Addiction Made Me Stronger
PROVO, Utah – Apr 17, 2019 – Adopted from China by a family consumed by addiction, Ashley Howe, a senior at BYU Marriott, had a rough start to life straight out of the gate. Despite her challenges, she consistently overcame adversity and was recently recognized with the Global Supply Chain Outstanding Student faculty award. Howe, a native of Wilsonville, Oregon, feels that the secret to her success has been collaboration. “Addiction made me stronger. You often hear stories about addicts who recover and change their lives, but you don’t always hear about how hard it is for their families to do the same.”
As a child, Howe thought her family’s struggles were normal and that addiction was simply a part of everyone’s everyday life. Her perspective changed when one of her parents checked into rehab for the first time for alcoholism when Howe was in sixth grade. “At that point, I realized I was different,” Howe says. “It was going to be up to me to get myself where I wanted to go.”
In order to improve her situation, Howe turned to her studies from an early age. “I thought I had to keep my head down and shut everyone out as I focused on my success,” Howe says. “That ideology ended up shaping me more than I thought it would.” At times Howe’s peers ostracized her for prioritizing academics, but to her, school was an outlet for her stress. “Hearing that negativity only fueled my drive. I felt that I had something to prove to them.”
Amid her challenges, Howe found her place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though she was born into the church, she was one of the only active members in her immediate family. “The church became my family,” she says. “That dynamic is what kept me active and on a good path in high school. My motivation and values were shaped by listening to my Young Women leaders. The sisterhood and the ministering helped me find my place,” she says.
Even though Howe grew up with a positive experience in the church, she struggled her freshman year at BYU. “Coming to Utah was a culture shock for me,” she says. “Everyone looked the same. Oddly enough, the perfect cookie-cutter look was also what I idolized. Seeing that perfection was a constant reminder of everything that I didn’t have growing up.”
Though she struggled to fit in at first, Howe found her place at college in the BYU Marriott School of Business. “Getting into the global supply chain program helped me find the people who I care about. I’ve found that the people at BYU Marriott are genuinely good.”
Amid her trials, Howe found that the more she let other people into her life, the happier she was. “I want to emphasize the importance of letting people share in your journey,” she says. “When we try to be too self-sufficient, it’s hard for us to let others in.” Howe grew up internalizing the shame she felt about her situation, which immobilized her ability to fix it. When she realized the best thing she could do was humble herself and accept that leaning on her friends would help her progress in life, she found success. Her most recent accomplishment has been accepting a full-time position at Adobe.
Howe asked eight professors and friends to help her create the presentation that led to her getting hired. “The faculty investment in students at BYU Marriott completely changed my experience here,” she says. “I am so grateful for every single one of the teachers and the students who took the time to help me build my future. Now I’ll be working at one of the top ten best places to work in America.”
While Howe is nervous to begin her new job after graduation, she won’t let that stop her from succeeding. “I struggle with data, and I’ve never liked numbers,” she says. “But I like challenges, and I like overcoming them.” Eventually Howe would like to enroll in an MBA program. “Being the first person to graduate from college on both sides of my family is a big deal,” she says. “I want to have a graduate education as well. My life is now open to so many opportunities.”
Regardless of their struggles, Howe says her family members support her in everything she does and are proud of her achievements. “They’re so proud of me,” she says. “Though there are certain things they can't support me in because they don’t have the resources, such as a college experience, they have always made me feel like the light of their lives.”
Though Howe began her educational journey by shutting out the world and pulling herself up by her bootstraps, she now says one of her best skills is asking others to help her succeed. “You can’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says. “The people at BYU Marriott are dream makers. They truly are here to inspire dreams and make them come true.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Katie Harris