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New Faces: Ashley Weckesser

Ask this Grad College staff member to call out a military cadence and you might be surprised at the results.

People  |  Feb 22, 2016  |  By Diane Russell
Ashley Weckesser

Ashley Weckesser, Graduate College special projects coordinator. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Although she misses the South where she grew up, this student services & events specialist says she quickly found a new home at UNLV where she earned both undergradaute and graduate degrees ('10 BA History, '15 MBA, and '15 MS Management Information Systems).

Why UNLV?

Community and opportunity. From the moment I began my journey here at UNLV as an undergraduate student I never once felt disconnected. Throughout my academic and professional career here I have had mentors, involvement in campus groups, and ample resources to help me succeed professionally and personally. 

Where did you grow up?

Peachtree City, Georgia. I miss the South — I miss the culture and the community. Moving to Vegas was a huge culture shock — I will never get over people telling me that I didn't say 'Nevada' correctly! Fortunately, I discovered UNLV and in a lot of ways I have that same sense of community again. The diversity here is unbeatable and I am grateful for the food, friends, and culture that I have been exposed to since I moved out West. 

Where did you work previously? 

University of Phoenix. I was an enrollment advisor for the School of Business and worked with undergraduate and graduate students. 

What is your job title at UNLV and what do you do? 

Graduate student services & events specialist. I plan and execute graduate student events, develop content for the Graduate College social media pages, and coordinate with GPSA (Graduate & Professional Student Association) on professional development workshops and opportunities for graduate students, among other things. I wear many hats at the Graduate College!

What inspired you to get into your field?

I have always been drawn to working in the field of education. Student services became my choice after I worked as a TA and realized that teaching might not be for me. My parents have always encouraged me to read and explore and, as cliché as it sounds, they have been my biggest supporters throughout my life and I truly think they set me on this path. My dad used to 'pay' me a penny and a half for every page that I read in his encyclopedia set. Of course, I did not realize how little things like this were shaping me at the time. I think my parents instilled a love of learning in me but also inspired me to want to support others. I want to engage and encourage students every step of the way and I believe that higher education is more important today than it has ever been.  

Proudest moment in your life?

Actually, it was the moment I signed my contract here at UNLV. A lot of my accomplishments in my life have been things I could control, like finishing my dual masters program. I decided pretty early on in my time here that I wanted a career at UNLV and, especially with the worry over the job market, I feel incredibly proud to be here. Working here is more like volunteering full time. I work hard but I get to play hard, too. Securing an opportunity to have a career and not just a 'job' has been incredible, but again something that was not totally in my control! 

One tip for success

Do not be afraid to ask for help. The synergy you can build, whether at home with your family or at work with your colleagues, is far more productive than our individual efforts. 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was in Air Force ROTC my first semester of freshman year. I was also in Civil Air Patrol (an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force) when I was a kid. I can drill, shine shoes, and call some funny cadences!

Who was your favorite professor or teacher and why? 

I had one in undergrad and two in grad school because they were also mentors to me. (History professor) Marcia Gallo was my mentor throughout my undergraduate program. She supported me in every way imaginable. The biggest thing she did was encouraging me to become a student leader in (history honor society) Phi Alpha Theta. This really propelled me to where I am today. During my graduate program I found support and mentorship in (two professors in the department of management, entrepreneurship & technology) Stoney Alder and Dan McAllister. They helped me transition from being an undergraduate in Liberal Arts to a graduate student in Business. I am incredibly grateful to both of them for the consistent support they offered. I still consider them mentors to this day!

Who is your hero?

As a history major in undergrad I feel like I should pick someone who said something profound centuries ago but honesty I have three heroes from the present day — my parents and my husband. They have all supported me, inspired me, and helped me achieve so much. I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing family!

Pastime or hobbies?

Reading is my favorite pastime. I also absolutely love cooking (and eating!). My parents are really big on elaborate, home-cooked meals and my husband and I love to try new foods and new ways of cooking. I also made the mistake of creating a profile on Pinterest, which is addicting and now I have picked up sewing!