A Conversation with Audrey Ely BS'24

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Coming from Vermont, what brought you to Willamette?

Vermont is a really small community, very tight knit, especially the town that I come from. And I loved that growing up. It was a really inclusive environment to grow up in. But at the end of high school, I knew I was ready to move on and explore other options. My high school college advisor was one of my friend's moms, so she knew me really well. And we really talked about the kind of school that I was looking for. I still wanted that small community environment, but I just kind of wanted it in a place where I had to make new friends and meet new people.

And my college advisor said, "I think I have the school for you." And she explained a lot about Willamette and that it was really in a place where I could still ski and snowboard. She told me about how I can go up to professors and introduce myself and really gain that connection that I had with all my teachers throughout high school. And that really spoke to me.

How did you decide to study business at Willamette?

From when I was probably like 10 or 11 years old, I had it in my head that I wanted to study psychology and become a therapist. So coming into college, I thought, "I already know what I want to do." So it kind of frustrated me that Willamette had us take classes that don't have to do with our majors. Why would I want to do that? But then I took an Intro to Business Management class with Professor Debra Ringold.

I loved her class. I take every class that I can that she's teaching. She's really changed the way that I see college and what I want to do. That relationship that you can have with your professors and how they can help you and they can answer the questions that you have that has been really instrumental in my process of finding the career that I want.

What does financial support mean to you?

It definitely means the world to me. Without scholarships, I would not have been able to even join this community. Just knowing this was my top school and I'm not going to have to worry about being in crazy debt when I graduate has been really reassuring for me.

Also, knowing that there are people who really believe in the school and will donate back — even though they may not be physically here, Willamette is still impacting them and they're still giving back to the community. And that is something that I want to be able to do in the future because it has helped me so much.

Learn More About the Difference You Made for Audrey

Because of you, Willamette continues to create innovative programs that give business students the skills they need to put knowledge into action.

Today, business and management education can be found at any level, from the new undergraduate business major to the mid-career focused MBA for Professionals program. Read on to hear from three exceptional students about how you shaped their management education at Willamette.

You Helped Audrey Realize Her Full Potential

Audrey will never forget the day she first stepped on campus as a prospective student. It was March of 2020 and Willamette was in the process of sending students home as COVID-19 spread across the country.

Though everyone was in a rush, frantically packing boxes and making travel arrangements, Audrey says that the Willamette community was there to welcome her during her visit.

“They took the time and I just really got that connection,” Audrey says. “I think that is what really drove me to say ‘this is my school and this is where I’m going to end up.’”

Audrey came to Willamette knowing that she wanted to study psychology, but it was a class with Debra Ringold, JELD-WEN Professor of Free Enterprise, that changed her path.

“I love her classes,” Audrey says. “The relationship that you can have with your professors has been instrumental in my process of finding the career that I want.”

Professor Debra Ringold
Debra Ringold, JELD-WEN Professor of Free Enterprise and former Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, helped inspire Audrey to study business.

Instead of majoring in psychology, she switched to Willamette’s new undergraduate business major taught by MBA faculty, where she’s learning how to apply her curiosity about human relationships to the study of business.

She couldn’t have done it without your help.

“The donors and volunteers here have made it possible for me to really realize my full potential and where I want to go and how I want to accomplish that,” Audrey says. “Thank you is not even enough to begin to describe what I’ve been able to do here.”

Thank you for giving Audrey this life-changing gift.

Read more stories about how Willamette's exceptional MBA students, faculty and alumni are turning knowledge into action on our news page.

Audrey Ely BS'24

“Thank you is not even enough to begin to describe what I’ve been able to do here.”

Willamette University

Alumni and Parent Engagement

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