Outstanding graduate combines art with research for social change

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December 6, 2021

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

For Ella Burrus, being an artist has never been more than a hobby.

Ella Burrus is the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences’ Outstanding Graduate Student for Fall 2021.
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As the outstanding fall 2021 New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences graduate student prepares to hit the stage in December with a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Human Rights from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences from Arizona State University, she looks forward to continuing to work to seamlessly integrate art into her advocacy and activism.

I’m so grateful to have the ability and the opportunity to combine art with research and explore that in ways that I think can make a difference,” Burrus said.

She said she is proud to earn a graduate degree from ASU and revels in the freedom the degree program has given her to explore her interests and use them to deepen her understanding of justice. social and human rights.

The study of social justice is important because it gives us knowledge about the types of issues and problems that need to be addressed, and it serves as a catalyst for those who want to be agents of change in society,” Burrus said. .

Reflecting on her time in the graduate program, Burrus said she was grateful for the opportunity to learn in the classroom with her peers, despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“(It) showed me how much I value the in-person learning experience,” she said.

Burrus uses his college experiences to implore other graduate students to be open to whatever may happen to them – both good and bad.

It is important to know that you will experience ups and downs, but that as long as you have your ‘why,’ essentially the reason Why you entered graduate school, the things that motivate you, in addition to not being afraid to ask for support and mentoring, you will do it,” she said.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

To respond: In my senior year of high school, I applied to Arizona State University, specifically Barrett, Honors College. I couldn’t afford to live on campus, and I knew I would commute to the school I was going to, and ASU was the closest school to my house. I was accepted to Barrett at all four campuses and was even offered the Dorrance Scholarship for a full commute including housing to attend Barrett at the Tempe campus. However, for a number of reasons, I ended up enrolling at the ASU West Campus using the Provost Merit Scholarship.

Q: What did you learn in the social justice and human rights program that changed your perspective?

A: During my time in the Masters in Social Justice and Human Rights (SJDH) program, my perspective on my own trajectory changed. I feel like the majority of students, undergraduate and graduate, start programs assuming that they know what they want and what they will get at the end of the program. However, during my graduate studies, especially between the semesters of 2020-2021, I learned that anything can happen and that what we think happens, most of the time, turns out differently. My perspective of entering the SJHR program is definitely not the same as the one I have now when I leave the program.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve a problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Although money has the power to make things better, I think the most significant change comes from a change in perspective. So many peopleProblems would be solved if people were open to different ways of thinking. I feel like universities (at their best) have the power to introduce others to new ways of thinking. However, the reality is that the majority of individuals do not have access to academia. That said, I would use $40 million to try to spread this kind of awareness to places outside of the university, reaching a wider audience. This type of initiative can materialize by funding programs in places such as underprivileged or rural neighborhoods. Additionally, programming should be delivered in a way that is relevant to the community and that community members would like to learn from.

Video of Outstanding Fall 2021 Graduate: Ella Rene Burrus

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