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In which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU? What did you gain from that involvement?
Honestly, I was sort of involved in everything as a student journalist, because I, like the rest of the staff, had to cover a lot of ground.
I worked at the State Press, covering general news and features around campus, Tempe City Hall, and student life as a columnist. I wrote about politics, diversity and the people that made the campus so unique – faces in the crowd that ought to be recognized.
When I wasn’t reporting, I played intramural sports like flag football and soccer, went to a few plays at ASU Gammage, practiced Spanish in a group outside of class, played drums and guitar with friends and, of course, partook in the proverbial ASU football tailgater every now and then. Looking back, I think it helped me feel rooted to ASU. It made me feel very connected to the campus, and with exposure to so many viewpoints, cultures and events, it helped me be more “socially agile,” if you will.
Which ASU professor(s) made a lasting impression on you and why?
Bruce Itule, who now teaches journalism at University of Arizona. He was a self-proclaimed curmudgeonly, crusty old guy who was gruff and demanding when it came to the practice of journalism. Of all the professors I had across all the different disciplines, he made the biggest impression on me because he demanded the best of me and showed me the practical application of what I was doing, rather than strictly sticking to a textbook.
When you survived his critiques and proved yourself, he stuck up for you and helped create opportunities for you. Most other student journalists who toiled under him would tell you the same. And in today’s fast-paced world of journalism, all of his lessons still very much apply. They’re more important than ever. He used to say, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
How did your education at ASU prepare you for your current job or business?
It gave me a deep well to draw on when covering the news. I minored in business (particularly economics) and pursued Spanish beyond the 202 level with an ASU-sponsored study abroad in central Mexico. That’s a pretty relevant skill set for my job these days. I lean on them all the time.
Some people dismiss the entry-level psychology and philosophy classes students have to take, but I actually gleaned a lot from them. They’re great for my interviewing skills when I’m trying to get interview subjects to open up about something controversial. My education also exposed me to new cultures and opinions. Until I attended ASU, I had never eaten hummus or sushi before. I was living in the dark. So even just on a basic food level, it helped me. Now if I go on a cool assignment, I want it to be somewhere foreign where I have to learn new expressions, eat bizarre foods, blend in and be courteous and curious. I credit ASU with that.
What current development at ASU do you find most exciting? Why?
Anything having to do with the hard sciences. Business principles, education, public affairs – all of these things are fairly unchanging compared to science and technology.
As a reporter who used to cover a major nuclear power plant, which is 1950s technology, I am most fascinated by the renewable energy ideas that have come from ASU’s burgeoning solar program and the Global Institute of Sustainability. There’s some really good stuff going on there with electricity generation, storage and conservation. Those issues will be on the front-burner for a long time, and I think it’s great that ASU can be part of the movement.
What are three "can't-miss" ASU experiences every Sun Devil should participate in?
There is so much stuff going on now around campus that wasn’t going on in 2001! But to me, the stuff that stands the test of time includes the ASU-U of A football game every fall, the Pat’s Run that’s now held every spring and a show at ASU Gammage. How many students can say they saw “Wicked” at a theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?
Editor's Note: Klawonn has been an active member and supporter of the Arizona State Young Alumni program and is a dues-paying member of the ASU Alumni Association.