ASU Project Management Network members offer support to each other during challenging times

By: Danielle B. Steele

Studying for a globally recognized professional certification exam is challenging to begin with. But add on top of that a looming exam deadline, a worldwide pandemic and no virtual alternative, and the already stressful process can look hopeless. This was the scenario faced by over two dozen ASU staff members in January as they began a newly launched study group dedicated to helping ASU Project Management Network members mentally prepare for the exam.

Before the pandemic, most of these members were already racing to meet eligibility requirements, such as three years of project experience and 35 hours of project management education before the exam outline was set to significantly change mid-year. Furthermore, they attended hands-on Application Clinics, led by the PM Network Board, to create their accounts and make progress on their applications. In fact, several of them already submitted their applications and were ready to schedule an exam date when it was announced that testing centers were closing.

Despite these setbacks, ASU PM Network members diligently stayed the course, continuing to meet independently with partners or “study buddies,” while advocating for alternatives and support from the Project Management Institute, the governing body for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The ASU PM Network members’ voices were heard. Several months into the pandemic, PMI announced its strategy to accommodate its members worldwide, including extending the deadline, offering online proctoring and closely partnering with exam centers as they reopened in alignment with its state and city safety guidelines.

Two members in particular have recently earned their PMP certification. Maria Bohorquez, Business Analyst at Business & Finance Information Technology, and Marissa Akins, Project Manager Associate at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, both serve on the ASU PM Network Board and decided to pursue certification last year. Thanks to their tireless dedication, countless hours of studying, and support of their Board members, family and friends, they can now celebrate their PMP certification. "A weight has been lifted,” Akins shared. “The push to complete this certification amidst COVID served as a win for me. We've all been under some level of stress and it's encouraging to meet a personal and professional goal in 2020!" Akins and Bohorquez serve as role models for others as they continue to pay it forward to the project management community at ASU.

Several other members of the ASU PM Network have also recently earned their certifications, including Joseph Elthon, Architect at Facilities Development and Management (FDM), and Elizabeth Gordon, Instructional Design Coordinator at EdPlus. They were coached by recently certified members such as Angelique Soenarie Blair, Communications Specialist at Business & Finance Communications Group, and Maria Pijem, Facilities Project Coordinator at FDM. “At every step of the process, from completing my application, to memorizing formulas, to knowing what to expect on exam day, the members of the ASU PM Network generously shared their wisdom and experience,” Gordon said. “I strongly urge anyone who is considering PMP certification to join the ASU PM Network and participate in the PMBOK Study Group."

The ASU PM Network is a Registered Education Provider with the Project Management Institute, a global nonprofit professional organization for project management. Individuals and the institution alike benefit from a community such as the ASU PM Network. Join us to further your growth and knowledge of project management by visiting or reaching out to

About Danielle B. Steele

Danielle B. Steele is a founding member, past president and current advisor of the ASU PM Network. During her pursuit of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, she noticed a gap that the Network could fill: offering education hours required for exam eligibility. With Warick Pond, executive sponsor of the PM Network and other Board members, Danielle spearheaded the effort to offer credit-eligible courses, which became the Network's flagship program for several years.