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It was in the fall of 2007 when Quentin Brackenridge, then 18, officially became a student at Ashford University. Now, almost six years later, he’s getting ready to leave, taking with him two degrees and a multitude of experience that he will use in the next phase of his life.
“My AU experience was quite rewarding over the six years I’ve been here,” he said. “I have met many people and built many relationships I believe will be lifelong.”
After visiting Ashford’s Clinton, Iowa campus four times, Brackenridge decided to pursue his college career there. “My first three visits I felt very welcomed, and I loved the atmosphere on campus and in the Clinton community,” he said. “I came back to make sure this place was ‘real.’ The thing I loved most about AU was the faculty/staff and their overwhelming excitement for incoming students. I also viewed this city and university as a place of opportunity. I knew that this was the place for me as soon as I stepped foot on the campus. I was eager to make a difference and create organizations and groups that would make a huge impact in this city.”
And, from the beginning, the new student made his presence known. “When I visited the university, I discovered there was not an organization that would allow students to express themselves through inspirational music,” he explained, so he founded the Ashford University Inspirational Choir. This student group has “grown each year and has improved vocally and in maturity,” the Chicago native said. “The Inspirational Choir is very diverse and has had great directors over the past six years. It was my desire to create such an organization that would encourage students to explore in their faith by singing Christian/gospel and other inspirational songs.” Through the years the Inspirational Choir has performed at many campus and community events.
Also in 2007, Brackenridge created the Mu Omega Sigma Fraternity, a community service organization that took part in various campus and community events for more than three years. “We implemented many events that are now continued by other organizations such as ‘beautifying Ashford University campus,’ the famous upperclassmen vs. underclassmen basketball game, various themed parties, talk sessions, and more,” he said.
But he was just getting started. While at Ashford, he was involved with the Campus Pals and Clinton Community School District’s mentoring groups, was president of the Student Government Association (SGA), president of the Student Ambassadors, founder of the AU Jams group, coordinator of the annual “Peace Jam” concert, and organizer of the university’s “music showcase” event. He helped with Clinton’s Juneteenth celebration and Peace Walk, and served on the SGA Diversity Committee, Clinton Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors, and the Ashford Access and Wellness Diversity Week committee.
Brackenridge partnered with Ashford’s associate director of campus student affairs, Waunita Sullivan, to participate in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Undergraduate Fellows program, a mentoring program for undergraduate students wishing to explore and better understand the field of student affairs and/or higher education.
He also had a political side, getting involved in the Democratic Party and the “Rock the Vote” campaign. He helped with Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns and was a candidate for the Clinton School Board in 2011.
Because of his campus and community involvement, Brackenridge was invited to travel to Washington, D.C. to speak with legislators about his experiences at Ashford.
During his time at Ashford, Brackenridge could frequently be seen dressed in the school colors of purple and gold to help cheer on the Saints athletic teams, and singing the national anthem at various events. “I looked forward to preparing a new rendition each time I took the mic(rophone) to perform,” he said. In fact, he was chosen to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” during his undergraduate graduation ceremony in May 2011.
Following that ceremony, Brackenridge was hired by his alma mater as a graduate assistant and he became a residence hall coordinator. At the same time, he began work on his master’s degree through Ashford’s online program; he received that degree in October 2012.
“When I first arrived on campus, I was determined to broaden my horizons in every which way possible. Working with the faculty and staff here reminded me that there are truly people that care about the academic and social success of college-age students,” he said. “As far as the students, I am glad I had the opportunity to make an impact on so many of their lives socially, spiritually and academically. Being a role model to them has effectively changed their lives.”
Brackenridge’s work at Ashford has not gone unnoticed. “Quentin has had one of (if not the) most powerful influences I have seen a person have on a college campus,” said Jason Woods, director of campus student affairs and admissions. “The leadership he has shown as a student and as an employee was remarkable. I cannot express how much he will be missed in the future.”
Brackenridge will leave Ashford and head to Benedictine University in Springfield, Ill. as its resident manager where he plans to “build an emerging residence life program.” Next year he plans to begin pursuing his doctoral degree in organizational development and in the meantime, as a hobby, he will continue working on his first music CD project, “Journey of a Worshiper.” In March, he released his first single titled “Nobody but Jesus.” “As I continue to rise to many levels, music will always be a major part of me,” he said.
“I hope to reach my goal as a senior officer in student affairs within the next five years and build upon my experience, all while continuing to impact the lives of those who I encounter,” Brackenridge said. “I was able to reach each of my goals. Graduating from AU, receiving my master’s degree, starting organizations, being the president of SGA, working with local and state dignitaries and, most of all, leaving my legacy for many to follow. I enjoyed my years here at AU creating new opportunities that impact people’s lives.”
What advice would you give to new campus students?
QUENTIN BRACKENRIDGE: My advice to new students would be to enjoy your years as a college student. Get involved! Be active in your community! Give back! Focus! Be determined and never let anything or anyone deter you from accomplishing your goals. As an incoming student, you will find that there are many opportunities available to you only if you look for them and take advantage of them. Although you are away from home, don’t stop doing the things that made you happy in regards to family traditions, personal hobbies and other social activities. Making the transition to college is a challenge but use the resources available to you and if you desire to see something implemented…Create it! Build it! Transform your environment to enjoy your college experience!
About Ashford University
Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor’s degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Winet Rodriguez, vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.