Excellence and achievement have remained top priorities for Ashley Hayes throughout her life. She is currently a senior at Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, GA, where she is ranked 5th in her class. She has received numerous accolades for her high scholastic performance, including a Columbia University Alumni Club Book Award, a National Achievement Scholarship, induction into the National Honors Society, and the Georgia Certificate of Merit. Due to her exceptional performance two years ago on the National French Exam, she gained recognition as a Laureat du Chapitre. Last summer Ashley participated in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, where she engaged in a concentrated study of literature and improvisational theatre for six weeks.
Through her four-year enrollment in the School of Communication Magnet Program, Ashley discovered her proclivity for journalism. She dedicates much of her time to Grady’s award-winning media publications. She is the producer of the Grady News Network, a weekly in-school newscast, and she authors a monthly column in The Southerner, Grady’s newspaper. Through her membership with an organization called “Youth Radio,” Ashley has become a familiar voice on National Public Radio affiliates nationwide. Her repertoire includes numerous commentaries, and a 30-minute dialogue she produced based on the radio documentary Let the Circle Be Unbroken, a historical review of the Civil Rights Movement. Ashley’s involvement in journalism thus exceeds the boundaries of her school. As a reporter for CNN Student Bureau, she had the honor of interviewing Secretary of Education Rod Paige live on CNN’s American Morning. Most recently, she was featured in the Great American Moments public service announcement series, produced and aired by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS).
When Ashley is not perched behind a video camera, starring in a school play, or darting about the tennis court, she indulges in her fascination for Japanese culture. She has accumulated a library of fictional and non-fictional Japanese literature and manga (Japanese comic books). She perceives her ambassadorship to Fukuoka, Japan was a highlight of her life. She spent the summer preceding her trip teaching herself to speak Japanese, so that she could more fully immerse herself in the experience. Her peers marveled at her willingness to try everything from exotic foods to public bathhouses.
In both her academic and extracurricular pursuits Ashley continues to aim high and strive to exceed her expectations. Ashley graduated from Columbia University with a BA in East Asian Studies and currently works at Google, Inc.