- Master of Arts, History, Colonialism and Imperialism, University of Utah. Project: Imperial Yellow: local phenomena, transnational fears, and the changing image of the Chinese in early twentieth-century Britain
- Bachelor of Arts, English, Charleston Southern University
- Bachelor of Arts, History, University of Utah
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ashley studied Colonialism and Imperialism in the Department of History and, through the graduate program, further developed interests in topics of inequality, access to education, gender, and more. After graduating, she moved to Wuhan, China to teach academic and business writing and filled any time off from teaching with travelling. Now having returned to the U, Ashley enjoys helping students find connections across their studies, interests, and future goals. Outside of advising, Ashley spends time perfecting her biscuit recipe, continuing to read about all things history, excelling at board games, and visiting a new country each year.
The world starts in your backyard, but it doesn’t end there. Beginning with my first study abroad to China, I was able to see learning as a continual process, ending and beginning with each new location, and to realize I was not confined to the small world I knew before. As a first-generation, queer college student, I saw first-hand how education is the practice of freedom. Now, as an advisor, I recognize that this could be same for my students. Learning is not confined to a classroom or a university; it happens on a continuum and in a community. From my experiences abroad and years of working as an advisor, mentor, and educator, I am passionate about working alongside students as they imagine a bigger world for themselves and envision their degree as a path toward freedom and toward a life of purpose. As a democratic educator (hooks), I firmly believe in the potential and power of each student. and as such, I commit to the following as I advise:
Be an advocate: (hooks)
Within higher education, advisors often function as gatekeepers. Working in such a role, I believe it is imperative that I use my access to advocate for students. I aim to create an environment where students understand that, though this may be a new environment, learning is not a new activity nor constrained to campus. Learning happens constantly in their lives, and each student comes to the university with prior-gained knowledge, with voice and value. To create an environment where students understand their potential and the options available to them, I make it a priority to master institutional policies and procedures, to archive and articulate students’ experiences to influence policy changes when needed, and to understand the intricacies of the university in order to help each student in the best way possible.
Create a learning community: (Tinto)
As an advisor who believes in the power and potential of each student, I understand the importance of creating spaces where students feel they can invest this potential. Through advising, I help students find and create these spaces of investment; as well, I am committed to creating these when possible. This physical space begins with my office and lobby. I carefully consider the messages my office décor sends and the ways in which I represent the communities I care about and am invested in through the art on my walls, the books on my shelves. In these ways, I try to non-verbally remind my students that I am not just an advisor—I, too, am a learner. The only consistency in education and in learning is change. With such ever-present changes, I understand the importance of creating welcoming, safe spaces for my students.
These spaces may be an intellectual community through inciting and supporting inquisitiveness and critical thought or a physical community through sponsoring opportunities for mentorship, activities to volunteer together, events where students can share their experiences studying or interning abroad, and monthly workshops where students can connect with career development and network with individuals in the field.
Develop purpose: (Bloom)
I feel strongly that requirements should not lead a conversation but purpose, and through students articulating what is important to them, they can then design a program to fit that interest or passion or value. For that reason, in each appointment, I begin with open-ended questions: Why did you choose the University of Utah? What brings you in today? What do you care about? I aim for students to be active participants in each advising appointment and in their education, and I work with students on setting a goal for each semester and reflecting on past goals they have set. I also commit to doing the important work of remembering what is important to each student through taking notes and by setting calendar reminders to follow-up with needed information, thoughtful reminders, or celebratory notes.
II. PRAXIS: with the previous theories in mind, I aim to include the below practices in each advising appointment or student interaction.
I do not shy away from words like passion, joy, critique, or anger. I am dedicated to creating an open environment where students feel comfortable sharing their concerns and opinions, struggles and successes, critiques and questions. I also understand that to create an open environment—I must be open myself. I encourage openness by being vulnerable myself and appropriately sharing with students, and through these conversations, I aim to create trust with each student and hope that all students leave my office having felt heard. Creating this environment, where students feel comfortable disclosing information, allows me to know my students beyond their coursework and grades earned. It allows me to create trust, and through this, I can better holistically advise my students, better advise them on scholarships and resources they may be eligible for, and better make connections necessary for their success.
As a proud alumna of the College of Humanities, I emphasize connections—on campus and in the community, between students' studies and their personal goals, with coursework and practical application. Through making these connections, I assist students in creating a network of support and self-interests, in finding ways to be and to stay engaged, and ultimately, in developing skills needed to thrive academically, personally and to succeed professionally. Not only do I emphasize the importance of connections, I provide means for students to make these connections, through introducing students to a career coach or fellow student, connecting students with major advisors, and highlighting a student club or upcoming event. This, for me, is a crucial step and necessary for students to reach their potential.
I actively make myself available to students as a listener, as an advisor, and as an advocate. This may mean meeting through Skype while a student is abroad, staying late for a student who works full-time, meeting with a student and her children, arranging reoccurring meetings for a student who needs to meet more than once a semester, or consciously considering the pace and vocabulary I use with a second-language speaker of English. I am an ally to students who challenge systems of oppression and use my position on campus to support underrepresented students and challenge others. There are not always opportunities to voice your support; for that reason, my office is filled with books that show the topics I am passionate about: access to education, colonialism and its legacy, theories of feminism, critical race, and pluralism, critiques of capitalism and stories of resilience. Monday through Friday, I give both verbal and non-verbal reminders that I am an advocate and that I am authentic in my care about their success as a student.