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Musselman High graduate took college leadership role

April 18, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Ashley Flanigan is the 2009-10 Student Government Association president at the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer,

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- Ashley Flanigan admits she was a socially engaged student in high school, but she didn't really put forth much effort in classes and she received average grades.

Participating in extracurricular activities and academics at Musselman High School "was not my thing," Flanigan said recently.

While marriage and family life have given the 24-year-old Inwood, W.Va., resident a new perspective on advancing her education, Flanigan says she never expected to be involved in student government in college.

At graduation ceremonies in May, Flanigan will speak to fellow graduates as president of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College's Student Government Association, which oversees 17 clubs and organizations on campus.

"Even when I started here at Blue Ridge (in the fall of 2008), I never anticipated being in SGA. I wanted to focus on school," said Flanigan, who has a 3.9 GPA -- another unexpected achievement -- and plans to be an elementary school teacher.

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Now, the mother of a 2-year-old girl said she is "mother hen" to 36 people in SGA.

"It's given me some insight on patience, organization, leadership definitely, and trying to make sure everybody is doing what they're supposed to be," Flanigan said of the position to which she was elected in April 2009. "It's challenging, and it keeps me busy."

Since taking office last year, Flanigan said the SGA's involvement in the accreditation process for Blue Ridge took a lot of time.

"It was intense," Flanigan said of question-and-answer interviews with higher-education officials. "No faculty or staff was in there with you, just SGA and the higher-ed board."

While learning leadership skills, Flanigan said she thinks she has become a little more open-minded about how people approach situations and how to approach a situation herself.

James McDougle, Blue Ridge CTC's director of student success, credited Flanigan for taking initiative above and beyond what was expected of the SGA president.

"I've seen Ashley turn (from) someone who just sat in the back of the room and did the mandatory events and what she needed to do to get her credit, to somebody who was going out of her way to get others involved, to see that others were engaged in actively having a good time," McDougle said.

McDougle said Flanigan took the initiative to form a student government committee to examine what the school's clubs and organizations are doing, and to make sure they are being held accountable and serving the needs of the students.

While her term will end in just a couple of months, the new oversight responsibility is something that will be carried forward by the next president and executive board, McDougle said.

When asked if she had advice for the next president, Flanigan said the student body's new leader should exercise patience and be organized.

"Just don't worry about the small things. Focus on the end result," Flanigan said. "I think if you dwell too much on the small things, and you worry and anticipate something not working out, then it's not going to happen."

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