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Student Ashley Gray outside on the campus of SCC.SCC student Ashley Gray has encouraging advice for college students: “Do. Not. Give. Up. Seriously, you got it.” This message has served Ashley herself well. On top of being a part-time student, Ashley also works full-time at Pinehurst Resort as a bartender. She’s on track to graduate in 2020.

“Wanting to make positive changes to my life took hold and wanting to get an education took over,” she said. “In the past year I have become not only happier but much more confident and feel on top of the world again! Returning back to college has really done wonders for my self-esteem and overall mental well-being.”

Ashley is the recipient of the Boelsen-Baird Endowed Scholarship. She’s pursuing her Associate’s degree at Sandhills. She plans to transfer to NC State, where she plans to complete her Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Finance) and with a possible minor in Accounting. After she graduates, she wants to begin a career in wealth management financial advising. “I hope one day to be able to buy a beautiful home on my own with a wonderful backyard for my amazing fur children. I want to do something I’m good at and succeed at it. I just want to make the best life possible for myself and live comfortably while also having the opportunity to give back and help others.”

Despite several obstacles, Ashley has kept her eye on the prize: her degree. “The endless possibilities I have once I get through my college career keep me going. The last two years have been an extremely hard time in my life, and even with everything going on, that’s when I decided to go back to school.”

It’s the helpfulness of those she’s met at Sandhills that make the college special to her. “I wish people knew how hard this institution works on behalf of the students, how no matter what you’re going through, someone on the campus is there to lend a helping hand.”

It’s challenging for Ashley to pick a favorite class or instructor. “I would have to say that my first semester taking English 112 with Professor Barbara Danley was a great way for me to start off my college career. I also have to commend Professor Daniel Regalado for Math 171. He is by far one of the greatest professors I have had so far.”

When Ashley isn’t in class, working, or doing homework, she plays for the Southern Pines Rugby Club Women’s team. “It has been such a wonderful addition to my life.” She was recently elected as the club’s treasurer and will oversee financing and accounting for the men’s, women’s, kid’s and overall club. The little spare time she has left is spent cooking and enjoying her two golden retrievers, Denali and McKinley.

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