Arizona State University now has an official LDS chapter of its Alumni Association, called Sun Devil Saints. It’s a wonderful vehicle for professional networking and making friends. Chapter members will soon be interfaith bridge builders as they serve the community alongside various groups.
The organization was started by ASU alumnus of 2009 Thomas Grier of Hermosa Vista Stake’s Menlo Park Ward, and alumnus of ’07 Chad Heywood of Gilbert Stapley Stake’s Neely Ward.
The duo are 50/50 business partners with the firm Criterion Public Affairs. Thomas is also an attorney in Mesa.
Though busy young professionals and fathers (Chad with five children and Thomas with three), they hope to see more fellow Sun Devils enjoy success and personal fulfillment. They care deeply about their alma mater.
Thomas jokes, “Real Mormons are Devils.” He even proposed to his wife on “A” Mountain, where a 60-foot tall letter “A” proudly announces the university’s location.
Chad and Thomas are also ambassadors for an exciting opportunity that awaits new students. The ASU Pioneer Heritage Scholarship has been created to assist LDS freshmen and students transferring from community college.
The scholarship began in 2015 and funded 15 students. The ASU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that handles alumni affairs and philanthropic donations, was the first to fund it.
“Donors believe in the scholarship, having seen how it’s been used,” says Chad. Recognizing the board members’ commitment to it as well, donors are putting a lot more money toward it. At least one private donor has contributed $100,000.
“We encourage all LDS students planning to attend ASU to apply,” Thomas says.
Besides Thomas and Chad, the scholarship’s founding board members include Trey Basha, Derrick Anderson, Roc Arnett and Elder Todd Hansen. Mesa’s 2013 Woman of the Year Beth Coons has since joined.
Elder Neil L. Andersen recently met with the scholarship board. “He reiterated that church members shouldn’t feel they have to attend a church-sponsored school,” Chad says.
When Deseret News identified six heroes in 2014, ASU’s president, Dr. Michael Crow, was among them—a hero of education.
“He is always telling the church that he values the LDS students,” says Thomas. Dr. Crow shows that by allocating money and physical space for these students.
An additional perk is that every scholarship will be held for a mission. Within 24 hours of the church lowering the mission age, Dr. Crow had the scholarship policy changed to reflect that.
Furthering its relationship with the Church community, ASU spent a significant amount of money to hold the first LDS Family Education Night on January 26th. Approximately 3,000 high school juniors and seniors (plus their parents) attended the enormous event, at which good friends Dr. Crow and Elder Andersen sat on a discussion panel together.
“The Institute’s footprint in the middle of the campus shows ASU’s and Dr. Crow’s commitment to allowing people to openly practice their faith on campus,” says Chad. The Institute at the university’s Polytechnic site in Mesa is another example.
“People hear about the Institute, but that’s just the surface,” says Thomas.
Come see what else is happening!
Please visit https://www.facebook.com/SunDevilSaints to see the February 20th post with photos of Elder Andersen’s visit to ASU and read his comments. Also visit https://alumni.asu.edu/groups/special-interest.
Pioneer Heritage Scholarship applications for the 2017-2018 school year will be accepted beginning June 1, 2016. Visit https://scholarships.asu.edu/scholarship/pioneerheritage for more information.