2017-18 Spirit of Service Scholars

Odessa Clugston is a senior pursuing degrees in political science and justice studies. Born in Prescott, Arizona, Odessa is passionate about social justice. Having worked with the ACLU, ASU’s Center for Gender Equity in STEM, and Project Humanities, Odessa has helped to implement interdisciplinary ideas that address complex problems.  Throughout the past year, Odessa worked as the student director of Changemaker Central, leading a team of fifty students to create social change through storytelling, service, and innovation. As a current Fellow for Young People for the American Way, Odessa looks ahead to a future as a civil rights attorney.

Christopher Frias is a junior studying economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is from Phoenix, Arizona. As a student, he is currently working to address educational inequality through ASU’s Public Service Academy and SPARKS organizations. In the past, he worked for the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation to improve capacity building in nonprofit organizations, and for the Arizona Town Hall to engage Arizonans in civil discourse. Christopher is interested in education policy, economic development and political work. He hopes to apply his degree to a career in the public sector in order to provide greater access to opportunity in marginalized communities.

Oscar Hernandez is a senior studying public service and public policy and a transfer student from Paradise Valley Community College. He is originally from Chiapas, México and moved to the United States at the age of nine. Oscar’s path towards social impact and empowerment was fueled by his undocumented and low-income upbringing. As a senator for the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, Oscar introduced legislation increasing transparency, accountability and representation for ASU’s student body. Oscar is a founder of Undocumented Students for Educational Equity (USEE), an ASU organization founded to better represent and protect the needs and resources for undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. Despite not having degrees themselves, Oscar’s parents emphasized the importance of education as a tool for progress and liberation of legal vulnerability. Oscar plans to be a Teach for America fellow and obtain a master’s in education policy.  Oscar hopes to have a career where his resilience and work will positively impact the lives of immigrant communities nationwide and all communities in Arizona.

Arej Mwassi is a first-year Ph.D. student studying learning, literacies and technologies in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She is originally a Palestinian from Haifa district and moved to Arizona for her master’s studies as a Fulbright Scholar in Educational Technology. As a student, Arej is a research assistant at Center for Science and the Imagination, a fellow of the Interdisciplinary Enrichment Fellowship, a Fulbright scholar and a member of Local to Global Justice club.  Arej earned her bachelor's degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Business and Education, where also she was a fellow of the Transitional Justice Fellowship of Minerva Center for Human Rights. Arej is an active member of national and international organizations that focus on technology innovation and digital literacy.  She is interested in entrepreneurship, human computer interaction, economic development and educational equity and hopes to apply her degree towards designing and developing educational systems that create equal opportunities for learners and develop practical solutions for digital divides.

Maya Patel is a first-year graduate student studying the science of health care delivery in the College of Health Solutions. She is originally from Scottsdale, Arizona. As an undergraduate student, Maya has been involved in the Leadership Scholarship Program, Tillman Scholars Program and Honors Devils. She also served as president of the Global Health Student Association and executive board member of Student Health Outreach for Wellness, a clinic providing free healthcare and health education to people experiencing homelessness in Downtown Phoenix. Her passion for service prompted her to travel to India and teach HIV/AIDS education with the International Alliance for the Prevention of AIDS. Maya hopes to apply her degree and her commitment to addressing healthcare disparities towards a career in medicine. 

Catherine Pisani is a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s of liberal studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Originally from Arizona, she earned her undergraduate degree in secondary education biological sciences and taught middle school science in New Jersey through Teach For America. Teaching provided an expanded perspective on the educational landscape that children and families currently navigate. Now, as a student, Catherine is interning at ACLU of Arizona in order to take an active role in defending the civil liberties of all individuals. She is most passionate about advocating for, and ensuring equality of, access to education and health services. Catherine hopes to partner with local nonprofits in an advocacy role so that she might endeavor to find solutions to issues of access.

Jessica Salas is a junior studying nonprofit leadership and management with a minor in studio art. With Los Angeles roots, she moved to Tolleson, Arizona at the age of nine, and in her teen years finding herself in local community service working as an intern and artist apprentice for two years with the City of Avondale and Gallery 37 to create public artwork. Jessica’s current on-campus involvement includes working as the program co-chair of Collegetown@ASU, a student organization dedicated to bridging diversity, social justice, and youth empowerment through dialogue, leading efforts as the president for CHISPA ASU (“chispa” is “spark” in Spanish) to inspire civic engagement and community service, as well as being a senator in Undergraduate Student Government in order to connect with student organizations and advocate on behalf of students within the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. During the summer of 2017, she worked as a Fellow for Chicanos Por La Causa to cultivate a high school mentor program in the Maryvale community. Influenced by her commitment to help others through service and art, Jessica aspires to work in the Peace Corps in the youth and development sector in Latin America.

Frank Smith, III is double majoring in political science and public service and public policy (business). He is originally from Mesa, Arizona.  As a student, he was elected as a freshman to serve as the youngest student body president in ASU history, with an unusual two terms; held seven internships; and took the fall semester of 2016 off of college to organize Grand Rapids, Michigan for Secretary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. He also serves as a foster youth advocate where he has had the opportunity to speak at the White House on two occasions, passed three pieces of legislation through the Arizona State Legislature to improve the lives of foster youth, and has contributed to scholarly work in the child welfare field. He is also interested in voting rights, poverty alleviation, homelessness and campaign finance reform. Upon graduation, Frank would like to pursue a master’s in public policy and eventually serve as a chief of staff on Capitol Hill.

Corina Tapscott is a senior studying social work, psychology and philosophy with a concentration in law. She is originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and stayed in-state for school after being accepted to ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College.  As a student, Corina is involved in sexual violence prevention and education and an honors thesis exploring bystander intervention. During the summer of 2017, Corina had the opportunity to travel to Ireland, Spain, Tanzania, Australia and New Zealand to conduct research for her thesis at partner universities. Corina is interested in global sexual violence prevention in university settings and hopes to apply her degrees towards a research position that allows her to focus on large scale prevention.

Jaffalie Twaibu is a junior studying biomedical engineering. He is in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. Jaffalie is originally from Lilongwe, Malawi, and came to the U.S. as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar.  Jaffalie has been involved in different organizations which include The Red Cross Society, ASU Preparatory Academy, Project C.U.R.E. and the Barrett Bridges Program. Currently, he is a research assistant at The Biodesign Institute at ASU. Jaffalie is interested in precision medicine, and aspires to be a leader in ensuring that the public health has adequate, sustainable, and up to date technologies that will enhance health care outcomes.

Erik White is a junior studying psychological science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is originally from Cookeville, Tennessee. Erik’s academic and professional interests include clinical psychology, mental healthcare, social justice and public education advocacy, and nonprofit leadership and management. Upon obtaining his B.S., Erik will pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Erik intends to develop a nonprofit research institute dedicated to investigating novel clinical treatment procedures for extreme psychopathy.