Political science and global studies major recognized as spring 2021 Dean’s Medalist
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
Bianca Navia has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences spring 2021 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Politics and Global Studies and will graduate this May with degrees in political science and global studies.
“I immediately leaped up from my chair and started jumping all around my bedroom,” Navia said about her reaction to the news. “I was completely in shock and incredibly excited and honored to have been selected as a Dean’s Medalist!”
Navia, who is from the Sugar Land/Missouri City area of Texas, took full advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of ASU as a research institution.
During her time at Arizona State University, she worked with the Center on the Future of War, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies. She enjoyed the seminar-style classes, which offered in-depth discussions and critical analysis in smaller class settings. Navia appreciated hearing more about the faculty members’ research and attending public lectures and panel events.
“These events really sparked my interest in potentially pursuing a career in academia in the future.”
Using the skills she learned through those experiences, Navia was awarded various prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Boren Scholarship and the Killam Fellowship while at ASU. She shared that the application process for these opportunities required organization, patience, determination and vulnerability.
“I have also been fortunate to build a diverse network of peers, mentors, faculty and friends, many of whom live outside of the U.S.,” said Navia. “As a new graduate, I intend to continue growing my network and practicing the writing, research and interpersonal skills I have gained through these opportunities.”
As a freshman, Navia met Chiara Dal Martello, a principal lecturer in Italian in the School of International Letters and Cultures. Navia went on to work with Dal Martello on a number of projects from her honor’s thesis to the development of a brand-new honors course titled “Natural Disasters in Italy: Environmental and Cultural Resilience.”
“(The course) was offered for the very first time to 25 ASU students during Session B in spring 2021,” said Navia. “Chiara is one of the greatest mentors I could’ve ever asked for, and I am so thankful for her guidance and support.”
We caught up with her to ask about her time at Arizona State University.
Question: Why did you choose ASU?
Answer: As the first of my four sisters to attend college, I was drawn to ASU because of its generous aid. I was also impressed by its size, diverse research opportunities and the academic rigor at Barrett, The Honors College.
Q: What’s something you’ve learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: Growing up, topics that I would later learn were complex were presented to me in black and white, right or wrong. My interests and questions that fell outside of this clean binary were often rejected or ignored. While at ASU, I learned what it was like to be taken seriously. My professors, peers, mentors and friends actively engaged with my questions, encouraged me to be curious, and challenged me to think critically, both inside and outside the classroom. They have instilled in me the confidence to advocate for myself and my beliefs. After four years, I feel that I have grown so much as a scholar and individual.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: If you dream to achieve something, big or small, only you can take that first baby step. And it can be daunting. But you don’t have to do it alone. During my time at ASU, I have personally benefited from the support of friends, mentors, professors and services on campus, such as the ASU Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Office for National Scholarship Advising. Be resilient, stay curious and think critically. And, as you climb, always think of ways how you can lift others up with you.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: This summer, I will complete a virtual internship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. I will be interning at a Congressional office on the Hill, taking a public policy course through The George Washington University, and participating in weekly leadership and professional development sessions. In the short-term, I hope to live, work, and/or study abroad in the Middle East and pursue graduate studies.