Emerging Leaders encourage ASU alumni to stay connected

By

Amanda Stoneman

Six alumni, who graduated from the largest and most diverse college at Arizona State University, have joined forces to create a renewed sense of pride in their alma mater. 

“When I talk to alumni from ASU, they may not even know they were a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Steven Slugocki, a founding member of the Emerging Leaders program. “This program will engage recent graduates, increase awareness of the college and build alumni affinity.”

The Emerging Leaders program, a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, was created to establish a network of talented young professionals who graduated 10 years ago or less from the college. These alumni will invest in the college, encourage alumni involvement and showcase how an education in liberal arts and sciences can make a difference in local, national and global communities.

“I want to make a difference in my community,” said Slugocki, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a history minor in 2007. “Not all of us can write a $10,000 check, but we can give back by staying involved with the college. You’ll get to know incredible people and make a huge impact.”

Slugocki works as a business sales consultant with Wells Fargo and serves as the chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party. He’s the youngest chair of a major county party in the country.

“I hope to make the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as strong as possible,” said Slugocki. “It’s such a diverse college with so many schools and departments. I want to make it a source of pride for recent graduates and people who graduated long ago. They should be proud of their college.”

Amanda Ventura, another founding member of the program, has also been eager to help people feel connected to their college again. She believes it’s important to make sure alumni understand the college and university still have a range of resources to offer them — even after graduation.

“I want to see the foundation of our work give way to a growing network of young alumni who are empowering each other and themselves to make the most out of their careers,” said Ventura, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English (creative writing) in 2011. “I think professional networking with people who are finding practical applications from their university education is really important.” 

Ventura works with communication alumna Jennifer Kaplan, who graduated in the class of ’96 and started her own firm: Evolve Public Relations and Marketing. As a senior account manager, Ventura helps a handful of clients grow their brand through communication and marketing.

“Many alumni want to take their diploma and run,” said Ventura. “We want to reach out to those people and show them why it’s appealing to come back to the university. Our main focus is figuring out how to activate young alumni and bring them back into the support system of ASU.”

Ventura said it has been humbling to come back to campus and see how much the university has changed. She also enjoys working with the other founding members of the groups, especially Slugocki and Samantha Winter McAlpin. 

“I think as an alumna of a very large university, it’s easy to pretend there’s no need for me to get involved because there are thousands of other graduates who are most likely doing what needs to be done, but that’s never the case,” said Winter McAlpin, who received concurrent bachelor’s degrees in Spanish, English and history in 2008. “I’m so happy I’ve found a good way to re-involve myself.”

Winter McAlpin works at Sacks Tierney, a Scottsdale-based law firm, as an attorney who advises clients on estate and tax planning. She has been involved with the Emerging Leaders program since inception. She said she’s very appreciative for the education she received from the college and believes it’s time for the alumni to give back.

“Being a founding member of the program has been a remarkable experience,” Winter McAlpin said. “Our world is changing quickly, and I hope it’s valuable for the college to learn how more recent graduates feel their degree has served them.”

Paul Padegimas, Abraham Hamadeh and Jorge Coss Ortega — who just graduated in May 2017 — are the newest members of the Emerging Leaders program. They’re eager to get involved and connect with fellow alumni from the college. 

“I’ve been interested in getting a little more involved,” said Padegimas, who graduated from the university in 2011 with a master’s degree in geography.

Padegimas said he learned how to tackle complex problems from his degree program, which has been essential in his current career as a transportation consultant with Turner Engineering Corporation.

“I want to help people go further in their education than they otherwise could by helping the program secure funding for scholarships,” Padegimas said. “I also want to continue to help the college and university develop. Both have done a lot of big things and have a lot of great programs. Let’s keep pushing it in the same direction.”

In 2012, Hamadeh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He went on to complete a law degree at University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law in 2016. Currently, Hamadeh is a Second Lieutenant of Military Intelligence in the United States Army Reserve and a board member for ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

“I want to be an advocate and ambassador because I have a real sense of pride in ASU,” Hamadeh said. “I also believe in what Michael Crow stands for in education. It’s accessible to everybody and yet can be so personable. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to give back.”

For more information about the Emerging Leaders program, please contact Lisa Roubal-Brown at 480-965-2617 or lisa.roubal-brown@asu.edu.

The Emerging Leaders program is a subdivision of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, an exclusive group of alumni who help shape the future of the college by staying committed to the highest standards of excellence and innovation in higher education.