Ashley Sanders ’13: Parlez-vous français?
As part of a rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina, Ashley Sanders accompanied her high school’s Habitat for Humanity club in 2008 on a trip to volunteer in Mobile, Ala. During her stay in the Port City, Sanders fell in love with the area and returned a few months later to look at colleges.
“Having attended a small Catholic high school (School of the Holy Child, Rye Brook, N.Y.), I was looking for a similar setting. The admissions team at Spring Hill was so friendly and welcoming and the campus was beautiful,” says Sanders. “After my first visit to SHC, I felt it would be a school where I could be part of a community, rather than just another student, which really sets it apart from other colleges.”
Sanders began studying French at 5 years old, and at age 14, started tutoring middle and high school students. It was then that she began developing an interest in teaching at the high school level.
“I chose to study international studies and French at Spring Hill so that I could learn more about the language and the country’s role in an increasingly globalized world,” says Sanders. “On campus, I worked as a tutor through SHC’s Center for Academic Excellence, while participating in French club and Phi Sigma Iota (International Foreign Language Honor Society).”
Sanders credits her Spring Hill professors and the exemplary college curriculum for helping her land an ideal job shortly after graduation in May of 2013. She was hired by St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., over the summer and began teaching French I, II, III, and Honors French IV in August.
"What I love most about my new position is that I have the ability to make a positive difference in other people’s lives,” says Sanders. “Through teaching, I can help develop someone’s interests or assist a student in realizing a skill or passion they may not have even realized they have.”
Dr. Sergio Castello, professor of international business and ecomonics, remembers Sanders as a model student. “Ashley had perfect scores on the exams and wrote very good papers,” says Castello. “She loved learning, languages, and foreign cultures.”
Sanders was an active member of the Honors Program, Political Science/International Studies club, Sigma Iota Rho (Honor Society for International Studies, and Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honors Society).
In the summer of 2012, Sanders took part in Spring Hill’s study abroad trip to Cuba. Later that same year, she received a full scholarship to study abroad in Beijing for the fall semester.
Sanders is grateful for her new teaching position at St. Paul’s, but occasionally still misses the comforts of the Spring Hill campus. “It is very different not having your friends live right down the hall and food in the student center right next door,” says Sanders. “A lot of the things that you don’t even give a second thought to in college aren’t there anymore once you are living on your own. It is definitely an adjustment, but one that I am having fun making.”
Her advice to students at Spring Hill is simple: “Make the most of the incredible opportunities that you have available to you,” says Sanders. “Since it is such a small school, the faculty and staff are able to know you on a very personal level, and therefore are able to help you in more ways than you could imagine.”
Sanders intends to stay connected to Spring Hill as an alumna, and most looks forward to attending Homecoming on the Hill April 4-6, 2014. She hopes to return to Spring Hill College to complete a Master of Arts degree in teaching.
* Ashley Sanders is pictured in the graduation photo (above) with Michael Flach '13 and Michael Sosia '13.