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The Spirit of Service Scholars initiative honors outstanding students interested in pursuing careers in the public and nonprofit sector. Scholars receive a scholarship, and mentorship from high-profile practitioners and leaders, and education on core topics for public service through seven Saturday seminars. This initiative seeks to help create the next generation of public service leaders who will transform the nonprofit and government sectors at all levels.
Amanda, originally from Gilbert, Arizona, is a senior studying Nonprofit Leadership Management in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Amanda is involved in different leadership organizations including ASU’s Next Generation Service Corps, an organization dedicated to building character and cross-sector collaboration skills. Her passion for service started when she was a sophomore in high school after attending a local leadership and service seminar through Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). Six years later, she is still volunteering with HOBY and working with students to find their passion and their own definition of leadership and service. She is interested in leadership development and access to education and hopes to apply her degree towards a career in higher education philanthropy.
Brandee is a senior studying Criminology and Criminal Justice with a minor in Communication. She is originally from the Bay Area but moved to Arizona with her family in 2013. Brandee is the President to the Black African Coalition at ASU where she works with the Dean of Students to advocate for the retention and graduation of Black and African American students through outreach, program, and community building. In addition to her role with the Black African Coalition, Brandee has served as the director of Sankofa Summer Leadership Institute, where she designed a weeklong residential experience that helps incoming freshmen become acclimated to the university. In 2017, Brandee was a part of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which allowed her to learn alongside incarcerated individuals through collaboration and dialogue. Brandee plans to continue advocacy within the Criminal Justice field by receiving her PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She will be applying to graduate school in Fall 2018. She hopes to research how policy and procedure in the Criminal Justice system effects marginalized and minoritized communities.
Jesse Avalos is a senior studying Political Science in the School of Politics and Global Studies, with a certificate in Civic Education. Raised in Central Phoenix, Jesse is a proud Arizonan that has embraced the Grand Canyon State. Jesse has experience with student organizing and is a former board member of the Latino Outreach Committee, where he has advocated for more Latino involvement in civic engagement. He is currently the President of the ASU Young Democrats and a National Committee Member for the Arizona Young Democrats. Through these roles, he has been able to help elect diverse leaders throughout the state. Upon graduation, Jesse hopes to pursue a master’s in public policy, and become a strong advocate for his community.
Marissa is a senior studying Political Science and Public Policy with certificates in International Studies and International Business. She is originally from Las Vegas, New Mexico and moved to Tempe to attend school at ASU in 2015. Marissa started exploring her passion for service in high school through community service oriented student organizations and activities. At ASU, she worked as the Service Leadership Chair for Changemaker Central and worked to educate others on servant leadership and community service. Marissa is currently a First Year Success Coach working to provide resources and support for freshmen at ASU to ensure optimum success through all four years of school. She is also the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in Undergraduate Student Government at the Downtown campus advocating for more inclusive policies and practices for all students. Her future goals are to pursue a master’s degree in Public Policy and eventually work on Capitol Hill as a foreign policy advisor.
Belinda is a master’s level social worker with a concentration in policy, administration, and community practice. Currently, she is a second-year master’s in public administration student. Born in King City, California and raised in Southern Texas, Belinda was greatly impacted by the time spent helping her grandfather who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She witnessed his health deteriorate and how difficult it was for him and the family. This inspired her to work with vulnerable and marginalized populations. Belinda recently completed her social work graduate internship with University of Arizona’s Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities with the AZ Employment First initiative. She is a member of the Arizona chapter of Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) that advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community. Currently, she is a state employee working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assisting individuals with a mental illness. Belinda aspires to bridge her passion for serving by ensuring the effectiveness of delivery systems and by becoming an efficient program administrator or advocate.
Emma is a senior studying Management and Spanish in the W. P. Carey School of Business. She is originally from Dana Point, California and moved to Tempe, Arizona to pursue a business degree within Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. Emma is involved in the Honors Devils Barrett tour guide group, is a researcher with the Decision Theater at ASU and is an executive board member in charge of membership and events planning for the ASU Young Democrats. Emma was involved in the Fleischer Scholar program as a mentor and is currently a Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Currently, she is working as a field organizer for a state legislative candidate campaign. She is interested in education policy and women’s rights and hopes to apply her degree towards changing how we look at education in the United States. Her Barrett honors thesis will propose the inclusion of self-care and self-awareness in annual teacher training to promote healthy brain development and a safe learning environment for all students.
Nadira is a third year student studying Political Science at Arizona State University. She grew up in Phoenix, and has a strong interest in public service. During the 2018 Legislative session, Nadira worked at the Arizona State Senate as a Page, a competitive internship program in which she was able to learn more about Arizona legislative proceedings and local government. Between her background with voter registration campaigns, her time working on constituent issues on a municipal level with the City of Phoenix, and her experience working for the Arizona State Senate, Nadira is passionate about promoting civic engagement and bridging the divide between citizens and the government that serves them.
Azucena Martinez is a first year Justice Studies Master’s student in the School of Social Transformation. Originally from Yuma, Arizona, she moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University (ASU) as a first-generation student. Azucena graduated summa cum laude in May of 2018 with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and minor in Political Science and Spanish. She created multiculturalism training programs for ASU students and has promoted student volunteerism by having students volunteer with the Be A Leader Foundation. As an undergraduate, Azucena was a Los Diablos scholar, a recognition for exemplary Latino students. She continues to volunteer with the Los Diablos program is an assistant to the Chair of Scholar Relations for Los Diablos. Azucena seeks to make a change by being a mentor and working with programs that encourage young people to go to college. Her research interests include effective criminal justice strategies to interrupt cycles of Latino crime, reduce over-reliance on incarceration and build healthy Latino communities. Azucena currently works at a law office specializing in immigration and criminal law.
Dontá McGilvery is a second year Ph.D. student studying Theatre for Youth in the Herberger School of Film/Dance/Theatre. He is native of Dallas, Texas, but moved to Phoenix, Arizona, by way of Denver, Colorado, where he received seminary training and was Associate Pastor at a local congregation. As a scholar-activist and teaching artist, he uses theatre as a tool to help amplify voices within marginalized communities. He has directed and performed in drama productions that address topics such as race, stereotypes, police brutality, religion, and the disenfranchised. He is a contributing author of the book, “Great Debates of American Civil Rights”, and was recognized as a Civilian Leader and National Security Strategist at the 2017 National Security Seminar at the United States Army War College. Locally, he launched the Sleeveless Acts Drama Company to help marginalize communities use drama to tell their own stories. Dontá holds degrees from Aspen Christian College & Seminary in Denver, CO., Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX., and University of North Texas in Denton, TX, and aspires to a career as a college professor and theatre artist.
Carla is a sophomore studying Political Science and Public Service & Public Policy with a concentration in Law & Policy and minor in Spanish at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. She is originally from Fountain Hills, Arizona. Carla is currently Vice President of Programming for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and Senator in the Undergraduate Student Government for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Carla demonstrates her belief that there is a need for public service and young leaders now more than ever by working as a fellow with NextGen America, an organization dedicated to increasing youth voter turnout and civic engagement. She is interested in intersectionality among a growing diverse population and how it will affect the way we view and participate in politics. After graduation, she wants to attend law school and work towards empowering underrepresented voices in public policy.
Stephanie Rodriguez is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communication, minoring in Public Service and Public Policy, and she is working toward a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership at Arizona State University. She was born in Riverside, California, and has lived in Phoenix, Arizona for most of her life. Stephanie serves as the Vice President of internal relations for Los Diablos, and as the Vice President for CHISPA-ASU, an organization that promotes awareness about environmental justice. She is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalist (NAHJ) at ASU. Growing up, Stephanie attended 12 different elementary schools, most of them were failing schools, and she witnessed the misconceptions her family and community had about laws and legislation. Experiencing first-hand the disparities in her community, she wants to use her degree to story tell and educate her community. She hopes that through storytelling she can teach empathy and compassion toward one another.
Skyler is in his last year of undergraduate studies toward a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Born in Portland, Oregon, Skyler and his family moved to Phoenix in spring of 2001. His family and support systems heavily influenced his passion for helping people. To give back to his communities, Skyler has been involved with numerous organizations around the valley. After serving as a youth leader for a LGBTQ youth organization, Skyler has become a board member and peer facilitator for Trans Spectrum of Arizona (TSAZ) as well as volunteering his time with Anytown, a leadership and diversity youth camp. Additionally, he serves on Collegetown@ASU’s Executive Board and as a facilitator for GLSEN, a K-12 student advocacy group, since 2017. He is interested in LGBTQ advocacy and support, in addition to education, and plans to pursue graduate school. In the future, Skyler would like to become a professor while operating his own non-profit that works with low-income LGBTQ individuals and their families.
Katie Williams is a second-year graduate student in the School of Social Work, concurrently obtaining her Master’s in Public Administration. She is a proud Arizona native, passionate about serving marginalized individuals with systemic involvement. Katie obtained her undergraduate degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice and Women and Gender Studies at ASU in 2012. Katie has experience working in the areas of child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and in-patient forensic psychiatric treatment. As a student, Katie is actively involved in academic work pertaining to the state and federal-level foster and prison populations, specifically the foster-to-prison pipeline. Katie has also served on the Social Work Re-Entry Team at The Arizona Justice Project at ASU. Her hope is to one-day end systemic disparities through research, education and empowerment. Post-graduation, she plans to open a fully sustainable non-profit organization that utilizes community resources to meet the diverse and substantial needs of the approximately 17,000 children in foster care and 58,000 adults in prison in Arizona.