Marlana Ashe is a passionate, down-to-earth young woman who values personal relationships, her ability to make a difference and diversity at the College. This trait was evident by her candidness and her ability to speak freely about her experiences during our interview. Her rational outlook complements her humorous and light-hearted nature. Since elementary school, Marlana has had her heart set on the College. The people, the beautiful campus and the atmosphere: All qualities she desired in a campus matched up. Now, as she gets to ready to graduate a semester early, Marlana reflects on some of her achievements, challenges and memories at the College.
p. **Can you tell me about some of your involvements on campus?**
p. I was a member of the Honor Council but was not able to serve this year because I’m graduating early and would not be able to fulfill all the requirements. Honor Council has truly shown me the integrity of the student body because, for the most part, those who turn in cases are students. I have also been a member of Ebony Expressions since the start of my freshman year. The group is comprised of mostly women and has acted as a small sisterhood, enabling me to keep my spiritual base at school. I love children so I’ve always tried to do something with them: my first year I tutored kindergarten with CPK [College Partnership for Kids] and right now I am working with AVID [Advancement Via Individual Determination], a new program working with kids who are considered underachievers to reach their full potential. Lastly, a major involvement for me has been with Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority on campus. It’s been helpful to have an interactive way of learning lessons in both business and service. I’ve served as both the financial secretary, treasurer and chair of the scholarship committee. Our chapter is so small it’s nearly impossible to not be in some type of leadership [position], but it’s a great way to learn the infrastructure of our sorority by [creating] the necessity to be active.
p. **Why did you want to join AKA?**
p. There were a number of reasons. I’m an only child, so I really value relationships. I knew a sorority would be a great way to build relationships that would last a lifetime. I would see girls on campus who were sisters, and they seemed nice. I started going to the AKA-sponsored programs in attempts to get to know them better. When my friends said they were also planning to [participate in recruitment], I was excited to go through the process with them. Also, many women who touched my life as a child are Alpha Kappa Alpha women, including my mom. Seeing their poise as women and hearing about my mom’s experiences pushed me to want to be able to have similar opportunities as an AKA. The service aspect played a huge role in my decision as well. The Nu Chi Chapter of AKA runs a mentoring program called Project D.I.V.A. (Developing Intellectual and Valuable Adolescents), which really interested me given my love of kids. Overall, I am really glad I did it.
p. **Have you been happy with your experiences at the College?**
p. Yes, I’ve always wanted to come here. When I was in elementary school, I used to come to William and Mary for Saturday enrichment programs. I loved it. In addition to that program, I saw the amazing time that my cousin had here during her years at the College. I felt like William and Mary was the type of school I needed: I had looked at other colleges and universities and did not think that their atmosphere would be conducive to the type of learning environment I needed. William and Mary has been a great mix. Sometimes it is tough, but I know that I was put here for a reason. That reason might be hard to understand at times, but I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend my college years.
p. **What made you want to graduate early?**
p. I felt like I had served my purpose here. I did not come into school with that being my plan in mind. I’ve been going to summer school every summer and the opportunity just arose. It’s a great way to save money, too. Now that graduation is actually approaching though, it’s gotten really difficult. I’m always on the verge of tears because of how much I’m going to miss this place. William and Mary continues to become a better place as this semester progresses and I feel that, as a student, I won’t be able to see the heights it reaches. I live here. Eat here. Go to classes here. It all becomes a lifestyle and it is hard to give that up so quickly. It’s going to be tough not to have it.
p. **What is one way in which you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone?**
p. This past summer I studied abroad in Florence. It was a huge deal for me because it was my first plane ride ever. Other than a train trip to Rome and other trips planned by the program, we got on the plane there and then turned around one month later to take the plane back. While I was there though, my friend and I really decided to try something new. For the most part, we restricted ourselves to just classes and didn’t try anything new. I’m a huge music fiend and I did not bring an iPod, computer, radio or anything. The only time I could listen to music was when we woke up early to watch videos on television. They would only play Rihanna, which was not sufficient.
p. **What do you think you are going to miss most?**
p. The randomness. I’m really going to miss the unpredictability and spontaneity that occurs on a regular basis. Other house girls and I will sometimes get up in the middle of the night just to take a walk. Other nights we will go and raid Wawa. And some lucky nights, we will get the futon and slide down the stairs on it as if we were on a roller coaster. It is just those little things that I will really miss. When I am back at home, I can’t just pick up and do things like that. My friends at home will have other obligations: school, kids, etc. They won’t be able to get up and play with me whenever I decide to do something.
p. **What job are you both applying for?**
p. Well we went to the Career Fair together and learned about a job with the Close-Up Foundation. The position is available starting January until June, which is perfect for us. We would be working with students and taking them around Capitol Hill, hosting different seminars and explaining to them the different aspects of government. It’s neat because you don’t have to be a government or education major; their biggest concern is that you can interact well with kids and stay up to date on your own current events.
p. **What would you say your ideal job, 10 years from now, would be?**
p. I would love to be a clinical psychologist with my own practice. I would want to be working with a school district so that if kids had problems, they could refer them to my office. I also want my own family development center. In my hometown [Portsmouth, Va.], there are a lot of people who are homeless or jobless and, as a result, they decide to hustle. Portsmouth has a “no tolerance policy,” meaning if you get kicked out of school, you are not allowed to come back. Because of this, a lot of the would-be probation kids just turn to selling drugs. I would want to guide, educate and train. Ideally, I could help implement an after-school program where students could learn vocational skills and have job training and placement in those jobs. I think having those skills is one way of decreasing the kids on the streets.