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Which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU? What did you gain from that involvement?
I was involved in a lot of activities as a Sun Devil. The one which impacted me the most was participating in the Devils’ Advocates organization. Ever since my tour of ASU as a high school senior, I knew I wanted to give tours to prospective students and represent the university to the community. Being a first-generation college student meant a lot to me, so as soon as I got to ASU, I interviewed and became a Devils’ Advocate.
During my junior year, I become vice president of the group, which required me to coordinate the Welcome Week event known as “Sparky’s Bash on the Beach.” Since I already knew I wanted to be an event planner, being asked to lead such a big event with so many various groups and sponsors at that point in my life really prepared me for planning events in the “real world.”
How did your education at ASU prepared you for your current job or business?
As the owner of First Pick Planning, an event planning company that specializes in both private events like weddings and fundraising events, my education has proven to be invaluable.
I started off as an interior design major, and like many, I found myself realizing there were other studies that fit me better, but looking back, I’m so glad my education began with design, because I gained incredibly useful skills that now helps me in my wedding designs for my clients today.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in recreation. I loved the psychology behind hospitality and the complexity of the tourism industry, which requires so many different industries to come together to operate. The classwork and volunteering requirements of the recreation major were so practical. I was able to jump right into the hospitality and event industry because of my major – my full-time internship required during my last semester was at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, which turned into my first event planning job!
Tell us about your involvement in organizing the Los Angeles “shadow run” in conjunction with Pat’s Run.
I moved back home to Los Angeles in 2008 just as the shadow run concept was being piloted. My Devils’ Advocate advisor, Hope Larsen, contacted me and recommended I get in touch with the chapter president, Eddie DeVall, saying we would make a great team to plan the first shadow run in Los Angeles.
I was a current student at ASU when Pat Tillman died and his story really impacted me. What an amazing guy and an exceptional example of an Arizona State alum! I felt I had to get involved to help support the Pat Tillman Foundation and honor him. As a result, I’ve become a board member of the Los Angeles chapter and on Saturday, April 14, I will act as captain of the shadow run in LA for the fourth consecutive year. The run will take place near the Rose Bowl, where Pat played as a Sun Devil in the historic 1997 championship game.
The run has become a signature event for our chapter. It’s an event I personally look forward to coordinating every year because of all the great people who attend and the money we help raise for the Tillman Military Scholars Program.
Why have you chosen to be a member of the Alumni Association?
To give back! I feel like the Alumni Association does so much for us that it’s important to show my individual support. From the tailgates they put on at the various away games around the country to the awesome Homecoming celebrations every year, I’m happy to be a part of any organization whose mission is to support ASU alums!
What are three “can’t-miss” ASU experiences every Sun Devil should participate in?
1. Orientation. I have a soft spot for this as I was a Student Orientation Leader – not only do you get to meet other incoming ASU students, but it’s your first taste of responsibility towards your education. Your parents aren’t allowed in the room when you pick your coursework, and sitting there registering for your classes really makes you feel like you’ve become an adult and have begun the path to finding a passion and a career for yourself.
2. Football games! My favorite pastime at ASU! There is nothing like sitting in the student section wearing your gold, making the pitchfork sign and cheering on the Sun Devils!
3. Lantern Walk. This is way more meaningful than just hiking A Mountain! I love the history and significance of why we still do this so many years after the tradition began of “passing of the torch” from the senior class to the junior class. It’s beautiful to see so many ASU alums walking up the mountain together. During my senior year in 2005 I went to the Lantern Walk and an ASU alum proposed to his girlfriend after President Crow spoke about the many traditions of Homecoming. So sweet!
What advice would you give to today’s ASU students?
Don’t give up and stay involved. Those four years go by fast, so don’t wait until next semester or next year to join that club you’ve been thinking about and certainly don’t put off finishing your coursework. The sky is the limit for what you can do during your four years, so make them count. And remember, play hard, but work harder!