College of Coastal Georgia News
Making A Lasting Impact On Campus
By Tiffany King
Ashley Britt is a new alumna of the College of Coastal Georgia. Graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in health informatics, Britt feels ready for the next phase of her life, for which she credits her preparation at the College.
"I've always told myself that I would graduate from here," Britt said. "That's how much I love this school. This college really offered me the chance to change my life and prepared me as a woman for my next step in life."
Britt is originally from Hampton, Georgia and her family recently moved to Cobb County. She described herself as being "nonchalant" about academics in high school and, for a period of time, it seemed she would approach college the same way. That is until something she heard before she started classes at the College began to take root within her. The words of former College President Dr. Greg Aloia spoken at her freshman orientation echoed in her ears and encouraged her to take a leap of faith.
"When I came for orientation, Dr. Aloia was all about growth, taking advantage of resources, and that the people here want to see you [students] succeed," Britt said. "That's what drew me to this school, because I needed a fresh start from high school and Coastal Georgia really offered me that."
Britt wanted to elevate herself and be a positive influence. She stepped out of her comfort zone and decided to apply for a resident assistant position during her Sophomore year. She got the job and was an RA for two years, starting August 2016. Britt had no prior knowledge of what being an RA entailed, but she wanted to challenge herself.
"I had to jump right into it. I had to be focused and prove to myself that I was worthy of it," she said. "You don't always need things planned out ahead of time in order to do them. I just wanted to have an impact and that opened a door for me to do things on campus, like creating my own club."
The PEARL Society
Britt is the founder and former president of the PEARL (Positive, Educative, Ambitious, Royal, Ladies) Society. She created the organization to empower and create a positive support system for young women on campus.
"I was fortunate enough to come from a family that has a very strong support system. I realized not everyone in school has that or an outlet for young ladies," Britt said.
The PEARL Society is for all races and all walks of life. The club is focused on helping women reach their full potential, while encouraging someone else do the same.
"I created this[society] and the workshops so that if a young woman is going through something, she can talk to somebody and know that it's going to be okay. College isn't going to be easy, but you can speak to someone and hear their story," she said. "Having that structure and knowing that someone will be there for you makes it 10 times easier. I don't think I would be here today if I didn't have that support system and that includes my friends telling me, 'You're going to do it. Just keep your head up.'"
Britt started the PEARL Society March 2017. Her only regret is not starting the club sooner so she could reach more students. Britt hopes the club will continue to grow and that future participants will enjoy guest speakers and attend conferences.
Her efforts at the College were recently recognized at the 7th Annual Student Affairs Leaders Awards Ceremony. Britt was inducted into the Student Hall of Fame for demonstrating strong leadership skills on campus.
Coming to a crossroads
Making the decision to become an RA changed Britt's life. Not only did she improve her communication skills and learn how to step out of her comfort zone, but she was able to help friends get jobs in resident life as well.
"At that point I didn't know where I was going—left or right. Nothing beats a failure like a try. That was my crossroads in college. You can either elevate and try, or go back a step—and I wasn't trying to do that," she said.
One of the biggest lessons Britt learned was that talking to people can generate opportunities. Her advice to other students is to take a risk and "put themselves out there."
"This school has taught me how to be uncomfortable in a good way. I hate going out of my comfort zone," Britt said while laughing, "but I've learned how to do it. It's taught me to push other people and taught me not to give up so easily. I pushed myself a lot more than in high school because I wanted to do better."
Britt advises students to find positive people who will help them to become better.
"There's a whole other life on the other side of fear and most of the time we don't get what we want because fear is holding us back. If you think less about the fear, imagine what you can get done. It's okay to feel scared, but you have to take a chance. You'll never know what can come out of that," Britt said.
Britt said that, five years ago, she never would have envisioned where she is today. All she knew then was that she didn't want to attend a large university and preferred a smaller institution with a personal touch—which the College provided. Instructors became mentors and she found herself fulfilling her goals of positively impacting others.
"I love this school. I can't wait to see what the future holds for students and what it will look like in five years," Britt said. "I tell my family, coming to the College of Coastal Georgia, there isn't an option to fail. If you fail, you choose to fail."
In the future
Right now Britt is still making decisions about her career, which will be in the public health field. She is considering pursuing a master's degree in public health and is looking at schools such as Augusta State University and Georgia State University.
"During my internship I've seen people go into the law side or quality improvement side of public health, [or even] program management or IT. It's so broad," she said. "I'm just trying to find my niche and passion. I don't want it to feel like a job. I want to do something that I love."