“The University of Tennessee offers so many volunteer opportunities; it is a great way to get out and meet people at the same time.”
Business Analytics & Statistics - Student
Ashley (Coke) Brooks is no stranger to hard work and well-earned results, but she says that as a first-generation college student, building a community and having mentors she could rely on have been essential to her success.
As an undergrad, Brooks took part in the Venture Living and Learning Community, which helped her build connections that have lasted long past graduation. She was an officer of the Financial Management Association, helped found the Business Analytics Society and served as an Alternative Fall Break Trip ambassador for the Center for Leadership and Service.
“The University of Tennessee offers so many volunteer opportunities; it is a great way to get out and meet people at the same time,” Brooks says. “My involvement with these programs has shaped my impact on both the community and my perceptions of leaving a legacy.”
Brooks was also a Leadership Knoxville Scholar as well as a part of Haslam’s honors program, now called the Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars, both of which provided mentorship and experiential learning opportunities.
“These experiences helped shape my leadership style and have assisted me in receiving multiple awards in the workplace,” Brooks says. “Mintha Roach from KUB was my Leadership Knoxville Scholar mentor and Aaron Snyder from Experian was my mentor through GLS. I still practice the principles I learned from those individuals and others I have met in my career.”
After graduation, Brooks took over one of her family’s Jani-King franchise operations, running the Lexington, Kentucky, regional office. While in this role, Brooks won several awards including multiple Operations Department of the Month awards, a Highway to Success Club award and two “Big Hitters” Regional Director awards.
“I chose to work for my dad because I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Brooks says. “He helped shape the Jani-King company from the ground up, and I wanted to succeed his legacy. But eventually, I chose to come back to UT and follow my passion for supply chain and analytics.
Last fall, Brooks enrolled in Haslam’s dual degree program for a Master of Science in Business Analytics and MBA as a Haslam fellow. Scholarships and assistantships have made a significant impact on Brooks during both her undergraduate and masters experience.
“Through additional scholarships in undergrad and a graduate assistantship that followed me through two degree programs, I will be the first person in my family to have an undergraduate degree and now, two master’s degrees,” Brooks says. “Because of generous donors and professors who believed in me, I was able to do it purely through academic/leadership merit, without needing to take out a student loan.”
Brooks has accepted a position with EY as a senior in the Advisory Services Practice upon the completion of her degree in May. She credits many of her successes to the connections that she made through the Haslam College of Business as well as the knowledge and experience her professors instilled.