George J. Notaras '93 B.A.

Which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU?

When I first arrived at ASU, I was so taken by the sheer number of groups and activities, I tried to do everything my first semester. I tried Greek life, the Interfraternity Council, and student government. After settling in, though, I started to focus in on languages – German specifically, as a nod to my passion for cars.

What did you gain from that involvement?

While student government gave me an incredible view on how an organization the size of ASU works behind the scenes, the most impactful involvement for me was participating in the work/study abroad program. I literally worked on the floor of a car factory in southern Bavaria, and assembled cars alongside not only Germans, but also guest workers from all over Eastern Europe. There was no choice to slip into English here and there. It was through that trial by fire that I not only developed a deep understanding of how a product was engineered, developed and mass produced, but an appreciation for the world beyond the borders I had known up until that point - New York (where I grew up) and ASU. That experience left a lasting impression that overwhelmingly has helped me make better career and life decisions to this day.

How did your education at ASU prepare you for your current job or business?

I probably shouldn’t admit this with Dr. Christine Wilkinson reading, but when I turned up on Palm Walk, I had zero idea of how to study, which resulted in a less than stellar first year. But then a crazy thing happened: I found a ton of free resources that could help me outside of class. Well, through some trial and error and a lot of help from these resources, I went from less than stellar to Dean’s List. It was these resources and the sheer size and pace of the school that taught me how to focus in life, which is one of the most basic skills I use to this day.

How did ASU help you achieve your dream?

I came from a very small high school; there were 40 in my graduating class. So when I rolled into ASU in 122-degree heat, I realized rather quickly that ASU is a big place. That meant ASU had resources available to me that were not available elsewhere. Amazing study abroad opportunities, facilities, grants. There was only one catch: you have to do the work to find these opportunities, kind of like life. It took some doing for me to first and foremost prioritize my goals. Once I knew where I was looking to go, ASU and its network meant that I didn’t need to go far to find someone or something that could help me attain that goal.

Tell us about your involvement in the Alumni Association through hosting a Sun Devil Send-Off.

I wasn’t the most “college-prepared” freshman. I would have loved to have gone to [an event] prior to leaving New York where I could have met 30-50 other students in the same boat, got some insight from people who had been through this rodeo before, and even met a professor or two.

Making certain no incoming student would be in the same position I had been in was the impetus in hosting my own Sun Devil Send Off. For the past four or five years, many freshmen from Southern California have heard my diatribe telling them to take advantage of the university’s resources, to get involved and to study abroad.

I have even been fortunate enough have one of my former Send Off-ees come back for a networking meeting; I was able to point her in a couple of internship directions.

Oh, and one more thing – my Send Offs are the best because we host them at a classic car museum!

What are three “can’t-miss” ASU experiences every Sun Devil should participate in?

Work on campus. I worked for Disabled Student Resources. Every semester I would submit my class schedule and they would match me up with a DSR student to whom I would provide my lecture notes for their use. I literally got paid to go to class and I met some great people.

Student government and/or leadership opportunities. In my case it was both Greek leadership and Student Government, but getting involved in running, planning or creating something will give you a vantage point on how real life works. You will gain networking opportunities and experiences that will translate to your career.

Have I mentioned Study Abroad? I highly suggest you participate in a study abroad program in a country that speaks something other than English or Spanish. The language skills, the people you meet and the experiences you gain will prove invaluable to areas of your life in ways you cannot imagine today.

What advice would you have for today’s students?

You don’t get if you don’t ask.  … (ASU’s resources) are great but you have to be your own best advocate and seek them out. If you master this at ASU, you will be so much farther ahead in your life beyond graduation.