Sustainability students graduating at high rates, winning elite scholarships

Student wearing maroon and gold graduation own walks among graduatesThe statistics are in: 81 percent of Arizona State University freshmen who enrolled in the School of Sustainability in fall 2013 graduated from ASU in four years. This is higher than the university’s overall four-year graduation rate. Though all of the students included in the 81 percent started out in the School of Sustainability, about seven percent of them changed their major at some point. “It’s okay if a student changes their major during their time at ASU,” said Lisa Murphy, Director of Academic Services at the School of Sustainability. “It’s important that students find the right major for them.” Still, even with a small percentage of students shifting gears, the School of Sustainability holds one of the highest graduation rates at ASU. As of spring 2017, 1,098 students have graduated from the School of Sustainability since it opened in 2007. ASU students, including students from the School of Sustainability, are winning more prestigious scholarships and fellowships than ever before. Sarra Zebra Tekola, a sustainability doctoral student, was named a 2018 Ford Foundation Fellow. Through its fellowship programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Four ASU students, including three from the School of Sustainability — Elyse Kats, Kelly Baker and Danielle Vermeer — are among the university’s first Doris Duke Conservation Scholars. This program is designed to increase the number of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups who choose to pursue coursework and careers in conservation, and incorporates two years of internships, research projects, field work, career development workshops and mentorships. Among the 2018 Udall Undergraduate Scholarship winners is sustainability student Karen Ibarra, who is active in Living United for Change in Arizona, an organization that advocates for social, economic and racial justice. The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.