When Ashley Gardner steps out of Rodes-Harlin Hall for her first class, she knows it will be at least midnight before she returns to the comfort of her dorm room.
“Everybody’s different,” Gardner said. “I just like to keep myself busy.”
The Sonora freshman’s days include classes, a part-time job, sorority meetings and volunteer time at Hope Harbor, a center that provides counseling for victims of sexual assault or abuse.
“My schedule just seems so packed,” Gardner said.
Gardner said that high school did not prepare her for the challenge of college.
“I don’t think high school helped me with study habits,” Gardner said. “But I was surprised by the small classes here. It feels like a high school environment.”
Gardner is a biology major, intending to pursue a pre-medicine curriculum.
She said she isn’t sure if she will continue with medicine, but she does intend to stay in health care.
Gardner said balancing Greek life and academics isn’t as difficult as some people think.
As a sorority sister, Gardner must complete a minimum number of study hours.
Her Greek and non-Greek study groups have helped her meet people and do well academically.
Gardner said she is motivated to study because she has to maintain a 3.0 grade point average to keep the scholarship she received from Western.
The mandatory study hours also helped Gardner’s parents be more accepting of her decision to join a sorority as a freshman.
“They’re more concerned about my grades than my social life,” Gardner said. “They were more accepting of Greek life after they realized it wasn’t all social.”
Gardner works part time in Wetherby Administration Building.
The job allows Gardner to set her own hours and doesn’t require her to work on the weekends. That’s great, but not because it leaves time to travel back to Sonora.
“I love my family, but I’m trying to be independent,” Gardner said.
She said her family understands her absence on the weekends.
“They know I’m busy and I’m doing my own thing,” Gardner said. “They support me in everything I do.”
Gardner said there are days when her schedule is full and she feels overwhelmed. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think I’d rather be involved in something instead of just sitting around,” Gardner said.
She hopes to do even less sitting around in the future. In the next three years, Gardner hopes to become more involved with Hillraisers and the Honors Program, both of which she is already a member.
She also hopes to work with the Campus Activities Board, Campus Crusade for Christ and become a peer health educator.
Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]