We are #PaduaProud to welcome back Padua Alumna Ashley Christopher, Esq. '03 this week as a guest speaker for our Black Student Union (BSU) and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness (IDEA) Clubs. Ashley, among many things, is the Founder and CEO of HBCU Week Foundation, Inc., which encourages enrollment into Historically Black Colleges and Universities and provides college scholarship dollars.
Ashley walked our students through her experiences, specifically her time at Padua, her want to go to a HBCU, her initial rejection from Howard University, calling to see if it was a mistake, and how she advocated for herself and was ultimately accepted after writing a letter of reconsideration. We also learned of her experience at Howard University and overseeing Howard Homecoming, her journey to becoming a lawyer, her role as a mother, the importance of faith & talking to God, and her relationship with her mother, who is a pastor. A statement that resonated was when Ashley told our students that when she walks into a room, she knows that "I add value, my voice is necessary, and I belong."
As a Special Assistant to the City of Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, where she currently works, Ashley told our students how her idea of HBCU Week began and where it is today, awarding over 70 million in scholarships. Ashley also emphasized that she wants to see more DE students applying for the scholarships offered at HBCU Week.
Looking back at her time at Padua, Ashley spoke of the love of the instructors here in the building, how she is grateful for the time spent there, and how it was such a blessing.
When asked by a student what her advice is for Padua Freshman, Ashley began by telling them to keep in mind she graduated 20 years ago but gave this advice:
- Value this: that they get to get up every day and come here [to Padua] is a blessing & that people care enough to sacrifice to send you here.
- Take advantage of every opportunity.
- Value that the teachers and instructors here really care about the students, calling out staff that meant a lot to her, specifically Mrs. Rebecca Manelski (previous Dean of Students at Padua) and teacher Mrs. Martha Holladay.
Prior to her leaving, Ashley was presented with some Padua gear and took a group picture with the BSU Student Leaders (Lyric Wills '24, Naima Ellis Daniels '25, Me'kiyah Earnest '24, Journey Davis '24, and Osayamen Ediae '24) and a group picture with the members of BSU & IDEA.
We are so #PaduaProud of Ashley and all of her accomplishments! Thank you for sharing your life and words of wisdom with our Padua students!