But she’s succeeded.

Three days after commencement, Dunlap will start a new job as media coordinator at The Vimarc Group, a Louisville ad agency, combining her academic skills and drive to thrive in her new career.

As this year’s outstanding graduate, Dunlap will speak at the Dec. 16 commencement ceremony at the KFC YUM! Center.

“Ashley’s academic background and her background of character have consistently been focused on hard work and commitment,” her nomination letter said.

While at UofL Dunlap received both the Dean’s Scholar Certificate and the Dean’s List Certificate during various semesters of study. In 2010, she received the Card Shirt Scholarship. 

UofL Today caught up with her recently to talk about her time at UofL and her future plans.

Why did you choose to attend UofL?

I chose it because of the business program. I actually did some career aptitude testing at the Jewish Community Center and business is where I peaked. I looked into mostly schools in Kentucky and saw that UofL had a really good business program. I’ve enjoyed the different courses the business school  offered. I enjoyed marketing research course. I’ve even taken a social media course this semester. It’s very diverse. You can see business everywhere.

What type of activities have you been involved in while at UofL?

I’ve had two internships. One was with the Kentucky World Trade Center and one was with The Vimarc Group, an ad agency. I’m going to working for them full time starting Monday. It’s exciting and ideal for me. I’ll be the media coordinator. It’ll include a lot of different things – helping with media plans, researching and contacting different reps for TV, newspaper and radio. I’ll also manage online campaigns, including Facebook ads. I work with a bunch of different departments, but the core is media.

What did you gain from those experiences?

I’ve had a lot of real experiences that you can’t get in the classroom – working in an office setting and being able to see what I’ve learned in class used in the office. That’s been helpful.

What’s been your favorite experience while at UofL?

Honestly, both of the internships I’ve gotten through UofL have been the most beneficial experience for me. A lot of the speaking and group projects have been very helpful. I had to do numerous presentations, and the business school pushes you to do that and be comfortable in front of people. That’s been immensely helpful.

Have any professors helped your guided you through your college experience?

Definitely professor Robert Carter. He was my marketing research professor. His class was very difficult, but he’s very approachable. He makes the class difficult because the information is so beneficial. He made sure to recognize students including myself. He’s always been available for my capstone class even though he’s not my teacher for that course. He’s definitely one of the top professors I’ve had.

Also, Charles Sharp. He taught the most difficult class I’ve ever taken in my life. But he’s a great guy and that class has already done wonders for me. When he has you do presentations, he has you do it like it will be in the real presentation setting. He doesn’t save questions until the end. He doesn’t let you prepare and do a complete practice run through. He will interrupt you with questions. It’s very realistic though. I have to thank him and appreciate that class.

What do you plan to tell your peers in your commencement speech?

I’ll mostly just congratulate the graduates and then let them know that the college degree is going to be a way to open doors. For me, I feel like because of what I’ve seen through my internships, I’ve seen that UofL got me there. It got me in the door, but it was my work ethic, the workload I took on and the dedication I’ve shown them that allowed me to differentiate myself. I’ll tell them the degree means a lot, but it doesn’t mean everything. That’s my main message.