Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Ashlee Seals

A true woman of excellenceAshlee Seals

"I remember my mother told me to pack up my teddy bear and we were going on a vacation."

It wasn’t a vacation.

Ashlee Seals and her mother were fleeing Elmira and an abusive father, only to wind up in a roach-infested motel in Dothan, Alabama. Ashlee was picked on in her new school for her northern speech, and then her father found them and they moved again – this time into a home for battered women. Watching the same Ashlee Seals stand before the Foundation board and tell this story – shortly before listing off achievements that include Pathways Scholar, Service Tradition Scholar, club founder, Power of the Penny scholar, and more – one was left to speculate that Ashlee’s mother must have set a strong, brave example all those years. And she did.

"When we moved to Alabama, my mother went to a community college to study electronics," Ashlee told the board. "Within three months she got a job at a nuclear plant."

The example she set stuck with Ashlee. After high school, she joined Job Corps and earned a certificate in Administrative Medical Care. After working for a few years and realizing her dreams were continuing to grow, she decided to attend college.

"My grandmother had just lost her husband. She lives in Freeville, so I moved here to be with her and decided to attend Tompkins Cortland. My grandmother is actually a graduate. She received a degree in nutrition in 1987, the year I was born."

Entering as a Pathways Scholar, Ashlee soon became involved in nearly every aspect of campus life. She is an RA in the residence halls, she is active in student organizations, and she even created her own club, "Women of Excellence."

She plans to transfer to a four-year school after graduating from Tompkins Cortland, and says she wants to help other women overcome the same types of difficulties she has overcome, and plans to study Education Administrative Policy with a focus on Urban Education Policy.

"I also wanted to thank you, the donors, for all of the ways you have given back to your community here at the College. I couldn’t have done it without your support. It truly is a good thing you are doing here."