Ashlee Starks, former graduate of Granite Hills High School class of 2007, currently attends University of the Pacific and has an exhilarating life ahead of her.
Her future plans are centered with a career in teaching. She aspires to one day be an admirable high school teacher thanks to the situations and complications she has triumphed over in her resilient years of high school.
“I know I want to teach, but I'm going to go to grad school to get a masters and a credential before I start. I'm currently an English major and a math minor,” said Starks.
At the moment, Starks is grateful with everything that the reality of the world has had to offer her; she is proud of her mistakes and accomplishments because it has led her on to a life where she is nothing but carefree and happy.
“I can't think of a single thing that I’d want to relive, as corny as it sounds; I made some mistakes, but I learned from everything and I'm happy with the way things turned out,” said Starks. “As far as academics though, I really didn't stress too much in high school because I was too busy and knew it wasn't worth risking my happiness and health all of the time.”
Starks was, and is, a determined young individual, throughout high school she participated in sports such as cheerleading and tennis, as well as countless AP courses.
“One of my favorite memories of high school was that my senior year was pretty amazing! Just as a whole. I made the most amazing memories with everyone that year,” stated Starks.
She even added multiple dance classes and being the head coach of Pop Warner cheerleaders into her hectic schedule.
“The only thing I would do differently would be that I would tell myself not to pull the all nighters that I did have, because it is not worth it at all,” declared Starks. “College is harder as far as work load and obviously the level of work, but it's much easier for time management and flexibility. Going non-stop from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then staying up late and doing homework did not help me in any way.”
The “Most Dedicated” band honor was awarded to Starks her senior year because she did not have room for the actual band class. Yet, she still made it to every single night practice and performance that the grizzly band held; she even occasionally got out of her fourth period class early to practice with the band.
“I had cheer practice until 5:30 p.m. every day, coached Pop Warner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then went to band right after twice every week. It was an amazing experience, though slightly exhausting. But it was good practice for coaching junior varsity a year later.” said Starks.
One thing Starks will never forget is her love for cheerleading. It has shaped her life in a way that is unimaginable. She loves the fact that they had won a national cheer competition, and is more than appreciative to her team and everyone who contributed to their success.
Starks was an Advancement Via Individual Determination tutor upon her graduation from Granite Hills, where she discovered her desire to teach.
“She was nice; I really liked her,” said junior Ismael Ruiz. “She was probably one of the nicest tutors I’ve met since I’ve been enrolled in AVID.”
She was an inspiration to most kids in the AVID program because she gave them all sorts of advice.
“She was always helpful; it was easy to relate to her because she was young. She always had advice to give us,” said junior Carina Felix.
Starks was not confident in the beginning of her high school career that she wanted to be a teacher; she even stated that she did not want to be a teacher, but in the long run she realized that teaching was one of her many talents.
“She actually made an impact on all three of our lives: Adilene, Ingrid and I,” said one of Starks’ former jv cheerleaders Adriana Felix. “My freshmen year cheering was probably one of the best years we had. We gave her multiple headaches, but we were her favorite cheerleaders.”
By coaching the Pop Warner cheerleaders and junior varsity cheerleading team for Granite, Starks grew fond of being a leader.
“My advice for someone questioning themselves about majors would be to just choose something you enjoy, because come junior and senior year of college those are the only classes you'll be taking,” said Starks positively. “Don't be afraid to change your mind! I don't know anyone here [at UOP] that hasn't changed their major at least once. Obviously that's more difficult at some schools though.”
Through the process of trial and error, Starks realized that UOP was the right college for her after attending University of California Santa Barbara. She loves the fact that UOP has much more to offer her and is more willing to work with her on any concerns she may have.
“Private schools are amazing; I feel like they get a bad reputation, but I'm paying less here than I did at UCSB,” said Starks.
Starks currently resides in Stockton, CA, where she is exceptionally active with her sorority. Starks was more than happy to talk about her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as many other clubs she is involved in.
“Get involved in college; It was hard because I was involved in so much in high school and when I first got to UCSB I didn't know what to do with myself,” said Starks. “I needed something to be involved with but the choices were overwhelming and I ended up not getting involved at all. So when I came to pacific, I decided to change that and I joined Kappa Alpha Theta, Pacific College Republicans, Pacific Math Club, and I plan to get involved with many more clubs.”
Everyone knows that scholarships, loans, and grants are a necessity when you have to pay your way through college. Starks didn’t have it easy; she had to apply for as many scholarships as she could as well as grants. She also had to take out a lot of loans in order to receive her education, but she believes it was the right thing to do.
“I have a cal grant, along with a lot of loans,” said Starks “Pacific gave me a grant and a $14,500 scholarship. Senior year, I received several scholarships, including the Bartlett Foundation scholarship which was amazing.”
Throughout all of her tough times in high school, Starks is more than happy she had the chance to go through them. She felt that they prepared her for college, especially in the stress department. She was grateful to everyone that gave her advice upon entering college, and she is now doing the same to future college freshmen.
“As for colleges, go where you want to go,” said Starks. “Don't worry about what anyone thinks. I think that was one of my biggest problems. I finally realized that it's my education and I needed to do what I wanted to do and go where I wanted to go and I honestly could not be happier with my choice.”
Starks is a prime example of a student who has worked for the accomplishments and awards that she has received throughout her life time. She only hopes for future college freshmen to make their own decisions.
Above photo: Ashlee Starks in front of the White House in Washington D.C. (Photo by Stephanie Brumfield)