Ashley Keasey learned maturity at an early age, helping to care for her five siblings until entering the foster care system at age 15. She found school and learning as a pathway to empowerment during this time.
Keasey now views the challenges she faced as experiences that helped strengthen her resolve and develop meaningful connections in her academics, career and community, qualities that earned her the prestigious Cal Poly Pomona President’s Scholars award in fall 2018.
“Foster care taught me that you have to have resiliency, and I became reliant on myself,” Keasey said. “If I kept figuring things out and kept progressing, then that’s all that mattered. One day I’m here, and the next day I’m somewhere else. I can’t do anything to control that, I can only do what controls me.”
In addition to getting ready to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, Keasey works as a full-time preschool teacher and a part-time restaurant server, dedicates 15 hours a month volunteering at Pomona Hope, West End Animal Shelter, Feed the Children and Rancho Hills, and is preparing for her wedding in October. After she graduates, she plans to work as a substitute teacher before earning her teaching credential. She also takes her 14-year-old sister to school each day and helps with her softball activities.
The President’s Scholars award gave Keasey less financial stress and more time to spend with her family and in activities related to her personal and career growth.
“It gives me the opportunity to cut back work hours and not have to worry that I won’t be able to pay for my books this semester,” Keasey said. “I can only work so many hours, attend classes, do my homework and succeed. The President’s Scholars award gave me the opportunity to do well in school and fully understand the material, not just get by with a C average.”
Keasey’s dedication to support her community was built from her experiences with people giving their time while she was in foster care. Their generosity gave Keasey a brighter outlook in her life.
“As I got older I realized, ‘Well if they can care, I can care too, so how can I do this?” Keasey said. “That was the reminder in my head — those people are the ones I think about to help me keep my stamina.”
Cal Poly Pomona recognizes exceptional student achievement through the President’s Scholars program. Established in 1983, it has awarded more than 500 scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students from the university’s eight academic colleges. Scholarships are maintained through the generosity of donors who recognize student perseverance and success.
Keasey received the Roberts Family President’s Scholar award, maintained by Business alumna Dorothy Roberts and her husband, Kent.
“I’m proud of Ashley – overcoming all of her challenges, being involved in her community, getting her bachelor’s degree while working,” Roberts said. “She’s very well-rounded and very bright.”
Roberts has been involved at Cal Poly Pomona for more than half a century, giving back to the university that formed her foundation of success. Her Bronco involvement includes working as a business operations executive director for 15 years and serving as a member of the President’s Cabinet, College of Education and Integrative Studies’ Doctorial Advisory Committee, and Alumni Association. She also served for 28 years as the owner and CEO of an educational publishing company, in which she currently is an executive consultant to its Board of Directors.
Roberts is being recognized with the Alumni Association’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Having worked at Cal Poly Pomona in a variety of positions and seeing all the challenges from different perspectives, I started to get more involved with the purpose of giving back,” Roberts said. “I continue to stay involved even though I have a demanding job. That’s the kind of President’s Scholar I look for – what have you done for CPP? What are you involved in at CPP as a student? What are your goals? Broncos should remember that support is given to them because we believe in them, and they need to do the same when they’re successful.”
Applications are now open for the 2019 President’s Scholars award. Twenty-five students are recognized annually based on the following merits:
- GPA of 3.5 or above
- Academic and co-curricular excellence
- Personal Interviews
- Letters of recommendation
- Application essay
“You keep doing discussion boards, postings and history essays, which are helping for a grade, but scholarships are your overall future — it’s a huge opportunity,” Keasey said. “If you can meet those qualifying checklists, you’re already in the door.”
The application deadline is Thursday, March 28. Recipients will be recognized by University President Soraya M. Coley at a special presentation in the fall.
Visit https://csupomona.academicworks.com/opportunities/9496 to apply online.