Advising on the rise
The Department of English welcomes new student-centered staff
As my fingers hover over the keyboard while I decide how to begin this article, I can’t help but reflect on my journey in ASU’s Department of English so far. When I completed my BA in English (literature) in spring 2014, I had no idea what my career future held—but I was ready for a new adventure. Shortly after graduating, I began working as the graduate program and internship specialist for the same department that had guided me through my undergraduate journey. I was excited to learn with some of the best staff at ASU on how to advise graduate students, go beyond academia with career exploration strategies, and help the department grow with 4+1 accelerated programs and online graduate programs.
I went on to receive my Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL) in 2018 while continuing to venture into new avenues of my position in the department. Now seven years later, I am happy to report I am still working in this fantastic department! I have a new title: program manager of online programs. Starting this new career chapter, I am taking with me all that I have learned from my previous roles and am ready to tackle new responsibilities. My new position correlated with the exponential growth of the department, especially in our online programs. I’m delighted to still be able to do what I love and advise graduate students in the MTESOL and MAS in film and media studies online programs, but now I get to do even more by focusing on initiatives to reach milestones and university goals.
With the fast-paced and unprecedented growth in the department as a whole over the last few years, we have had to match that growth with staff hiring to keep things running smoothly. Just this year, English hired two new advising staff, with additional hiring being planned as I type. Let’s meet these new department members:
Samantha Franze: Academic Success Advisor, Graduate Programs
Samantha Franze completed her BS in biology and her MA in education at the University of Colorado-Denver. She got married at the beginning of her final years of graduate studies, and although originally from Denver, she and her husband made plans to come to Arizona. Before working at ASU, Franze worked in the Cancer Center at University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus. After moving to Arizona, she began working as an enrollment advisor for the University of Phoenix. “I wanted a change of scenery from the beautiful Colorado mountains,” she said. “We decided to sell our townhome, pack up all of our belongings, and haul our home and dogs to my husband’s childhood neighborhood in Queen Creek, AZ.”
Franze is the main academic advisor for the five immersion master’s programs in the Department of English and coordinates the five accelerated 4+1 programs as well. “I love being able to work with students and help them get through their program to graduation,” reflected Franze. “From personal experience, [I know that] college can be daunting and overwhelming at times. Being able to help students overcome obstacles I once faced as a student is what drives me every day.” Outside of work, Franze enjoys hiking and camping, sitting poolside with her husband during the hot summers, and reading a nice book or working on jigsaw puzzles. She also enjoys spending time with her family. “My family and I have developed a tradition of going camping at least once together every summer.” Franze said. “This is our time to disconnect from our phones, enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time with one another.” Franze and her husband are dog parents to two rambunctious puppies Jax and Rocko, and they are expecting their first human bundle of joy this summer.
Elizabeth “Lilly” Downs: Academic Success Advisor, Graduate Programs
Lilly Downs is a native of Arizona and alumna of ASU, holding a BS in justice studies with an emphasis in psychology. Before coming to work in the ASU Department of English, Downs worked at the University of Phoenix and began a graduate program in family and marriage counseling. She now advises over 300 students in the MA English (English studies) online program, the largest graduate program in the department. She also leads the admissions for all three graduate online programs who admit on a rolling basis with six available start dates.
Outside of work, Downs enjoys participating in a game of softball, or whenever she gets a chance to visit the colder areas of Arizona, snowboarding. She is also close with her family and enjoys attending family events. “We make gingerbread cookies to hang on the family Christmas tree,” began Downs as she explained some of her favorite family traditions. She laughed before continuing: “We also have Adult Easter Egg hunts where we use mini wine bottles and other adult beverages instead of eggs.” (Now THAT is a fun family tradition I could get behind).
Image 1: Courtesy photo of Kira Assad.
Image 2: Courtesy photo of Samantha Franze hiking on the 4th of July Trailhead in Nederland, Colorado.
Image 3: Courtesy photo of Lilly Downs.