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While a student in Barrett Honors College at the ASU Polytechnic campus, Mary Curtiss knew the importance involvement and leadership could have in her life and the lives of her classmates.
She became involved in Undergraduate Student Government the first semester of her freshman year and encouraged others to do the same. By her sophomore year, the majority of the Polytechnic campus student senate had been recruited to serve by Curtiss.
She went on to serve as vice president of policy for two years, entirely restructuring the Undergraduate Student Government Polytechnic bylaws to make the organization more efficient and leading the planning of Earth Day events. She also served as president of Business Ambassadors and worked as a tutor for business and honors students.
Curtiss also worked with Changemaker, helping plan events and attending many service days. As an undergraduate, she was hired for two internships.
For her dedicated community involvement and leadership, Curtiss was given the Chuck and Judy Backus Outstanding Student Employee Award. The award, named after the Polytechnic campus’ founding provost and his wife, recognizes students who have improved campus life through exemplary leadership and by inspiring others to lead.
“Mary is the nicest, most genuine person I know. She is welcoming towards everyone, warm in her demeanor, and inclusive towards all. She cares deeply for others, ASU, our community, and our environment,” said Julia Anderson, a fellow student, in nominating Curtiss for the award.
Anderson, who served as the Polytechnic campus’ first female president, said she became involved in student government largely because of Curtiss. “She encouraged me to be a part of something that benefited students at ASU because she knew how to inspire change.”
Curtiss graduated in May with bachelor’s degrees in supply chain and business management, and a certificate in food industry management and marketing. She currently works at Intel as a supply line manager and plans on pursuing an MBA or a master’s degree in another area after a few years of working.
We caught up with Curtiss to get her impressions of her experiences at ASU and Barrett Honors College.
How did you decide to attend ASU?
I’m from Michigan so I considered staying in state. I considered ASU because of all the opportunities and degree options it offered. When I got into Barrett, I committed because of how respected the program is and all of the resources Barrett and ASU provided. I also was really excited to try something new, move away from home, and enjoy warm, sunny weather.
How was your Barrett experience? How was it a benefit to you?
I had a fantastic Barrett experience! As an out of state student, the Barrett community helped me feel welcome at ASU. The faculty and administration were great and always available to help. Barrett gave me opportunities to work on extra projects with faculty and pursue interests outside of the curriculum. I really enjoyed my thesis project focused on researching urban farming’s role in combatting food insecurity with my partner Yann Raymond and director Carola Grebitus.
How do you feel about being given the Chuck and Judy Backus Outstanding Student Employee Award?
I feel very honored to receive this award. When I came to ASU Polytechnic I became very involved in W. P. Carey, student government, Barrett and the tutoring center. Through my involvement, I was able to make great friendships and memories. I felt welcome and at home at ASU and wanted to make others feel just as comfortable. I really love this campus and this school and feel grateful that I was able to make a positive impact.