April 01, 2018
Access to higher education provides individuals of most any age with the means and fundamental tools to pursue their dreams. Transforming young people of modest means and experience into citizen leaders of significance is in Susquehanna’s DNA.
Susquehanna has a long history of working closely with students and their families to help finance their education, paving the way for students to find success personally and professionally.
Ashley Thompson ’09 found Susquehanna to be an invaluable foundation that kickstarted her career in biology research. As a first-generation college student from a single-parent, low-income household, Thompson says that without the financial aid offered by Susquehanna she would not have achieved what she has.
In Thompson’s freshman year, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, putting an even greater financial strain on the family. Thompson held several work-study jobs on campus to support herself. She says her mother was motivated in her recovery by the dream of seeing her daughter graduate.
Adjusting to life on campus was difficult, Thompson says. “I had no cultural capital for navigating college.”
But she found her way in the biology department, where she was a research student with department head and professor Tammy Tobin for three years, studying microbial communities and soil health. When she graduated, Thompson continued her work in this area, earning a Ph.D. in horticulture from Virginia Tech. She recently accepted the position of assistant professor of horticulture at Oregon State University.
“Susquehanna gave me an advantage in balancing class work and research, and designing research projects,” Thompson says. “The professors at Susquehanna challenge students to do their best work while supporting their interests.”