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(Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Vazquez is profiled in the September 2014 issue of ASU Magazine.)
Which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU? What did you gain from that involvement?
I was most involved in the Honors College. It was not easy, because I was not well prepared for college, and I had to work very long hours to keep up with my classmates. However, my classes at the Honors College were very small and engaging because they were built on discussions and not memorization. The teachers were fascinating and the students were passionate. I learned how to learn in those classes.
How did your education at ASU prepare you for your current job or business?
Because I was a political science major and world religion minor, I was able to take classes across many diverse fields of study. This made it possible for me to get a more holistic understanding of worldviews and history. I learned that if you want to have an impact in your community, however large or small, it is important to understand why people do what they do, and what it will take to get their buy-in for change.
How did ASU help you achieve your dream?
ASU gave me a solid foundation for lifelong learning. My ASU professors encouraged me to apply for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, which allowed me to study at Carnegie Mellon University my last summer at ASU, and that in turn allowed me to graduate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University with a master’s degree in international relations. All of this education prepared me to work with the world’s largest corporations and to launch a non-governmental organization (WEConnect International) four years ago that now serves thousands of women business owners in more than 80 countries.
Describe a favorite professor from your time at ASU.
One of my favorite teachers was Professor Mark Reader in political science, because he opened my eyes to the idea that democracy belongs in the streets and that it is not enough to want change, you have to get out into the world and commit to being a part of that change. He inspired me to take internships within the government, and to also participate in protests against policies that I do not support. He was a very patient and empowering leader.
What are three “can’t-miss” ASU experiences every Sun Devil should participate in?
- Celebrate with other Sun Devils – no matter what the event is, ASU-related activities are always a good time!
- Live in a residence hall—I lived in one during my first year and then I became a resident assistant, and learned a ton from my residents.
- Join Barrett, the Honors College at ASU—this is the best way to break out of traditional lecture-style classes.
What advice would you give to today’s students?
Be brave. Do what you want to do in life and not just what pays the bills. It is good to be paid for your work, but do not let that be the only driver of your decisions, because life is too short and you have a chance to enjoy it and leave a legacy for others to enjoy.