CASL grad wins statewide Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest

June 18, 2012

Ashton Steele with her daughter at commencement Ashton Steele celebrates with her daughter following Commencement

Ashton Steele (’12 B.A.) can finally catch up on sleep.

The recent University of Michigan-Dearborn graduate could barely find enough time in her busy schedule to rest over the past ten months.

Steele took 33 credits during the 2011-12 academic year in order to graduate in April. She also worked as a program coordinator in metropolitan Detroit schools and a prison. And on top of that, she had a daughter to care for.

“I didn’t sleep at all from September to April,” she said. “I’m still catching up on my sleep.”

Steele recently chronicled her co-op experience with Initiative Science as part of the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance’s (MCEEA) Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest. Her essay caught the eye of many judges, resulting in a first-place finish and a $400 prize.

Not bad for a woman who contemplated whether or not she’d graduate. Steele stood by as many of her high school classmates earned their college degrees.

“It was pretty frustrating,” said Steele, who spent seven years at UM-Dearborn.

But she knew she had to set a good example for her daughter and finish her degree. So she loaded up her class schedule last August, and with help from the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters’ Co-op Program, Steele landed a co-op.

Steele hopes to someday work full-time for Initiative Science, but in the meantime, she’s content working part-time and spending time with her daughter.

And aside from her $400 prize, Steele last week was honored at the 2012 MCEEA Annual Awards Banquet in Lansing. She also read her essay to a crowd of about 100 guests.

“A CASL student won the award a few years ago and we’re so happy that another CASL student earned the award named for our very own Carol Quandt,” said Patricia Jones, coordinator of experiential learning for the CASL Co-Op Program.

The Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest was instituted in 1992 to honor Quandt’s retirement from UM-Dearborn and her years of dedication to co-op.