Name: Ashley Wilson
Year of Graduation: 2009
Hometown: Woodbridge, CA
What is one of your fondest memories of SMC?
I can think of several memories, but the two that I will never forget are freshmen year GaelFest and Graduation Day. GaelFest was really the first celebration with all my new friends and then 4 years later I was able to celebrate with all of them again at our plot party. Even now, when we all get together we still reminisce about those two days.
Of the Communication Department?
My proudest moment and my favorite memory of my academic career was presenting my senior thesis to my peers and professors. It was an amazing feeling to have the 4 years of hard work all culminate into the paper and then to present it -- it was a remarkable moment!
What do you miss about SMC/college?
What is not to miss about college?!? Sleeping in and not having class until 10, afternoon naps, basketball games, late night, sleepless nights writing papers and being able to walk down the hall to see my friends. Now I have 7:30am meetings, taking an afternoon nap is frowned upon and I am a plane ride away from all my friends. I am now in Portland, OR, where yes, it is green and beautiful, but nothing compares to the blue skies and rolling green hills of Moraga.
What was the biggest transformation you experienced at SMC?
My biggest transformation came the semester I spent studying abroad in Florence, Italy. When I had my first meeting with my advisor, Ellen Rigsby, one fall day my freshman year I mentioned my interest in studying abroad and from then on Ellen and I worked closely together to prepare me academically for a semester abroad. I remember her saying that we would do whatever it takes to get me to Italy. I came back to SMC with a whole new perspective on life and I am forever grateful for that experience. It honestly transformed me into a more open-minded individual and I would HIGHLY recommend that any student study abroad because it will change your life.
All-time favorite class? Why?
Tough one. I have two favorite classes for different reasons.
1) Seminar. Seminar. Seminar. I am probably not the first person to say that seminar was not their favorite class (I actually dreaded it), but honestly the skills I learned in that class have catapulted me past my peers in the work force. And then 2) any class I had with Scott Schönfeldt-Aultman. He pushed me to think about things differently than I ever had and to address issues from many sides. Class was always full with LOTS of reading, but it was intellectually entertaining.
What was your first job out of college? How prepared were you for that job?
My first job is where I am now: Nike, Inc. I was beyond prepared. The interview process at Nike is pretty grueling. There is a 45-minute phone interview then if you pass the phone interview, there is a panel interview with 4-5 senior leaders within the company. It reminded exactly of Seminar in the sense that I had to prepare by studying (about myself) and be able to present myself to others by referencing the text (which, in this case, was my resume).
"Because of Seminar and my Communication classes, like Argument and Advocacy, I am very confident that I can go into a meeting and present myself in an articulate manner with all of my information supported by facts."
What's your title now? What's the best part of your job? What's the worst part?
Merchandising Associate at the Nike corporate World Headquarters. Best part? Everything. I am surrounded everyday by creative people with groundbreaking ideas. I love the diversity of my co-workers and the support Nike provides for their employees. Nike stresses a huge work/life balance. If I want to go to a Spin class or a Yoga class at lunch- I can go with my co-workers. There are drop-in soccer games and running clubs-- pretty much anything to keep us healthy and happy at work. Nike highly encourages their employees to stay healthy and active. There is a support system of peers and mentors who provide me with the guidance to flourish in my career. And I am also working on really amazing products from footwear to apparel that transforms the way regular consumers and world class athletes train and compete. There is no “worst part about my job” -- I don’t think I could work anywhere else!
Other than work, what is your life about?
My life is about staying active and exploring the Pacific Northwest with family and friends. The weather in Oregon is not always sunny like Moraga, so I do whatever I can do outdoors with friends when it isn’t raining -- from hiking to skiing to kite surfing to paddle boarding to white water rafting -- I have attempted it all. Portland is also a foodie heaven. There are so many award-winning restaurants to try and mouth-watering food carts to enjoy. I could eat out every night and still not have tried them all.
What's your advice for current SMC students?
Enjoy every single moment of it because all of sudden you are an adult. If possible, take your Capstone during the Fall semester. You will thank yourself during the Spring semester. AND STUDY ABROAD! It is honestly one of the most amazing experiences that any student can have. For example, during class we learned about Michelangelo’s "The David" and then after class we walked down the street to The Accademia to actually see "The David" itself. Then, I would go spend a weekend in Paris or London. The world was my classroom.
It took me some time to adapt to Saint Mary’s and call it home. I actually applied to transfer to a different, much larger state school. But ultimately I would have been lost in the crowd at a larger school and Saint Mary’s provided me with the support and the attention I needed whenever I needed it. If I would have transferred from SMC then I would have never had my first internship at the San Francisco Giants where my manager was also a Gael. That internship set me up for my next two internships with Major League Baseball and the Oakland A’s where I met more Gaels who provided me with a network of support and professional connections. I can say without a doubt that I am where I am today because of Saint Mary’s and I wouldn’t change that for the world.