Ashley Gets More Comfortable on Cam

It’s really annoying to start every blog post with an apology for the delay–both for you–and for me. So, let’s skip that and talk about fun things.

One year ago this week, I was having a complete anxiety attack over the impending decision to move to Boston. I was given less than 12 hours to make a decision on an apartment that I had never laid eyes on and agree to a montly rent that I had no idea how I would pay for.

At that time, as I laid in the floor hyperventilating, my mom calmly told me that a year would pass either way and before I knew it it would be next spring. She said that we wouldn’t believe how quickly the time would pass.

And boy, was she right.

One year. And now I’m back to stressing about where I’ll live next 🙂

In funny torture, Boston University makes its graduate program three semesters–which means you’re left looking for an apartment for––three months? You have a year lease and then everyone wants you to buckle down for another year.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, I don’t have a clue. I’m obviously staying in Boston through the end of school. I do love it here. But, after December the story is yet to be written and I want to give myself the greatest flexibility to either be with my loves while I look for a job, or travel, or just move to the next gig! I’m hoping and praying and crossing fingers for a splendid ordeal to work out. But I need some prayers!

It’s hard to worry too much about life stuff though with so much school happening. Shooting, shooting, shooting. I’ve been doing a lot of application this semester. The first part of my program gave us the tools: intro to cameras, intro to editing, intro to approaching stories. This semester has been about constantly generating––and I can see huge growth in what I’m doing. The latest example was completed earlier this week. I’m pretty excited to show how much more comfortable with the camera that BU’s program has helped me to become:

I’m happy to say that I’ll be getting even more on-camera experience this summer as I take part in the Newton News fellowship and generate a lot of stories over the coming months.

That means I’m not sure when I’ll get to come home to North Carolina next though; which is intimidating. I’m hoping and praying for at least a long weekend in the coming months!

In the meantime, I came to Boston to switch back to newswoman––and I have to say––that’s been my true focus over the last seven months; now eight more to go before a graduation!

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Still alive. Still very alive.

I was sitting in the kitchen last night when my mom asked “Ashley, did you post on your blog today?”

After answering with a “No,” I got the cringing response; “You know it’s been a month, right?”

Oye, nothing like your mom calling you out for being distracted.

Something about being a graduate student in November and December? It’s busy. And not in all of the typical expected ways.

Of course there are the “finals,” which in my case were all final projects. Final packages to film and edit, papers to write and scripts to finish. I had to turn in some final research (eek, which I still need to do). There were students from my TA class with a lot of questions and there were some very busy end-of-semester projects for my graduate assistantship.

That’s all expected and a good excuse, right?

The other intangible part was that there were holidays to prepare for; a month-long trip home to pack and anticipate––and a lot of graduating that called for celebrations.

I remember so vividly early September. Not only did December seem far away, it still seemed imminent. There was an intimidating “older” girl in one of my classes who was set to graduate at the end of the semester. We always ended up sitting next to each other in our class. She seemed nice; but like she knew what she was doing. And since she had already been in Boston a year, I figured she already had friends and she wouldn’t take too much notice of me.

In some ways that made me grateful because she wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder at my mess of an edit job.

Somehow one day I decided to tell her about November Project though. She looked like she appreciated being active and working out. And that’s all it took.

She wanted to come! And it turned out that we had a lot to talk about. Enough so that she invited me to meet her at a birthday party that weekend.

Hmm. Even though Jeanna was 23 (younger than me!); she was getting ready to graduate. And in a REALLY weird way I felt like I was back in high school and an older girl was inviting me to a party––and oh, I felt special.

But I didn’t know anyone.

The kids in my program year hadn’t really hit it off yet. I wasn’t comfortable enough to really force one of them to be a tag-along.

That Saturday night as I had text back and forth with Jeanna, who was asking where I was at, I was skeptical.

I told my roommates, “They’re going to graduate in December. What’s the point? Why make the effort to be friends?”

My roommate Brian made a plausible case, “You never know what kind of connections they could be afterwards! If nothing else, go for that.”

I said if I could find a sidekick I would go. Luckily for me, Erika said she’d meet me there in 15 minutes.

Four months later as I got a little teary writing Jeanna’s graduation card among a stack of others, I thought “Wow. What if I hadn’t gone to that party?”

Maybe things would have turned out quite similar and the next weekend she would have convinced me to come.

Maybe?

Maybe inevitably my friend Alex would’ve gotten to me and forced me to hang out like he’s apt to do.

All I know is that after that night I fairly forced the graduating class to adopt me as a surrogate graduate. I spent all of my weekends with them. I went to all of their celebrations for the end of the semester. And I went through some waves of sadness in the last month realizing that the next two semesters will be very different without them.

Every time my mom would call it seemed that I was on my way to a party. “Are you sure you’re doing school work?!”

I was. But I had to make sure I squeezed in all of my time and congratulations in the midst of that school. Boston has been for graduate school, yes—but turns out that it’s also been for a lot more.

Not to mention, that birthday party? Well it turned out to be Andy’s birthday party. Yeah, that turned out kind of special too.

My life in Boston would only have been a shadow of as awesome if it hadn’t been for those people graduating.

Beautiful Christmas Sweater photo creds to Jeanna.

So, that is why I am so delayed. I’ve been living it up the last month and soaking in every last second before going back to North Carolina.

You know, as the plane landed and I’m walking through the Charlotte terminal, I couldn’t help but feel like it had only been a week that I was gone. A week of a surreal, yet very detailed dream.

It’s just nice to know that it wasn’t. And while for a few weeks that may feel like a parallel life—I’ll try to connect it to North Carolina as best as I can over the holidays.

Man, there’s one heck of a New Year’s post brewing. I can feel it!

More on turkeys, Thanksgiving, the Macy’s Parade and all this love I’m feeling for life soon. But at least now you’re decently on the news.

xxxx.

Sunrises, Don McLean and Bagels–This Wednesday, Man.

It’s 9:41 a.m. and I’m already caught up in how lovely today is.

After a 5 a.m. wake-up; it was a task in dressing as warm and lightly as I could. Then a short ride to Harvard Stadium.

Dark as night. Bright stars. Glowing moon.

You would’ve thought it was 11 p.m. instead of 6 a.m.

Just a start of day.

Just a start of day.

Barely seeing the bodies pushing up and down the stadium rows; headlamps and glow sticks in tow.

The largest group I have ever seen at a November Project work out.

A loud chorus of “GOOD MORNING” and “F*** YEAH” and then puffs of breath you could see, burning legs you could feel and a rising sun that painted one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen on a Wednesday morning at Harvard.

Rows and rows and rows. But for once I could feel progress.

After a work-out, a film session. Capturing all of the other struggles and finishes. Listening to more people talk about the community of November Project. Hearing that one member was on his first work out . . . since his surgery to remove a brain tumor.

God is good, right?

Man, if you ever need some motivation to get out of bed in the morning––think of that guy.

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And the push of a sunrise.

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And then a very full beautifulness.

Then an interview. One of my best. With the Runner’s World contributing writer who has documented an incredible story about November Project that everyone has to look for in the December issue of November Project.

The lighting was great.

The setting was right.

The quotes were flowing.

A long bus ride home.

A still rising sunshine and the cutest little girl talking her mom’s ear off for seven stops.

A stop for a hot bagel and coffee and the realization that this is probably the last warm-ish week––and I should get better gloves.

Like, seriously, the best post-stadiums bagel.

Seriously, the best post-stadiums bagel.

And then, this song came on.


And if I hadn’t already been in the most lovely mood; this song alone probably could’ve done it. Because the whole walk home I was back in a place 13 years ago in my parent’s house with my mom’s CDs playing and dinner cooking and fall candles burning  . . . and how can you not feel happy when you’re in a memory like that?

Here’s to enjoying a day so much at only four hours in. Hope everyone else’s hump day is just as wonderful.

xxx.

Sneak Peek: “Ashley on Cam.” aka, what’s Ashley doing in Boston?

I came to Boston with the excitement and interest in figuring out what spectrum of broadcast news I should be focused on. Should I be a producer? Should I be on-air?

A funny realization hit me last week.

I came here with the misconception that everyone could produce; and only a certain few could be on-air.

And I was wrong.

It takes a pretty special talent to produce OR to be reporting in front of the camera.

Lucky me, I’m getting a wealth of exposure to all types of situations and opportunities that are allowing me to work on the necessary skills to be good––as well as figure out what feels better. What do I really want to do? It’s very different pathways even though they’re in the same newsroom.

This week’s flex work involved doing a professionally set stand-up report with some coaching. I’m sharing for the furthest from vain reasons (I HATED people watching me. An inherent problem if this is what I want to do). Instead, I’m sharing it because–as someone who was considering graduate school; I think it could be helpful to others interested who want to see what the grad school experience can be like.

I want to post it so my family can get a sense of what the heck i’m doing 14 hours away.

And I’m posting it to kind of get over myself and insecurities a little.

Only way is to jump right in, right?

I had some mixed feelings about posting the whole take (it’s only like 3 minutes long); but at the same time––that’s really the only way to see what I’m doing right now. Which happens to include gibberish and giggling sometimes in the middle of forgetting what I’m supposed to be saying.

Overall, I’m SO excited about how much progress I’m making. This session was abundantly helpful to really iron out some vocal things that I need to work on. Look forward to taping an even better stand up with my next package.

In things I need to fix: don’t be an up-talker, say the letter “W” correctly and get used to those crazy bright lights.

This is just the beginning!

PS: Isn’t BU beautiful!?

For best viewing: Make sure you let it load all the way first. Otherwise it looks grainy and the audio doesn’t match up. In other things I need to learn to do better: downsize video files better. If for some reason it’s embedding here grainy and not so great; check it out here instead.

Enough radio silence; checking in from BOS.

Yikes, it’s mid-October.

How the heck did that happen? I look down from green trees and 80-degree weather; look back up and it’s back to my Canadian slippers, hot tea, fog and orange skies. New England fall is happening in full blast and it is one of the most beautiful seasons of time and life that I could hope for.

New England fall is not so different from North Carolina mountain fall. They’re both gorgeous.

There’s something about the fall foliage next to the water here though that makes it different and more distinctively Boston. I’ve taken 7.52 billion instagram photos in the last two weeks on any given commute to and from my apartment. A few of the better ones in an album that could be titled “Brookline is THE prettiest:”

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Ok, not my neighborhood — just kind of near it on the Charles River. Too pretty to not include though.

The past three weeks have been a seeming blur in some ways. School is picking up and it’s really hard to feel like you’re staying ahead of the ball. I’m kind of running alongside and look away every few seconds in hopes that I’m keeping up. School schedules are rough! At the same time though, the past three weeks have felt like three months. In a great way. It’s just funny how free time has transcended from time that I would spend alone exploring or catching up into time that I use to hang out with new friends or already have fifteen social things scheduled.

In extremely happy social news. Katie came to visit. My first hometown visitor! I tried to play tour guide to my best ability and I think that I did a decent job. We basically walked and ate our way around Boston. From Fenway to Cambridge, Brookline to the North End, we had a lot of food (and somehow missed lobster!? next time!). It was funny to me how overwhelmingly excited I was as I waited to see her at the airport. It felt like it had been far longer than a month and a half since I had seen her. Definitely one of my happier reunions.

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Roommate Sarah + Katie + Me at Eastern Standard.

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Me + Katie at JFK’s home in my neighborhood.

I think I wore her out sufficiently. From eating and traipsing around, it was kind of a joyfully exhausting long weekend. I think the best investment I made in her visit was a reservation for us to go on a lighthouse tour Saturday morning.

The weather ended up being beautiful and we had the BEST time. We were sure that we’d be the only two under 65 (and it wasn’t that far off) but the boat trip was just such a crazy gorgeous, unique way to see the city and some sites. Definitely a recommendation to visitors. It doesn’t even cost that much. Through LivingSocial (which is always doing deals) we went on an almost-two hour cruise for $10 a piece.

Long Island Lighthouse

Boston Lighthouse.

Graves Lighthouse.

Boston from the water.

Katie + Me.

I also took her to our first BU hockey game.

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Man, Boston University gets riled up about hockey. It was awesomely different from what I’m used to.

One of my favorite things about my decision to come to BU is that the experience is so vastly different than what I had for undergraduate. You can forget football and tailgating; small town and conservative tradition. Nope, here you have city streets and hockey.

It was a great weekend of best-friend time and also showing Katie the new life here. I was really grateful that she got to meet a lot of my friends and really see what Boston has become for me.

Love this girl. 22ish years of friendship.

After spending a weekend off the map with Katie, it was a busy week getting together school items throughout the week that followed. Luckily, just as exhaustion was kicking in–so did a long holiday weekend.

(Thank you, Boston for your old puritanical ways and proximity to Canada.)

We had Columbus Day off yesterday.

That meant a weekend full of laziness in the best way.

Chinatown for the first time Friday night.

Saturday was full of college football and friends and my first Canadian Thanksgiving. (Wish I had more photos. I swear though, no turkey means it wasn’t really Thanksgiving.)

Sunday was full of NFL. I got to go to my first Patriots game, thanks to Andy. It was freaking awesome. You take a train way outside the city; they drop you in the middle of the woods. After hiking in it seems like you’re in a stadium in the middle of nowhere.

Gillette Stadium.

It was pretty interesting to compare the Panthers stadium experience to the Patriots one. Gillette Stadium is just so huge. Our view was excellent though and the game? The game was incredible. Gives me goosebumps thinking about how much I love sports.

That night was followed by an awesome Red Sox game that we were able to catch on TV.

With such an amazing Boston comeback sports night, Monday seemed like the entire city had called the day on sports celebration–even though it was a regularly scheduled holiday.

It’s been a crazy few weeks; but it’s just because I’m keeping life wonderfully full. Here’s to doing better in 25 and posting more updates more frequently so that when I do–you don’t have to read a novella.

Happy “Monday,” friends.

Maine, Lobster Guts and Ignoring “Budgeting.”

Me doing Maine.

Me doing Maine.

As mentioned earlier in the week, I finally checked off Maine on 2013’s new states. I still find it hilarious that I entered the year wanting to visit one new state. Just one. And instead I’ve checked off:

– Utah

– Washington

– Minnesota

– Massachusetts

– New Hampshire

– Vermont

– Connecticut

– Maine

That’s flippin’ eight states. Blows my mind. No immediate plans to add a ninth state to the list this year. And out of the eight I liked them each in a different way.  After just getting a very small sampling of Maine, my instinct is: more! I want to rent a car and drive up to Bar Harbor so badly.

Boston University has been pretty great about connecting new students with each other and with older program students. Last weekend that meant an hour drive up to Kittery, ME for some clams, lobster and shopping.

I was such a new kid on the bus. No one to sit with.

But that was the plan, right?

Go without a plan and hope to make friends?

Lucky me, it worked out wonderfully. Met a girl, Sarah, from Germany who is in the States to study film. We come from very different backgrounds so there was a lot of bases to cover and discuss on the drive up.

I’m not sure how or why I had such a specific vision of what Maine would be; but it was exactly as expected.

Double chimneys.

Slat wood.

Lots of stone.

Weathervanes.

It was beautiful.

Like this.

Like this.

And like this.

And like this.

The day consisted of trying clams, which if I had to imagine what a booger tasted like I swear . . .

And then more lobster. We were eating in a beautiful open porch restaurant by the river.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Clams are weird.

Clams are weird.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

It was great to actually get some guidance on how to avoid the lobster guts and not get grossed out eating this food that I’m supposed to be fully New-England style embracing.

I finally got over the guts.

What I’ve not gotten over is that I don’t have the same sustainable income as before Boston. The outlets were kind to me. I’ll leave it at that. I am at least being so practical as to only buy very warm or layerable things.

Granted I just did laundry for the first time today and $8 later for three loads of laundry, I’m kind of thinking I might just continue to buy new clothes instead of wash the old 😉

Maine was wonderful for new friends, new food, new state and new sights. Life is so full of NEW right now. And I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of adventure and pursuit. Weekends like Maine are just one more page in the book that is a New England transition. So far,  I think I pass.

Land Legs in Boston.

Sorry for the super lag.

Moving is crazy. Moving almost 15 hours away is even crazier.

You’re getting settled in a new place. You’re getting used to new transportation, different stores, a change in schedule. That just scratches the surface of the transition I’ve been going through. Every time I thought about updating the blog I felt like I had to have a polished picture of Boston so far. And you know what? It’s actually still kind of messy : ) So, hence me taking the pressure off of myself to give you perfect. Instead, I’ll just give an update.

It’s officially been a week and a half and it’s definitely not enough time to feel settled or for this to feel remotely like “home,” but it’s long enough to be getting my land legs back underneath me.

Moving weekend was a BONDING experience. Bonding in the sense that my butt was seriously bonded to that freaking moving truck. TMI? The family and I loaded up the Budget truck and after a wonderful dinner with family Friday night, we slept in a little Saturday; had a nice family breakfast; shared some long hugs and climbed up for a long drive.

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Mi + Familia.

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This is my “excited to get on the road” face. Super actress.

12 hours, four different radio-broadcast football games, miles of classic country, fields and fields and five state lines later we took a break in Scranton, Penn.

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Somewhere in Virginia.

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More Virginia. We were in Virginia FOREVER.

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And I have no clue where this was.

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More Virginia. Like seriously, we were in VA forever.

It took us a whopping 19 hours to actually get to Boston because a) moving trucks are a little slower than the average speedster and b) there was a lot of torrential rain we had to drive through. I consider myself a professional driver of all sorts now that I completed this huge road test. The first thing that Dad and I did when we got here was to hop the train down to the Wharf to check out Faneuil Hall and get some lobster (duh).

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Me + Dad. So glad he made the trip with me.

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So, I guess I live here now?

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First lobster. And can I say, the middle is gross. Just saying. A New England bit that I need to work on.

That night we checked out the empty apartment for the first time and I was so happy to see that it was a lot bigger than I had prepared myself for. I think him and I slept like rocks that night and got up BRIGHT and early for me to take him to the airport at 5 a.m. Driving a moving truck test three? Drive a moving truck in pouring rain in Boston to the airport and back. I got lost in Charlestown somehow, missed exit and whatnot. I tried to get out of there fairly quickly.

Moving day was CRAZY. Moved all my stuff in by noon and then hurried to orientation. I think that’s the day that it was really hitting me “Goodness, I’m a student again.”

I don’t know why I didn’t plan differently than I did; but the way the week went I moved in – had orientation – went to bed – had a full first day of class. It was nuts. That night when I got home I went to bed at 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up the next day until 7:30 a.m. I was EXHAUSTED.

No car; so I’m adjusting to using public transportation which I actually really adore.

New roommates; so it’s not just me anymore : ).  So far, that has been good too. Luckily I was able to gradually transition back to roommates after living with my old college roommate/best friend for a month in-between my Winston apartment and the new Boston adventure.

After a full week of classes I’m left with a few key thoughts that I’ll share and then I promise I’ll be more organized here on out:

1) Boston is beautiful. I love history. I love architecture. I love all of the greenery and parks mixed with city. I love it. I was able to just wander around a lot this weekend and I was constantly adoring the sights and feeling grateful to spend some time here.

2) Boston University faculty are amazing. I had a great team of professors at Appalachian State and it’s thanks to them that I am prepared for this level of study. There is a stark difference in the faculty (predominantly full-time professors) that I had at Appalachian and now the faculty that I have in Boston. My professors are almost all still involved in the industry; many are publishing books; others are producing for Nightline or serving as commentators on MSNBC. Seriously, it’s an incredible mix to be able to learn from and I just know that I’ve put myself in a great place for this new career change.

3) It’s really fun to get outside your comfort zone. I’m being open to life right now. I’m in this huge life change where I took a leap and a risk. It’s incredibly exciting and invigorating. I’m trying to take it outside of school and Boston though and just be open to new friends, trying new food, going new places, being open to dating like a 24-year-old typically would and just having a good time.

4) Oh my, how did I do a college schedule!? What will balance that freewill to a good time? My INSANE schedule. I was amazingly blessed to receive two teacher assistantships and a graduate assistantship. Which is a lot. On top of 18 hours of classes. Well, that’s a hella lot. I’m hoping I don’t have to step away from any of them but right now I’m easing my way into a schedule to see what’s feasible. My first and foremost priority will be school. Period. Monday through Friday are going to be nutso; but you know–if you realize it’s short-term you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

5) You can’t really carry that many groceries in .7 mile. So, in my transportation adjustments––sure, I’m getting used to not driving to school and work. But there are also things like the grocery store? It’s nuts. I went yesterday and was SO PROUD to carry home: apples, bananas, oranges, pork chops, carrots and 2 things of frozen vegetables. Haha, I joke that I’m going to turn into a French woman who just buys what she eats each day.

More updates more regularly I promise. And back on schedule with Turn It Up next Monday! ❤

It’s never too late to try again.

When I was in college, every Saturday August to December was spent with countless hours covering college football. The hours I didn’t get paid for driving to far-away universities. The free time I devoted to working on the game stories that counted and the features that were extra. Maybe it was the stadium lights and smell of AstroTurf, or maybe I genuinely loved reporting–but I never complained about the overtime or weekend work.

Sure the game reporting was the glamorous part of my job.

Just hanging out on the sidelines at Death Valley with Anne Baker.

But those late Wednesday nights agonizing over the manifest with my fellow editors? Those nights were the ones that no one else on campus knew about; and the nights that I still somehow adored. Did we get the right stories? Do we have the right hierarchy? Were there enough quotes in that story? Did we cite the right sources? Does the picture match the story?

Working in newspapers wasn’t for the faint of heart or for those who prided themselves in lots of free time outside class.

Those of us on the newspaper staff were bonded in ink and coffee. They were relationships I could compare to few others because beyond the hours we shared editing or comparing news, we all cared on a core level about the motivation of our job. We all shared that idyllic philosophy about serving the community through providing balanced media. We were some pretty self-righteous college students : ).

So much time spent with this crowd. Photo credit to the gloriously talented Alisha Park Dakon.

News was a passion. Sports was a lifestyle. But, writing has always been my tonic.

2003 – I start my first journal and I still have one to this day (oh wow, hello 10-year anniversary).

2004 – I had my first reporting job with the local newspaper covering education.

2005 – I helped start our high school’s first online newspaper.

2007 – I joined The Appalachian, Appalachian State University’s student newspaper.

2008 to 2011 – I was able to report for publications across the East Coast and online covering various sports and athletic teams.

Reporting, while I have tried to deny it a couple times, has almost always been a part of my DNA.

But sometimes life happens. And you graduate college in the middle of a recession looking for a job in a dying industry. Newspapers weren’t hiring and while online publications were, I suffered a bit of a crossroads crisis. Communications overall has always been a passion of mine––I had a degree in Public Relations as well, after all–maybe I should broaden my skill set.

At the time I was in a serious relationship that had always been long distance. It was time to give local a try. So, Winston-Salem it was. And keeping with journalism wasn’t in the cards.

I went door-to-door with advertising agencies. I had no experience; but knew that I could be a quick study and I truly always had loved branding and marketing. I loved the science behind consumer behavior and was fascinated with creative campaigns.

Luckily I visited Woodbine on the day that their CFO had five minutes to spare for a little blonde girl knocking on the door with a resume and ready smile. I swear if Wanda hadn’t spent those five minutes then, she wouldn’t have been there to say “I think we should talk to that Ashley.” I wouldn’t have gotten that job in advertising and I wouldn’t have been able to spend three years at an agency that became my family. (Wanda and I fell in a different kind of love that day—three years later, she’s my Winston-Salem mama.) I’m going to save that for a separate post though.

Advertising was great. It was. And I invested myself. I learned about the industry. I immersed myself in my clients.

But journalism was still tugging at my heart.

Maybe it was the day that I watched too many episodes of The Newsroom or maybe it was watching too much Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News. But I had a very clear moment on a late August day one year ago that said:

I need to try again.

From the moment I graduated from undergraduate I knew that my education wasn’t over. Academics have always been a huge part of my life and focus. My mother works with the county school board and my father is a (in fact, my) high school chemistry teacher.

It was time to consider graduate school.

Still fresh off of a break-up and re-evaluating where my heart was and what I wanted to do with my life (I have been high on embracing my time) I decided to give it a shot. What does it hurt to apply?

I picked three schools:

– Northwestern University

– Syracuse University

– Boston University

I wanted to go back for journalism to jumpstart back into the industry, connect to more people who could move me forward faster––and to more importantly, enter a segment of journalism I don’t have any experience in: broadcast. Cue that speculation over Newsroom getting to me.

All three schools were relatively challenging to expect getting into. Northwestern is the Harvard of journalism schools. Syracuse’s sports journalism graduate program is practically a direct feed into ESPN’s media room and Boston University had one of the strongest hands-on programs in a major media market that I could hope for.

Three agonizing months went into the applications. And then more agonizing months waiting on responses.

The first came on a Friday evening. I was sitting eating Chinese food and remarking on how few plans I had for the night when the phone rang.

“Hi, is this Ashley Davis?” the voice asked.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Well, we just wanted to call and let you know that you’ve been accepted to Northwestern’s Medill School and hoped to start your weekend in a good way by calling to tell you the news!”

I think I choked out a “Wow,” and a “Thank you” before dissolving into tears and calling my mom.

Overwhelmed was probably the first and best word to use.

Holy crap, I got into Northwestern. My confidence level on getting into the other two schools immediately jumped. Although, I secretly was hoping for Boston.

Blame it on visiting the university and seeing my birthdate on a quote in the COM department lobby (superstitious much?). Or blame it on a desire to be in a city where it seemed the connection to opportunities would be insane. Regardless, I was excited to hear about all three schools.

And one by one the acceptances came in.

I was stunned.

I would only go if it was overwhelmingly obvious that I should go.

And then there was a late spring day where the email came that not only was I offered acceptance in Boston, I was offered a substantial scholarship. And you know what else? I had some friends who needed a roommate. Oh, and also there are some assistantships with my name on it.

What more could I ask for? It had to be.

I had to turn down Northwestern and Syracuse––and let me tell you, it was far from easy. Northwestern? I mean, come on. The kicker that made my decision? I could’ve bought a nice house or went to Northwestern. Sadly, it was a financially charged decision. For Syracuse? I decided that if I had chosen Syracuse I would have inevitably went straight back into sports. I love sports. I know that I can do sports. If I wanted to do sports I don’t think that I would have to go back to graduate school.

I want school to challenge me outside my comfort zone. I want school to offer abundant opportunities for exposure to new things, new experiences, new skills and settings. I thought Boston fit that argument better. And God seemed to be pushing me in that direction, as well.

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Looks like I’m a Boston Terrier these days. What in the world will I do not having black and gold as my school colors!? : )

One year later I have had to put in my notice at Woodbine. I have had to spend three tearful, wonderful, fun-filled, fully lived months of summer in a city that I have learned to love with friends who have become family. I have worked a full notice and helped transition projects that have been my babies. I have packed up an apartment that watched me grow up in a new way. I have shared an apartment one more time with a college roommate and very best friend. And I have driven the 2.5-hour drive from Winston-Salem to Waynesville one last time as a Winston resident.

As I drove that route last night through all the tears I cracked a smile thinking: If my life were a movie, this moment would unavoidably be a scene. Regardless of if I go to school and am a raving success taking on Savannah Guthrie and Katie Couric in 20 years; or if this risk goes insanely wrong and I find myself in a lost place in three months—REGARDLESS, this is a huge game changer. That moment; this week, is officially on the books as a game changer.

I have closed an adventure and I’m embarking on a new one.

In the end of the first Newsroom season, there’s a big focus on “the greater fool.” Per the show, the greater fool is the person who will buy long and sell short. You have to have a greater fool for anyone else to profit. The greater fool is idealistic and naive. They don’t know necessarily what they’re losing but only what they hope to gain. In a lot of ways the greater fool sounds like the not that you would want to be; but without the greater fool and risk then there’s not the hope of growing. Without whisking you up in an Aaron-Sorkin style diatribe, suffice to say this is resonating with me right now.

I just quit a full-time, great job to go back to school full time. I just walked away from a stable income to go into debt. I just abandoned an industry that is fully focused on sales and increase for an industry with unknown growth.

But I want to do the news.

And I want to try to make a difference.

And I want to write and report and share stories.

And something tells me that without being a little naive I would never have taken the risk.

January 2013. I made a pit stop to check out the school just in case. "Just in case, I'll take your picture" Sarah said. Just in case.

January 2013. I made a pit stop to check out the school just in case. “Just in case, I’ll take your picture” Sarah said. Just in case. Notice my look of shrugged shoulders and non-committal, I dunno. Just give it six months, Ashley.

I fully and inherently know that the HBO Newsroom is not a real newsroom. But it’s a nice explication of what’s happening in my heart.

Another pretty of me on campus. Isn't this university beautiful!? Also, please note the torrential snowfall. Homegirl is going to be investing in some WARM clothes.

Another pretty of me on campus. Isn’t this university beautiful!? Also, please note the torrential snowfall. Homegirl is going to be investing in some WARM clothes.

So now this explains how #25: Apply for something outside of your comfort zone. Be it a mission trip, race or whatever I’ve wanted to try in the past but chickened out on. was crossed off.

You’re only 24 once, right?

Now I can also cross off #10: Continue my education. Enroll in a class or make a point to find non-traditional ways to keep challenging myself and growing. And also, hopefully soon, #18: Be published in a news forum that I haven’t been published in before.

Two days of family and then Saturday I start a Daddy-Daughter road trip to the North.

Boston, watch out––southern accent in tow.

New adventures to hit the blog starting <now.>