‘Like salt on Fritos’: ASU grad thanks her advising wizard

No offense to her fellow classmates, but recent ASU grad Jessie Erbe didn’t like the sound of “Class of 2021.”

To her ear, graduating in an even-numbered year landed better.

“Besides, I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done and keep moving forward,” said Erbe.

She had transferred to ASU in August 2019 after earning an associate of arts degree in psychology at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Erbe then moved seamlessly into the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in counseling and applied psychological science, in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU's Polytechnic campus. 

A few days after finishing her first semester in the program, she set about plotting a course to accelerate her degree completion.

“Psychology professor Laura Jimenez Arista suggested I make an advising appointment with Melody Bernstein,” said Erbe. “So I went in with some classes in mind for spring 2020 as well as with my crazy idea to try to finish my remaining 50 credits in a year.

“Mel was on it like salt on Fritos,” Erbe said.

“When Jessie shared with me her ambitious goal, I was completely honest with her that it was going to be difficult,” said Bernstein, academic success coordinator in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. “It would mean taking classes in the summer and getting permission to enroll in more credit hours than typically allowed in a single session as well as some prerequisite waivers from faculty.

“But Jessie was up for it, so we devised a game plan, juggling her remaining requirements with when certain classes would be offered throughout the year.”

From that day forward the two were, to quote Erbe, “On. A. Mission.”

“Jessie obviously needed a lot of ‘yeses’ from CISA staff and faculty to help get her schedule just right to meet her goal,” Bernstein noted. “And it helped that she’d already taken and done well in 10 psychology courses, but that doesn’t diminish the amount of hard work that Jessie put in during her time here at ASU.

“If she ran into an issue with a tough class, she didn’t just give up,” Bernstein continued. “Jessie would reach out to the instructor for help, and study more until she understood the concepts.”

Erbe completed the bachelor’s degree in December 2020 with a 4.0 GPA while working multiple jobs.

“Jessie was a dream student to advise! She showed determination reaching out to so many different staff and faculty members on her own. She advocated for herself but always had us here in advising if things didn’t go as planned,” Bernstein said. “Jessie is passionate, intelligent and thoughtful. I know she’ll be successful with whatever she puts her mind to.”

After reflecting on her accomplishment, Erbe put her mind to composing a note of gratitude to send to Bernstein’s supervisor, Jamie Eggerling. 

What’s up next for Erbe? 

“I’m quitting both jobs next month, packing a backpack and going on an expedition to visit family and friends. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t seen my family in five years!” said Erbe, whose hometown is Joliet, Illinois. “So I’ll visit Alabama, Illinois, Vermont, the Carolinas, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

“I still need to nourish and be present in so many friendships; it’s my responsibility as a friend to love them a bit more than a postcard and Ubereats surprises. Although I am present by being a phone call away, I need to meet their new babies, stand up in their weddings, comment on their new bathroom tile, and break bread with them.”

After that, Erbe’s been considering doing a year-and-a-half online program at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, in Tempe, to get her practitioner’s license in holistic nutrition.

“I believe food and gut health play such a huge role in psychology and would love to bridge that gap,” she said. “Or I may decide to come back and pursue a master’s at ASU. If so, you can guess who my first point of contact will be!”

Maureen Roen
maureen.roen@asu.edu