Ashley (McDaniel) Barclay (B.S. ’10) is using the bachelor’s degree she earned at Florida College exactly the way she intended, but the most meaningful part of her Florida College experience was the relationships.
Unsure about which degree program she wanted to pursue, Ashley decided to try the college’s new business program and discovered it was an excellent fit. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration in three years and is currently using her degree to help her run a part-time photography business while she is a stay-at-home mom.
“My life goal was not to be a CEO or president of a company,” Ashley said. “I got a business degree so I could be a stay-at-home mom and know how to run my own business on the side, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
Beyond her experience in the classroom, Ashley also built countless lifelong relationships with her peers and professors during her time at Florida College.
“I met my best friend and people who I now consider my family,” Ashley said. “When people ask me if I miss Florida, the first thing I tell them is that I miss the people there.”
Ashley met her best friend, Rachel Sulc (B.S. ’10), during her first year at Florida College. The girls lived together on campus while they were in school and off campus after they graduated. During their sophomore year, Ashley and Rachel decided to take a Bible class together with the new biblical studies professor, Dr. Jason Longstreth.
That class was the beginning of Ashley’s relationship with the Longstreth family. Somewhere between babysitting their kids, hanging out at their house on school nights, staying with them during school holidays and worshipping with them at the Forest Hills Church of Christ, Ashley became a part of the Longstreth family.
“I call them my Florida family,” Ashley said.
Ashley chose to honor Jason Longstreth at the first-ever Senior Legacy Ceremony because of the impact the Longstreths had on her life. Relationships like the ones Ashley built with the Longstreth family are the reason she loves Florida College.
“I love the school,” Ashley said. “I love everything it stands for, but the relationships that you build there are what make it what it really is.”
Though Ashley didn’t meet her husband, Ryan Barclay (B.A. ’97), at Florida College, they did meet at a Florida College camp and bonded over their shared experiences at the college. Ashley and Ryan live in Bloomington, Illinois, with their 1-year-old son, Callum.
Their love for Florida College has kept them connected to the college since graduation. They have served as counselors at Florida College Chicagoland Camp and are both officers of the Chicagoland chapter of The Hutchinson Bell. Ultimately, they support the school so it will be around for their children to attend someday.
“We both really enjoyed our time at Florida College, and we want it to be around for whenever Callum and our future children are old enough to go,” Ashley said.
Thanks to the support from Ashley and Ryan Barclay and other bachelor’s degree graduates like them, Florida College will have the opportunity to serve students for generations to come.