Meet Mary Ashlee Hughes, ’24
Involvement in Auburn University’s College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) student organizations offers students like Mary Ashlee Hughes the chance to develop leadership skills, forge connections with peers and cultivate a sense of community among students and professionals across diverse natural resource-related fields. Mary Ashlee shares her insights on how participating in these student clubs has had a positive influence on her Auburn experience and her future career prospects to empower women within her field.
Major: Natural Resources Management/Coastal Management
Expected Graduation: 2024
Involvement: Vice President of the Society for Natural Resources, Student Ambassador, 2023-2024 Coastal Resilience Team, Dr. Christopher Anderson’s wetland lab and Auburn University’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship. I also try to volunteer with any graduate students and labs as much as I can!
What inspired you to choose your current major?
What inspired me to choose my major was the urge to help the natural world we live in. I have always loved the outdoors ever since I was a kid. It has helped shape me into the person I am today. I felt a sense of calling when I heard about the natural resources major, and I was so excited to start my journey here at Auburn!
What are your career goals?
My career goals are to encourage more women to get into the natural resources management field. I want to contribute to being a positive change to our environment! I strive to show individuals that this can be a job that women can be successful at. In addition, I aspire to show other women who might be interested in this kind of work that there is a spot for us in this field. We have the ability to make a difference in our environment.
What do you enjoy about being a student in the CFWE?
What I enjoy about being a student in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment is the sense of community among my peers, faculty and staff. When I transferred into this college, everyone made me feel so welcome, and it was such a great feeling, especially coming into a new area where I didn’t know anyone! Another thing I love about being a student here is that everyone wants you to put yourself out there and get involved! Whether it be clubs, labs, or volunteering, people here want to see you thrive. They motivate you to make connections and get the most out of your time at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.
Who or what has significantly impacted your success in the CFWE?
I think the people who have had the most significant impact on my success here are my family, friends, peers and professors! They are my support system, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Their words of encouragement and belief in me are something I hold very sincerely. I couldn’t imagine my success without them!
What advice do you have for prospective students interested in joining the CFWE?
There are two pieces of advice I would give to any student interested in joining the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. First, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! It might seem intimidating at first, but once you start getting involved, making connections and gaining new experiences, everything else will come naturally. You’ll meet some of the most amazing friends and form a sense of community while doing so. It’s the greatest feeling ever! Second, never be afraid to ask for help! The people that work here want to see you succeed, and it’s never shameful to ask for help. I ask for help all the time! Just remember you are not in this alone. You have a great support system here in the college with your peers and faculty!
Do you have any additional insights or experiences you would like to share about your time in the CFWE or at Auburn University that may benefit prospective students?
My experiences here at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and at Auburn University have been amazing. I couldn’t imagine going to another school! Get close to your peers and professors because the connections and memories you will gain here will stick with you for a lifetime. I am truly grateful to have chosen this school to pursue my passion! I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Interview is lightly edited for clarity.
(Written by Allison Killingsworth)