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SFIS is home to students from a diverse range of ethnic, cultural, and professional backgrounds. A self-described “air force brat,” GTD student Victoria Hooper is one of just a few who come to the School from the US Armed Services.
As a reservist, Hooper knew she needed to find a degree she could pursue without being in residence, in case she was deployed overseas. She searched countrywide for an online program that was interesting and would give her a good shot at finding work upon completion. The GTD program within SFIS fit the bill, and she heard good things from other service men and women about the university. “ASU has a fantastic rapport with veterans,” said Hooper.
Hooper discovered many benefits in taking online classes. “I’ve found the virtual community of students to be as supportive as they could be in residence,” she said. “And in online discussions, students are less abashed when it comes to expressing themselves.” Hooper said her professors were always quick to respond to questions, and usually she received feedback faster than she would have had she needed to wait for office hours.
“I would recommend the program to any reservist,” she said. “Even though I can’t be there, I always get excited through the emails and newsletters because I know that my field is important and that people are engaging with it.”
Hooper’s interest found rich ground in which to grow at SFIS. Concerned by news of a severe drought in East Africa that is driving nomadic tribes like the oft-studied Turkana into conflict, Hooper — whose family is involved with a solar startup company in California — wondered if using solar power to pump water from new wells could lead to resolution. But then she started looking further out: would the additional water sources cause the nomads to become settled? Would resolution be worth transforming their way of life?
Now Hooper is researching how sub-Saharan indigenous groups are affected by the implementation of solar technologies. She is in her last quarter, and has aspirations to get involved with one of the NGO’s that is already doing valuable work in the region. “My humanitarian interests make me want to see these groups accept solar in order to provide basic services,” Hooper admitted, “but I respect that they might not want these technologies to be part of their culture.”