This story was written by Dayne Young and was originally posted to Grady.uga.edu on July 15, 2019. 

Ashley McMaster (ABJ ’06) remembers feeling anxious in her final year at Grady College. The Georgia native was on the cusp of earning her bachelor’s degree in newspapers and she did not know where she was going after graduation.

“I knew I needed a job. I knew I wanted to be a writer or reporter and did not know where to start,” McMaster said. “I went to the career center. I met with Cecil Bentley who has since retired.”

Bentley, Grady’s former director of external relations, helped McMaster with her resume and identified job leads. One of the leads was an opportunity in Washington D.C. which wound up being McMaster’s first job and her new home.

Foundational experiences like that are why McMaster gives back to Grady College.

McMaster was in the first class of Grady Ambassadors.

She now works for Strada Education Network, a nonprofit in D.C. focused on enhancing the connection between post-secondary education and productive work outcomes. Strada offers employees a three-to-one match program for education focused gifts. Strada has matched McMaster’s $500 gift to provide a total of $2,000 for Grady College.

“The gift I gave was on behalf of the Barry Hollander Memorial Fund. He and Conrad Fink were two professors who made an incredible impact on me and my career,” McMaster said.

McMaster encourages her fellow alumni to check with employers to inquire about similar gift matching programs.

“Nothing gives me more satisfaction than being able to give and support organizations that I value and that provide real benefit to people,” McMaster said.

Beyond the academic opportunities, McMaster fondly remembers being a member of the first group of Grady Ambassadors. She said her fellow original Grady Ambassadors remain some of her best friends to this day.