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Ashworth College Blog

Ashworth College social media coordinator beats the odds to create a new life

Written by Ashworth College on Tuesday, 05 June 2018. Posted in Why Ashworth

Ashworth College Employee Follows Her Dream to Earn Her Degree

We’re not so different from the students we serve. Like them, we each have our individual goals, dreams, personal roadblocks, and vision for who want to be and where we want to go. Here at Ashworth College, we’re all about inspiring and enabling students to be their best selves, so we thought we’d share insights into what motivates our staff to GO BEYOND the ordinary and always—always—strive for more.

“I was supposed to be a statistic. Instead, I got my degree.”– Danielle Smith

Social Media Coordinator Danielle Smith shares her story of breaking down barriers and overcoming the odds to create a career, family, and life that she’s proud of.

Q: How long have you been with Ashworth?

A: I started when I was 19 as an admissions specialist. After two weeks they pulled me into the conference room and I thought I was being fired. Instead they told me I was top in enrollments and they wanted to cross-train me. So for the next five years I did a bit of everything: QA, supervisor, sales team trainer, recruiter. I left to have kids then came back two years later as part of student services. All told, I’ve been here 15+ years.

Q: You’re also an Ashworth College graduate?

A: I am! I graduated in 2013 with my Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. I wanted a degree and I wanted something interesting, and I got both. Our instructor was a detective and he had real-life accounts of things like walking into a house in the summer to find a decomposing body. (Laughs) I was fascinated!

Q: Why was getting this degree important to you?

A: I left home at 16 and got my GED and went straight to work. I never felt like college was for me. But I was here at Ashworth so I thought, “Why not do it?” It wasn’t easy. At the time I was a single mom with two toddlers, working full-time. But I was super regimented. I would study 3X/week from 8 pm – 10 pm after the kids were in bed. That way, I had four other days to devote to the kids and house.

Q: Did you attend the in-person graduation ceremony?

A: I’m the only girl in my family, out of five kids, to earn a college degree. My parents were there to see me walk the stage in my cap and gown and I just kept thinking, “I was supposed to be a statistic, and instead I just earned my degree.” It felt amazing.

Q: How did you end up working in social media?

A: So, this was when social was first taking off. We had a quirky guy who worked for us who handpicked some of us to start this social media team. No one knew if it would succeed or fail. I remember our first meeting, he explained what a “tweet” was.

Q: And now?

A: We’re a little more in the know. (Laughs). But I learned a lot by taking the risk and joining the team. I’m doing things now in my career I never would have imagined. It’s especially powerful for me because I’ve been where so many of our students are. They’re facing all these barriers and I love being able to use Instagram or Facebook to remind them they can do this—they can beat the odds or whatever barriers they face and completely transform their lives! I know because I did it.

Q: Last question. What’s your superpower?

A: I can see things from others’ perspective. With that, I like to think I have a sensitivity as to why others might do something, and that makes me a little more understanding.

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