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ASU executive awarded for increasing education access through hybrid program

Maria Anguiano was awarded the 2023 Community Empowerment Award for her work in creating ASU Local


ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Washington Center, in Washington, D.C. is pictured on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

ASU executive vice president of ASU Learning Enterprise Maria Anguiano was awarded the 2023 Community Empowerment Award on Feb. 8 for her work in providing equal access to education through launching the program ASU Local.

ASU Local is a hybrid program with over 100 undergraduate programs located in Los Angeles, Washington D.C.and now Yuma, Arizona. 

ASU Local students have access to a variety of resources to help them navigate college while not having to leave their community. The program's inaugural location in downtown Los Angeles was founded in 2019.

READ MORE: ASU's expansion into California seen as rare step for a public state university

Anguiano was drawn to ASU because of its charter, which states the school is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed.” Anguiano’s personal mission aligned with ASU to make education accessible no matter an individual's socioeconomic status, age or ethnicity. 

“There are so many universities across the country that measure their success by how exclusive they can be … I don’t understand how that is a measure of excellence. Excellence is how our students are actually doing and how they’re succeeding, and that’s what ASU’s charter is about and that’s what the ASU community is about,” Anguiano said. 

ASU's inclusive excellence initiative aims to include students of all backgrounds and grant them access to quality education in addition to creating a diverse environment.  ASU Local students pay ASU Online non-resident tuition rates and have access to scholarship opportunities. 

Karla Vera, a senior studying business law, was about to graduate from Arizona Western College in Yuma with a plan to attend ASU. 

However, her current major was only available in Tempe. As she was not qualified for financial aid, Vera found it difficult to continue with her academic plan until she found out about ASU Local. 

Vera found that ASU Local was able to cater to her busy schedule of two jobs on top of balancing school work and her social life. ASU Local's Yuma site expects to have 55 students this spring semester, allowing the program to cultivate a supportive community. 

“I think what really motivated me to become close with my peers was the different stories and backgrounds that we all had," Vera said. "I think that we were all there for a similar reason but yet we all had different stories. For me, that was very powerful because it motivated me to do my best."

Anguiano has prioritized students not located on the main ASU Tempe campus, like Vera, in her work. The goal of the program was to create cohorts so the students could come together, offering personalized success and career coaching and collaborating with Arizona Western College so students could transfer to ASU.

“Some of them want to come to Tempe, some of them want to come to Phoenix and some of them don’t want to have to choose between college and their family. Their family is there and their support system is there. So, why can’t they go to ASU but still stay in their community?” Anguiano said. 

Monica Galvez, a junior studying mass communication and media studies, found out about ASU Local through ASU's partnership with Arizona Western College. 

Through the program, Galvez was able to live at home in San Luis, Arizona, which is nearly half an hour away from Yuma, while still being able to pursue a career in media. 

“I’m just trying to stay in my community for now so I can put all the knowledge I’m getting from my school into my actual community. I think my community, although it's very small, does have a potential for growth,” Galvez said. "I'm interested in being able to help my community grow."

Edited by Sadie Buggle, Jasmine Kabiri, Sophia Balasubramanian and Anusha Natarajan.

Reach the reporter at and follow @roblesruizcris on Twitter. 

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