Scholarships help business graduate leave leadership legacy
Ashley Lewis left impressions on Gospel Fest, Chapman Learning Community
By Bridget Tharp
Ashley Lewis claims her bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business from BGSU this month — the finishing touch on a resume already packed with leadership experience, Japanese language skills, an impressive internship, stellar grades and a long list of scholarships.
Scholarship assistance provided Lewis with the free time to earn the certificate in leadership, serve as a student leader for the Chapman Learning Community as a sophomore, and help grow the BGSU Gospel Choir’s 10th annual Gospel Fest in 2013.
“I’m really grateful,” Lewis said, adding that BGSU scholarships helped her “take advantage of all college has to offer.”
It seems unimaginable that the cost of higher education once threatened to hamper Lewis’s achievements. Without scholarships, the Detroit native would have delayed attending college or sacrificed her student involvement for a full-time job. Instead, several merit-based scholarships and a part-time job at the Office of the Bursar will minimize her student loan debt. Among the most substantial of Lewis’s awards is from the William L. Allen Scholarship fund, which memorializes a 1949 alumnus and supports top business students.
Gospel Fest was already the largest event of its kind in the state when Lewis took the reins, but attendance reached an all-time high thanks to her leadership, according to Gospel Choir co-advisers Sidney Childs ’90, ’93, ’13 and Terrie Cook ’92. Lewis and her team secured multiple sponsorships from local rental companies, grocery stores and hotels for the $25,000 event. Lewis proved to be a savvy negotiator: she managed to secure three billboard advertisements for a deep discount.
“I’ve been at the university 28 years and I’ve never seen a (student group) billboard up. She came up with the idea, and we were like, ‘How are you going to do that? We’ve got no money.’ And she said, ‘I’ve got it,’ ” Cook said. “She was phenomenal. She’s a great leader.”
Lewis also gracefully empowered her team with enough confidence to lead the event without her the following year, Childs added.
“She pulled her team together, kept her team on board. It wasn’t the Ashley Lewis show. It was about having the best Gospel Fest that represents BGSU Gospel Choir and the University,” Childs said. “You couldn’t have asked for a better student leader. If I could clone her, oh, my gosh. . . . She’s going to do great things. Bowling Green is going to be really proud to call her an alumna.”
All the while, Lewis successfully balanced coursework and student involvement.
Dr. Man Zhang, an associate professor of management who taught Lewis’s international business course, describes her as academically motivated and helpful. In the classroom, Lewis is someone “who will always have an answer for you,” Zhang said.
Zhang, too, was impressed with Lewis’s leadership and event-planning skills when volunteering for Passport to Entertainment, the annual fundraising dinner for study abroad programs. She wasn’t surprised when Lewis earned a selective internship in brand marketing with Marathon Petroleum Corp. in Findlay in spring 2012.
“Professors always love students who are working hard,” said Zhang, adding that some “students make me feel like it is very good to be a professor. She is one of those.”
Lewis said her leadership ideals were shaped through the Chapman Learning Community, a nationally recognized living and learning program for about 200 students, located in Kohl Hall.
Chapman students design a service-learning project, a dual-purpose activity to both benefit the community and offer an educational opportunity for students. Lewis’s class partnered with a local foster and adoption agency to study the foster care system and plan an afternoon of fun for the children. She was so inspired by the youngsters that after graduating from the Chapman program as a sophomore, Lewis organized a campus-wide holiday toy drive with the help of the BGSU Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary. They collected toys for 19 children served by the agency Kids Count Too, Inc.
Lewis served as a student leader for Chapman during her sophomore year — the final half of the experience. She shined in the role because she is “very perceptive and a good listener,” said Dr. Madeline Duntley, director of the Chapman Learning Community.
“Ashley was always the one who would be able to sum up a situation and be able understand students who have different viewpoints, who are more quiet and communicate in ways other than talking,” Duntley said. “She’s someone who will ask the right questions, gather the information and put in the work to get the job done.”
Bowling Green lured Lewis when she tagged along for a campus tour with a friend from church, she said.
“I fell in love with the campus,” Lewis said. “It was diverse, like my high school.”
As she reflected on her time as an undergraduate here, Lewis urged her peers to commit to serving a student organization.
“Try to get involved in something you are passionate about. For me, that was Chapman Learning Community,” she said. “If you’re passionate, you’ll grow with it. Grow with it, and it will stick with you.”