Ainsley Ash (BA public policy leadership 21) is the founder of the Mississippi College Access Project, an organization that helps high school seniors navigate the college application process, and previously worked for National College Attainment Network (NCAN) as a communications intern. She is originally from Meridian, Mississippi.
How did your interest in studying public policy leadership develop?
The effects of policy on our lives are ubiquitous, so I wanted to not just understand it better but feel like I had the tools to affect it. I certainly feel like I left the program being able to do just that.
Talk about your undergraduate years.
Before I graduated, I knew very clearly that I wanted to make the campus a kinder, more inclusive, and welcoming place for first-generation college students. I would like to think that I did that through my work with the First-Generation College Student Network, which I started in the honors college.
There has been a great deal of momentum in this area—from social events to first-gen celebration days to a university-wide first-gen task force. I am very proud to know that there are so many on campus continuing these efforts.
Discuss your path since graduation and your career goals.
I now work at Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) in Jackson, Mississippi as Communications and Impact Project Manager. WHEF plays a crucial role in increasing access to postsecondary opportunities in the state, and it is a joy to contribute to that mission.
I am not sure what lies ahead, but I am very confident that I will continue to work in the college access and attainment space—I have certainly found my niche.
Why should a prospective student consider coming to the University of Mississippi to study?
It is such a unique place to live and learn. The campus is changing in some of the best ways, and there is a wonderful, engaged community outside of the school itself. I know of nowhere else like it.