As a senior, Ashley Buchanan is eager to see what comes after graduation. Similar to fellow graduating seniors, Buchanan’s feelings on the future are a concoction of anticipation and nerves, excited eagerness with an overwhelming touch of unease.
She chose to major in psychology and psychiatric rehabilitation, even tacking on a minor in health. She is split between two graduate school majors and, therefore, two career paths: counseling or social work.
“I am filled with fear that my time to decide on a career path is running out as my graduation date quickly approaches,” Buchanan said. “Regardless of the path I end up on, I know that I want to be able to help others and make the world we live in better place. Once I have accomplished that, then I know I have attained my life goals—and nothing could make me happier.”
Although she had an interest in sororities, Buchanan could not decide if she wanted to go through with it. Like many, she came to college with the common misconception that Greek life consisted of wild parties and other unfavorable suggestions.
“Being a part of a sorority was a thought that circulated my mind quite often...I feared the stigma attached to what it meant to be a ‘sister,’” she shared. “Stereotypes [that] suggest [the] girls who join are unintelligent, care less about their education, sleep around and center their world around partying.”
And yet, four years later, she is a proud sister of the sorority Omega Sigma Psi. Once she understood what sisterhood stood for and the purpose of being a Greek, she did not hesitate to go through with the process.
“Seeing young women get involved and organize events to ignite the good in the community, within their school, and in each other, is what truly triggered my interest into rushing for a sorority.”
Buchanan dedicates her final decision to her future sisters’ “warmth, diverse personalities, and their ability to truly make those interested welcomed...I knew I wanted to be a part of that connection—the laughter—inside jokes and warm love that was displayed amongst Omega.”
There was one aspect of Omega Sigma Psi that supported a cause near to Buchanan. During an information session, she found out the sorority’s philanthropy was The Sue Beron Scholarship. The namesake of the scholarship, Sue Beron, is a former Omega Sigma Psi sister who died from ALS in 1986. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, but the disease is more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Each spring, a member of the Greek community is awarded the scholarship.
“I also deeply resonated with Omega’s philanthropy...my father’s best friend, a man that has become like an uncle to me, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease,” Buchanan said. “Joining the organization meant much more to me then just sisterhood—it was also a chance for me to give back and spread awareness about the disease.”
But being a sorority sister is not all she is; it is only a facet.
Buchanan has branched out on her campus involvement. She was elected Vice President of Programming for Greek Senate. Also, since her freshman year she has been a member of the Leadership Institute, which seeks to instill leadership skills in students through various programs.
Buchanan has taken these platforms and allowed them to shape her as a person.
“As I mentioned before, I hold an extensive background in leadership and I have always strived to further grow my role as a leader…” she said. “[I have been able] to foster and challenge that growth. I am a firm believer in always seeking out opportunities that will allow you to flourish as a person.”
Senior year is an intricate experience. There is still so much to do, and yet the realization of this chapter is coming to an end is incessantly on the fringe of a senior’s mind. A nearly universal theme in college is inconsistent sleep. Some weeks a student is able to blissfully accomplish seven to eight hours of sleep, but then there are those weeks a student is only able to have a meager four hours.
“Free time is very rare right now in my college career,” Buchanan said, “...so whenever I am not ripping my hair out from homework or studying, I am enjoying my bed and snuggling with my cat (I know that sounds very boring, but with this fast paced schedule all I want to do when free time is granted, is sleep.)”
Between her leadership roles and 18-credit course load, she also works as a Greek life specialist for the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) and interns at Bridgeway Partial Care Center. There, she assists individuals who have psychiatric conditions. Day to day, Buchanan’s responsibilities focus on individuals’ development in wellness, social and education.
Aside from extra sleep, Buchanan appreciates reading a good book or hiking. Her favorite place to go is Hudson County Park, which is in her hometown of Bayonne, N.J.
“It is hard for me identify one [trail as a favorite] because I value the ambiance of each place I visit. When it comes to enjoying Mother Nature, how can one choose a favorite place?” she said. “All of it is beautiful in its own way...that’s what makes exploring exciting.”
Buchanan does not recognize one genre as a preference, instead choosing to not limit herself to a classification and simply enjoying a written work.
“I am always up to expanding my reading horizons. At the moment, my favorite author is Colleen Hoover. Her books have always captivated me,” Buchanan said. “She has a brilliant way of telling a story that reveals how despite life’s obstacles, you can always overcome them.”
In May of 2017, graduates will be walking across the commencement stage, and Buchanan will be one of them. She is not sure what her post-graduation life will look like, but she is ready to delve into the uncertainty.
“Usually the choices we make, and the consequences or accomplishments that results from them, creates our character,” Buchanan said. “What I have gone through during my college life has made me who I am -- flaws and all. I wish I can pinpoint an exact moment or experience that helped further create who I am today -- but I cannot. All of my experiences are the pieces to the puzzle that make up me.”