ASU grad dedicated her time as a Sun Devil to serving her community

August 31, 2021

Gabriella Acosta, 20, always knew she wanted to help people. Throughout her time at ASU, she did just that.

While working toward her bachelor’s degree in social work, the Obama Scholar dedicated a significant portion of her time to being a SPARKS ambassador. Through this student-led organization, Acosta was a leader and a role model for K–12 students across the state. Through sharing her college experiences as a first-generation student, Acosta inspired many students to pursue a post-secondary education. 

Gabriella Acosta in her ASU cap and gown sitting on steps

Gabriella Acosta, 20, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

“I am thankful to be a SPARKS ambassador and spread awareness, my knowledge, as well as my personal experiences from ASU. SPARKS has shown me how to be an efficient, professional leader,” Acosta said. 

Additionally, Acosta was a part of TRIO and S.T.A.R.S. programs, where she grew her leadership skills.

She was also involved in the AmeriCorps Survivor Link organization, where she served as a domestic violence survivor advocate. AmeriCorps is partnered with Chicanos Por La Causa, where she also provided resources to those in marginalized communities.    

“I also help serve HIV/AIDS victims, those who live in oppressed, marginalized communities and provide many resources to those in need,” Acosta said.  

To top it all off, she was in intramural volleyball teams on both ASU’s Polytechnic and Downtown Phoenix campuses. 

Acosta is an amazing Sun Devil who is leaving her mark; get to know more about her as she looks back at her time here at ASU.  

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: When I was first admitted to ASU in 2018, my major was pre-veterinary medicine, but then I changed my major to social work in 2019 when I read more about social workers and having experience with a social worker within my family. I knew I wanted to help people, and social work called my name. Changing my major to social work was the best decision I made. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I was surprised on how ASU promotes self-awareness and spreads awareness of the injustices that occur around the world. ASU is constantly hosting panels that talk about racism, police brutality, LGBTQ issues and other social justice issues so that more people can become aware of what is going on around the world.

Q:  Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU because ASU has great degrees to offer and educate students on. I also chose ASU because out of all Arizona universities, ASU was the No. 1 university that funded my whole education and gave me the opportunity to receive a full-ride scholarship for all four years, including living in the dorms on campus. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Melissa Mitscher has been one of the best professors I could ever have. This professor has taught me many life lessons and ways on viewing life along with how to be an efficient social worker. This professor has background experience of being a social worker for years and has provided insight on what social workers deal with on a daily basis. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: For those of you in college, I strongly encourage everyone to become involved and join sports, clubs and organizations that will allow you to grow personally and professionally. Take your time enjoying college and have fun, because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and anyone would love to be in your spot. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Since I lived in the dorm rooms at the Polytechnic and Downtown campus, my favorite spot to study as well as hang with friends would be the study rooms within the dorm halls. The room is great for studying alone in peace, listening to music while relaxing, or just simply hanging with friends or classmates. 

Q:  What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I have two weeks to enjoy myself and then I start graduate school, where I will be pursuing my master's degree in social work. I will be starting my career working for the Department of Child Safety as a case manager. I also plan on traveling the world as well and exploring new places I've never been to. 

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

A: If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem on our planet I would use all the money to fund programs and organizations that will aim to stop child abuse and put a stop to child/human/sex trafficking.