Tyler Dowden- Secretary
Tyler Dowden is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Law at Northern Arizona University. His hometown of Yuma, Arizona is known as “the hottest city in America,” and assisted in his decision to attend NAU. But the prospect of cooler weather was not the only appealing aspect of attending Flagstaff’s university; Tyler felt that NAU was a great place for him to pursue his interest in student government and the promotion of education.
It was not until Tyler encountered Arizona Students’ Association through NAU’s student government that he became familiar with ASA’s enthusiasm and care for Arizona’s students. What started as a journey to participate solely in student government led Tyler to join ASA and dedicate his full attention the organization. Tyler is now secretary of ASA and plays an active role in educating students about the legislative issues that affect them. He believes he is in a position not only to educate his peers, but to enlighten and empower them to take action regarding the important issues they face. In addition, he is the ASA representative on the United States Students Association Board of Directors which gives a national perspective to student issues and student solutions.
Tyler believes that many students fail to recognize legislative problems that affect their access to education, their quality of education, and opportunities within their education. For this reason, Tyler makes voicing issues a priority, in hopes of bringing awareness into a larger population of his peers. Tyler envisions ASA as an organization that takes a holistic approach to viewing students. He challenges fellow members of ASA to consider what it takes to be a student, such as their work, family, scheduling situations, and more. An all-encompassing viewpoint such as this is a reminder that students have responsibilities beyond school, and that balancing such responsibilities may be difficult at times. Tyler urges others to also consider what it takes to obtain an education, including minority access to education and unavoidable student debt. His outlook is a refreshing one, and by bringing such thinking into ASA, the organization can better function to serve the needs of students.
In the future, Tyler hopes to work in the political nonprofit sector. He has considered joining the Peace Corp and plans to continue focusing on student rights and activism. As such, Tyler enjoys a quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Tyler’s most basic desire is to give back to the people who have helped him become who he is today. His education and participation in organizations such as ASA help him make this possible.
Written By: Haley Jones
The Story of ASA
The Arizona Students’ Association is an organization that represents the collective interest of 150,000 university students and over 400,000 community college students in Arizona. We seek to engage and empower students through three core components.
Here is what we do:
ASA works to represent student issues to elected and appointed officials from Arizona to Washington D.C. ASA works directly with the Arizona Board of Regents, University Administrations, both State and Federal Legislators, City Councils, Arizona’s Governor, and the Secretary of State.
ASA ensures that students are given the tools they need to be successful in running Direct Action Organizing campaigns on and off campus. Every year, ASA works to build student power through voter registration, education and GOTV. We know that students voting have the greatest affect on elected officials. In the spring, students organize campaigns to win victories in the state legislature and engage in those campaigns through tactics such as collecting letters and postcards to training students to lobby, to holding huge rallies and protests.
Because students are constantly graduating and moving on, the student movement is strengthened by strong leadership development work. ASA hosts two annual conferences, the Conference of Arizona Student Leaders every fall and Lobby Con every spring. To ensure that Arizona students are well trained for campaigns, we host credited internships for college students and even have some advanced in-office internships that focus on government affairs and communications. Our goal is that students that go through our program are well prepared to enter the job market and are aware of the multitude of career opportunities within advocacy work.
Here is how we do it:
ASA is a student-led organization in which our Board of Directors is comprised of 12 elected and appointed student leaders from across the state. With full-time staff and three separate campus internships to support advocacy work, ASA seeks to have a constant presence on the ground and at the Capitol.
Tej Reddy- Internal Vice Chairperson of the Board
Serving as Vice Chair and Chair of Internal Affairs is Tej Reddy, an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the Arizona Students’ Association. Tej became involved with ASA through The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) at Arizona State University, which he became a part of through his pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Education. He earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Oregon’s Willamette University in the fields of Economics and Political Science, with a minor Environmental Science. Tej served as Student Body President, participated in the debate team, and acted as a leading member of his fraternity at Willamette. Tej is currently a member of Teach for America; he teaches mathematics and statistics at Agua Fria High School, where he also organizes the speech and debate team. During his free time, Tej volunteers at a community center, facilitating recreational classes for at-risk youth.
Tej has made growing ASA’s membership his first mission as a board member. He believes that shaping ASA’s infrastructure in such a way that builds relationships is a key component to building a membership base for the association. Of his many concerns for education, Tej is most concerned about the government’s failure to respond to students, particularly in terms of the student debt load. Tej enjoys working with members of ASA to build a larger vision of promoting accessible education—something he believes is critical for those representing higher education. As Chair of Internal Affairs, Tej ensures that ASA’s internal operations are sound and participates in the process of setting and enforcing new ethical standards for the organization. The implementation of a new organizational constitution is one method he is working on, as a combined effort among members of the organization. Tej encourages people to embrace positive change and discourages apprehension about change.
Tej considers himself as a facilitator of an inclusive organization. He always encourages open communication and urges people to come forward with their ideas. He responds to the cares of others when they express them, creating a forum for discussion. Tej respects Gandhi’s vision, believing that Gandhi embodies the idea of being true to oneself and to others. Particularly with Tej’s passion for education, Gandhi’s advice to be the face of change is appropriate. With this, Tej remarked, “Leadership is about being a role model. ASA affects a whole mass of students. There is no limit to what we can achieve.” As an inclusive organization made up of a diverse population, ASA certainly does empower leaders in the community. Tej believes that advocating for students is important, but that empowering students is of greater value in today’s society.
Written by: Haley Jones
Zach Brooks- UA Graduate Director
Zachary Brooks is a board member for the Arizona Students’ Association and is a PhD Candidate at University of Arizona. He studies Second Language Acquisition and Cognitive Science in hopes of better understanding the manners in which people interact and communicate. As an undergraduate in Kansas, Zachary studied Political Science and History where he played soccer and remained actively involved. Today, Zachary is Graduate Student Body President of Graduate Professional Student Council (GPSC) at UA as well as Western Regional Chair at National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. He enjoys working with these organizations because they reinforce his efforts to stand up for students who are in vulnerable positions.
Zachary is aware of the issues affecting graduate students and aspires to bring about solutions to these issues. He recognizes that many graduate students have the need to support their families and children. With the incredible work graduate students do in their programs, Zachary believes that graduate students should be better supported in their academic endeavors, in order to better support their families. As part of GPSC, Zachary advocates for initiatives such as graduate student fee refunds for his peers. In this example, the student government was recently able to secure $150 in refunds per student. In an education system where finances greatly impact student success, graduate students take notice of the organizations and people advocating for improved student funding.
Ultimately, Zachary’s participation in groups like the Arizona Students’ Association makes collaboration among student advocacy groups stronger. He remarked on this by saying, “My involvement with ASA is worthwhile because I get to work with and learn from other student leaders from throughout the state; it is an honor to represent 550,000 university and community college students.” Zachary advocates not only for students in Arizona, but for students in all areas of the U.S.
Written by: Haley Jones
Patrick Morales- Treasurer
Patrick Morales fulfills his commitment to students at both the national and state levels, serving as one of the Arizona Students’ Association’s Executive Board Members and Treasurer of the organization. He is also chair of the Rocky Mountain States for the United States Student Association Board of Directors. As a fourth-year student at Arizona State University, Patrick is pursuing a degree in Electronics Engineering Technology with an emphasis on alternative energy and a minor in Business. Patrick has been a part of Residence Hall Association (RHA) and Senior Year Experience (SYE) at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.
Patrick is a member of several student organizations, including the Global Resolve Undergraduate Club, which motivates him to make a difference on a global scale. Modeled after Global Resolve Graduate Club, Patrick launched the undergraduate division with the intent to gather undergraduate support for important initiatives while partnering with entities such as Changemaker Central. One venture that Patrick led with Global Resolve Undergraduate Club was an initiative to install solar tracking systems on Navajo land. An increased duration of electricity at night in these areas where power is scarce promotes education, employment, and quality family time. Paired with his local and national work, Patrick is a supporter of activism and grassroots movements.
Upon graduation, Patrick plans to pursue management within his field of electronics engineering. Notably, he desires to invest in nonprofits or entrepreneurships and sees this as an integral component to promoting action within a community. He intends to one day serve on an education board, because as he notes, “Only the educated are free,” (Epictetus) and education, therefore, “shall be as nearly free as possible” (Article 11, Section 6 of Arizona’s Constitution). Moreover, he remarked, “The Arizona Students’ Association is the true embodiment of the student voice within the state of Arizona, an association committed to the ideals of education as an inherent right and freedom of every student throughout. We hold true to the professional development of our members, the representation of all students and advocacy for them. We believe in non-partisanship; the issues we push are student led and student ran, called for by the masses and not by political agendas or personal ideals.” Members like Patrick drive the Arizona Students’ Association’s networking opportunities and resources that maintain their ability to represent students now and in the future.
Written by: Haley Jones
Michael Powell - Executive Director
Executive Director Michael Powell joined Arizona Students’ Association in June 2013. Having worked with students in the past as a college teacher and advocate for solving complex student issues, Michael was interested in joining ASA to continue addressing students’ rights within education. Michael’s views on education are comprehensive, supported by his own work experience and educational background in Political Science (B.A. from California State University Long Beach), Organizational Management (M.A. from University of Phoenix), Conscious Evolution (M.A. from The Graduate Institute), and Integral Theory (Graduate Certification from Fielding Graduate University). Much of Michael’s studies have prepared him to engage others into new ways of thinking that meet the challenges of today. Michael believes that evolved human awareness helps bring wider perspectives and deeper understanding to solving the complex problems that face humanity today.
It is important to ask, “What is the purpose of college education?” He believes that university administrations frequently view students as “just consumers of an education product” and that a renewed emphasis should be placed on students becoming productive, civically engaged members of society. He believes that education providers should motivate students to exercise their rights and live up to the social responsibilities those rights inherently demand. One way ASA helps students ensure their rights are being upheld is to register student voters on campuses across the state by involving students to register other students to vote.
One of ASA’s main focuses is on tuition costs and overall college affordability. Tuition rates have radically changed in recent years, nearly doubling in the past five years at Arizona’s three public universities. “Students are going further into debt to finance their education. “There needs to be developed new ways for society to offer affordable education options,” stated Michael. “A comprehensive strategy to address college accessibility and affordability is long overdue.”
As Executive Director, Michael is implementing the financial and organizational restructuring that the student-led and student-run Board is pursuing. “The Arizona Students Association is a student-led, student run organization working on behalf of university students across Arizona. We help develop leadership skills and abilities. We provide tools and strategies that can be applied throughout a student’s life. ASA exists to engage and empower students to make important changes that support students.”
In addition to his work with Arizona Students’ Association, Michael is part-time Executive Director for The Center for Soulful Living. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Foundation for Contemporary Theology. Michael is a volunteer co-chair for SpeakOut Maricopa County, a civic engagement project of O’Connor House. He also serves on the Board for the Phoenix Area Chapter, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, a non-profit education organization dedicated to youth leadership development and K-12 history and social studies teacher development through civic education.
Written by: Haley Jones
Jason Kordosky NAU Graduate Director
Jason Kordosky is Director and Graduate Affairs Committee Chair for the Arizona Students’ Association. He has been with ASA through its changes, serving on this and last year’s board. Jason believes that education is the cornerstone of a healthy society and should be valued in policymaking. His participation with ASA captures the essence of this belief and he keeps up on policy issues affecting education in order to best represent students.
Jason is currently a graduate student at Northern Arizona University. His studies in cultural anthropology have reinforced his desire to work for a policy organization, perhaps collecting data about the realities of life affected by policy. He plans to continue with academia as a way to address problems that arise in social contexts. The anthropological perspective provides a particularly unique vantage point on the world by striving to understand issues in a holistic way – relative to their cultural contexts.
Jason is inclined to generate change, which is evident by the organizations he participates in. As a past member of Engineers Without Borders at NAU, Jason sought to improve cross-cultural relations with the host communities. In the past Jason aimed to civically engage elementary school students by participating in Public Achievement, an attempt to guide young children through the process of asking questions about civic problems to determining and implementing solutions to them. He remains devoted to representing the student voice as President of NAU’s Graduate Student Government for 2013-2014 along with his role within Arizona Students’ Association.
It was through Graduate Student Government that Jason became familiar with the Arizona Students’ Association. He recognized that not every student knows about ASA and saw this as an opportunity to educate students about their rights. About his involvement with ASA, Jason shared, “I serve on ASA because I feel students are too often ignored in issues that concern them. ASA provides a vehicle for change that exists independent of the university system and is therefore not limited in its efforts to advocate for students issues.” As such, Jason refers to his time with ASA as a challenging but rewarding experience. Ultimately, he sees the utmost value in education because it affects all other aspects of policy, whether those policies are affiliated with education or not.
Jason reaches out to student organizations, surveying students and gathering the voice that is needed to address concerns such as funding, student loan debt, research funding for humanities and arts in addition to science, and more. In a society that is geared toward confronting problems through the physical and biological sciences alone, Jason believes that social-based approaches are additional, untapped avenues to settling challenges that arise in society—particularly in education. The Arizona Students’ Association provides Jason with professional leadership development to assist him in making a difference. He commented, “It feels good to help people,” which is made possible by his time representing those who seek education in Arizona.
Written by: Haley Jones
Casey Dreher- Organizing Director
Casey Dreher is the Organizing Director for the Arizona Students’ Association. His passion for organizing has been apparent throughout his education and his career. With advocacy, direct action organizing, and leadership development, Casey desires to build student power and amplify their voices to create a spirit of advocacy among all community and university college students.
Casey graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and a degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology. Casey exercised civic engagement and leadership in college by participating in Obama for America (OFA) before serving as the Vice President for Political Affairs for ASEOU. His interests and experiences led him to the Oregon Student Association where he served as a Board Director (Treasurer in 2009, Vice Chair in 2010) before joining their staff in the fall of 2010 where he ran civic engagement drives, developed an internship, and worked to empower underrepresented communities at Portland State University while serving as a campus organizer.
Casey came to Arizona to address the lagging culture of education and civic engagement in the state. With voter registration down in Arizona, and budget cuts and tuition hikes being the second highest in the nation, the importance of education is at risk of being forgotten. Casey’s goal with the Arizona Students’ Association is to create a culture of advocacy, organizing, and empowerment where students understand their rights, power, and opportunities to make the changes they want.
Casey’s background with the Oregon Student Association prepared him to represent Arizona’s students and the issues they face. He believes that advocating as a community is the strongest way to promote change, saying, “A group of people is stronger than one person in voicing their concerns. Many people just aren’t aware of the various avenues they can take to exercise their rights.” Casey sees an enormous opportunity to bridge the gap between college students and their respective communities. After all, college students represent a large portion of most communities; there is a great need to better the student experience for future generations. “But we still face a legislature and executive branch in Arizona with every intention of suppressing the youth vote through voter ID laws and regulations,” Casey stated. Community involvement is the only way to thoroughly resist any stifling of our youth vote in Arizona. It is important that community members are aware of this so they can be civically engaged and active citizens of Arizona.
Written by: Haley Jones
Anthony Hessel- External Vice Chair of the Board
Anthony Hessel is a graduate student studying Locomotion Biomechanics and Muscle Physiology at Northern Arizona University. He considers his interest in research throughout his work with the Arizona Students’ Association, as the Vice Chair of External Affairs. He also represents Arizona at the United States Students Association, where he sits on the board of directors as the chair of graduate and professional students. Anthony places a heavy emphasis on education, believing that it compellingly expands our understandings of the world. Some of Anthony’s experience includes working alongside U.S. veterans as his research group works to develop the next generation of foot prosthetics.
Anthony voices issues that affect graduate students and is passionate about preserving the possibility of graduate school for aspiring scholars. He recognizes that the hemorrhaging of education funding must be minimized in order to make graduate school accessible to more students. The Arizona Students’ Association is a medium in which graduates and undergraduates can be advocated for, which drives Anthony’s appreciation of education policies that affect all students.
Anthony grew up surrounded by a public school system funded differently than Arizona’s schools; he recognizes that education funding is required for this generation of scholars. He strongly believes that students pursuing an undergraduate degree should not need to work 30 hours a week in addition to taking a full course load, as many students do. Students pursuing a graduate degree should have limited burdens over their dedication to their craft and becoming an expert in their fields. Proper funding is the key to these tangible objectives, as research in all fields is extraordinarily valuable.
For Anthony, the Arizona Student’s Association is a group of like-minded people who vow to protect the rights of students. He stated, “In a political atmosphere of cost cutting, it is important that higher education public school students have a voice. You know that other large interest groups are protecting their chunk of the state’s budget. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, nothing will protect us from the appropriations committee chopping block. Increasing tuition, devalued degrees, and decreasing professional development are all budget-sensitive issues that we need to defend against!”
Student Associations have the opportunity to become stronger as they forge ahead with the task of voicing student concern. Anthony is promoting the prospect of research and affordable education, much in the same way he hopes to motivate students to use their voices.
Written By: Haley Jones
Adam Monroe- Board Chairperson
Adam Monroe is currently chairing the Arizona Students’ Association’s Board of Directors. Adam also advocates for students through his position as the Director of Legislative affairs for the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the graduate and professional student government at ASU. First a 4-year representative in GPSA’s graduate student assembly, he now focuses on legislation and state-level issues. “We understand that most students are very busy working toward their degrees and do not have the time to research the legislation or politics that affect them, so we strive to make pertinent information as accessible as possible,” he adds. By working with GPSA and ASA, Adam remains current on issues and works to inform students and express the graduate student voice when it is needed.
A graduate of Stanford, Adam studied chemistry and philosophy before beginning a PhD at ASU in chemistry with a focus on meteorites and planetary science in 2009. His prior experience, including some research as a graduate student at NASA Ames in Mountain View, CA, illustrated the importance of federal research dollars in inspiring and enabling students by creating opportunities for them to apply what they were learning in the classroom to real-world problems and questions. His awareness of this importance deepened when he traveled to Washington, D.C. with a citizens group who advocated for NASA and became clearest during his preparations for these trips and another trip to D.C. with ASA in December of 2012 to advocate for increased funding for students. Adam values this kind of advocacy work because, as he says, “federal research expenditure in the state of Arizona creates much-needed opportunities for students and is integral to the state’s economic and intellectual success.”
Adam notes ASA’s unique challenge of engaging and empowering students as universities are forced to cope with the very difficult problem of decreased federal and state funding and always seeks opportunities to represent his peers and express the importance of a lasting commitment to higher education in Arizona. In a recent interview with ASA staff about ASA itself during a transitional year, Adam expressed that he was “thrilled to help the board think and act in the best interests of Arizona students during a year of major structural changes and our finding the best, sustainable future for ASA.”
Written by: Haley Jones