Ashley Parker-Roman joined the U.S. Navy when she was 17. She spent four years stationed in Norfolk, Va., onboard the SS Bataan LHD-5, and was deployed twice in the Mediterranean.
That was nearly 10 years ago—the Annapolis, Md., native hasn’t stopped working hard since.
She left the Navy in 2005 and began her college education at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville, and transferred to Drexel during her sophomore year.
The now 26-year-old communications major and television production minor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design came to Drexel because of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and, she said, because “I liked how veteran-friendly Drexel is.”
“Transitioning from the military was very difficult for me and it was great coming to a university that had people that wanted to see me succeed,” she said.
Parker-Roman currently serves as Drexel’s USGA Transfer Student Representative and is a member of the University’s Dean of Student’s Advisory Committee. In the past she has been a transfer assistant, member of the mock trial team and a student ambassador. Outside of Drexel, she’s one of five students across the country serving as a member of the Student Veterans of America National Student Council.
Parker-Roman is now interning at the New York Stock Exchange as part of its Veteran Associate intern program. DrexelNow caught up with her to learn more about her experience as one of 28 military veterans invited to ring the closing bell of the NYSE last week, part of a commemoration of its 2-year-old internship program.
Tell me about your internship at the NYSE.
It’s a 10-week paid internship that aims to give military veterans the opportunity to work in the financial and private sector. This year there are 28 of us and we all have different education experiences, represent all branches of the military and are all in different departments throughout the NYSE. I am working in the global communications and marketing department.
How has the internship been so far?
So far the internship has been phenomenal. I think I came to the NYSE with a warped sense of what Wall Street was really like. I think we all have our own perceptions about that but the corporate culture here is great. As a veteran I’m so grateful to be here but the employees are also grateful to have the veterans here.
Have you seen yourself using any of the skills you learned in the military in the corporate world?
The service teaches us to be disciplined and diligent, it teaches us to be responsible and to be hard workers, and to pay attention to detail. Working in communications and public relations especially, making deadlines, and working quickly and effectively are all important things and I definitely am thankful to have the ability to carry out these tasks.
What's it like being a veteran and now going back to school?
It’s been an experience. I came to college with so much life experience and didn’t think I had much else to learn outside of the classroom. Going to college, and specifically going to Drexel, has been an education in itself. It’s weird sometimes being the oldest person in all of your classes, or the oldest one in your dorm but my classmates and professors are inquisitive and want to hear my stories and have welcomed me to campus. Some people think that all veterans are wounded or suffer from PTSD and the like, but that’s not the case for us all. We are strong individuals, we are the leaders of our classes, we are looked to for guidance and should be noticed for that.
What has Drexel done for you as a veteran student?
I liken Drexel to a springboard. I came to Drexel and I had a lot of experience but being here has just made life even better for me, and exposed me to opportunities I never thought I would have. I have been given the opportunity to be a student leader, and I get to work with faculty and staff who push me to be the best version of myself that I can. Through priority registration, a student lounge, veteran co-op 101 courses and new student orientation, I have seen that the Drexel administration wants to hear what the student veterans have to say and are making the necessary changes to make our experiences better. Being at Drexel has made me more curious, and it has helped me to tap into strengths and solidify where I want my life and career to go. I’m always changing and evolving as I get older but my biggest period of growth has been within the last five years.
You got to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange last week with 27 other veterans. What was that like?
It was unlike any experience I’ve ever felt. Getting to stand where CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and celebrities have stood was just an honor like no other. The NYSE is also known as “The Big Stage,” and for me it just symbolized how far I’ve come and how much farther I have to go. I can only go up from here.