We are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our Grady Society Alumni Board members. This series profiles members of the alumni board who make a positive difference in our College.
Ashley McMaster (ABJ ’06) has worked in editorial, communications and public affairs, and business development. Currently, she is the vice president for membership and development at America’s Essential Hospitals, the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all.
Why are you involved with the GSAB?
McMaster: “I wanted to get involved with GSAB to reconnect with my former Ambassadors and classmates, as well as meet other journalism school alumni to grow my professional network.”
What are you hoping to contribute to the GSAB during your time of service?
McMaster:” I’m supporting the effort to change the school’s namesake and recognize contributions of individuals that have made positive change in media, public affairs and journalism.”
What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?
McMaster: “I give the same three pieces of advice to all college students:
“(1) Study abroad. I know it’s expensive, which is what prevented me from doing it, but the experience will be worth it. You can pay it back later, and there are scholarships available if you can’t manage to find the money. In fact, my husband and I recently endowed a scholarship at UGA for this exact purpose — Dr. Bobby Friedmann Passport Terry Scholarship.”
“(2) Get to know your professors. Each semester, pick at least one professor and get to know him or her on a first-name basis. These relationships are invaluable when you want to know more about the subject, require a letter of recommendation for grad school, or need a professional introduction. It will enrich your educational experience and pay dividends in your career.”
“(3) Go to class. As with most of life, half the effort is just showing up. Also, you’re a student, so treat class like it’s your job. You’ll learn more, get to know your classmates, and develop discipline. And if you find you absolutely hate the class … deal with it? Most of adulthood is suffering through stuff you don’t really want to do.”
“Oh, and one other thing: ditch your high school boyfriend/girlfriend. You don’t need the baggage, and there are so many people to meet. Trust me on this one.”
What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?
McMaster: “Tapping into the resources of the Grady Career Center had the biggest influence on where I am today. Cecil Bentley suggested I apply for an editor job at a little-known company in Washington, D.C. – a city I had never visited or considered moving to. I interviewed with two weeks left in the semester, got the job, graduated, and moved a week later. I’ve been in Washington ever since, and my career has taken twists and turns that I never could have imagined.”
What is your favorite place on campus and why?
McMaster: “The dorms (specifically, Russell Hall’s 10 North). The friendships were what I loved most about UGA. Making friends as an adult can be challenging. College is such a special time – you’re out from under your parents, have very little responsibility, and get to spend unchecked amounts of time with your friends to build lasting memories, make mistakes, and define who you are and want to be.”