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Health entrepreneurship and innovation grad pursues passion after an injury

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

Dana Rasmussen became hyper-focused with how the body works and how to optimize its functioning after tearing her ACL in high school soccer. This was a primary driver for the focus of her career.

Her decision to major in health entrepreneurship and innovation at Arizona State University was because of many factors in her life that cultivated a general interest in biological sciences while at Sandra Day O'Connor High School.

She got involved with the sports medicine program with her mentor, Jennifer Guerrette, and is now a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She had other great mentors and support at SDOHS, notably from Scott Lannen (chemistry and adviser for the Chief Science Officer Program), Ronda Cunningham (English teacher and role model), Michel Candela (for French and worldly life lessons), Uriah Cross (history and "the best storyteller of all time") and Assistant Principal Justin McLain for believing in her leadership. 

Rasmussen said the the injury taught her that without our health (including mental, emotional, physical), we cannot live our most fulfilling life.

“Dana has been a standout health entrepreneurship and innovation student since she walked on campus and introduced herself her freshman year.  She has been an enthusiastic student, an entrepreneurship catalyst with the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute and a student health innovation club leader for the past two years. She has created a legacy for herself and is leaving big shoes to fill. I’m beyond excited to see where she goes from here,” said Rick Hall, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation clinical professor and senior director of health innovation programs.

Rasmussen, who hails from Peoria, Arizona, is graduating this May summa cum laude with a bachelor's of science in health entrepreneurship and innovation from the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Students of this program are prepared to create and sustain cultures of innovation in health care. While at ASU, she received the New American University scholarship.

Read more about Rasmussen in this Q&A below.

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

Answer: Look forward to milestones, but realize that you live your life each day. That day is your life. This day is your life. So live this day and that day in the way you want to live your life.

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: The first thing that really drew me to ASU was the affordability. I was an in-state student and getting offered the New American Scholarship — to me it was silly to pass up the opportunity to go to such a forward-thinking school at such a negligible price. It wasn’t until I actually started attending classes and getting involved with research and organizations that I began to realize I chose one of the best schools in the country not just for its affordability but for the culture of “You wanna do something? Do it, and start now!”  

The professors and faculty treat students as if we are the geniuses that are going to change the world (I mean … they’re not wrong). Being surrounded by an atmosphere of belief, accountability and innovation has infused the foundation of who I am with the building blocks of a successful and rewarding life.   

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

A: There are so many of my professors that have taught me important lessons at ASU. I had Professor Kenneth Kunkle at West campus for my COM 225 class (public speaking). He taught me the value of authentic communication and to focus on growth, not perfection. He cares so much about the success of his students, not just in college but in life. I can genuinely say this might have been the most impactful class to my personal development while at ASU. I’m so thankful I had Professor Kunkle early in my college experience. 

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention Dr. Rick Hall, who technically wasn’t my professor but has been a supportive and guiding mentor throughout my college experience. Dr. Hall embodies the ideals of ASU and the “just start” attitude that he seems to instill in any student he has a conversation with.

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

A: You’re not going to have your life figured out by 21, so stop expecting yourself to. If you’re anything like me, you might want to have the course of your life penciled out so you guarantee that your life makes a difference in the world.  

My best advice to you is to loosen the reins, explore the things that spark your interest, and let yourself be carried away in that exploration. Realize that there are things that you think you have figured out, but in a year will be 180 degrees different. And also realize that there are things that you think you have figured out that will be the same a year later.

Take action. Take big action when it makes sense, and take small action when that’s all you feel like you can do. Is there a hobby you’ve wanted to do but haven’t? Start doing it; don’t wait until you have all your coursework done for the week. Trust me when I say there will always be another thing to do for school, so stop putting off the things that you enjoy. Find a way to embed them into your life. 

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

A: My favorite study spot on campus is the new Hayden Library. During the cooler months, I like the tables outside of it overlooking the lawn.

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

A: If I had to solve the one problem completely with $40 million, the only problem that it could solve is my sports car infatuation. In my career, the problems that I intend to tackle take more than a pocket full of millions. 

To truly solve the major problems of our world, we need an interdisciplinary network. Forty million is a great start, and I would take any step, however small or big, to tackle the quality and efficiency of the food system. The food system is incredibly complex and has an effect on the health of our bodies, the planet and the economy.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’ll be continuing my education at ASU with a Master of Science in human systems engineering to start tackling those big, complex and interdisciplinary problems!