College graduates all across the nation are often hard-pressed to find a job that harnesses their talents, much less a position in their field of study.
But through her mentoring professors and hands-on experiences in and out of the classroom at UMobile, 2013 graduate Ashley Shelton Mason has found both.
At the age of 23, Mason is using her business experience and influence to make Selma, AL an enjoyable place to visit and call home. She was named tourism director for Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce in August 2013.
Beginning her freshman year, Mason got involved in Student Government Association and several other leadership groups at UMobile, each of which she says was “a crucial part” of her success.
But one group, ENACTUS, shaped her future in a way she would not have imagined.
In March 2013, Mason was selected as one of Coastal Alabama’s “20 Brightest 20-Somethings” due to her work in UMobile’s ENACTUS chapter, and her photography business. Through ENACTUS, Shelton was instrumental in impacting nearly 18,000 people in the Mobile community by establishing and operating a clothing closet at Dumas Wesley Community Center, raising funds for The Joseph Project food pantry, and several other sustainable business projects.
ENACTUS (formerly SIFE – Students in Free Enterprise) is a national organization for business students focused on using community service projects aimed at creating a more sustainable world. UMobile’s chapter has won two regional championships and national recognition for their efforts, but Mason said the awards are “secondary.”
“Nothing compares to the change we can see in our community and in the lives we impacted,” she says.
Mason graduated in May 2013 with Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees. On July 13, 2013, she married Weston Mason ’13 – whom she met on move-in day their freshman year.
“My goals were pretty simple: graduate college, get married, have an awesome job,” she says. “But, I never expected that God would bless me abundantly with each of those goals.”
Mason credits Dr. Jane Finley, dean of the School of Business, and Amy Taylor, assistant professor of business and economics and ENACTUS sponsor, for helping prepare her for her current role as tourism director.
“Dr. Finley took it upon herself to find jobs in Selma that would be adequate for the two degrees I was about to receive,” she says. “Mrs. Taylor spent hours with me editing my resume to make sure it was perfect.”
Now, as an influential voice for Selma-Dallas County, Mason wants to use her business experience and heart for social change to make a difference.
“I interact with people all over the city on a daily basis, and I can’t expect them to think like me,” she says. “I’m working to change their perspective on Christians, photographers, tourism directors, and everything else I am.”
This influence is a natural outworking of her training at UMobile, both in the classroom and in the community.
“I could literally talk for days about how the University of Mobile has contributed to my success,” says Mason. “Every teacher I had invested in me and helped me become the person I am today.”