2014-2015 Spirit of Service Scholars

Lauren Bacon

Lauren Bacon is a junior studying English Linguistics, Philosophy, Italian and TESOL in Barrett, The Honors College. She is originally from Ahwatukee, Arizona, but has had the privilege of living abroad. As a student, Lauren is involved in Changemaker Central, Academic Success Programs and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She has devoted much of her time to Best Buddies International, the American Cancer Society, the Somali-American United Council, and the Global Volunteer Network, an organization through which she taught in Ghana, West Africa. She is interested in languages, education, criminal law, philanthropy and the arts, and she hopes to apply her degree towards becoming either a prosecutor or a linguist who both creates and implements materials for developing contexts, wishing both to enact change and to empower those around her to do so. 

German Cadenas

German Cadenas is a fourth year Ph.D. student in counseling psychology at the School of Letters and Sciences. He is originally from Merida, Venezuela and immigrated to the U.S. in 2002. German is the current President of the ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA); the official graduate student government at ASU. He is also a founding member of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. German is interested in the education and economic gap between cultural groups. Specifically, he studies career development and sociopolitical development in minority and immigrant students; advocacy training in mental health professions; and shaping attitudes toward immigrants. His goal is to have a career that allows him to make an impact on these issues through advocacy, research, teaching and mental health practice. 

Courtney Carter

Courtney Carter is a senior undergraduate pursuing two majors: urban and metropolitan studies in the School of Public Affairs and urban planning in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. He is originally from San Francisco and is a military veteran. As a community member and student, Courtney has been active in community cohesion initiatives, urban agriculture and vacant lot activation efforts. He is currently the Veteran Student Peer Advisor for ASU’s College of Public Programs. Courtney’s areas of interest include urban land-use policy, multimodal transit planning, and urban design that is both civically and socially regenerative. His career goals include city management and policy advocacy. 

Katie Curiel

Katie Curiel is pursuing her master’s degree in global technology and development in the School of Letters and Sciences. She is originally from inner-city Phoenix, Arizona, and is an ASU undergraduate alumna, class of 2000. She has a combined ten years of higher education, government and community organization experience and has had the honor of traveling to twelve different countries in four continents and working with people from over 100 countries. Katie currently serves on various ASU international-related committees, is a facilitator for ASU’s DREAMzone Ally Certification Program, advisor to the ASU Saudi Students Club, advisory committee member for ASU Chavez Programs, and continues to serve as a youth mentor and scholarship judge for various organizations in the Phoenix-metropolitan area. She plans to apply her degree towards a career in international public service that focuses on solving both the worlds’ and the local Arizona communities’ problems through initiatives related to sustainable global development, access to quality education around the world, immigration, intercultural competence, peace building, and the development of globally-experience, globally- minded, multicultural communities. 

Steve Elliot

Steve Elliott is a Ph.D. student in ASU’s Center for Biology and Society, and is writing his dissertation in the field of history and philosophy of biology. Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, he moved to the Valley in 2000. As a graduate student, Steve has been the editor-in-chief for the Embryo Project Encyclopedia, an open access and digital publication that partly aims to increase, in general audiences, scientific literacy about reproductive health and medicine. He is interested in higher education, public engagement with science, and social justice, and he plans to apply his degree towards improving those domains in Arizona. 

Leah Fiacco

Leah Fiacco is a senior studying economics and political science at the W.P. Carey School of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is originally from Gilbert, Arizona. On campus, Leah has worked as a research assistant for the North American Center for Transborder Studies, held various leadership positions within USG, and is actively involved in the business school’s Consulting Scholars Program. Recently, she has interned for the International Trade Administration, as well as the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Trade Policy and Programs. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she has developed an interest in economic development and trade and hopes to apply her degrees towards a career in trade policy development. 

Emily Fritcke

Emily is a senior in Barrett the Honors College studying English Literature and History with a minor in Arabic Studies. As a student, Emily works for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict as a marketing and communications assistant and is a research assistant studying the impact of the education process on Pakistani youth. Originally from Scottsdale, Emily has been active in Arizona politics, working on a Congressional campaign in 2012 and, in 2014, is the campaign manager for a local high school board candidate. Emily is interested in education and peace studies and hopes to contribute to the improvement of international relations and the advancement of women’s rights through a career in public service in the United States government. 

John Gallagher, Gabe Zimmerman Scholar 

John Gallagher is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work, part of the College of Public Programs. Originally from New York, he has been an Arizonan since 1992. He has worked as a social worker with homeless individuals, individuals with a serious mental illness and persons living with HIV/AIDS. He currently volunteers with the William E. Morris Institute for Justice and the Student Health Outreach for Wellness (SHOW). His research and teaching interests focus on legal social work, especially problem solving courts, procedural justice, and the needs of veterans in the criminal justice system. His ultimate goal is to teach and conduct community-based research in the social work department of a public university. 

Anika Larson

Anika Larson is a senior studying global studies in the School of Politics and Global Studies and Biological Sciences (Biology and Society) in the School of Life Sciences. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and is active in health and human rights issues related to the U.S./Mexico border region. On campus, she works with student health and sustainability initiatives and conducts research in bioethics and science policy. Anika discovered the field of environmental health through internships with Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, and recently served as an environmental health intern with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. She hopes to apply her degree towards developing federal policy in public and environmental health. 

Devin Oakes

A transfer student from Mesa Community College, Devin Oakes is now a senior studying nonprofit leadership and management in the College of Public Programs. He was raised in Mesa, Arizona, and has been an active volunteer since childhood. Most recently, he served alongside his wife in Rwanda and Tanzania with an international nonprofit. At ASU, Devin is involved as a research assistant at the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation and as president of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Student Association. He is interested in the nonprofit organizations, healthcare, social entrepreneurship and plans to pursue a career working in healthcare administration. 

Imelda Ojeda, Gabe Zimmerman Scholar

Imelda Ojeda is a second-year graduate student working towards a dual masters in social work and public administration in the College of Public Programs. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, and migrated to Arizona 11 years ago to pursue higher education. As a student, Imelda is involved in several organizations including president of Macro Social Work Student Network, vice president of Phi Alpha Honor Society and head of downtown campus for the Graduate Women’s Association. When not at school, Imelda works for the American Academy of Pediatrics-AZ chapter as a care coordinator, she also volunteers as a board member for the Maryvale YMCA and the Maricopa County Preventive Health Collaborative. Imelda plans to apply her degrees toward a career in the public sector to address the unique needs of the Southwest population by developing policies and advocacy for children’s access to quality health care and education. 

Jeffrey Ong

Jeffrey Ong is a first-year graduate student pursuing a master of public administration in the School of Public Affairs. He also works for the Public Safety and Transportation Committees at the Arizona State Senate. A native of Phoenix, Jeffrey graduated with a bachelor in Broadcasting from ASU. He believes public service is vital to our democracy from his experience as a journalist, volunteer work on political campaigns and English tutoring with the refugee community. Also, as a member of the Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL), Jeffrey knows the power of mentorship and leadership skills. While working for Mayor Greg Stanton, he gained an appreciation for education and sustainability issues and desires to become a research analyst or political adviser in these areas. 

Katherine Richard

Katherine Richard is a senior studying economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with minors in mathematics and French. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Katherine focuses on economic barriers for low-income communities, women and children. In order to understand these institutional obstacles, she has completed internships in various public sector capacities – from legislative research with the Arizona House Democratic Caucus, to economic research with the Center for American Progress and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Katherine volunteers for local legislative candidates and with victims of domestic violence at the Sojourner Center. After graduation, Katherine hopes to gain further expertise on social insurance, welfare and taxation while working for a state-level or federal think-tank. With this experience, she plans to pursue a joint J.D./Ph.D. in social policy so that she can directly advocate on behalf of low-income people and challenge legal barriers to economic stability. 

Lauren Twigg, Debra Friedman Scholar

Lauren Twigg is a second-year graduate student studying public administration at the School of Public Affairs, and previously graduated with her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as a Cum Laude student from Kaplan University. As an Arizona native, Lauren has devoted time to volunteering in various community services for homeless families, those with special needs, and dedicating many volunteer hours of music as a 20-year seasoned violinist in the Chandler Symphony Orchestra. Lauren is a current member of the Arizona Army National Guard as a journalist, and has participated in many service member outreach and veteran events to provide information to those in need of post- military support. Upon completion of her master’s, Lauren plans to continue to seek efforts to improve public veteran services through local government support. Additionally, with Lauren’s background in criminal justice, she has also aspired to pursue ways to help improve services and programs for troubled youth in the community in order to deter juvenile crime. 

Cory Tyszka

Cory Tyszka is a third-year law J.D. student at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law pursuing a certificate in law, science & technology. She is originally from Ridgefield, Connecticut, but has lived in Arizona since 2003. As a student, Cory is director of the ASU Law chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, for which she teaches constitutional literacy and advocacy to inner city high school students; she is director of the Liberty Project, a think tank of lawyers and young professionals dedicated to the preservation of reproductive rights; and she is a legal writing and advocacy teaching assistant. She is interested in reproductive rights, gay rights, and environmental justice. She is also an advocate for sensible marijuana regulation to eliminate the disparate impact the War on Drugs has had on racial and ethnic minorities. Cory dreams of one day being a judge and a professor of law.