economics. She looks forward to mastering her sixth foreign language and to ultimately work for an international organization focused on increasing economic activity and development in emerging nations. 

Felicia Ann Cantrell

Felicia is a third-year law student at Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law, who during her first year founded the pro bono group “13 – Advocacy against Sex Trafficking.” She is originally from Seattle, Washington. She spent a year in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office Sex Crimes Unit and continues to work as a research assistant for the Halle Center for Family Justice and the North American Center for Trans-Border Studies where she analyzes U.S. and international legislation pertaining to this issue. She has spent time in the Philippines assisting in the prosecution of human trafficking cases. She hopes to legally represent victims of human trafficking and family violence after the completion of her J.D.

Janne E. Gaub

Janne is a first-year doctoral student studying criminology and criminal justice in the College of Public Programs. She has lived almost her entire life in the Phoenix metro area and currently lives in Gilbert, Arizona. Her research and policy interests include drug use and abuse and how the sentencing policies of drug offenses affect offenders and their communities, alternatives to prison to deal with the issue of overcrowding and budgetary constraints, and victimization. Upon graduating with her Ph.D., she hopes to teach and conduct research at a university or conduct policy research for a justice-related nonprofit organization. When she is not at school, she can likely be found in a high school classroom working with students and teachers onWe the People, a competitive civics program.

Samantha M. Leffler

Samantha is a sophomore studying global health in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. She is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. Samantha is involved in various food and environmental justice groups and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She is interested in working with native people on health, food and environmental justice, and youth development. She hopes to apply her degree towards contributing to the nonprofit sector in better addressing these issues within indigenous and minority communities.

Daniel Nzengya

Daniel is a third-year doctoral student studying sustainability in the ASU School of Sustainability. He is originally from Nairobi, Kenya. Daniel is a research assistant in the Center for Sustainable Health, Biodesign Institute and works for Dr. Hartwell in the Sustainability Science for Teachers Initiative. He is helping to establish K-8 teacher training universities globally collaborating with ASU around issues related to sustainability science for teachers. Daniel is a passionate advocate for children’s basic rights. He is involved in several environmental movements. Daniel has wide interests ranging from nature conservation to global health, but his focus at the moment is on international development, urbanization, and water resources management. He hopes to apply his degree towards facilitating the implementation of intergovernmental cooperation working with universities and communities in the management of the Nile River Basin to mitigate water conflicts between different states, promote sustainable urban developments, and protect Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical freshwater lake.

Nicole Ann-Marie Bruno

Nicole is in her last year of the Master of Public Administration program in the ASU School of Public Affairs and will be graduating in May of 2012. She recently graduated with her Master of Social Work from the School of Social Work at ASU in May of 2011. She is originally from Chandler, Arizona and has lived there her whole life. She currently works at Community Bridges as an outpatient counselor serving the community in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Nicole is involved in Woman as Hero, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Purple Ribbon Council and is in the 2011 Center for Progressive Leaders Political Fellowship. She is interested in building and creating sustainable communities that utilize prevention to raise awareness to end domestic violence and abuse and to engage schools to start preventing teen dating violence.  She hopes to apply her degrees to form her own nonprofit addressing vocational rehabilitation barriers, social oppression and injustice and to perhaps become an elected official one day serving Arizona’s communities that are in need of critical resources. 

Luis Alfonso De La Cruz

Luis is a junior undergraduate student studying business law and management.  He is also an honors student at Barrett, the Honors College and is a part of Project Excellence. Project Excellence is a partnership between the Honors College and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law that gives honors students the opportunity to take first and second year law school courses during their undergraduate program. For the past two years, Luis has served as a guest speaker for nonprofit organizations and for middle and high school students. He shares his story as a first generation college student and his experiences before, during, and after foster care; a story profiled in the book “Green Card Stories,” by Saundra Amhrein. This year, Luis was asked to participate in the Arizona Citizen Review Panel, which seeks to provide recommendations to Arizona’s Child Protective Services. During summer of 2010, Luis worked as a paid intern in Washington D.C. for a Member of the United States House of Representatives where his interest in public service was reinforced. He is also interested in issues of immigration, education, and poverty. In the future, Luis plans to attend law school and use his knowledge and skills to pursue a career in public service.

Elia Anne Kawam

Elisa is a second-year doctoral student studying social work in the College of Public Programs. She is originally from the New York and New Jersey areas. As a student, Elisa is involved in several endeavors including teaching, research, professional development as well as volunteer/mentorship activities. She is interested in child welfare; more specifically the effects to the child welfare system during times of economic recession. She is passionate about community and policy and one day hopes to combine her rigorous academic training in directly working with the community, policy makers, and higher educational institutions to create positive change in our world.

Shala Marks

Shala is a senior studying print journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  She proudly hails from Columbus, Ohio, where she began her collegiate career at The Ohio State University during her senior year of high school.  Shala has interned with numerous magazines and newspapers throughout the valley, most recently as a breaking news reporter for The Arizona Republic and Channel 12 News.  She is also an Obama Scholars mentor. Shala holds a special interest in African-American, diversity, and women’s issues. She hopes to use her passion for writing to make a difference in these areas and serve others through books, television, and youth programs.

Kyle Stayton Riggs

Kyle is in his second year at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.  He is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. He attended the University of Louisville, where he earned a B.A. in political science.  After college, Kyle worked as a political organizer and a volunteer coordinator for a local LGBT advocacy organization in his hometown.  In law school, Kyle is involved as a Pro Bono Board member and a board member with OUTLaw, the school’s organization for students interested in LGBT legal issues.  He is interested in LGBT advocacy work and hopes to apply his degree towards running a nonprofit social justice organization.

Seth Schermerhorn

Seth is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at ASU. He is originally from Denver, Colorado. In collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Cultural Center and Museum in Topawa, Arizona, Seth is currently conducting oral history research pertaining to the O’odham pilgrimage to Magdalena, Sonora. He is interested in issues pertaining to American Indian religious freedom and how some indigenous people of the Americas have made Christianity their own. Seth aspires to become a professor and he hopes to apply his degree toward continued service to the Tohono O’odham Nation.