People of ASU: Short Stories

Some have overcome challenges in their native countries to attend school, while others strive to leave a mark on the world. These are the stories of six students who have created their own path at ASU to pursue what they stand for.

Photo by Noemi Gonzalez Lauren Griffith holds Theta Nu Xi's hand sign while sporting the house's letter.
Photo by Noemi Gonzalez

Lauren Griffith

Senior, Computer Science Engineering

By Alexis Andreopoulos

In a crowded room full of exotic smells there are tables full of food, each plate holding the cuisine of a different culture. This culture-sharing potluck is where you will find the members and sisters of the Theta Nu Xi Multicultural sorority, as well as their president, ASU senior Lauren Griffith.

Aside from being the president of the sorority, senior Lauren Griffith is just another ASU student trying to succeed and be the best student she can be. Being a computer science engineering major can be tough, but Griffith says that she couldn’t imagine doing anything different.

“I had in interest in math and computers so that led me to math and engineering; I like to work on computers,” she says.

Other than her schoolwork, her important role in Theta Nu Xi is what keeps her on her toes. However, she always has support.

“Balancing school sometimes gets tough, but I can count on my sisters to be there when I need help with something. They know that I’m always there to help them as well," Griffith says.

That seems to be a prominent feature in this sorority. Griffith does all that she can to make sure potential members know what to expect from the sorority.

“Theta Nu Xi is a multicultural sorority and our tenets are scholarship, service, sisterhood, leadership and multiculturalism," she says. "Our philanthropy is ‘Girls for a change,’ we try to empower women to strive for the best and succeed.”

Although it seemed simple becoming the new president of the Theta Nu Xi, it wasn’t all that easy for Griffith; she had been nominated and wasn’t too sure what to think of it.

“This was my first semester actually active in the sorority, so I was very hesitant to take the role as president," she says. "However, after I thought about it I got really excited and decided to just go for it.”

If Theta Nu Xi has done anything for Lauren Griffith it has changed her for the better and brought her friends and sisters for life. Griffith says that being the leader of such an important group has helped her come out of her bubble and that’s why it means so much to her. Describing what Theta Nu Xi stands for to Griffith was simple. She only needed one word: unity.

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Jennifer Kartner

austria Jennifer Kartner went from crawling in the mud in Austria to the Valley of the Sun after deciding it was time to hit the books.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kartner

Graduate, Political Science

By Sarah Anderson

Upon moving from Austria to Arizona, the four main things that confused ASU graduate student Jennifer Kartner were the health care system, credit cards, credit scores, and $1 bills.

“Suddenly, you have so much cash…. it’s still just $15, but just in bills,” she said.

Majoring in political science, Kartner said she came to ASU to study under a professor knowledgeable in political corruption. All of her previous jobs relate to corruption and anti-corruption, including working at a law enforcement agency and auditing for an accounting firm in Austria.

While she enjoys math, Kartner said she does not like accounting. Auditing bored her enough that she joined the Austria military. She trained as a combat engineer, with a focus not just on shooting but on other skills such as building bridges and using explosives. Kartner was not only paid for her enlistment, but her wife Clara Kartner received a military spouse benefit as well.

“It ended up that my wife got paid more… than I did,” she noted. “While I was the one who crawled in the mud, slept outside… and had horrible, horrible food.”

Kartner explained she moved to Arizona with her wife and two dogs. Clara Kartner is improving her English before she is to attend college next year.

“I don’t think our landlord has figured out yet that we are wives, and not sisters,” she teased. “Actually, I know he hasn’t figured that one out yet.”

Though she plans to continue work at a research academy once she graduates, Kartner commented she has no definite plans yet as to where she’ll work or what she’ll do.

“Let’s try to survive the first semester and the first year,” she said.

Reach the writer at or follow @SarahDeAnderson.

Ben Hook

Sophomore, Biomedical Engineering

By Lily Lieberman

“They told me I would have to have open heart surgery by the time I was 30.”

Ben-Hook Ben Hook took the bad news and ran with it, demonstrating anything is possible is one tries hard enough.
Photo by Thania Betancourt

A hazel-eyed enigma by medical standards, biomedical engineering sophomore Ben Hook beat Kawasaki disease through sheer will power and exercise.

Kawasaki disease mainly occurs in young children and is marked by inflammation in the walls of arteries throughout the body. The disease can also cause inflammation in the arteries leading to the heart, which can limit the amount of blood pumped into the heart.

When Hook was seven, he developed aneurisms all over his arteries that could easily burst or get blocked off, causing a heart attack.

“It wasn’t treated properly and so I had aneurisms that were 12 cm large; huge balloons all over the blood vessels in my heart. So I couldn’t be active, I couldn’t do anything," Hook says. "Before that I’d done all kinds of sports and now I wasn’t allowed to because they were afraid I’d get hurt."

For four years Hook waited. He picked up chess and singing - his two main outlets in elementary school. He ranked 25th in the nation for chess and was asked to join the Phoenix Boys Choir. By junior high, his condition was worsening and Hook received depressing news that surgery was a likely option for him as a young man.

“The summer before ninth grade I had another typical routine checkup and was just like you know what, I’m not going to take this sitting down. So against my doctor’s orders, I started running. I started weight lifting, I played sports on the side since I wasn't cleared to play actual high school sports,” Hook says.

Before high school began through the middle of his sophomore year, Hook “worked really hard to beat it,” and as it turned out at his next checkup it was almost like a miraculous recovery. All of the aneurisms except one were gone and, because of its size, it wasn’t even considered an aneurism anymore.

“I did this all through exercise. Your heart actually grows more blood vessels and attaches tons of new little ones trying to make up for it," Hook says. "It got to the point where I had enough collateral circulation from other blood vessels that I didn't need the ones with the aneurisms on them."

Now, Hook works at Tri 2B Fit, an exercise and training center in Mesa, Ariz. The center trains a wide spectrum of clients, from an Olympic 800-meter runner to Ironman trainees to corrective exercise patrons. Hook often works with people who have recently been in accidents and have been referred to the company by doctors or physical therapists to correct their conditions.

“I used the experience of turning my life around to help others. Training can be frustrating at times for both people but you just see them have these breakthroughs and…”Hook says and smiles.

Hook says he wants to go to medical school and become a pediatric cardiologist so he can work with children who have problems similar to the ones he had growing up.

“I can be there for them. Relate to them. I know how hard it is and I can show them other outlets. It’s about being more than a doctor, because that's what kids like this need,” Hook says.

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Riley Molloy

Math and marching geek Riley Molloy is really a leader at heart.  Photo by Thania Betancourt Photo by Thania Betancourt Math and marching geek Riley Molloy is really a leader at heart.
Photo by Thania Betancourt

Junior, Physics and Mathematics

By Taylor Nelson

Physics and mathematics junior Riley Molloy goes to every football game and knows every word to the fight song.

He is a marching band drum major which means he is in charge of leading the band through each song.

“Virtually the second I stepped on the band field, I was like this is where I’m supposed to be. I love this stuff,” Molloy says.

Marching band has been a part of Molloy’s life for the past seven years. During his years at Tucson’s University High School, Molloy played both the euphonium and the trombone. He was a drum major there, as well.

Initially, he was unsure of whether or not to join ASU’s band.

“I really wanted to focus on my academics,” Molloy says. “I was going to go into very serious coursework. I was like, ‘OK, I don’t know if I can handle this marching band thing.’”

It was a summer spent marching for Santa Clara Vanguard, a prestigious drum corps, that really decided for Molloy that he had to continue marching in college.

“I learned a lot about myself,” Molloy says of that summer. “Eventually I decided I've got to keep up with this band thing.”

Molloy marched as a baritone for two years before taking on his current role as one of the three drum majors.

In addition to being one of the three current drum majors, Molloy is also president of ASU’s band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. He also participates in the basketball pep band.

Academically, Molloy is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, a tutor at the Hassayampa Academic Village, and working on an intense research project with a fellow physics student and physics professor Joseph Comfort.

Though he claims that the thought of being a band director crossed his mind at one point, Molloy’s ultimate career goal is to become a math professor.

“I’m a major math geek,” he said. “Along with a band geek.”

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Megan Edmonds

Sophomore, Political Science

By Jesse Millard

While many ASU students sleep in for just a couple more hours, ROTC cadet Megan Edmonds rises early in the morning to begin her day.

Political science sophomore has physical training three days a week and a military science lab every Thursday.

Edmonds says that being in the ROTC is just like being a normal student, only there is extra travel and more involvement with the school. Like on the morning after ASU’s first football game, the Army ROTC woke up early to help clean up the stadium after the fans had left.

“We do a lot of stuff (for the school),” Edmonds says. “You end up helping the school in really random ways.” 

Photo by Jesse Millard From minor assignments to being self-sufficient, cadet Megan Edmonds is working her way up to ideally go into combat air assult.
Photo by Jesse Millard

Her duties don’t end there. Edmonds is a squad leader of about ten people. As a squad leader, she must take responsibility for her squad every morning and pass down messages from platoon leaders.

Being in the ROTC doesn’t just mean extra work. It’s a beneficial program to Edmonds and many other cadets. The program pays full tuition for students involved and, after their graduation, they get commissioned to become an officer.

“I can’t wait to get my commission,” Edmonds says.

This past summer Edmonds traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky for a leadership training course. She came out with many more skills that would help her out both with school and her future in the Army.

“You learn quick on your feet and then you stay in that mode, it helps at college when you have to prioritize,” Edmonds says about the course.

Edmond’s political science major is geared towards civil affairs, but since she has to be a Captain to begin that path, she says in the mean time she wants to go into combat air assault after graduation.

“That’d be wicked fun,” she says.

Reach the writer at or via Twitter @chillenjess


Anthony Agrait

Photo by Noemi Gonzalez Standing in front of his booth at a club fair on Dean's patio, Anthony Agrait lightly chatted about the club's accomplishment from being award-winning to representing the members as globally-conscious people.
Photo by Noemi Gonzalez

Senior, Finance

By Tasha Mohseni

Finance senior Anthony Agrait wants to leave behind a legacy.

As president and founder of the ASU chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), Agrait and the club help business oriented students build career skills and connect with the global market.

“We are a very open organization; we don’t have a set structure of duties,” Agrait says. “I wanted to recruit talented members to help me in having ALPFA at ASU grow.”

Agrait has been ambitious. He has participated on four executive boards and mentored for the Be A Leader Foundation, a college preparatory program. After attending the 2011 ALPFA national convention in Anaheim, Calif., Agrait looked into starting a chapter at ASU, however there were some challenges. He says one adversity he faced was starting the chapter completely from scratch.

It was very difficult to find people to dedicate time to an organization that had no background at ASU but Agrait was passionate.

Determined to recruit a talented board of members, Agrait networked with corporate partners to capitalize on future events. From this ALPFA has been able to feature JP Morgan Asset Management and prominent banks at previous meetings.

Under Agrait’s leadership, ALPFA received the Student Chapter of the Year Award for providing outstanding social events, a professional atmosphere and being a role model for other chapters.

“We consider ourselves to be a large family, ALPFAmilia,” Agrait says. “We always keep our doors open, and give mentorship to those who were once in our shoes.”

Agrait says ALPFA prepares its members for success. The clubs slogan is, after all, “Build your legacy.”

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