Grad Profile: Ashley Matheson (2009/10)

Today's Loyalist PR grad profile features Ashley Matheson (2009/10) who is now employed as Fund Development Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Belleville-Hastings-Quinte.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations program at Loyalist College, Ashley completed a diploma in Advertising at Loyalist.

Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in Loyalist PR?

Ashley Matheson: Ever since I can remember, I was always interested in pursuing a career in public relations, and felt that it was the best fit for my personality and attributes. My ambition was to find employment in the Belleville area, so I felt that by doing my studies at Loyalist College's Belleville campus, I would make crucial connections for future employment.

Loyalist PR: Can you tell us about some of your duties as Fund Development Coordinator?

Ashley: In a nutshell, my duties include being responsible for all the society's fundraising activities, donor cultivation and solicitation (individually, community-wise and corporately). Generally speaking, I'm responsible for community engagement, event management and donor development.

Loyalist PR: How did Loyalist PR help prepare you for your current position?

Ashley: Loyalist PR gave me the solid, well-rounded background I needed to be prepared for my position as a Fund Development Coordinator. Through assignments within the community, to my four-week work placement, I developed an awareness of the needs along with the tools necessary to be successful.

I can confidently say that through all the courses I studied in the Post-Graduate Public Relations program, I have certainly used all the skills I obtained -- both in my previous positions and in my current role with the Alzheimer Society of Belleville-Hastings-Quinte today.

Loyalist PR: Any highlights of your year in Loyalist PR that you'd like to share with us?

Ashley: There were many highlights -- some of them included getting the opportunity to meet many PR professionals that work in multiple sectors (non-profit, government, private, etc.); the Toronto trip where we got to visit the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto and had the opportunity to speak with their PR director; and also our trip to the taping of the George Stombolopolous show, among many other highlights!

But I would have to say one of the biggest highlights from my year was receiving the Kay Staib Memorial Scholarship award (from the International Association of Business Communicators), as well as the Community Service Award and Spirit Award during our PRISM awards at the end of the year.

Loyalist PR: Finally, do you have any words of advice for current or future students of Loyalist PR?

Ashley: I know it sounds cliche, but follow your dreams, and you can achieve what you strive for.

A motto I have made my life's mantra is "Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" (Muriel Strode). And whatever you do, don't get discouraged.

I know it can be so hard in today's unsettled economy, and I also felt discouraged when I didn't get a full-time job immediately. But remember, everything truly does happen for a reason. If I didn't work at the term, casual and part-time positions that I did, I wouldn't have made the connections I did either, and I wouldn't have gained the experience I have which made me the most qualified candidate for my current position.

Nobody knows what the future holds -- but as you grow and learn from your experiences, you will further develop your path. You just never know where you will find yourself one day!

Loyalist PR: Thanks so much, Ashley -- and we wish you the best of luck on your career path!