A Lesson in Alignment

Everything happens for a reason. This is true for most things. It has been especially true for my career. 

I would have never imagined I’d become a journalist or an entrepreneur. But when I look back on my life and the steps I’ve taken to get to this point, I realize I am only following my unique path, my destiny. I am meant to be here. Right here. Right now.

I began to realize – like really realize – my path had been laid out for me in 2009 during my transition from Shreveport, Louisiana to Baton Rouge. This realization hit me when I decided to move into an apartment complex that was not on the list of eight complexes I had thoroughly researched and mapped out to visit during my apartment-hunting weekend. 

I was supposed to make a left-hand turn onto Weldenwood Drive. Somehow, I made the wrong turn – a right – into my future complex. It was beautiful. But it wasn’t on my list. After I’d toured each complex on my list, my choice was obvious. My friend and former coworker, Nishia, told me that moving into that particular complex was meant to be. She was right. I enjoyed my three-year stay there. But that incident made me reflect on other things that I planned and turned out differently – for the best.

I had planned to graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I attended the college my freshman year, but something about it did not suite me. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t feel comfortable. The summer after my freshman year, I enrolled at Tennessee State University – the college in my hometown and the one I had rejected a year earlier. When I got to campus, I fell in love. I felt at ease. I thrived on that campus. I am proud to say I am a TSU alumna.

My studies at TSU led me to The Meter, the campus’ student-run newspaper. I joined the staff at the recommendation of one of my professors. She thought it would be a good fit. I was majoring in English and had not taken any journalism classes. I planned to obtain terminal degrees in English and become a college professor. The Meter was just a way to occupy my time – though I LOVED it. My senior year, I was named Editor in Chief of the newspaper. Still, I never thought I’d find myself working for a paper. I took the GRE and applied to my chosen set of master’s degree programs. Guess what? Mostly all rejected me. I was in complete shock. How could this happen to ME? I had volunteered. I was vice-president of service for Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority. I was a campus queen two years in a row. I had joined Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. I had a great GPA. I had decent test scores. Why wasn’t this working out for me? I soldiered on through the year. The last semester of my senior year, I had also applied to join a certain sorority. Again, I was rejected. More shock.

This senior-year turmoil turned out to be for my benefit. The weekend the sorority I desperately wanted to join accepted its new members was the same weekend of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Newspaper Conference. Three very important things happened during that conference: 1) I represented my campus newspaper well as we won several awards; 2) I won first place for an acclaimed editorial I penned about our college president; and 3) I met Rod Richardson, who would later become my boss – twice. Had I been selected as a member of the sorority, I would have missed a life-altering weekend. 

A few weeks after meeting Rod, he gave me a summer internship that I was to begin following graduation. I spent three months as a general assignment reporter for The (Shreveport) Times. Since I did not get into my first, second or third choices for graduate school, I happily accepted his offer. A month after my internship ended, I started work as the Things-to-Do reporter for The Tennessean’s Williamson A.M. product. Who knew I’d become a reporter? I guess I should have known all along. In middle school I wrote and sold for a nickel a gossip ‘newspaper.’ In high school, I was selected to be a press corps member for the Model United Nations student conference. And I excelled at journalism in college, racking up numerous accolades. 

It was at Williamson A.M. that I discovered my passion for writing about public education. I wrote a fun column called The Pickup Line about the school happenings through the eyes of parents. I also got to try my hand covering education news on the Franklin Special School District. A year into that gig, I had a casual conversation with my former Shreveport Times editor. A week later, they offered me a job as education reporter. I accepted.

I spent three-and-a-half years covering education news. I enjoyed every bit of it. I worked my beat so hard that the confidential assistant to the state superintendent of education asked me to meet him at a conference one day. We talked about the future of public education. Weeks later, I accepted the role as press secretary for the Louisiana Department of Education. 

I was nervous about meeting the confidential assistant that day. Had I declined the meeting, I would have never landed in Baton Rouge. I would have never served as press secretary and public information officer for one of the most prolific state superintendents in Louisiana history and during a major overhaul of the state’s public education system. I would not have earned a Master of Public Administration from Louisiana State University. What’s more is that I would have never connected with my dear friend Raymond, who inspired and encouraged me to start my own communications boutique after years of handling the public relations and branding needs for his live entertainment firm. 

Whew! That was a lot. 

Trust me when I say everything happens for a reason. Alignment is key, and the universe has a way of letting you know where you’re supposed to be. And when you walk and work in your purpose, the universe rewards you. 

If you are at a point in your life where you are wondering if you are supposed to be where you are, take some time to reflect – really reflect – about your life’s journey. I am certain you will find you are right where you need to be. 

  • Dana
    Posted at 18:38h, 23 May Reply

    Awesome read Ashley!! Very encouraging!! I needed to see this! Thank you!! Much Love!

    • AN
      Posted at 18:33h, 03 June Reply

      Dana, you are absolutely wonderful! I’m glad my story could help you.

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