ASU Online students know that earning a degree doesn’t have to mean disrupting their routines and uprooting their lives. Many of our most successful and spirited students juggle their coursework with full-time careers, family obligations and personal passions, all while showcasing their love and pride for Sun Devil Nation. We sat down with three of our newest Brand Ambassadors to discuss how they’ve mastered the balance of learning and living life.

Ily Alvarez

When travel blogger Ily Alvarez stepped onto her first international flight two years ago, she took off on a journey of immersion into other cultures that would bring her to China, Mexico, Thailand and beyond. Her passion for living in and learning about foreign countries, as well as having meaningful interactions with locals and fellow travelers, fit in seamlessly with her decision to pursue an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in sociology and anthropology with ASU Online. She applied to the program in summer 2017, and values the fact that she doesn’t have to put her education on hold to pursue her globetrotting ambitions.

“Life’s too short to not do what you want to do,” Ily says, adding that she enjoys how traveling makes her coursework applicable in real-world situations. Future destinations include trips planned through ASU Online’s study abroad experiences, including a visit to the Dominican Republic, where she will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer. 

Follow along with Ily’s travels on her personal blog, Ilyanna Renee.

Taylor Brune, Integrative Health

In 2009, a personal health scare shook Taylor Brune’s world. After numerous tests that included a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, it was ultimately discovered that she had contracted Lyme disease. Wanting to think outside of the box, Taylor discovered integrative health and its focus on healing the patient as a whole person. Thus began a journey toward healing her own body nutritionally, emotionally and physically. Eventually, her drive to get better combined with her passion for helping others led her to ASU Online’s Integrative Health degree program.

Taylor began taking courses while still in treatment, and has found the flexibility to study and watch lectures around her doctor’s appointments invaluable. Every day, she spends four to six hours on her laptop doing coursework while hooked up to IVs. She is also working toward getting her medical assistant certification as she transitions from patient to practitioner.

Follow Taylor’s journey toward total wellness through her website, Hearts in Bloom, where she shares more of her personal story and encourages others to join her community of life changers.

Ashley Wineland, Film and Media Studies

When country singer and songwriter Ashley Wineland pens the lyrics for her time in ASU Online’s Film & Media Studies degree program, she will no doubt mention how having the flexibility to create her own path allowed her to complete her first semester while traveling on the road for the first time. Though there was a bit of trial and error involved as she discovered what type of course load would best fit with her performance schedule, she soon found her rhythm with the help of her instructors, who advised prioritizing quality over quantity of work. Now, she uses her post-concert adrenaline high as fuel for studying.

Learning through ASU Online has given Ashley improved time management skills and more confidence. She sees the big picture by planning a full semester in advance with a paper planner, and empowers herself on an everyday basis by writing down a goal and putting it in a place where she can be reminded of it all day long. Her best advice for new students is to take advantage of the academic advisors from day one.

Follow and sing along with Ashley through her official website.

To stay up-to-date on the ASU Online Brand Ambassadors, follow the ASU Online Instagram.

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