Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Alereese Gonzalez has worn many hats during her time at ASU. Aside from earning her degree in exercise and wellness, Gonzalez held three different student worker positions. She says she loved each of them, but her time as a community assistant at the Taylor Place residence hall was her favorite.
“Though it was a tough job, I appreciated every second of socializing with residents in Taylor Place and making sure the students I talked to felt at home and accepted in our community,” Gonzalez said.
She also worked as a wellness supervisor at the Sun Devil Fitness Center on the Downtown Phoenix campus and currently works as a graphic design assistant for Access ASU. Gonzalez said that networking at ASU allowed her to get each of her positions and that her jobs gave her valuable professional skills.
“These positions taught me professional communication with outside organizations, how to network with others, how to manage my time well and how to deal with challenging situations appropriately and in a professional manner,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez spoke with ASU Now about what brought her to ASU and what she’s learned from her time here.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized that you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I was a junior in high school, and I played competitive soccer on a club team and on my high school’s varsity team. I went into a physical therapy session at the beginning of the season due to an ankle injury and finally realized I wanted to major in something with health care.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: Through ASU’s Charter, I learned how the large university is measured not by whom it excludes but by whom it includes. This changed my perspective on academics and life in general because ASU has given individuals the opportunity to accomplish their dreams, regardless of their financial status, where they are from, who they know or what they want to do.
Some students I have met are busy with obstacles in life such as providing for an entire family, are veterans from different military branches or are working full time. ASU has an incredible amount of opportunities to offer individuals who are motivated and determined to follow their dreams.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose ASU because of the EXW (exercise and wellness) program. I am a visual and hands-on learner and this major offered everything I was looking for. I visited the Downtown Phoenix campus my senior year before I chose a university and immediately felt at home.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Dr. Jack Chisum, one of my EXW professors and my thesis director, taught me that there are many paths you can take in life that will get you to the same destination. Life is a journey that you should spend time loving and enjoying rather than stressing about, because you will still end up where you need to be.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Make the most of your college career by trying things you have never thought about doing before. Go out of your way to do the unexpected, because only then will you make the most memories. There are times where you need to put your head down and focus just on academics, but always find time to do what makes your soul happy.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I loved going to the BCLS (Beus Center for Law and Society) building with a group of friends to study. We would have extreme study sessions and take a short break to grab Starbucks across the street, then get right back to academics.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am planning on going back home to California. I am still debating what I am more passionate about: occupational therapy or physical therapy. I do have a position at an orthopedic rehabilitation clinic lined up, but I still want to take a year off to volunteer at different OT (occupational therapy) and PT (physical therapy) clinics to further understand what each of those occupations entail in various settings.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would love to tackle ocean pollution. Marine life is extremely important to our planet, and creatures are suffering from plastics, oil spills, fish nets, toxic chemicals, solid wastes, trash, et cetera. There are many organizations that have taken action in an attempt to prevent ocean pollution at its source.
Written by Sun Devil Storyteller Bryan Pietsch, EOSS Marketing