My five years at Ashbrook between 3rd and 8th grade expanded my curiosity and self-discipline. I’m grateful that my parents encouraged me to focus on whatever topic I found most interesting, and my great teachers at Ashbrook made it fun to learn about a wide variety of subjects. Here, learning did not end with class, and I had many memorable conversations with friends and teachers outside of class about topics ranging from biodiversity conservation to Nietzsche. The tight-knit academic community at Ashbrook made it clear to me from an early age that school and work in general can be a source of passion rather than a chore.

This curiosity and work ethic instilled by rigorous coursework prepared me for a career that has allowed me to follow some of my earliest interests. It was at Ashbrook that I developed an early interest in historical nonfiction and an appreciation of science. During my undergraduate education at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College, I studied historical science and completed an undergraduate thesis project about the stone monuments of Easter Island, which attracted international media attention. I received a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation during my senior year, which I used at Pennsylvania State University to start research on Madagascar regarding the causes and consequences of past large animal extinctions. I organized three field expeditions to SW Madagascar, presented findings at numerous universities and conferences internationally, published >10 peer-reviewed articles, and recently received my PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara. I am starting postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, where I will use knowledge of the past to benefit modern biodiversity conservation in threatened ecosystems such as those on Madagascar.

Securing research funding, making fun discoveries, and generally being able to follow a childhood interest around the world requires luck. However, as one of my PhD advisors often said, luck is not independent of action, and you need to set yourself up to be lucky. I believe that early experiences at Ashbrook provide exactly this setup by sparking interests and fostering the discipline needed to effectively pursue those interests.

~Sean Hixon, 2007 graduate of Ashbrook

My elementary and middle school experiences at Ashbrook profoundly shaped me as a student and person. New experiences were daunting as a shy child, yet I looked forward to the small class sizes, welcoming teachers, and friendly faces among my peers and mentors. I remember looking up to my older sister’s teachers, eager for the day that I would be in Middle School because of the immersive and engaging lessons she would recount to me. My MS electives helped me unlock hobbies and passions that I invest in to this day.

Ashbrook helped me become a successful high school student. I still remember coming home after the first week, shocked that I was one of the few students in class who would consistently raise my hand and engage in discussions. Ashbrook built my confidence so that I could be comfortable sharing in a new school with larger class sizes. Ashbrook also provided me with the strong friendships that shaped my social life in high school as I tried out new extracurricular activities, and I am proud to say those friendships will be coming up on their 20-year anniversary.

After graduating high school, I pursued a Bachelors of Arts in Integrated Educational Studies at Chapman University in California. In college, I was drawn to the people who consistently engaged and participated in class like me, and I built strong relationships that mirrored the ones I had at Ashbrook. I also thank Ashbrook for helping me develop healthy and respectful relationships with mentors so I could successfully network with professors and supervisors. I graduated cum laude in 2019, with double minors in Psychology and Language & Literacy, and then earned a Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction in an accelerated program, graduating in the summer of 2020.

As I am wrapping up my first year as a professional teacher, I keep reflecting on how my educational journey is one of the most full-circle parts of my life. The teachers at Ashbrook and the magic they created for me out of education led me to follow in their footsteps. So, thank you, Ashbrook, for helping me become the student, friend, graduate, teacher, and person that I am proud to be.

~Carly Croft, 2011 graduate of Ashbrook

My parents, like most parents, wanted to give me the best education possible. However, they were concerned that as a low vision student, the big classes in public schools would make it difficult for me to get the attention I needed to ensure I wasn’t falling behind. From kindergarten until my eighth-grade graduation, I felt like I was a part of a wonderful family of teachers and students who really cared about me at Ashbrook. The small classes encouraged discussion and taught me how to speak up and engage in class–skills that have proved invaluable as I’ve continued my education. Classes only got bigger as I headed to Corvallis High School and then Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. Ashbrook taught me to be a self-advocate, to ask questions, and to not be afraid of going to teachers or professors when I needed help.

I graduated from Arizona State University in May 2020 with an Honors B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering and started my Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. Despite these achievements, those who know me well know I do not have the ambition of many of my peers. I would honestly be just as happy giving introductory lectures to undergraduates as I would teaching at a community college or advocating for the reform of higher education. Whatever I choose to do, I will never forget nor stop being grateful for the many excellent teachers and students I had who supported me from the very beginning.

I do not believe success should be measured by the grades a student gets, by the prestige of the university they attend, or by the amount of money they make at their job. I gauge success by whether a person is able to reach their goals and lead a balanced, fulfilling, and happy life. But I am adamant that a solid educational foundation gives people more power and flexibility to pursue whatever path they choose. I feel Ashbrook gave me that solid foundation which has helped get me where I am now.

~Serita Sulzman, 2012 graduate of Ashbrook

Time flies. It feels like yesterday I was taking classes in the halls of Ashbrook, and now I am graduating college. As I look back on my last 16 years of school, I remember Ashbrook with a fond heart.

Ashbrook shaped me to be who I am today. I learned public speaking through my 8th grade speech, sustainable actions through outdoor school, creativity through electives, and foundations through my core classes.

Now in 2021, I am a senior about to graduate from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. I am heading to Chicago to consult for Bain & Co. full-time as well as run Brassi, the healthy food startup I launched this year. Since launching my startup, I have received so much support from the Ashbrook community – inviting me to share my story, messaging me congrats, and supporting our presales.

I want to say thank you to Ashbrook for setting me up for success from an early age. I could not have imagined a better school at which to spend Pre-K through 8th grade.

~Taylor Hurley, 2013 graduate of Ashbrook

Colleges attended by AIS Graduates

Arizona State University
Brigham Young University
Chapman University
Colorado School of Mines
Cornell University
Emory University
Georgetown University
Gonzaga University
Grinnell College
Harvey Mudd
Juniata College
Kenyon College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Middlebury College
Northwestern University
Norwich University
Oregon State University
Pacific University
Princeton University
Reed College

Santa Clara University
Stanford University
Trinity University
Tufts University
University of British Columbia
University of California, Berkeley
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Michigan School of Business
University of Montana
University of Oregon
University of Portland
University of Pennsylvania
University of Puget Sound
University of Toronto
University of Virginia
University of Washington
Washington State University
Western Washington University