Ashlea began her student career with success and a strong set of goals in mind
Ashlea Chapman is the definition of “extraordinary student” from her involvement on campus to her dedication to her studies.
Chapman, who is originally from Atchison, is graduating after eight semesters at Emporia State University with two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Math. She minored in music. She also will graduate debt-free.
“I had to take out a couple of student loans, but I paid them off as I went so I’ll graduate without any debt,” she said.
In addition, Chapman had scholarships to help her out, she said. She had scholarships from Emporia State, her hometown and two renewable scholarships: The Hagan Scholarship Foundation and the Ellis Foundation. The Hagen Scholarship helps high-achieving rural students and the Ellis Foundation helps high school seniors and also comes with a mentoring program.
Chapman also worked all throughout her time at Emporia State.
“I worked at the Union the entire time I went to college for the ID office,” she said. “I interned there with a college prep program the summer before I started school here. So I’ve been there since Day 1 since I got here. Aside from scholarships I mostly just worked all the way through. I also worked at home whenever I went back for breaks at my local Subway (I have worked there since I was in High School) on top of working here in the Union.”
Chapman began mentoring other students through the Ellis Foundation. Because of that experience, she encouraged the Honors College to do more student mentoring. Now, she mentors through them as well. Student mentoring involves helping other students succeed.
“The first half of the semester we’re just there so they have someone to come to so they feel comfortable,” Chapman said. “I can help them through the parts where when I was a stumbling freshmen. It makes it easier for them to want to come back the next semester too when they have the encouragement and they’re not the only ones asking those kinds of questions.”
Chapman is also a talented graphic designer, who has designed posters for the Memorial Union and other campus departments.
“I’ve designed the sports brochure and football and basketball the past couple of years as well as the credentials they use to get into the football stadium,” she said. “I’ve designed those since I’ve been here. I’ve also been putting together PowerPoints for certain groups. A lot of times someone will say ‘hey, I need this to look nice.’”
That’s still not all Chapman is involved in. She serves as vice-president for the Student Honors Council in the Honors College and is the social chair for the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society (Tri Beta). She’s also a part of TRIO Support service and is in Kappa Mu Epsilon, the honor society for mathematics. She also was the section leader in marching band in the color guard this year. As union tech she assisted speakers and conferences.
“I try to be a little bit all over the place,” Chapman said, with a laugh. “I’ve just met so many people so it’s nice that because of all the little things that I was tied into, I can walk somewhere and always see somebody that I know.”
When asked how she balanced it all, Chapman said it’s all about mindset.
“I started out school with the mindset that I wanted to do it right and I wanted to get the most out of it and so the partying and going out, that’s never really been an appeal to me because I get enough excitement out of going to class and learning,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn things and to be in classes that really excite me so I’ve never had any reason to not want to go do those things.”
Chapman said she’s had to overload every semester she’s been at ESU to achieve her academic goals.
“It’s all about just realizing what I can handle and trying to balance classes,” she said. “I’ve taken at least one gen ed at every semester that I’ve been here. It’s not necessarily less coursework, but it’s more toned down than if you were taking higher classes in those disciplines. They are like introductory courses to all those disciplines.”
Chapman shared advice for incoming students: find your passion.
“It doesn’t matter what other people are passionate about as long as you’re doing what you are passionate about,” she said. “I’ve had so many people go ‘wow, you must hate yourself because of all the things that you’re taking’ or ‘why are you punishing yourself like that?’” and I just like what I’m doing so it’s not a punishment but if you let people get into your head like that of course you’re not going to think what you’re doing is what you want.”
Success also stems from goals.
“It really boils down to figuring out what you want out of being in college,” she said. “I know a few people who got here because it was what was expected out of them and they got here and they were like gung ho for that first semester and after that they just kind sort of trickled down because they were like ‘what am I doing?’” Make sure that whatever you’re doing that you’re passionate about it.”
Finding passion isn’t easy if you’re an undecided major, she added, but you can find something interesting about every course.
“Even within those gen eds you can pick which courses are going to be of interest to you,” she said. “Some people asked me how I made it through the more difficult courses in my disciplines and I told them that the easiest way for me to make it through them, even if I wasn’t interested, was to tell myself that it was the most interesting thing that I was doing at that point in time. Then I was like ‘wow, this is something that is really exciting and I’m not faking it anymore.’ When you take more ownership in what you’re learning, you get more out of it.”
Taking ownership is critical to success not only in academics, but mindset as well, Chapman said.
“I hear so many people say ‘oh I didn’t like this class because that teacher is a horrible teacher’ and I guess the best advice I have to anyone who is hearing those types of things is to just not listen to it,” she said. “My experience when people say that it tends to be a lack of interest in the discipline or a lack of effort on the student’s part just because it takes a lot for a teacher to not be able to teach to anyone.”
The professors and advisors at ESU are another critical component to Chapman’s success, she added. She felt cared about and was encouraged every step of the way.
“They do actually genuinely care about what I’m doing and that’s probably been one of the best, most supportive things that I’ve gotten out of being here,” she said. “I’ve had so many people taken an interest in what I’m doing. All across campus there’s a strong sense of concern and support of the students who are here.”