• Hometown: San Clemente, California
  • Transferred From: UC Berkeley
  • Major: English
  • Minor: Book art
  • Favorite Class: Bookbinding

Ashley came to Mills planning to pursue a degree in English and an MBA through Mills’ bachelor’s-to-master’s degree program. Majoring in English would challenge her, while an MBA appealed to her practical side. The Mills Book Art Program awoke Ashley’s passion for creating beautiful structures to house elegant words—and she couldn’t resist.

Why did you choose your major?
I wanted to major in English because I love words. Reading and writing were never my best subjects in school, but I wanted to be challenged. When I found out Mills had a Book Art Program, I was thrilled. I remember reading my grandparents’ handmade books as a child and being amazed that someone could make a book. At Mills, I realized that I could combine my love for words and create the structures that contain them.

What is one of your favorite classes? Any bookbinding class—combining handcrafting with curated content in the space of the book—is particularly satisfying. Don’t get me wrong—it’s hard stuff. You will often hear someone in the bindery say, “This didn’t work at all the way I wanted it to.” But once it is finished and you have made an object that people willingly engage with over time, there is nothing better.

Do you have a faculty mentor? Kim Magowan, my advisor, is probably most like a mentor. She is always upfront and honest and genuinely interested in me, not just as a student but as a whole person. She challenges me in the classroom and encourages me to strive for my potential.

How has Mills surprised you? Even in my upper division coursework I can—and am encouraged to—take classes outside of my discipline to find what interests me. I am super challenged! Undergraduate education is all about breadth of knowledge.