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The potential power of the millennial voting block is the subject of a lot of talk this election cycle. Will they show up to the polls in November and sway the election? Or will they continue to largely stay home?

One Arizona State University student is fighting that perception of his generation in a big way.

ASU junior Zak Ghali is not only sitting at the Young Democrats table outside of ASU’s Memorial Union just about every day, registering voters and handing out bumper stickers, he’s running a professional campaign.

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Growing up in Mexico City, Carlo Altamirano-Allende envisioned a career as a physicist. He had the education. But his heart pulled him in another direction.

Altamirano taught at a private middle school and high school in Mexico City while earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. More importantly, he coordinated an adult literacy program that placed students in rural communities for two to three months each summer. The students taught adults how to read, write and do mathematics. The adults, in turn, taught students their local customs and livelihoods. For Altamirano and many others, the experience was life-changing. They learned what it was like for those marginalized by Mexico’s economy and politics.   

“That kind of changed the way I looked at things,” admits Altamirano. “It made me more  interested in working with people. I mean I love physics. I miss doing physics because in a way it’s an easier role than the social sciences. Everything makes sense. With social science, some things happen that can’t be explained.”

Should Arizona legalize marijuana? It's a decision that Arizona voters will make in November. And it was the focus of a thoughtful discussion sponsored by Valley Leadership and the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Policy, part of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The event drew about 75 people, including many former Valley Leadership class members to the downtown Phoenix ASU Mercado campus.

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Thomas Kim is living the American dream. He almost didn’t.

Kim is a second-year law student at the Sandra Day O‘Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. As a high school senior living in Portland, Oregon, he was planning to work at a Japanese restaurant following high school. He didn’t see any other options. His family had legally emigrated from Korea a few years before but had since lost their immigration status. As an undocumented immigrantKim couldn’t afford tuition.

A friend encouraged him to apply to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. He qualified for merit scholarships that covered the cost of tuition at the private university. He also worked 30 hours a week to pay for living expenses and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology.

“I’m so blessed and lucky enough to have received all those scholarships and mentors at the right time, but that’s not the case for other immigrants,” Kim said. “So I’d like to create a system and atmosphere for other immigrants to see their fullest potential.”