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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2016 commencement. See more graduates here.
Dominic Santiago Luna says that the greatest lesson his parents taught him was to be successful and then share. He took that to heart as a student in Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs. He was recognized for this effort with the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Hispanic convocation last week.
“Much of Dominic’s life is about public service and helping out those who are less fortunate and this has been exemplified by his time at ASU,” ASU Senior Vice President Christine Wilkinson said at the ceremony.
While at ASU pursuing his master of public administration, Luna was active in the Graduate and Professional Student Association. He was elected as the assembly representative for the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
Through an internship, Luna saw the inner workings of the City of Sierra Vista.
“It was an incredible experience,” he said. “I wish others could observe what these people do. It is truly an engine based on collective effort.”
“The City of Sierra Vista was fortunate to have someone of Dominic's caliber and professionalism working as an intern this past summer. He worked on a variety of projects and made welcome contributions to city operations. More importantly, Dominic demonstrated a true passion and interest in community service,” said Mary Jacobs, assistant city manager for the City of Sierra Vista.
Luna notes that he had some knowledge of how a city works, but that was greatly enhanced by the experience.
“In our line of work, it is just regular people trying to make our communities better. They are the reason the street lights work, that we feel safe. Often that goes unnoticed unless there is a scandal,” he said. “But they didn’t get into this work for the recognition. They want to make a difference.”
Luna created and recorded a video in both English and Spanish to help educate business owners on how to register as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.
“His desire to reach out to people and help is what makes him so special,” said Laura Wilson, chief procurement officer for the City of Sierra Vista. ”His presence in the Procurement Division reenergized the spirit of what it means to be a community servant. I am excited to see where his accomplishments take him.”
Luna says that one of his most important accomplishments is teaching at Academia del Pueblo at Friendly House, which serves a majority Latino population in central Phoenix. He taught grades 6-8.
“I was able to share what I learned as an undergraduate with students, and hopefully they will translate that into how they follow a path of public service,” he said. “They have so much potential to make a difference in our community."
Luna was inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha public administration honors society. He plans to apply to law school. His focus is on criminal and constitutional law.
“Seeing so many in our communities struggling, it feels good to be a part of something bigger than myself.”