The whole enchilada

aaron poole

Aaron Pool (BS Management ’09) is a college graduate. He’s an entrepreneur with a thriving business. He’s a two-time Sun Devil 100 winner. And now, he and his family will support future Sun Devils with a new scholarship fund. Talk about a big win for a passionate Sun Devil family.

“The Pool Family Endowment is a scholarship fund that will support Sun Devil student-athletes,” he says. “Four of us being alumni of the university, it is a point of pride that our family has the opportunity to support future Sun Devil students.”

For Pool, giving back to ASU acknowledges the power of his college education and experience, while supporting increased access to the same for future students. “We never thought we would have an opportunity, especially this early on in our lives, to give back to ASU,” he says. “Giving back is important because W. P. Carey had a direct impact on my success in life.”

While Pool is psyched about the financial investment he’s been able to make in the university and the business school, he sees that money as part of a much bigger picture. “Monetary giving back doesn’t solve all issues. We also need creative thinking and just putting in actual hourly work,” he says, reflecting on his decision to join the W. P. Carey School of Business Alumni Council. “I wanted to get involved, in any way that I could help advance both ASU and the W. P. Carey School.”

Serving on the W. P. Carey Alumni Council has allowed him to add value wherever possible, as well as play a role in shaping the future of the school where he got his start. “I’ve learned and enjoyed how well W. P. Carey is organized and their passion for this university,” Aaron says. “I have to pinch myself sometimes because I am so proud of the creativity, open-mindedness, quality, support, and transparency at W. P. Carey."

W. P. Carey influenced me to go out and do. Encouraged me to take the risk. 

— Aaron Pool

“It is, what I believe, all universities want to become,” he says.

Pool regards the experience and education he received at W. P. Carey as invaluable to his development, both personally and as an entrepreneur. First and foremost, it helped him understand himself. “W. P. Carey provided the structure for me to identify what I wanted to become,” he says. “As lame as it sounds, I learned that I wanted to make the decisions.”

According to Pool, entrepreneurship is incredible because you create your path in your vision. “Growing up, I found myself wanting to make the decision or create things with a certain quality,” he says. “Some places may say, ‘That’s wrong, you need to do it this way.’ I was fortunate to have attended a university that led me to understand those tendencies as having an entrepreneurial spirit.”

As a kid, his trademark “what do you want to be when you grow up” response was, well, different than most. “I would always say that I wanted to own an airline,” he says with a laugh. “I would get the ‘Oh that’s cute, not going to happen’ response in return.”

He got similar feedback while building what is now Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup. “An enchilada shop isn’t anywhere close to an airline, but I dealt with the same response from people when I said I wanted to open an enchilada shop,” Pool says. “You learn that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of having big, unique ideas as long as you have the support system, like W. P. Carey was for me.”

He also learned that profits will come as long as you are passionate and believe in what you do. “I’ve been in love with Mexican food since the days I was riding my big wheel around the neighborhood block,” he says. “W. P. Carey influenced me to go out and do. Encouraged me to take the risk ... I wouldn’t be here without the encouragement and support.”

By Hannah O'Regan