Change is scary, and those who are working to pursue their educational goals know this all too well. Ashley Martin of Fond du Lac recognized that fear when she found herself at the front steps of Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus in 2017.
As a mother of four, she had been working two jobs to make ends meet, but she had aspirations of finding her dream career.
“I wanted to better my life,” Martin said. “When I walked through the front doors of the College I was so scared. I didn’t know if I could go back to school after all this time.”
Like many returning students, she was looking for a career that would work well for her life and fulfill her goals. Moraine Park’s Student Success Center helped her with a career assessment. Through that, she discovered the Substance Abuse Counseling program. She enrolled immediately and began her college career in fall 2017.
“I instantly felt welcomed,” Martin said. “I have found great friends and supporters who are more like family, and they always give me a reason to keep coming back.”
One of those connections was with Sam Saeger, a student life specialist at Moraine Park.
“Ashley is one of a kind,” Sam said. “She is driven and focused. Not only is she an exceptional student in and out of the classroom, but her commitment and enthusiasm towards the College are unmatched.”
Since enrolling at Moraine Park, Martin has served on the Student Senate as secretary and vice president, and the Diversity Club as the vice president. She founded the Substance Abuse Counseling Club, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has served the College on cross-functional collaboration teams as a student representative. She is also a part of a work-study with Sam and can be found all around the Fond du Lac campus and in the community, helping with student life events and advocating for the College.
“It’s incredible to know that as students, our voices are valued and heard,” Martin said. “Moraine Park is my college, and it will always be my college. I find such value in the fact that my opinion matters.”
Martin has also maintained a 4.0 and been on the Dean’s List her entire college career. It is because of her drive, determination, and all-around positive spirit that Martin has been named as Moraine Park’s 2019 Student of the Year.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I never thought this was possible for me. I have worked hard, and I am proud of myself.”
Criteria for Student of the Year nominations include demonstrating excellence in and out of the classroom while modeling Moraine Park’s core abilities to communicate clearly, act responsibly, work productively, think critically and creatively, adapt to change, demonstrate integrity, and work cooperatively. There were ten candidates this year, all of whom excel both academically and in their service learning. There are very few student honors that exceed this award at Moraine Park, and to even be nominated is a tremendous accomplishment. Martin will receive her award at the Student Awards Banquet on May 10.
“We all celebrate with Ashley on her success at Moraine Park,” Sam said. “However, it is her heart and generosity that stand out the most. She is very deserving of the Student of the Year award, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Martin will graduate on May 18, and it will be her first time walking a commencement stage.
“Moraine Park has given me unlimited opportunities,” Martin said. “I’m proud of my school, and I look forward to serving as an alumnus.”
She has goals to continue her education, with an overall goal to be a mental health counselor.
The finalist include Dominic DeLaura of Slinger, Troy Essmann of Oconomowoc, Justin Kraus of Fond du Lac, Alex McCleary of Fond du Lac, Christian McCreary of West Bend, Michael Moon of Beaver Dam, Jonathan Szczesny of Iron Ridge, Sam Turner Baraboo, Elizabeth Wustrack Fond du Lac.
For more information on Moraine Park, visit morainepark.edu.