By Brenden West
The Clinton Herald
CLINTON — When Ashford University came calling four years ago, Emily Ramsey didn’t know if she wanted to play sports and had different ideas about what degree to pursue. She knew she wanted a smaller campus and individualization with her professors.
When the Elgin, Illinois, native chose AU, Ramsey said she was hoping for personal growth. And on the eve of obtaining her Bachelor in the Sciences of Health Administration, her Magna Cum Laude, 3.78 GPA are just a couple of the many experiences she has to show for her time. Tapping into mission trips, student government, commercial spots for AU, general student life opportunities, even meeting Gov. Terry Branstad all helped enrich her four-year stay.
“The scholarship program initially got me here,” Ramsey said. “But I stayed because of a lot more reasons than just the scholarship. Individual attention in the classroom, there’s a lot of opportunities for personal development.”
Now, she joins the largest graduation class in the history of the school and is ready to celebrate. This weekend, Ashford will welcome 1,300 students to campus — both online grads and traditional, on-campus students — to partake in commencement. Events begin today at 10 a.m. with a slew of activities: food, family, presentations and appreciation. On Sunday, commencement and many college careers will conclude with a graduation ceremony at Moline, Illinois’ iWireless Center.
Among the speakers will be Sgt. Keni Thomas, whose career as a U.S. Army Ranger helped inspire the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.” University President Dr. Richard Pattenaude and, for the first time, students will also deliver addresses.
As Student Government Association president, Ramsey has a lot to say about her time, and she will be among the speakers.
“The main point of my speech is just celebrating the campus students,” she said. “We were the largest class ever at Ashford and it’s just exciting that we all get to celebrate together, and we really left the campus better than when we found it. There’s more student leadership, creativity, our athletics have excelled over and over again. In many aspects the students’ lives have been impacted greatly by our class.”
Larry Libberton, communications director of the Clinton campus, said many have observed Ramsey excel through her years.
“She’s been a great representative for the university,” he said.
Neither of Ramsey’s parents obtained college degrees, and she’s the oldest and first child in her family to graduate. It makes receiving the diploma so meaningful.
“I’ve seen the struggles someone has to go through of not receiving a college education,” Ramsey said. “(My family) is very proud of me. I think they’re most proud of the impact I’ve made on campus and the opportunities I’ve had.”
Following graduation, she will continue to work for Ashford with goals to eventually obtain a Master’s degree.
While she didn’t play sports, and changed her major, Ramsey entered campus with a mindset to make the most of the experience. Libberton said Ramsey impacted her life and other students in positive ways, adding faculty have praised the student’s drive to succeed.
Today’s events conclude at 3:30 p.m. with bus shuttles to and from campus running until 6 p.m. On Sunday, two commencement ceremonies will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Graduation is open to the public.
Brenden West can be contacted at email@example.com.