Tierra McDonald

ASU public affairs graduate committed to public service


Paul Atkinson

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Tierra McDonald grew up in a family immersed in public service. Whether for work or volunteering, the importance of being involved in the community was instilled in her at an early age. 

So it wasn’t a surprise that she chose the same career path, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy with the School of Public Affairs, part of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. McDonald is her school's outstanding graduate for fall 2017.

“I had just moved to the state and was impressed with the awards and accolades that ASU has received,” McDonald said. “With a focus on innovation and service, it was a natural fit for me.”

McDonald said she has been on both sides – in poverty and making it out.

“It is easy to find yourself in that situation. We are all the same,” she said. “It is important to help others, appreciate what you have and be willing to share.”

At ASU, she says the most eye-opening thing she learned was the importance of sustainability. A green initiatives class gave her a greater understanding of why legislation is developed and what we can be doing better.

“You hear about climate change, global warming, but don’t realize how daily actions impact the planet,” she said. “We want to live comfortably and do the right thing for generations to come.

“It makes me cringe a little less to pay 10 cents for a plastic bag, or see how I am doing relative to neighbors on my utility bills.”

McDonald will continue at ASU, pursuing a master's degree in public administration. Her ultimate goal is to become a court administrator or city manager.

Her big aspirations? Make an impact on inequality and justice. She says that if she were given $40 million today to solve one problem, she would address the slave trade in Libya.

“Slavery was abolished a long time ago. No one should be sold,” she said.

Written by Heather Beshears