Spreading the Love of W&L: Ashley Faulkner ‘18
“Through FYOC and the University Ambassadors, I can be there for a prospective student’s first steps on campus and then again for their first week as students.”
Throughout my time at Washington and Lee, I have found myself a part of various organizations with a common theme: the student experience. Mainly in leadership roles with the University Ambassadors and the First Year Orientation Committee, I have discovered a passion for showcasing what makes W&L so special. The opportunity to highlight campus resources and create programming for students has been one of my most rewarding experiences on campus.
When a prospective student comes to campus, one of the first people they meet is the University Ambassador guiding their tour. I love that through this position I get to meet future Generals and lead them through our beautiful campus. This isn’t a job that I take lightly. My campus tour played a huge role in my decision to apply and, as a University Ambassador, I know I need to provide potential students and families with an enriching experience.
One important aspect of being on leadership for the University Ambassadors is being aware of how campus is evolving. We want our members to be informed on different topics that are important to families deciding on a college, and we work to make the tour experience better and better. This means knowing what new opportunities are available to students and figuring out the best way to feature all that’s available. It is a great feeling to see a tour around campus full of people completely engaged by their University Ambassador and taken in by the school. It is extremely rewarding to know that I have played a small role in creating that experience even if I am not giving that tour.
As I became more involved on campus, I realized I didn’t want to stop with first impressions of W&L. I wanted to find a way to continue to make an impact on the student experience. The First Year Orientation Committee does just that. Through these groups, I can be there for a prospective student’s first steps on campus and then again for their first week as students.
FYOC combines the work of over 130 students to implement programming for Orientation Week. During my time as Co-Chair, I have gotten to work on and see the development of fantastic events, from the Community Carnival to the First Year Olympics. The transition to college can be stressful and our goal is to make that time easier and informative, while still being fun. Several committees work all year to match students with University Bigs, coordinate social media groups, plan tours of important campus resources, and so much more. We are committed to making students feel welcome and at home here. I believe that their first week should be full of incredible memories they will never forget.
My involvement with both University Ambassadors and FYOC has improved my work in both organizations. It has shown me my passion for W&L and taught me what is important about the student experience. The skills I have gained in both are priceless, whether that be responsibility, communication, or the opportunity to work with faculty. But ultimately, I am thankful to be able to share the university I love in new ways and to learn more as I go. My student experience would not have been the same without these amazing organizations.
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A little more about Ashley
Morgantown, West Virginia
Strategic Communication and Politics (American Government)
– First Year Orientation Committee, Co-Chair
– University Ambassadors (Tour Guide), Vice President of Communication
– Pi Beta Phi Honor Society, Vice President of Member Development
– Public Relations Student Society of America, Vice President and Founding Member
I took the course, Principles of Public Relations last semester. For the course, I got to work with the YMCA’s after school program, helping with their promotional efforts. It was a great experience going to the schools and meeting the children. I love that I could take a course that allowed me to get involved in the community, and put what I have learned into action.
Why did you choose your major?
I came to W&L wanting to major in politics and Strategic Communications. The classes I have taken in the C-School and the Journalism Department have complemented each other and allowed for me to cement my interests. I am interested in doing communications work for the government. I worked for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office this past summer for my communication’s internship and it gave me great inspiration for how I could use both my passions.
What professor has inspired you?
Professor Strong is my politics adviser and I am in my second course with him. I took the 2016 elections seminar that he taught this past fall. He is great to discuss politics with and is extremely helpful when it comes to bouncing off paper ideas. His courses have allowed me to investigate specific times of history that I am interested in and connect them to present political issues.
What’s your personal motto?
I have two mottos. The first is “Smile because you are worth it.” I used to tell this to my roommate in the mornings because she wasn’t a morning person. I like to believe that it is best to look on the bright side and smiling is an easy way to brighten up your own, or someone else’s, day. My second motto is “Never be ashamed of a scar, it means you are stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” I had many surgeries when I was younger. However, instead of looking at any diagnosis as a barrier, I consider my scars a part of me. Each experience has played a role in defining the person I have become. I am proud of all I have accomplished, not in spite of my scars, but because of the person they have shaped me in to.
What’s your favorite song right now?
This is a super hard question for me. I tend to listen to a song 100 times and then move on. As a general rule, I am always a fan of Taylor Swift. I am into songs that are fun to sing along to.
Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
If it is any given night in Lexington, my favorite place to go is The Palms. I 10 out of 10 recommend the fish tacos, and the fries are fantastic. However, the Southern Inn holds a special place in my heart. I went there with my parents when I visited campus for the first time. I give campus tours and I joke on them that the Southern Inn’s fried chicken played a role in me applying Early Decision to W&L.
Right now, I am planning to go to law school. I am doing the prep work involved with that. It is funny because it feels like just yesterday that I was looking at colleges and now I’m starting that process all over again. I want to work for the government in some form, ideally in communication or press relations.
Favorite W&L memory:
I went to Italy for the Science of Cooking class during Spring Term my first year. It was an incredible experience to learn through a different lens, plus eat tons of amazing food.
I am extremely thankful that I took the 2016 Elections Seminar this past fall. It is rare to get to dive into a topic as it unfolds. We discussed the candidates and the issues in a constructive and impactful way. We looked at historical context and dug deeper into specific topics that we found interesting. I wrote a paper comparing elections during the television revolution and the current social media revolution.
Favorite W&L event:
Mock Convention is such an iconic W&L event that I will always cherish. I vividly remember the balloons dropping, while my friends and I sang “God Bless the USA” along with Lee Greenwood. I remember feeling such pride for the University and for all my peers for the great accomplishment they had just completed. With so much of the student body involved, I felt very connected to everyone in that moment.
Favorite campus landmark:
I must go with the popular answer of the Colonnade. I think it is gorgeous in every season. There is a sense of home that I feel when I walk across it.
What’s your passion?
It is hard to describe, but I have found it through the activities I participate in and the leadership positions I have. My passion is student involvement and engagement. I love being busy and I love being involved in organizations that allow me to make others feel a part of campus. Whether that is introducing a potential student to W&L on a campus tour or getting upperclassmen excited to help with O-Week in FYOC.
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I have a type of muscular dystrophy called Myotonia Congenita and two summers ago I leg pressed 600 pounds.
Why did you choose W&L?
I am from Morgantown, West Virginia which is the home of West Virginia University. The entire town is the college campus, down to the people who will park in our yard for Mountaineer football games. Up until my senior year I thought I would go to WVU. However, I decided to expand my search away from home. I planned a visit to W&L and when I came and saw campus for the first time, it clicked. When I closed my eyes, W&L fit what a college was supposed to look and feel like. These initial feelings were confirmed when I went on my campus tour and I learned about the courses, spring term abroad opportunities and amazing activities I could get involved in.