Join us for Homecoming 2023!

Accent Stories

Abby Sanders


'24, Education Major

Abby Sanders still lives in the same town she grew up in. She still lives with her parents and younger brother in her childhood home. But even though so much remains the same, the last few years have brought about levels of growth and change she never could have predicted.

A junior education major, Abby has seized opportunities across disciplines and geography throughout her first two years at Ashland. 

In terms of the classroom, Ashland’s education program has allowed her to gain field experience in two area school systems, giving her the opportunity to apply what she’s learning in the classroom directly to real-world challenges. 

Although she began attending worship services on campus when she was still in high school, the relationships she has built and sustained through her involvement with The Well have made the social part of college far richer and more rewarding than she expected. “I’ve always connected to the Lord through worship and music,” she says. “The Well is a time to worship in community and build real relationships.”

Her role as intern for the Office of Christian Ministry on campus has also given her new avenues of exploration into both who she is and what an active faith community can accomplish. Earlier this year, Abby and seven other Ashland students–an even split between undergrad and graduate students–went on a construction mission trip to Fairbanks, Alaska.

“I’ve done a lot of construction and renovation with my dad and grandpa over the years,” she says. “So I jumped at going on this trip, which allowed us to serve people in need and also experience firsthand somewhere as cool as Alaska.” 

During the trip, the team from Ashland helped with construction, served at homeless shelters, connected with a native Alaskan tribe and took advantage of the long stretches of sunlight to enjoy everything the land had to offer. 

“It was great,” she says. “The sun didn’t set until almost midnight, so we were outside at 10:30 at night playing frisbee.”

Beyond career-focused opportunities and engagement with a rich spiritual community, Abby is also part of Ashland’s Psychological Science Accelerator. The groundbreaking brainchild of Dr. Chris Chartier, the project connects more than 150 labs around the world through a mission to better understand psychology as a human tool instead of a cultural one. Although she doesn’t plan to go into psychology as a career, the experience is invaluable. “We’re doing something really important,” she says. “And it’s amazing that the project started here in Ashland.”

As a junior, Abby has a lot of college ahead of her. At the same time, what she’s learned so far has made an enormous impact.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned so far,” she says, “came directly out of the Alaska trip. I’m the type of person who has ten apps running at once in their brain. But just being in a place like Alaska gave me the opportunity to be present, to be intentional about one thing. When things start to feel overwhelming these days, I find myself drawing on that sense of peace and purpose I first found there and brought back home with me.”

Same town, different world: the sheer scale of the opportunities for growth isn’t lost on Abby. 

“I didn’t leave town,” she says. “But who I am has changed a lot since high school. The people I’ve met–fellow students, professors, staff, everyone–have already had a huge impact on my life. The leadership opportunities are incredible. From the outside looking in, even though I grew up close to campus, I never realized just how much Ashland has to offer.”

More Stories

Contact to Listing Owner

Captcha Code