ASU boasts diverse achievers in freshman class

By

Mary Beth Faller

Amani Burton is looking forward to meeting a new person every day.

It should be easy, as he is among more than 11,000 new Sun Devils in the incoming class of freshmen at Arizona State University.

“It excites me because I can find so many clubs and organizations that fit me,” said Burton, who’s from Nevada and will be majoring in Sports and Media Studies in the W.P. Carey School of Business.

In keeping with the university’s mission of encouraging accessibility for all, the percentage of minority students in the freshmen class has increased: 38.6 percent this year, compared with 38.4 percent last year. In fall 2007, it was 29.4 percent.

Burton, who is African-American and Filipino, says that’s important.

“It’ll add more cultural diversity to the college, which is great, although ASU’s population is already so diverse, with students from all over the world,” he said.

Kent Hopkins, vice president for enrollment management and services, said that providing opportunity for everyone is part of ASU’s mission.

“It’s something that is so very important to serving our citizens and as a charge from President Michael Crow – that our student body is reflective of our world.”

The incoming freshmen are also academically accomplished. As a group, their average high school grade point average is 3.41 and their average SAT score is 1126, the highest averages of any ASU freshman class.

Last year, the average grade point average for the incoming freshmen was 3.4, and in fall 2007, it was 3.34. The average SAT or ACT – in which the ACT score is converted to an SAT scale – was 1118 last year. It was 1078 in fall 2007.

Scott Fitsimones of Phoenix is one of the elite students coming to ASU. A graduate of Arizona School for the Arts charter school, he is a Flinn Scholar – an honor awarded only to the most accomplished students who choose to go to one of the state’s three public universities. Fifteen of this year’s 21 Flinn Scholars chose ASU.

Fitsimones has been designing smartphone applications since he was 15, and dreamed of attending Stanford University.

But he was drawn to ASU’s reputation for innovation and support of student start-ups.

Fitsimones, who will be living in Barrett, the Honors College, is considering a major in computer systems engineering or another type of engineering. He’s been experimenting with three-dimensional printing.

“I’m not exactly sure what I want to do and I know I can explore that at ASU,” Fitsimones said. “I want a creative role, and I want to meet a lot of cool people who are looking to do that too.”

ASU continues to draw students from beyond the state’s borders. Nearly half – 46 percent – of the incoming freshmen are from outside of Arizona. Twelve percent are from California, and half of those students are minorities.

One of the 1,406 freshmen from California is Taylor Lucido, who graduated from high school in Brentwood, a town about an hour outside San Francisco.

Lucido, who will be living on the Tempe campus and majoring in philosophy, is from a Sun Devil family, with several relatives who are ASU graduates.

“My cousin got married at Old Main last year. I fell in love with the campus and it’s always been my dream to go there,” she said.

“With a big school there are a lot more connections and opportunities, and I feel like I will be ahead of someone who didn’t go to ASU.”

This freshmen class will top 11,000 for the first time, and Hopkins said that each of the five campuses provides a unique environment for the incoming students. ASU at Lake Havasu City will have 42 freshmen, and ASU West will be home to 360 freshman. ASU Polytechnic will welcome 525 freshman and about 1,400 freshman will begin at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Nearly 9,000 freshman will begin their Sun Devil experience on the Tempe campus.

“We have such a wonderful mosaic of campus opportunities for our students,” Hopkins said.

“That tends to provide a different perspective about the who we are at ASU than just reporting one freshman class figure.”