PW Alum Amy Ashley: The Queen of 180s

For the average person, change is difficult. For Amy Ashley, ’14 Professional Writing (PW) alumnae and Starcom Media Supervisor, making a 180-degree change is simply a breath of fresh air. Before entering the PW program, Amy was on the dental hygienist track at Lansing Community College when she decided to take a writing class taught by WRAC faculty member Mary Beth Heeder. “In high school, I was told I was a terrible writer, so when I took [writing classes] in college, I was terrified,” she said. “After a rocky start, I did really well in her class, and we became really close.”

black and white photo of smiling woman turning quickly
Amy Ashely

As Amy gained more confidence in her writing skills, she had an epiphany about her future. “I was sitting in microbiology and my professor was explaining how everything can kill you. It was at that moment I walked out the door and went straight to my writing teacher, Mary Beth Heeder,” said Amy. “Dental hygiene felt like a box.”

After her realization, Amy decided to drop all her classes. Working together with Mary Beth and WRAC faculty member Danielle Devoss, she decided to enroll in the Professional Writing major at MSU. Amy finished her associate degree at LCC, then transferred to Michigan State in the PW program, focusing on the the nonprofit track.

“I loved the format of all the classes and how it was conversation-driven,” said Amy. “However, it was when [Professor] Stuart Blythe said, ‘You’re in the right place’ that I knew that this program was truly for me.”

When Amy graduated in 2014, she moved to Madison, WI to work as a social worker at Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. She provided a number of services—from crisis intervention to safety planning—for the shelter’s 82 residents. After eight months, Amy decided to make another 180 with her life. The next one would involve Starcom, a media communications agency that works with brands such as Airbnb, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg Company.

“Working in nonprofits requires a lot of sacrifices. I decided that if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of others,” said Amy. “My friend recommended working at Starcom in Chicago, so I applied. Within six weeks of applying, I was hired and moved to Chicago. Advertising was something I never thought about but stumbled into, and it transferred so well from the PW major since it’s such a blended program.”

Nowadays, Amy works as a Media Supervisor at Starcom. From client management to building strategies, Amy is making waves when it comes to local and regional media planning. She’s currently working on an onboarding project with Fiat Chrysler, which is a major win for Starcom.

When asked about her future, Amy sees herself doing another 180. She said, “I want to move abroad with [Starcom parent company] Publicis Company into the European market while I’m young. I don’t just jump with any opportunity, but I’m vocal about my career and what I want from it.”

From a path of dental hygienist to media supervisor, it’ll be exciting to see where Amy Ashley goes next.

Written by Sierra Richards
Photo by Amy Ashley