The end of the 2016-17 school year is quickly approaching and as the month comes to an end, so does Ashley Waddoups’ term as Utah State University Student Association president.
Waddoups grew up in Ivins, Utah. While in high school, she participated in debate and track. Growing up, Waddoups had a great love for animals and Disney movies.
“I actually didn’t really like living there at first. I was a typical girly-girl who loved Barbies. So when I walked out my door and saw cockroaches and red dirt, I was just horrified,” she said. “But I love it now.”
Waddoups believes growing up two blocks away from her grandmother is one thing that has had a huge impact on her life.
“She was my greatest mentor my whole life. She taught me to read and to play the piano. She taught me all of these really cool things and she was also really passionate about social justice,” Waddoups said. “We would have really long conversations walking around St. George. One of the biggest things I remember growing up was having her there.”
Waddoups said her grandmother’s passion for social justice is where her sense of mercy and love for the underdog comes from. This is what helped lead her to USU and built her into the person she is today.
Initially, Waddoups did not want to come to USU but she could not fight the feeling that she needed to be here.
“In the end, something just felt right about going to USU and I felt excited about coming here,” she said. “My parents were kind of upset about it and after the first year I almost did not come back. But I am so grateful I ended up here. I would not have it any other way.”
Waddoups said a part of the reason she feels she was meant to come here is to meet her husband, Josh Nyman. Waddoups said that having Nyman support her is what has kept her going.
“He has been the most incredible and supportive person ever. We’ve switched the traditional roles a little,” Waddoups said. “He is the one keeping the apartment clean and cooking me meals. This summer, I’m hoping to return the favor a little since I am never there now.”
Waddoups is an English education student with a minor in communications. Along with her duties as USUSA President, Waddoups has also been working to complete her student teaching. Although she has always been very involved at USU, Waddoups said she never felt like becoming USUSA President was a part of her plan.
“I was not involved in student government at all in high school. I’ve struggled a lot with self confidence issues in my life so I never considered it,” she said.
Waddoups chose to get involved with USUSA because she saw a need that she believed she could fill.
“A lot of the reason I ran for positions before was because I’m very issue driven. By the end of my year as student advocate, I did not feel like I was done. I knew I had unfinished business and wanted to put myself in a position to do the most good,” she said.
Carly Thornhill, the president’s cabinet director, said she has found a mentor and friend in Waddoups. Thornhill has enjoyed getting to help “make Ashley cool.”
“We had an initiative called #makeAshleycool2016 because most of her pop culture references are from the early 2000s. She tried really hard and we even made her an Instagram,” Thornhill said. “If you ask me, I’d say Ashley is officially cool. It was just fun things like that as well as her mindset that I will miss.”
Thornhill believes that Waddoups made a great USUSA President because she knows how to set expectations and delegate tasks.
“With president’s cabinet, she gave each of the directors a very clear initiative or task to accomplish during the semester, she set out how she imagined it, then let us with our committees plan everything. She would check in and give her opinion, but she completely trusted us to do what was needed,” Thornhill said. “It was a great way of organizing her cabinet because it was effective and we were able to get so much done.”
Freshman Josh Davis has had the opportunity to get to know Waddoups through working with the president’s cabinet.
“She works harder than she needs to and it is impressive. This is not a position she has ever taken lightly. She is just an impressive person,” Davis said.
Davis has enjoyed getting to work with Waddoups and see her fulfill the promises she made to students when running for USUSA President.
“I love seeing how passionate she is about the things on her platform. A lot of people have been student body president and a lot of their promises do not get done,” he said. “A lot of those things come up with Ashley, but she powers through it. She has made sure to come through on those promises which I think is really honorable.”
Executive council administrative assistant Hadley Burton has enjoyed the opportunity she has had to work with Waddoups over the last year.
“It has been fun because we are very different in our personalities. She is so creative and has great ideas and I get to help put those ideas to action,” Burton said. “She is very passionate about everything she does and it has been great to watch that passion turn into action this year. She has done a great job.”
Burton said she believes Waddoups has done a great job of adapting and attempting to meet students’ needs. Burton will miss getting to work so closely with Waddoups and the difference that she has made.
“It has been fun to watch her succeed in things and gracefully fail. She has always failed forward. She learns from her failures and applies it to different places. She has been a huge role model for me in how to accomplish things and stay humble about it and learn from my failures,” she said.
Student alumni vice president Rachael Fresh believes Waddoups’ largest strength is her ability to look at issues from different perspectives.
“She is able to see things differently than other members of the council. She looks at it from all areas so that she can see how it will affect others. I think that is one of the strongest things you can have in a leader,” Fresh said. “It makes us stronger because we look at it from all sides of the story. Her perspective is different and she is able to consider how others would take things.”
Fresh has enjoyed working with Waddoups because of her willingness to take constructive criticism and her humble spirit.
“She is very willing to make changes to make a difference at the school. She does not have an ego. She did not drop the ball on things that USUSA had already worked on. She put her own spin on it and made it better,” she said.
Fresh said she is going to miss teasing Waddoups with the rest of the executive council at their weekly meetings.
“It’s like she is our sister. We want to watch her grow and succeed, but we also love giving her crap sometimes. I am also going to miss learning from her,” she said. “She is so smart and I don’t know how she juggles everything she does. I will miss our talks and walking into her office to talk about life. I’m just really going to miss the little things.”
Waddoups said she will never forget the lessons she has learned while serving as the USUSA president.
“This job has been such an incredible experience for me. There have been some frustrating moments and tears shed at certain points. Partially, I chose to run because I knew how much I would grow but also I had such a vision for what I wanted to do and was ready to hit the ground running,” she said.
Waddoups is now planning to attend Brigham Young University Law School since she is graduating from USU. In the future, Waddoups hopes to continue being involved in the political scene and have her own family. She also hopes to continue to make a difference in the world around her.
“I have been able to see the difference that running for office has had in my life and in the lives of others as well. That’s not me trying to be presumptuous because if anything, you realize how pathetic and weak you are on your own,” Waddoups said. “It’s really hard, but there is a lot of power in political office. I feel like we need more people to run for office so that we get the best people. Too many intelligent and great people shy away from running for office because of the stigma.”