EHS ALUMNA ASHLEY MUDGE '97
Eagle Hill News caught up with Ashley Mudge, a former student and teacher at EHS who is now the owner of a gift boutique called Because I Like U. After three years of having a store in Lancaster, PA, Ashley is moving to New Jersey and continuing her business online – www.becauseilikeu.com
- What brought you to Eagle Hill?
- What did you learn at Eagle Hill that helped you manage those challenges?
- Beyond academics, what did you do or try at Eagle Hill that you may not have at another school?
- Tell us about your educational journey after Eagle Hill.
- And you came back and taught at Eagle Hill, right? What was that like?
- Tell us about you now - what brought you to Lancaster? What made you want to open a shop?
- Any words of advice for current Eagle Hill students?
I was having a difficult time learning to read. At my prior school, I was often pulled out of class to work on my reading skills, but the process wasn’t clicking. My parents decided that I should visit EHS for the day, and my mom still remembers to this day that when I got into the car, I said, “Mom, I have to go to this place, there are kids just like me here.” I felt like EHS was a place where I was comfortable and that I could be successful.
I learned that it is okay to make mistakes, and everything isn’t going to be perfect, and that’s okay. Also, study skills was one of the most helpful classes that I took during my time at EHS. All through high school and even in college, I used the different tools and organizational skills, which EHS taught me.
During my time at EHS, I played soccer and basketball. I continued to play both sports all throughout high school. I loved playing on the JJV soccer team at EHS, and if it wasn’t for those earlier years on that team, I don’t think I would have tried out for a variety sport in high school. On the JJV team I learned to enjoy the sport, made great friendships with my teammates and coaches, and learned a number of important skills. I also participated in the Eagle Hill talent show, which is something very much outside of my comfort zone, but because I felt supported by the community, I was able to get on that stage with my friends.
After Eagle Hill, I attended Rumsey Hall, a junior boarding school in Washington Depot, Connecticut, for eighth and ninth grade. Rumsey Hall was a great transition school before I went to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where I received my high school diploma. After high school, I thought that I would go to a smaller liberal arts school in New England, but I attended American University in Washington D.C., where I majored in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. Seven years later, I would attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, when I decided to make a career change. Lastly, in 2014, I attended the Start-Up Institute in Jackson, Wyoming. The Start-Up Institute, an intensive entrepreneurship program, is designed to provide students with proven tools, frameworks, and hands-on experiential, practical courses dedicated to working on and launching your own business idea.
I came back to EHS to start my teaching career because I wanted to learn from the best, and again, felt like it was a place where I could be successful. I was able to have amazing people like Maureen Dumser, Abby Hanrahan, Dave Sylvestro, Maria DiPalma, Liza Jarombek, and Jenn Harkins be my mentors. It was also amazing to be on the other side and to help students who were struggling to find success in school. I could easily relate to my students, as I had gone through similar struggles.
I moved to Lancaster to be closer to my sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces. It also felt like a good fit for my business, Because I Like U, a gift boutique to find unique gifts. Because I Like U began when I would go into stores and I would be uninspired. I started the business by writing a blog about different gift ideas. There were more and more people who wanted to buy the items that I was sharing. After gaining a following, I started my own online store and taking part in a few trade shows. I had a great response and started looking for a brick and mortar location. It has always been a dream of mine to have a store, and I have learned so much owning my own business.
Never give up. There have been many times in my life when I thought I wouldn't be able to do something and wanted to give up, but I was able to persevere and it is so rewarding to accomplish something you didn't think you were going to be able to. Lastly, don't let your disability define who you are - it is only one part of who you are. As a kid, I focused on my disability, but as an adult, I don't think about it much and when I do I think it makes me special.