Ashlee Holland's journey to leadership

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Kaitlyn Thompson
Guest Writer

It is Friday night. Girls are starring in the mirror while they apply their makeup, as they get ready for a night on the town. Boys are huddled around the TV, playing video games with their friends. But, for Ashlee Holland Friday nights are a little different. The vibrant 21-year old, self-motivated, woman is at her desk working on essays and preparing for finals week, while making sure she juggles work and sleep into the mix.

Exams, symposium, graduation, looking for a job in ones degree field and to top that all off, holding the title of Rochester College’s Student Body President is plenty of stress for the typical young adult trying to find themselves in the world, yet Ashlee is nowhere near typical.

As of the 2017-2018 school year, the Warriors are able to have their voices heard through this school years student body president. Her success at RC may look easy at first glance, but with the highs, there are also lows. One would never guess that she has had her fair share of struggles since her head is held high with goals on her mind, but she has. Yet those struggles are what motivate her the most.

In order to understand how Ashlee has blossomed into the strong woman she is today, I first had to see life through her eyes. When asked what she found herself struggling with the most while growing up, a nervous grin spread across her face, but then was quickly gone as she began to answer.

“Growing up without my father being present and being raised in a home by a single mother, “ she said.

Although no one enjoys discussing their hardships while growing up, I quickly noticed that Ashlee accepts that those hardships happened and allows for them to be a force behind her motivation to make a difference in the community.

Instead of lying around and dwelling on the negative past events that occurred in her life, she allows for those low points to influence her to become the confident and strong woman she is today.

“Part of me wants to go into the past and alter it, but all of the negative things in the past have strengthened me now,” she said.

The aspiration behind her wanting to succeed in medical school roots from her own mother's efforts to keep food on the table and clothes on her back.  With every negative moment comes her want to create positivity, a characteristic that not only herself but those whom she surrounds herself with values.

“Nothing or no one can stop her when she overcomes stress and difficult situations. She leans on God in these situations, also. Which is something that she values and something that also motivates her,” said psychology major Hayley Caddell. 

God has been a present force in her life, helping guide her when she is in need of assistance, reassure her when she needs to be picked up and to love her when she needs it the most during these stressful months. By coming to RC, Ashlee has been given the freedom to worship God unapologetically and however she chooses.

Throughout the conversation between Ashlee and I, four words resonated with me the most when talking with her --- The odd one out.

“Up until high-school, there was only about five or six other African Americans in my school with me, so that was a little tough. It didn't necessarily make me feel uncomfortable but I did feel like the odd one out in many situations,” said Ashlee.

As president of the student body, her voice is heard above the rest. And with that power comes the ability to bring together a community, something Ashlee thrives on achieving.

“My hope is that we have at least one event that everyone felt like they could be a part of, ” she said.

No one is left feeling like the odd one out. The winter Silver Bell Ball this December has been the most recent activity set in place to bring together the community.

Overall, the conversation her and I shared was more than just a sit down interview, it was an opportunity to truly understand each other. The stress of school and keeping up with the three jobs she currently works has taken a toll but through God and her friends, she has managed to keep focused. Coffee always helps too.

“College can be an extremely stressful time in life.  Many RC students are juggling their class loads, along with jobs, and also participating in other co-curricular activities and leadership opportunities on campus.  Ashlee is stretched, just like most of our students; I assume that she handles it similarly to the rest of the student body!  I see Ashlee keeping many plates spinning, and she does so with grace,” said Director of Student Leadership Programs, Teri Butcher.

The two’s relationship began in 2015 when Teri began working at RC but grew closer as of last year when Ashlee was Student Body Vice President. 

There is no doubt in my mind that soon Dr. Ashlee Holland will become a familiar household name. The motivation she has to help children who suffer from conditions similar to her own, such as diabetes, is all the motivation she needs and with the strong support system she has behind her, I believe those goals will soon be accomplished.

One of Ashlee’s favorite quotes is: “I rather fail five times and succeed once rather than live a life filled with regrets or what if’s.” A quote that holds a powerful meaning that all students should keep in the back of their mind when they face the ‘I don’t know’ question. Love God and stay focused.