By Lauren Irwin (Jour'22)
Photo by Kimberly Coffin (CritMed, StratComm’18)
When Ashley Schoenbauer looks at the future of advertising, she hopes the industry can shift to prioritize people over profits.
Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, Schoenbauer headed into the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design (APRD) eager to learn as much as she could. During her time as a student, Schoenbauer—alongside other strategic communication students—was honored for multiple creative business campaigns at Denver’s One Club award ceremony for advertising, design and digital marketing.
This month, Schoenbauer will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication, specializing in media design, and a minor in creative technology and design. She is graduating with the distinction of being the APRD Department’s William W. White Outstanding Senior, an award given to students in each department based on a combination of academic merit, professional achievement and service to the College of Media, Communication and Information.
Reflecting on her time at the University of Colorado Boulder, she notes how higher education has provided her with a multitude of opportunities for academic and personal growth.
“The best advice I could give to other students is to take care of yourself and put your well-being above all else,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help—whether it's about classwork, mental health or something else. There is no reason to elongate your suffering, and there are so many resources and people out there who are happy to help you along the way.”
We chatted with Schoenbauer to learn more about her collegiate experience and what being a CMCI Buff meant to her.
From your time at CU, what will you carry with you into your next chapter?
“My time at CU taught me a lot about myself, my values and my passions that I will take along with me into my next adventure. My time at CU taught me about the importance of balance and that I am not invincible! I know now that a strong community to help me along my way is essential and extremely beneficial, and that it is absolutely necessary to slow down and treat myself with grace and kindness to avoid getting burnt out. Finally as I graduate from CU, I will carry with me the mentality that everything is just a stepping stone in the grand journey of life, and that there is always time to start down a fresh path and try something new.”
Was there a project you worked on or a real-world experience that you gained as a student that you’re especially proud of or that taught you a lot? Why are you proud of it and what did you learn?
“During my junior year, I completed the Media Design Portfolio course and got a chance to work on two ad campaigns to be submitted to the One Show awards. What I valued most about these projects was the harmonious collaboration between myself and my teammates—it showed me that with the right people, you can make really high-quality work while having a ton of fun.”
How has the major you studied shaped the way you look at the world?
“My major has opened my eyes to a lot of truths about American life, some positive and some negative. It has also guided me in shaping my own personal values, which will inform the type of work I hope to do in the future and how I contribute to the world. After completing my degree, I hope to find work with an organization that is positively contributing to social issues and working toward a better future in which we value people over profit.”
Based on what you know now, what is your best piece of advice for other students?
“For much of my school career, I thought that school and work were the most important parts of life, and I was constantly stressed and not happy with myself in those times. When I started learning to take care of myself and began carving out time to rest and renew, I actually found that it was so much easier to be productive when I needed to be. Remember, rest time is productive too, and you always deserve rest—it’s not something you have to earn.”
Ten years from now, if you could create your perfect career, what would it look like?
“My ideal career would be one that mixes all of my passions and allows me to work in many different creative mediums. I really enjoy fusing my creative side and design background with more technical processes, like creating 3D models in Fusion360, for example. I also am really inspired by installation work like Meow Wolf, and I love working with my hands to create physical pieces. A career where I could sketch, design, and model art installations and then be part of the fabrication process would be my dream.”