LAS Week celebrates students, alumni and program resources

The 2021 spring LAS dean’s Distinguished Lecture took place March 23. The event featured Don Sakaguchi, morrill professor, speaking on “Stem Cells and Bioengineering for Brain Repair Strategies.”

Rory Mcdermott

Iowa State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) hosted its fourth-annual LAS Week from March 22 to 26. The special week featured a variety of events and activities for students to connect with other students, staff and alumni.

The week-long event, sponsored by Kingland, Meredith Corporation and Principal Financial Group, kicked off with a breakfast event March 22 on Central Campus. Over 100 students received a complimentary breakfast and other LAS promotion items, such as T-shirts and mugs. Resources were on display from different programs and departments, such as study abroad and undergraduate research.

Several events occurred across every day of the week, including lecture series, movie screenings and alumni interviews. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a layout and structure shift of the week’s activities.

However, Erin Halverson, LAS Week organizer and LAS social media specialist, saw new potential when past opportunities weren’t possible.

“Going into this year, for LAS Week, we had to make some adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Halverson said. “We’ve been able to offer our events in person and virtually, so students can join in whether they’re on campus this semester or if they did choose to stay home and take online classes.”

The virtual opportunities of this year’s LAS Week opened new doors in one particular area: alumni speaking events.

“We were able to connect with alumni virtually from all around the country,” Halverson said. “In previous years, our alumni and student networking events have been in person. But this year, since we can access alumni all across the country, we [did] these as virtual panels broadcasted in with the interviews held over a Webex meeting projected on the big screen in Troxel Hall.”

These alumni events featured Iowa State graduates at the top of their respective fields. On March 24, the LAS Connect event featured Greenlee alumna Gladys Nortey. Nortey has lived in the Silicon Valley area while gaining over 20 years of advertising and project management experience.

Student moderator Carolina Vieira, junior in journalism and mass communication, asked Nortey various questions related to her experience and subsequent advice to aspiring students.

“Change happens all the time, and you need to equip yourself with those skills all the time,” Nortey explained.

Nortey dove deeper into essential skills, such as time management, networking, leadership, digital presence and awareness. She also cited the importance of having a growth mindset, trying your best and being resilient — skills instilled in her by her parents.

“My parents always told me, ‘No matter what, nobody can take your education from you.’ Always continue learning and stay focused,” she said.

Thursday’s event looked into the sports communication field with two speakers: Chicago Bears play-by-play radio announcer Jeff Joniak and Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Communications Julie Fie.

Joniak and Fie answered questions from student moderator Jailene Rivas, senior in public relations. The two discussed challenges in their careers and the values most important to their success.

Joniak cited faith, versatility, storytelling and conquering fears as the most critical steps in his professional career. Fie talked about the systematic process of getting a job and her trail-blazing experiences in a male-dominated field. She sees the next generation as “the one who doesn’t see color and gender in jobs” while her own generation is “the one who hires that way.”

A final highlight of the week was the exciting introduction of the LAS Dean’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I+E) Academy. The I+E Academy is a two-year program centered around the encouragement and development of big ideas. Throughout the week, LAS students had many opportunities to learn more about the Academy through student and faculty informational events.

With the challenges brought about by the pandemic, these events saw substantial attendance numbers through the available online formats. Halverson hopes these additional ways to connect provided more opportunities to reach students.

“The primary goal of LAS Week is to connect students with those resources that maximize their experience at Iowa State and in the college,” Halverson said.

LAS Week organizers and contributors said they are thankful for the sponsorship of Kingland, Meredith Corporation and Principal Financial Group. They also said they would like to thank everyone who attended and helped continue the event’s annual success.