Crista Cloutier '94 B.A, '98 M.A.

Which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU? What did you gain from that involvement?
Every Friday, a group of women from my department (Religious Studies) would meet for coffee. We began this tradition of the "coffee clatch" when we realized that the guys were speaking out more in class than we were. We wanted to discuss why we thought this was happening. Instead, we continued to meet each week and use that time to talk about our personal, professional and academic challenges. It became a wonderful support group and the conversations ranged from some of the most profound to the most ridiculous that I have ever had.

Which ASU professor(s) made a lasting impression on you and why?
Bill Jay of the Photographic Studies area of the School of Art was my biggest influence. He began as my academic advisor when I was an undergraduate. He became my friend and mentor. When I decided to pursue my master's degree in Religious Studies, he joined my committee and helped me immensely with the challenge of moving from a fine arts culture to a more academic one, giving me confidence and support. Bill passed away last year and I continue to dedicate everything I do to his memory.

How did your education at ASU prepared you for your current job or business?
I've always been independent and interested in things outside of the mainstream. ASU gave me the opportunity to work within those strengths instead of having to conform to a program or way of working that didn't suit me. Today, I work as a freelance writer, an artist, and I lead workshops for creative careers. It was my time at ASU that made me realize that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that I can interest other people in the topics and issues that fascinate me.

What personal qualities do you think were most strongly developed in you during your years as a Sun Devil?
Through my study of art as an undergraduate I learned how to look and to see. As a graduate student in Religious Studies, I learned how to think.

What are three "can't-miss" ASU experiences every Sun Devil should participate in?

  1. Any class with Assistant Professor William Heywood or Associate Professor Tracy Fessenden.
  2. A visit to the ASU Museum and ASU Gammage, to look in awe at the architecture.
  3. Studying on the grass and enjoying the sunshine.

What advice would you give to today's ASU students?
Don't let life tell you who or what to be. Show it who you are.

Editor's Note: Crista is being highlighted as part of ASU’s launch of Project Humanities.

Photo Credit: Chris O'Donovan

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