Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery. In that case, Ashley Winchester’s mom should feel very flattered. Ashley’s motivation to succeed in the tourism field arose from seeing her mother’s success in the industry.However, it is Ashley’s drive and ambition that will help her to blaze her own trail.
Ashely grew up in Moonstone, a small community in Ontario’s Lake Country. When her brother was hired to work in the Columbia Valley after graduating from college, Ashley flew out a few times each year to visit and explore the region. Soon she knew she wanted to call the area home.
At that time, College of the Rockies offered a Tourism and Recreation Management program (the program has now evolved into two separate diploma programs: Tourism Management and Recreation Management). Feeling the College and the small-town feel of Cranbrook were a good fit for her personality, Ashley happily enrolled.
“The many recreational activities available made it super easy to find people who enjoyed camping, kayaking, hiking and fishing, like I do,” Ashley said. “And coming from a small high school where I made close friendships with teachers, I found the College also gave me the opportunity to connect with my instructors. The small classroom atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for.”
While a student in the program, Ashley and three of her classmates took part in the LinkBC Student Case Competition in Vancouver, competing against three other diploma-level programs in the category of Tourism Human Resources. Her team took the top prize in their category.
After completing her diploma in 2016, Ashley was hired to work at Cobblestone Cottage and Lodging Company in Radium Hot Springs, B.C.
“This job allows me to continue to participate in my favourite recreational activities, creating a great work-life balance. I never knew I would find such a love for property management until I moved outside my comfort zone and started looking for jobs that challenged me to work harder and grow my skill set. I can’t wait to see where my career takes me,” she said.
She has found her education to be instrumental in preparing her to work her way up to her current supervisor position.
“The courses in the program help me to understand the full picture of how a business is run successfully,” she said. “I would like to dive deeper into the business side of my career and am currently looking into transferring my credits into the BBA offered through the College. I would like to start up my own business one day.”
Making the East Kootenay region home seems to be working out well for Ashley, and she’s grateful for the part College of the Rockies has played in her success.
“My program allowed me to build great relationships with my peers, work with amazing teachers who are passionate about the industry and pushed me to do the best work I could,” she adds. “People at the College are so friendly. I was able to make life-long friends from different programs with people I never had classes with. There are so many great activities to get you involved, there’s something for everyone.”