September 2021: Ashley Green, undergraduate student | Department of Geography and the Environment

September 2021: Ashley Green, undergraduate student

Ashley Green is an undergrad geography major and currently studying with Dr. Matthew Fry. She's very involved in the Geography Department - she is a member of the Geography Club, President of the UNT Geography Student Association, and is a Geography Ambassador for the Department. She did not actually start out with geography as her study focus. She remembers taking a World Geography class as a 9th grader in high school, but it was very much surface-level geography with lots of map memorization and fast facts involved. It didn't showcase the breadth that the subject offers, something that Ashley definitely knows now. She was also heavily involved in extracurricular activities in high school, being on the drumline and spending most of her time in the band hall, that she didn't figure out what topics interested her academically until the time she spent getting her Associate's Degree at Tarrant County College. It was in those first three years of her post secondary education journey that she discovered her love for subjects in the humanities. Some of Ashley's favorite classes were history, politics, sociology, world religions, anthropology, and archaeology. It was at TCC that she realized she was really interested in people, culture, and in retrospect, places.

When Ashley transferred to UNT, she initially declared as an anthropology major. By chance during her first semester in Fall 2019, she took Geography 2170 "Culture, Environment, and Society" to fulfill an elective for her degree plan. It was in that class that she was first truly introduced to what geography really is and all it has to offer. Ashley had been struggling for years to pick just one topic she was interested in and then with geography, she found that she didn't have to choose - she could combine many of her interests all into one. More than a topic, Ashley likes to consider geography as a way of thinking - whatever your interest, you can look at it from a geographic perspective. Needless to say, after 8 weeks in GEOG 2170, she made the switch to be a geography major and she couldn't be more happy with where she ended up. Ashley believes that while it was a roundabout way of getting here, with lots of forks in the road, she knows that's what college is like . . . finding yourself and what you are passionate about.

To Ashley, being an undergraduate at UNT specifically within the Geography Department has been great because of the people. She sees the department as a very inclusive environment and with its smaller size, students actually have the opportunity to get to know their peers and professors. Ashley thinks that being involved and feeling like you belong somewhere makes all the difference in learning. Passively going to classes can only do so much; making connections on campus makes the learning experience that much more rewarding. At the moment, Ashley is at a crossroads trying to decide whether she wants to dive right into a master's program upon graduating or if she will take some time off and work. Her dream job is to work for the National Parks Service. She is specifically interested in education and outreach as it relates to parks. She'd like to be involved in park cultural centers or in creating and facilitating visitor programs for parks. Ashley has also recently taken both the Intro and Advanced GIS classes, and she can see herself working with that skill within park contexts.

One of the biggest takeaways Ashley has during her time at UNT is that it is okay not to have it all figured out right away. She knows that life is messy, and it can take a lot of navigating to get to where you are meant to be. Ashley also feels like a big part of the learning process as an undergrad is just exposing yourself to new topics and new people and seeing what opportunities can arise from that exposure. Most of all, she knows that though it is okay to be unsure about choices, the best thing a person can do if they are unsure is to talk about it with others. Whether it be advisors, professors, or other students, people are your biggest asset here at UNT. Ashley's advice? Don't be afraid to reach out to others for guidance and input.

Though Ashley is not a resident of Denton (she's a commuter student), there is a "hidden gem" of our town that she'd like to highlight - the Recycled Books Records CDs store on the Square. She loves the smell of old books, and Recycled is just so cool and cozy. The last time she visited the store, a lot of their books had sticky notes on the covers, with reviews other customers had left for prospective buyers. Now, some fun facts about Ashley! She is a kayaking and camping enthusiast. She can move her ears forwards/backwards and up/down. Also, when she was a kid, she wanted to be a storm chaser when she grew up. Ashley once went on a month-long road trip where she drove up the west coast from Southern California, all the way to the northwestern corner of Washington State and then back to Texas through Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. And wouldn't you know . . . it was this trip that spurred her interest in working for the National Parks Service. Ashley is very much a believer of trusting the process and going with the flow and she feels like that is partly how she ended up where she is today. Just like road her trip paved the way for her interest in the NPS, it has been through a series of decisions that led her to the Department of Geography and the Environment today.

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