Alumni Feature: Ashley Acuff, Family and Consumer Sciences
Name: Ashley Acuff
Job Title: Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher
School: Fort Collins High School
CSU Graduation Year: 2014
Degree: B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Bio: Ashley Acuff is from Palo Alto, California, and moved to Fort Collins to pursue a degree in family and consumer sciences education from CSU – and never left! Acuff is currently a teacher, adviser, and coach at Fort Collins High School. She is the public relations chair for the Colorado Association Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences as well as the social media chair for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Colorado Affiliate. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, traveling around the country to visit friends, and playing with her golden doodle named Shandy.
Q: Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.
A: I hold many positions, but that is the life of a teacher! I currently teach at Fort Collins High School, advise a student leadership organization called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, and coach the JV and Varsity volleyball teams. I get to teach fun classes such as Fashion Design, Nutrition and Wellness, and Financial Life Management. In Fashion Design, I teach students why fashion is the way it is today, give students the tools to create and design their own fashion lines, and eventually help them create their own garments. In Nutrition and Wellness, I teach students how to make educated and responsible consumer decisions on their food and wellness choices – plus we get to do taste tests, wellness walks, and “Fitness Fridays.” In Financial Life Management, I teach students how to be successful within five years of graduating from high school – how to build a career portfolio, how to interview, how to budget and build credit, how to find an apartment and sign a lease, and how to compare buying/leasing new vs. used cars. When I tell people what I teach, I usually get the comment, “I wish my high school had those classes!” Family and Consumer Sciences classes provide students with real skills for real life!
Q: What led you to your current field?
A: I was all over the place during my undergrad years. I wanted to be a criminal profiler, go into advertising or marketing, or maybe even sociology and psychology. When I first moved to Colorado, I was attending Front Range Community College in order to earn my associate’s degree and then transfer to CSU, so I had a couple of years to really think about it. I was coaching volleyball during that time period and realized I not only loved teaching the game, but teaching life skills such as teamwork, goal setting, and problem solving. I realized I would love to translate that passion into teaching and so I pulled up every single teaching degree I could pursue at CSU. I stumbled across Family and Consumer Sciences Education and saw I could end up teaching classes like Catering, Relationships, Interior Design, Career Pathways, and Child Development – I was hooked! I absolutely love that I get to teach students how to live healthy and whole lives in a really fun and interactive way! I get them career ready and life ready. It’s so rewarding.
Q: How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?
A: I am so thankful for the opportunities CSU and the people at CSU have provided me. In high school, I was never the person to get really involved. In college, I was surrounded by people at CSU who believed in me and saw leadership potential in me. I was invited to join the College of Health and Human Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council and served on DLC for 2 years. During my senior year, I was selected for the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, and let me tell you – I had no idea an honor society could be so fun! Within the family and consumer sciences field, I was invited to join professional organizations and received internships that helped me build my network and ultimately land my dream career. I attribute these successes to CSU because the University, the college, and the people around me were the ones who helped me grow into who I am today. They provided me with the opportunities, the scholarships, and the skills in order to get to where I am today.
Q: What career tips/advice would you lend to students who aspire to similar career goals?
A: Network, network, network! Get involved in professional organizations, meet people in the field, and make personal connections. By doing this, you put yourself above others, and people remember you. The family and consumer sciences and teaching worlds are small, so anything and everything you do to further your career matters and will be noticed. My other piece of advice would be to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Teaching isn’t an easy job and it isn’t just one you can show up for and hope for the best – you have people counting on you every single day. If that doesn’t scare you, but motivates you instead, then teaching is for you! If you’re passionate about sharing your passion with others, then teaching is for you. If you like having summers off, then teaching is for you – just kidding, but something to consider. 😉